Dear Nausheen

MK: I have a flat in Karachi in my name. The original papers are with me. Somehow my stepmother and stepsister have rented out the flat without my knowledge with false lease papers. Now I want to sell my flat for my medical treatment. My step mother passed away last week and it seems like my stepsister is creating hurdles for me in disposing of the flat. How can I sell my flat from here in the USA ? Please advise.

Nausheen: This is unfortunately a common problem for Pakistanis who live in the US and own real estate back in Pakistan. The most efficient and direct way of handling the situation would be to take all your original paperwork with you to Karachi and deal with your stepsister and the renters in person. In the same vein, if you are not able to go in person but you have family or friends in Karachi who will work on your behalf, you will want to send them certified copies of your paperwork to get the process started.
Do not send anyone your original paperwork.
In any case, you should consult an attorney in the US who specializes in the Pakistani community and international law to find out if there is some legal recourse for you. This can be a long process, especially if you are trying to take care of it from the United States and you don't have anyone in Pakistan to help you, so be aware of that. Good luck.

A Student: I have been an international student in the United States for five years and have just completed my undergraduate degree. While going to school over here I have made some really good friends who are non-Muslims (I won't say what religion they are). All of them are really nice people and very close to me. I have always wanted to talk to them about Islam to try to explain to them about the religion. The problem is I do not know how to approach this kind of issue and how to convey my message without offending them. I don’t want to lose their friendship.
Nausheen: One of the unique aspects of living in the United States is the ability to make friends of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. It's wonderful to hear that you have found people of different faiths that you can connect with. Too often, Muslims in the US keep within the boundaries of their own ethnic groups, which stifles communication on a larger scale and leads to greater misunderstanding of Islam. This isolationist mentality ends up propagating stereotypes that hurt all Muslims.
I can, however, relate to your hesitance to bring up religion with your non-Muslim friends. Sometimes, when we bond with people of different faiths, we spend so much time trying to accentuate the ideals we share that we minimize our differences to a fault. It is important to share that aspect of yourself with your friends, but you want to make sure that the conversations are not preachy, judgmental or apologetic on either side. Talking about Islam should come naturally from within the context of a friendly dialogue, so don't try to force it. If you notice the conversation is heading towards a direction where you can bring up your Islamic values, then go for it.
Most non-Muslims have many questions about Islam, and your friends may be just as interested in discussing your religion as you are. Like you, they may also feel that talking about religion would somehow be offensive to you, and are hesitant to discuss it. Just remember to be as open and respectful of their religious beliefs as you want them to be of yours.
And I think, once you get past the initial discomfort, if there is any, all of you will realize that the meaning of a deeper friendship is in the mutual understanding that can develop only through open, honest, and respectful communication.
(Editor’s Note: Dear Nausheen is an advice column that addresses the unique personal, social and cultural perspectives of South Asian Muslims in the United States. Nausheen Pasha-Zaidi is an author, teacher, mom, and mentor. Born in Karachi and raised in New York, Nausheen has lived and worked in a number of states in the US. Her experiences have provided her with a balanced, no-nonsense approach to life that is tethered by her ability to regard the validity of multiple worldviews. “I don’t see the world in black-and-white, but in glorious hues of pastel.”
If you are at a crossroads or have an issue you would like to discuss, send us your thoughts. We encourage you to use a fictitious name for yourself and anyone else you mention in your letter. Your contact information will not be disclosed. Selected letters will be edited and published in Pakistan Link.
Please address your letters seeking Nausheen’s advice to:



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.