Thursday, 13 August 2009

Little Drops of Water-by Shaista Hussain

The recent trend of minority killings in Pakistan, specially targeting the Christian community has disturbed us a lot. I am disturbed particularly because I spent eleven years of my life in a Christian School in Rawalpindi and I have beautiful memories of those formative years. What I learnt at school was well in line with the basic teachings of Quran, our own religion.

When I was in a playgroup, we would receive milk and biscuits for lunch, and my parents would fondly recall that every time I would have anything to eat at home, I would close my eyes, put my hands together and say, ‘Thank you God for the milk and biscuits, Thank you!’. The school had taught me my first basic lesson, to be grateful to God for all my blessings.

Our school was more than a 100 years old, and we would occasionally have visitors (old goras mostly) who would come and visit the school and tell us why they remember it so fondly. The school had a character of its own and the motto was true to what it believed: Not Self but God and Others.

A regular day in school would start by the school choir leading hymns (pray books) that all of us would sing out loudly and cheerfully. There was a school prayer that was to be recited and included the school motto to remind us all of the vision that the school stood for. We ended up in the National Anthem and the school would then disperse to start the regular classes.
I recall how the annual Christmas play was such a glamorous event every year (The angel Gabriel would be the most beautiful girl in class 10! And all of us would look at her in awe) and each year all of us would participate with excitement and joy. I had the pleasure of being the narrator of the Annual Christmas play twice, and our parents would almost always attend the annual play because one of us would be participating.

Then, there was the annual milad and you would see all Christian and Muslim students preparing naats with zeal and excitement for the big day. It was not just the Islamiat (Islamic Studies) teacher who would be leading the event, it would be our Christian teachers too participating with equal enthusiasm, encouraging and coaching us all to do our best.
I was recalling one of my most favourite hymns ‘Little Drops of Water’ from back in the day, which was a classic example of the teachings of our school, that respected us all as equal human beings and not discriminating against any one student because he/she would be from a particular sect or religion. Then I wonder, this tolerance and equality and respect for humanity is also reflective of the teaching of our religion as well. So why is it that when it comes to Islam, the most tolerant of all religions in theory as far as I know, is turned so intolerant in practicality by its followers that we react to a situation before we even think about the consequences? We can at the minimum, reflect upon the situation itself in its own merit. Is it because our sense of self righteousness has inflated so much that it does not allow us to distinguish between the right of any other religion against what ‘we’ see as the right thing to do? Who has given a common man on the street the authority to assume the role of the ‘moral police’? Are all of us so pious in our own doings and actions that we can go around putting any house on fire because we ‘think’ that they have done some harm, without having any proof whatsoever? Whatever happened to unity, faith and discipline which were to be the motto of our motherland? The voice of one nation? Can we not all go back in time, and like that small school of mine, situated somewhere in a small city, learn to live together, accepting our differences and respecting each other’s right to religious freedom? Obsession with one’s religion should not come at the cost of failing to recognize the other person’s basic human rights.

I am reflecting on that little hymn we would sing in the morning in the school assembly, and can only hope that this August 14, as we all raise our national flag, we do see the white rectangular border on the left hand side of the flag as representing the minorities of our country. My flag is not complete without that white band and I cannot relate to the Pakistani flag without that beautiful white border that merges so well with the green majority.

Little drops of water,
little grains of sand,
make the mighty ocean
and the beauteous land.

And the little moments,
humble though they may be,
make the mighty ages
of eternity.

Little deeds of kindness,
little words of love,
make our earth an Eden,
like the heaven above.

So our little errors
lead the soul away,
from the paths of virtue
into sin to stray.

Little seeds of mercy
sown by youthful hands,
grow to bless the nations
far in heathen lands.

Glory then for everbe
to God on high,
beautiful and loving,
to eternity.

You can read Shaista's regualar blogs at her personal website: