Wednesday, 30 December 2015

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day
Wednesday 30th December 2015
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam
University College Cork, Ireland

A suspected suicide bomb killed at least 26 people in north-west Pakistan yesterday.  Such events seem to be a regular occurrence in Pakistan.  A land that I am deeply connected to through my parents, who came to the UK from Pakistan in the 1950s.  The stories that my Mum tells me of her life in her Punjabi village, often connected to farming, are so far removed from growing up in urban Glasgow.  I haven’t been to Pakistan since 1999 and a lot has changed in that time yet in some way I’ve always had a connection with the land and the news that comes from it.  The 27th December was also the eight year death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, the Muslim world’s first women leader who was brutally assassinated.   

I’ve been following the trip of two dear friends from the USA who have journeyed to Pakistan in the last couple of weeks through social media.  They’ve been regularly updating us on the wonderful sights the’ve seen and the delicious food that they have eaten sharing the colours and smiles. In a way this offers me a different sense of a country that we get through the news.  Many conversations of caution to my friends about visiting Pakistan always end with, ‘it’s not that bad’.  I suppose this is the nature of how we understand the world we live in. 

There is a famous saying of the prophet Muhammad in which he stated that one should seek knowledge even if they need to travel to China.  For me, traveling and experiencing a land, culture and its people is a gaining of knowledge that is not just about books.  We may read a lot about a country but if lucky enough to visit or live there, it gives us a very different perspective.  As our year comes to an end, it offers us a chance to reflect on those places both near and far that we may have dismissed – at times we may need to share thoughts and prayers, but we can also seek to share knowledge and insight.