Zehra Imam is an alumna of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is currently designing a course, “The Patterns of Struggle and Triumph” to foster self-development within students. She is also working on “Desegregating Detroit in Delhi,”an experiential-learning fellowship to serve as an avenue for dialogue among student leaders in Metropolitan Detroit.
Painting: Zehra Imam
I’m not going to sugar-coat this complex terrain that is my motherland. My family immigrated to America due to religious and political unrest in Pakistan. I feel like my native land has grown to become a superstar since our family left – always in the news, always getting caught doing something that warrants a comment, always in the limelight. But something else other than natural ties still compels me to call a part of myself Pakistani and retain my dual identity of Pakistani-American. It has taken me a long time to say that I am from Pakistan with pride, and that I am choosing to live in America with gratitude.
Manhattan’s Lincoln Center recently housed The Manganiyar Seduction, a musical performance with multiple interfaith elements. Last week, 36 Sufi Muslim Musicians from the Indian state of Rajistan offered New York the traditional sounds of their Manganiyar culture. A formerly nomadic group that lives in both India and Pakistan, the Manganiyar’s folk music praises God. Performances often begin with the seeking of a blessing from the Hindu God Krishna. Many Manganiyar also celebrate aspects of Holi, a Hindu holiday observed by a number of faith traditions in India, including other Muslim groups.
Today’s guest post is by Ali Eteraz. Eteraz was an Outstanding Scholar at the U.S. Department of Justice and later worked in corporate litigation in Manhattan. He is a contributor to Pakistan’s Daily Times and Dawn newspapers and the author of the forthcoming prose work, Children of Dust. This article was originally published in Dissent Magazine and posted here with the author’s permission.
A recent sharia-for-peace deal between militant groups and the civilian government in Pakistan’s quasi-autonomous Swat region has ignited interest in the status of Islamic law in Pakistan. The U.S. State Department, concerned about terrorist safe-havens, called the deal a “negative development.” Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, trying to look at the bright side of things, argued that the deal might drive a wedge between “violent” radicals and those that are “merely extreme.”
What’s your image of Pakistan? A nuclear-armed, Taliban-infested, desperately poor nation of 170 million people on the edge of anarchy? A barbaric backwater where women get buried alive for refusing to be forced into marriage, or are condemned, like Mukhtar Mai, to be gang-raped for an offense allegedly committed by a younger brother? These are images that come to us from trustworthy journalists and reputable sources. Share your own impressions about Pakistan below.
So, how are we to square them with the Pakistani author Daniyal Mueennaddin who delivers in his hip debut collection of linked stories, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders: a Pakistan where Islam is hardly mentioned except in passing; where sophisticated urbanites routinely indulge in sex and drugs with impunity; and where everybody from the maid to the manager to the local judge cheats as a modus operadum.
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Cover via Powell's Books)
It’s no wonder that Danyal Mueenuddin’s extraordinary collection of linked stories, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, is creating a buzz all the way from People Magazine to The Economist. The truth is that I can’t wait to go home and read another chapter, and it’s not often that I get to say that. In the first chapter we meet Nawab, the crafty electrician, who uses the challenge of having sired twelve daughters for whom he must provide dowries as a goad to stretch his resilience, resourcefulness, and sleight of hand. In the second chapter we meet Saleema, a maid who resolutely sleeps her way up until she falls for a fatal form of true love in the arms of an aging valet.