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Rohingyas and Ahmadiyya: Some Parallels between Burma and Pakistan

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Monks, military and Myanmar – a Pakistani’s déjà vu by Tahir Mehdi

Dawn: In my young age, I had a fascination for mandirs(temple). I wished to see one. I didn’t know why and I didn’t bother to dwell into reasons. Fascinations are anyways hard to understand and explain. When I joined a college in Lahore in early 1980s and shifted to its hostel, I ventured on to many firsts in my life. And one fine morning, accompanied by a class mate, I went to see amandir, somewhere on the outskirts of the city along the banks of drying up river Ravi.

A mundane one room building made of brick and mortar with no marked architecture and in rather dilapidated condition, that’s what it was. The priest greeted us with a smile that was welcoming but it subsumed the feelings of surprise and suspicion as well. There were no idols there and instead the interior walls displayed a collection of colorful flashy posters depicting various gods in different myths. Since I was a student of visual arts, I took keen interest in these.

The priest realised that the visit was more than just a curious peep into a neighbor’s courtyard. He put some effort in explaining the poster that I was looking at from close range. Probably based on his experience of handling ‘religious tourists’ like myself, he knew that I won’t be able to relate with any of the painted images. So for each mythical character that he explained to me, he would draw a similar one from the history of Islam. This is God abc who helps people in distress like Hazrat xyz in Islam and so on. This simple man had a narrative of the two religions running amazingly parallel to each other as if it was only a matter of replacing a few names or looking at things from a slightly different angle.

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Posted by on August 7, 2012. Filed under Asia,Myanmar,Secularism,Separation of Church and State. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.