A journalist explores his family’s history to reveal the hybrid cultural and political landscape of Pakistan, the world’s first Islamic democracy
Shahan Mufti’s family history, which he can trace back fourteen hundred years to the inner circle of the prophet Muhammad, offers an enlightened perspective on the mystifying history of Pakistan. Mufti uses the stories of his ancestors, many of whom served as judges and jurists in Muslim sharia courts of South Asia for many centuries, to reveal the deepest roots—real and imagined—of Islamic civilization in Pakistan.
More than a personal history, The Faithful Scribe captures the larger story of the world’s first Islamic democracy, and explains how the state that once promised to bridge Islam and the West is now threatening to crumble under historical and political pressure, and why Pakistan’s destiny matters to us all.
|Publisher:||Other Press, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Shahan Mufti is a journalist who has written about Pakistan and the political evolution of Islam for Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and many others. He splits his time between Pakistan and Richmond, Virginia, where he lives with his wife and teaches journalism at the University of Richmond. You can learn more about him and his work at his Web site, shahanmufti.com.
Read an Excerpt
I was born in the American Midwest, but I have shuttled back and forth between America and Pakistan for my entire life. A year here, four years there, five months here, two weeks there; if I sit down to count it all, I might discover that I have split my time equally in the two countries down to the exact number of months. I’ll tell you, “I’m 100 percent American and 100 percent Pakistani.” It’s true. Both countries and cultures are equally home to me. You might ask me where in Pakistan my family is from. I would tell you Lahore, and explain that it is the capital and the heart of the region in Pakistan known as the Punjab. I speak Urdu and Punjabi just as well as I speak English. For this reason, working as a reporter in Pakistan has been easier for me than it is for most other American journalists. And no, no one in Pakistan would think I’m from anywhere other than Pakistan.
I know that in your mind you linger on that word: Pakistan. You’ve heard it often; you know it well. It’s a pop of a gunshot ringing out in the room. Pakistan. You have been bombarded with information, images, ideas about this country, much more than you can recollect at this moment. But there are basic impressions: it is next to Afghanistan; it is next to India; it’s Muslim; it has nuclear bombs, many nuclear bombs; it’s not a place for an American to be walking around alone late at night. Whatever specific details you can recall are probably more or less accurate. So while I speak, you will be thinking of that Pakistan. But I also am thinking, as I speak to you, about that place that you picture in your mind—and it is really not a full picture at all.