My pure homeland, I roam

The land in which Chishti delivered the message of God

The garden in which Nanak sang the song of Tawhid of GOD

For which people of Hijaz abandoned the Arabian wilderness

That same is my homeland, that it is my homeland 

I begin writing this in the depths of the night, for I feel that we are at our zenith of softness and honesty at this time. Emotions raw, hearts soft. I begin writing about the beautiful yet convoluted place I call home. The land of the pure, my Pakistan. 

What may I say about this home of mine? How can I encapsulate all that it stands for in so many words? I find that visiting your homeland is like reading the Holy Qur’an, each time you open it you are left more and more bewildered, as if it were the first time you have turned its pages. Never have I been so pleasantly and upsettingly bewildered all at once. It is only in this country I feel a whirlwind of emotions; grief, happiness, complaint, contentment, restlessness, ease. 

There is something so profound about Pakistan. This is the land that exudes a unique synchronisation of different religious beliefs, reflecting an entirely different social structure woven together with unity. It is the land that yearns to share the tale about the rise and fall of the Mughal Empire, the impact of power when it is given and taken by the same God. It is a land that urges its people present and emerging, to reflect on the profound words of our poets, our mystics, our philosophers. It is a hidden treasure that wants to be found, by none but its own people. 

Whose wisdom had left the Greeks bewildered

Which gave knowledge and skill to the entire world

Whose soil God had endowed with the elixir’s effect

Which had filled the pocket of the Turks with diamonds

That same is my homeland, that it is my homeland

It is also an oxymoron in its entirety, a complete contradiction. At times in a pandemonium of madness, at times so still you can almost hear the whispers of the heavens. At times so unjust you cannot help but sigh in dismay, at times a manifestation of Al-Adl (God, the Most Just). At times a conundrum of hostility and pride, at times a symbol of gratitude and humility. Many a times, I am left speechless. Whether it is the kind hearts, selfless souls I cross paths with, or the tales of strength and valour that are passed down from elders. There are some who have witnessed both the Bounty and the Might of Allah, have lost and regained their faith in the power of a united people and come out stronger than ever amidst the worst of conditions. 

I roam through the streets and witness material poverty. My homeland is rife of material poverty.  I do believe that for every social problem, there is an equal and feasible political solution. But I am not quite sure where to start. Should I begin with the unjust social hierarchy and caste system that sets ablaze the very part of Islam that distinguished us from the rest? Or shall I begin to lament about the ways in which our community is blind to the many whose voices remain unheard and whose rights are yet to be recognised – perhaps I may need a separate post to address this. this madness, this silence. this deafening silence. 

But as I have seen countless times, where there is an absence of physical wealth, there is an abundant presence of spiritual and emotional wealth. I see the gratitude and warmth in their eyes, unlike any other. I see an unwavering belief and trust in Allah that their condition will improve in due time. There are still those dwelling on this land who refuse to accept that Pakistan is perhaps not the ideal state that was envisioned for subcontinental India. These are the people who wait patiently for the time that these pure lands are once again purified. I do believe that it is the faith in the Divine Plan that will lead Pakistan out of darkness and into light.

This place has gone through the worst of situations – it survived one of the most bloodiest, and tragic migration known to man – the Great Partition. It sought freedom from the imperialists who set out to divide and conquer its inhabitants. We have been torn apart, blood has been shed unjustly in the name of religion, division and intolerance had become rampant. Lo and behold, I find remnants of the Westerner in the depths of the city. An invisible veil, one that has convinced us that our thoughts, our actions, our own narratives are not influenced by those who spread corruption and mischief on our lands. I am, of course, hopeful of witnessing a day where we will remove the shackles of the West that seep through our skin and witness a social revolution like no other. 

This is what I hope to be reminded of, I want nothing more than the state of Pakistan to bear testimony to Muhammad Iqbal’s political insight. Iqbal, the gem of the East, the most profound poet and philosopher of the East, reminded us that we possess the strength to fight battles far greater than our beings. I genuinely believe ours is a spirit that is unparalleled, unmatched. But many a times we are blinded by extremism. I watch, as our outward diversity (class, caste, skin colour)  that divides us is becoming one of the greatest tests as a nation. We assume that our vainglorious boasting is empowering. And in all of this, we are beginning to lose sight of our true purpose. 

There is a masjid in almost every corner of the city. So many… too many. We have adorned these buildings of clay with the testament of faith, yet we have failed to adorn our souls with the same testament. We light candles in an outward appearance of remembrance, but we fail to see the light of Allah that beckons us to the middle path, the right path. If we but let God’s earth become our masjid, His ground our prayer mat, the skies our intricate domes, perhaps we will begin to realise that the solution does not lay in building more places of worship I say this with conviction because we have proven in the past that we are capable of loving and knowing God as He ought to be known. There is a reason why the Beloved (eternal peace be upon his soul) felt the breeze of Divine blessing from the East of Medina. 

Which illuminated and established in the Milky Way again

The stars, which had fallen from the sky of Persia

The House  from which the world had heard Tawhid’s tune

From where the Holy Prophet (saw) had felt cool breeze

That same is my homeland, that it is my homeland

Whatever it is, this place never ceases to rekindle a desire to see change for the better. The poets and philosophers have long left us, but I wish their words remain imprinted in our hearts so that we may elevate our selves. May we elevate ourselves so high that we are no longer seen through the Orientalist lens. So that we are no longer cultivated by the West, so that we regain the power to tell our own stories. May we realise the power of our own Self, of an all-encompassing community, so that we may be a force to be reckoned with. 

There are so many things wrong, yet so many things right about Pakistan. Here’s to spending my good days and my bad days remembering the beautiful place I call home. 

Whose denizens are Kalims, whose mountains the Sinai’s are?

Where the Prophet Nuh’s boat and its occupants had landed

The land whose elegance is the stairway to the sky

Living in whose environment is like living in Paradise

That same is my homeland, that it is my homeland 

 

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*** (The National Anthem for the Indian Children, Allama Iqbal) ***

 

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