September 2, 2012

The Story of the Ahmeds in America (Part III - final)

While Jalal grasped well the Systemic rottenness and the Western-Self-as-the-Only-Way-to-Be arrogance which had resulted in the abduction of his children, he also had other explanations regarding his tragic situation.
Megan: “You will not believe what Jalal thinks. He thinks that one of their acquaintances has done some magic on them, which is why their kids were taken away. That it is the work of some evil spirits!”
The Evil Spirits of the Modern State, I thought.
Jalal later explained to me how an acquaintance had brought halwa - a Pakistani dessert - to their house, how she had a lot of negative energy around her, and how after eating the dessert, his body had immediately felt sick and abnormal. Soon after, Chotu had the accident and the kids were abducted by the State. While they would do all that is needed to get their children back, the couple told the lawyers, only Allah’s Will can help them in this mad-strange situation. Healers had been contacted in Pakistan to send amulets, and to undo the spell that had been cast. Husna’s family in Pakistan had been sending food to people and places - Sufi shrines and Shia households - because serving other communities helps to multiply one’s blessings. Husna mentioned that she even fed a Mormon missionary who used to come to her house, and whom she had never really lift-ofied before.

July 29, 2012

The Story of the Ahmeds in America (Part II)

Part 1 here

That night, I called my mother and told her the essence of the case against Husna. In most situations of injustice, her standard response is: Tch tch, Dekho to. Aisa to nahin hona chahiyeh na - Oh my, just see. Like this, it shouldn’t be. But her reaction to Husna’s situation was radically different.
Ma: Kia? Yeh to sarasar Zulm hai! Aisay kaisay bacchay lay liyey?
(What? This is the height of Cruelty! How can they just take the kids away?)
It was mad. It was incomprehensible.
Ma: Dekho to, kaisa Zalim Samaj hai!  
(Just See, what a Cruel Society!)
Even before learning that Paradise lies below the feet of the Mother, I must have learnt that we live in a Zalim Samaj - Cruel Society. It is a most essential term in everyday South Asian life, in our practical wisdom. The Society is Cruel primarily because it is against Love. It denies Love, it negates Love - even while culturally we preach Love and have a beautiful vocabulary for our Beloveds. Cruel Society has vicious people who are a constant source of hurt, anxiety, and fear. Cruel Society is the source of most ills. 

July 24, 2012

The Story of the Ahmeds in America (Part I)

Some time ago, I got involved in a court case in which three children of a Pakistani-American Muslim couple - Jalal and Husna Ahmed -  were taken away by the Child Protective Services in California, and kept in foster homes for 6 months. According to the attorney of the mother, this was the most expensive “parental neglect” case that she had seen in 20 years of family law practice.
I became involved two weeks before the trial was to begin. Jalal Ahmed had contacted the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for help, a female worker at CAIR - Amira - had spoken to the lawyers to understand the needs of the case, and then sent this email on the CAIR listserv:
Subject: South Asian Muslim family in need of assistance
Dear friends:
Assalaam alaikum. I’m writing because a distraught father who is a new immigrant from rural Pakistan contacted CAIR asking for help. The family moved here from Rawalpindi and they have three children, two little girls, ages 6 and 4 and a little boy age 2.