Queer title for British readers. Let’s be pragmatic. Maybe it can help Pakistani Christians who are afraid their daughters might be kidnapped and forced to marry into a Muslim family and change their faith and forever lose contact with them. Imagine a young girl is raped, her fears, her screams, wanting her mum and a mum somewhere crying, beating her breast because her child has disappeared. Or what’s worse when kidnapped girls are sold into prostitution abroad. So please whenever you see a prostitute, respect her because she is a daughter of somebody because somewhere a mother is crying her heart out for her lost child.
You know when a married woman has children, how she will leave her children. She might despise their father who kidnapped, raped her, forced her to marry him and change her faith to forcibly adopt his, or her in-laws but not her children. They were born of her. I remember Sold 1 the story of that young British girl who came back to England and left her baby son in Yemen. She was very courageous. She needed her freedom. Most mothers would not do what she did.
If Christians in the free world, wherever they are, can help Pakistani parents to marry off their daughters with committed, single God-fearing Christian men; that will be wonderful. They can avoid this evil and also get freedom and peace of heart and mind. Arranged marriage is common in India in Christian communities. I presume it won’t be different in Pakistan. So maybe this is a pragmatic solution to a terrible but real problem.
We have Christian Asian communities everywhere. Their members are Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Greek Orthodox, Evangelicals, Baptists, Pentecostals, Reformed Baptists and others. They can work together within their respective denominations to help the families in countries where kidnapping is rampant.
We need to pray a lot about it. We need guidance, counselling. Long ago there were knights in shining armour that defended the women of their communities and the prestige of their countries. I pray God will raise these men of valour, modern knights in shining armour who have a compassionate heart and will save these girls from this plight. It is only God who can put the love in them and the desire to do such a noble deed for God’s glory.
And I am sure there are thousands of good respectful Muslims in Pakistan who respect women and will never kidnap a young woman, rape her and force her to marry him, and change her religion. I am addressing these Muslims. You can educate your Muslim brothers who do so. Let them think about their own mothers, sisters. They would not have wanted something like that to happen to them.
In the end life is short. Let’s enjoy it. Let’s be able to sit together and talk peacefully about what differs about religions. Let’s have crazy minds. Let’s all have the guts to say: A Christian:''Jesus is the only way to God,” the bible says so.”A Muslim: “The Koran tells the truth about God, all other ways are wrong.” Or like the Hindu or the Buddhist, “reincarnation is the fate of man and attaining nirvana is the culmination of happiness, and this is the only truth.” The Atheist: “there is only one life and we have to live it to the full on earth. When we die, it’s the end. There is nothing beyond. God does not exist.” And civilised third millennium man will be free to choose his beliefs.
And let each man, woman make a personal choice to believe in a religion either they practise the religion of their parents or they can convert not forcibly but out of their own free choice without any coercion or be an atheist. As I always say, God is God for believers. He can look after mere man He has created. He knows who should go to heaven or hell.
Let’s all face the grim fact. We all fear to die. If we had a choice with choosing to live or to die, I think all of us will choose to live especially when we are free people who can travel, think, talk, act, write, move freely.
I dream one day life will be like that and women will be free to choose their partners, their careers in countries where kidnapping and rape and forced conversion is not punishable by judicial law and approved by religious law.
by Zana Muhsen
(Little Brown & Warner Books)
The true story of Zana Muhsen's years as an enforced child bride in the Yemen. France's biggest non-fiction seller in 1992, it has sold three million copies in Europe. Condensed by Reader's Digest and dramatised for Radio 4, the British paperback edition reprints regularly.