Letter from Cambridge

By Sir Cam
Cambridge, UK

How time flies! And it isn't just so when one is enjoying oneself. Time, as the popular saying goes, stops for no one. It seems rather strange to be scribbling again after such a long gap (the last DIARY was way back in May 2007).
I'd like to record my thanks to everyone who contacted to ask how I was or just wondered what was going on. There are many names, but I'd particularly like to thank Dr MAJ Beg of Cambridge, Faruqi sahib of 'Impact International' magazine, Tanveer Akhtar of 'Sahil' magazine, Professor KK Aziz of Lahore, Prof Iftikhar Malik of Oxford, and Dr Mukhtar Chaudhry of Chicago (who has just e-mailed to say he is missing the DIARY).
I have today finally come out of my shell thanks entirely to the encouragement of Furuqi sahib, who is a pillar of the British Muslim community. Yes one feels down in life, but that is a part of the journey, he argued, and one should move on and rediscover oneself. Inner turmoil and tensions are a part of the creative process. So: Write the DIARY! And here we are, ladies and gentlemen.
Professor KK Aziz,  the renowned Pakistani historian, is 80 this month. He's not been too well, but was excited to hear from me when I phoned to wish him happy birthday. A party was held in his honor at Aitchison College, Lahore. His new book on the coffee houses of Lahore is due out soon.
As for his autobiography, the second volume is making slow progress mainly because of his health. He has very kindly sent me a copy of "Autobiography, Volume 1". I really feel privileged to receive this special gift from him. KHAKI AS KHAKI CAN BE
An extract from a previous DIARY: "Most countries have an army, the Pakistan army has a country. As we celebrate Pakistan's 60 years, one must not forget that over half of this period has been under military rule. How many countries can boast that? Such a short history and so much military meddling in politics. Little wonder, then, that democracy hasn't taken root nor proper institutions established (other than the army, that is). So Pervez Musharaf finally showed his true color: khaki as khaki can be. Emergency! Rule! NO! NO! Here in Cambridge the students did well in condemning the move. Basit Kirmani, President of the Cambridge University Pakistan Society, sent out circulars and mobilized students against the state of emergency. A meeting was also organized at the South Asia Centre to discuss the crisis. JUNOON.COM Prof Hasan Gardezi has forwarded an interesting article by Salman Ahmed of the band Junoon. The article, An Equal Music, is well worth a read. I have my own connection with Junoon for they carry an article of mine on their website: http://www.junoon.com/articles/art_32_printout.htm . Here's an extract from Salman's write up: "Like many of my generation, I had faith in Musharraf's commitment to promote ‘enlightened moderation’ in Pakistan. We supported him because he said that he would make politics accountable and transparent, fight extremism, remove media repression, and bridge the staggering chasm between the rich and poor. Surely, it cannot be labeled opportunistic if we are disenchanted when he arbitrarily imposes emergency, bullies the media and arrests opponents? His contempt of civil institutions is a devastating betrayal of his earlier promises."
Often when I randomly open the Qur'an, I come across the most relevant verse. I flicked it open just now and guess what? It opened at Surah Maryam (Mary): "She said: How can I have a son when no mortal hath touched me, neither have I been unchaste? He [the angel] said: So (it will be). Thy Lord saith: It is easy for Me. And (it will be) that we may make of him a revelation for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing ordained." The problem with Christmas nowadays is that it has become too commercialized. It has almost lost all spirituality.
Just received Dr MAJ Beg's new book "A short encyclopedia of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad" which I'll try to cover in another DIARY.
Sotirios Christou, a Cambridge author, has today given me a copy of his new book "Informed Worship" about worship in Christianity. He was most intrigued to discover that as a Muslim I often visit churches in Cambridge even if it is only to photograph them.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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