Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An alien in my own land

I am back in Pakistan visiting family right now. Though doubts have lingered in my heart since a very long time, this is my first time visiting family after thoroughly but privately renunciating Islam. Religion is pervasive in Pakistan and as a result, I can't help but experience a feeling of being an alien in my own land this time.

Though I have been forced into behaving like a good old muslim out of respect and concern for my parents, it has been an interesting experience observing the rituals and practices I once myself participated in as an outsider. Its been amusing seeing the almost hypnotic state of people as they go about performing their daily rituals, chanting the duroods and aayats in acts of communal devotion and praise. Its been amusing seeing the khateeb shout at the top of his lungs during the juma khutba, almost as if he can drown out the whimsy logic of his arguments by the sheer loudness of his voice. Its been amusing observing how the entire structure of religion and religious life which once seemed so commonsensical and matter-of-fact can come crumbling down once a few basic beliefs vanish -- beliefs which are so vulnerable to an honest and critical inquiry; beliefs which are hammered into us since our birth and held in place more by societal pressures and conventionality than any merit and coherence of their own. Its fascinating yet fearful to see the conviction and faith people have in such fantastic claims -- claims supported by a foundation far too fragile to support the enormity and implication of the structure it supports. It all seems so out of proportion.

I still have about a month left before I head back to Canada. I hope to be able to survive through all this with my sanity and those of my loved ones intact.


  1. Like an anthropologist visiting his primitive tribe... lolz :D

  2. This is my first time reading your work and this is the first time I have ever related to anyone else's sentiments so completely. It is an oddly sustaining to realise that there are others out their who have out-of-body experiences while observing those who genuinely believe in out of body experiences...

  3. I am so very pleased to hear that Malang. I look forward to interacting more with you in the coming days and months.

    Welcome to the blog :-)

  4. See it as a movie. That makes it easier, i find.

  5. The society is basically lost in middle of nowhere.