Interview

Pastor Eric Sarwar/ Nikhat Sattar

(This interview was conducted in Los Angeles in Nov 2017)

ES: I begin in the name of the Lord, the ever Merciful, the Compassionate, who is slow in punishment and bestows favours and blessings easily. Viewers, today we have Mr. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, who does not need an introduction, with us. We will discuss with him how the book of Psalms can influence relations between Muslims and Christians in the context of cultural music. Welcome, Mr. Ghamidi. The Muslim community, especially that in Pakistan knows you very well, but the Christian community does not know you much. We would like you to introduce yourself briefly. Who is Ghamidi for Christians?

JAG: I have submitted many times that I am a student of religion. My interests have been religion, sociology, history and philosophy and my background is also very similar. I started my studies in religion with Sufism and I became very keen to study old religious texts. It might be of interest to Christians to know that in my school days, I had studied the Bible in the same manner as Christians study it. Narratives of Sufism and the Psalms have a particular type of similarity. If the poetry of Sufism is recited, you will find that the way in which a dialogue is held with the Almighty is that of a lover for a beloved one. This is also found in the Psalms. It seems as if a lover is speaking to his beloved. This has great significance for my cultural traditions. You can say that the type of poetry that I began reading under the influence of my father connects very closely with the Psalms of David. As far as my education and training are concerned, I see things in the light of the Qur'an, ever since I started to read it. For me, the Qur'an is the Book of God, just as the Psalms is the Book of God. Similarly, Torah, too, is the Book of God. I have read all these books without discriminating between them, because when I talk about them, it is not as if I am talking to Christians from another frame of reference. Instead, I put myself within their context, of a single nation (ummah), and believe that they are mine and feel that that they should also accept me as their own.

E.S: the understanding that you are creating from your side is such that I am aware that you have paid a huge price for it. You have mentioned that your study of the Qur'an is with special reference to the Psalms of David. In your view, what is the role of Psalms in Islamic prayer, spirituality, Islamic piety, collective worship structure and practice? What is the role of the Psalms in this? You have shared your personal testimony, but as an Islamic scholar or historian, how do you see this?

JAG: I think that there are two traditions- one is linked with ordinary scholars and is not concerned with the Bible or its various sciences. They believe that the Bible has been modified and that, after the revelation of the Qur'an, it is no longer required to read and understand these books. The second, extra ordinary tradition in Muslims is that some of our scholars have studied them in great detail; written their interpretations; clarified their meanings, background and implications. Ibn Ḥazm occupies a special status in our history. He was a great scholar of Spain. Another scholar is Ibn Taymiyyah who had an unusual insight into the Bible. In India, Mawlana 'Inayat Rasul Chiriyyakuti, and after him, the founder of our school of thought, Mawlana Ḥamid al-Din Farahi had particular interest in Bible studies. He has also written some interpretations of it. So, there has been some extra ordinary relationship with it. Some of our scholars have seen the Psalms as an expression of links with the Almighty and this has been explained by them. But now, in the Muslim society in general, it has not been introduced normally. You can say that it is a purely scholarly tradition through which people have created linkages to some extent. Not only have they written about them and studied them, but they have also recognized their relationship with the Holy Qur'an. Ordinary people have generally not considered this worth their attention. My view is that in current times, if it is possible for us, we should try to help both communities to realize the importance which the Noble Qur'an gives to the Psalms and the status which it provides to it. The Qur'an repeatedly says that the faith being presented is nothing new. The Prophet Muhammad (sws) did not bring a new religion. He was not a special messenger. Before him, many messengers had come. They had been sent for the purpose of informing and warning their people and giving them glad tidings. Prophet Jesus (sws) had come for the same purpose and so had Prophet Moses (sws). Abraham (sws) had initiated this process. It is the same school of thought, the same tradition, the same nation to which they belong. When the Qur'an mentions their history, it says specifically: "And to David we gave the Psalms," (4:163), meaning that other messengers were also given books about this warrants special mention. At some places, the Qur'an has given references of the Psalms, particularly of the Psalm which talks about "But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity." (Psalm 37:11) The verse of Surah Anbiya' says: "We have already written in the Psalms, the book after remembrance, that My righteous servants will inherit the earth," (21:105).

The Qur'an has referred to the Psalms in this verse. My esteemed teacher, Mawlana Amin Ahsan Islahi, has quoted the entire Psalm and has explained that this is how the Qur'an refers to it and mentions the statement given in the Psalms. But as a book of prayer and invoking God, and the manner in which it should be read, it has been given less attention by us. We should send out the message that Muslims should spread this tradition amongst themselves that these are all books of God; they are derived from the same source and there is no real difference between them. If there do happen to be some differences, these are differences of interpretation. This is the same as when differences of interpretation arise between Muslims themselves. The way I see it is that the Almighty gave the same faith, beginning with Adam (sws). Abraham (sws) was a messenger of the same faith. After him, all messengers have come with the invitation for the same faith and Muhammad (sws) renewed and revived it. All of us are standing as flag bearers of the same tradition with some sects and groups within us that have been created; they arose in the past and they exist at present too. These are just groups: in reality, everyone's religion is one and the same. This is that one should submit to God; one should accept God's guidance, one should love God sincerely and sing His praises.

E.S: if we view your thoughts, we see that they constitute a complete counter narrative in terms of the Pakistani context. In the same way that you have presented a counter narrative to extremism, you have presented your approach to other divine revelations that is completely different. This discussion will put another aspect to take this forward.

You have mentioned three points: the historical connection of the Psalms with the Holy Qur'an and its divine revelation; its continuity in Pakistan and its continuity in Indo Pak history. How do you see the hymns of the Psalms as understood in the Qur'an? You have referred to this in your book, where you have mentioned the five daily prayers of the Jews and their continuity. How are hymns related to Islamic practice? So far, you have talked about the theoretical aspects. How do you see its influence upon practices in Islam?

JAG: Our tradition has become different in view of the Arabic language. These books were present in other languages, so people became constrained to use only Arabic in prayers or supplications. They usually recite the supplications given in the Qur'an or prayers that were recited by the Prophet (sws), which have been quoted by historians in books of Ḥadith. There is a whole book called "Kitab al-Da'wat" which only has supplications. These are very extra ordinary prayers because they were spoken by the Prophet (sws). So, people use the same prayers for their daily matters. The hymns have not entered the lives of ordinary Muslims, but they have always been a part of Muslim scholarship. I can relate to you my own example. Whenever I need to select a prayer or supplication, I open the the Psalms and read from it in just the same manner that I choose from the book of the prayers of the Prophet (sws) or from the Holy Qur'an. I believe that in the history of Muslims, there must have been scholars who must have read the Psalms and recited it in the same manner. But the common trend is that supplications should be made in Arabic; this is why we do not have the tradition of the hymns. You would have noted that when our scholars lead prayers, they pray afterwards in Arabic. In Muslim prayers, there are so many supplications that can be made in any language of the world. This is also what I have explained in my book. The only compulsory part in Arabic is Surah Fatiha and some part of the Qur'an. The rest of the supplications can be in any other language. People often do not accept this.

As far as the Qur'an is concerned, it draws our attention to the fact that these books have all been sent by God. The descriptions given in the Qur'an indicate that it wants its followers and believers to adopt the same style and the same love for the glorification of God.

E.S: you mentioned David (sws) and the revelation to him and its authenticity. Over the past few days, I have interviewed some scholars and discussed some topics with them. We discussed two points, one of them being the difference between a messenger and a prophet. How do you see this difference? According to narratives, it is said in the Qur'an that there were 1, 24,000 prophets, to four of whom books were revealed. How is revelation different between a prophet and a messenger?

JAG: the reference that you have given is not in the Qur'an. It is only a historical narrative which says that close to 1, 24,000 prophets came into the world, of whom 313 were messengers. The Qur'an does not state any number. However, the Qur'an does say that there is a history of prophet hood. In the first phase of prophets, the Almighty sent a prophet to carry His message to every nation. These were both prophets and messengers. The difference between the two as stated in the Qur'an is that a prophet receives guidance from God and communicates this to his people. The primary purpose of this guidance is to warn people of a new world that will come after death and that humans should prepare for this after life. The prophet gives the message to people that they must purify themselves in order to prepare for life after death. This means that prophets receive revelations from God and invite people towards purification: purification of the body; purification of food and drink and purification of morals. This is their basic message. The Qur'an tells us that this message has not been accepted by us on the basis of knowledge and justice. When this is so, the Almighty has shown a manifestation of the Day of Judgement (which shall happen one day and when all humanity will be brought to court) for different nations in this world. The prophets who were the instruments of this manifestation were called messengers. Thus, all messengers are prophets. Prophet hood is a general status that is common to both groups. There is no difference in this matter. The only difference is that some prophets were chosen and sent towards a particular nation; then the verdict which is to be passed on them on the Day of Judgement was passed on them in this world. It possessed both reward and punishment. This has been explained in the Qur'an in Surah Yunus, as a law: "To every people (was sent) a messenger: when their messenger comes (before them), the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged." (10:46-47)

A messenger was sent to every nation, every community. Whenever he came, he would decide among them on the basis of justice; no one faced any oppression. So, there is no difference between the two groups. Both communicate the same message; both receive revelation; both spread guidance from God; both call people to purify themselves; warn and inform them of the impending Day of Judgement. There is no difference in these matters. One is, however, limited to preaching and, for the other, his preaching results in a mini version of the Day of Judgement for his people.

The Qur'an tells us that all messengers were sent to all nations in the first phase. Afterwards, Abraham (sws) was bestowed with prophet hood. With him, the Almighty changed His scheme. This was that prophet hood would be confined within the progeny of Abraham (sws). This has also been stated by the Qur'an as a principle: "God did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of 'Imran above all people," (3:33), thus referring to Jesus (sws). So, they were all given prophet hood. An entire community of prophets was thus raised. One of Abraham's sons, Isaac's (sws) progeny was given this responsibility first when all these books were revealed. After that, at the end, Muhammad (sws) was born from the progeny of his second son, Ismael (sws). This is how the Qur'an explains it. So, when we look at the Bible in the light of the Qur'an, just as I have said that the Qur'an is a biography of a prophet who had been sent to warn, meaning that the prophet was standing among his people, warning them, the consequences of this warning have been explained in the Qur'an in totality. Similarly, what is the Bible? It is the story of the warning presented by the progeny of Abraham (sws). It explains what had happened to them. It begins with the Book of Genesis. In our view, what is the Torah? It is, in reality, the Deuteronomy. In the beginning, the Torah came in the form of a revelation. It was then collected and compiled just as the Qur'an was compiled. In the middle, the Psalms came. In reality, the Psalms is a book of an expression of a sincere relationship with God. It is one of its kind. There is nothing else like it. Of all the books that have been sent by the Almighty, the Psalms has an extraordinary status, of being an eternal sacred spring of expression of the truest relationship with God. Imagine it as a spring welling out of one's heart, of love and the deepest connection with God and it has taken the form of words.

E.S: If you can explain briefly to my question related to the many allegations that are made upon the Injil and Torah that they have been changed. In your observation, has this ever been said about the Psalms?

JAG: Let me first clarify your first point. In our context, the misunderstanding among our people is that when they look at the Bible, they consider all of its books as one single entity and think that all of the component parts are divine revelations, whereas, this is not true of the whole Bible. You are a student of the Bible. You know that the Bible includes the Torah; it includes the Psalms; it includes the chronicles of the prophets; it includes Injil. Along with this, it is also a book of history. If you look at some of the people who hold debates, where do they obtain their examples from? They actually present their examples from the history given in the Bible. History is something entirely different. It is detailed in narratives, provided by historians. Here, both things have been mixed up. People should be made aware of what the Torah is; what the Injil is. The sayings of Jesus (sws) are found here. Same is the case with the Psalms.

The allegations that are made with regard to the Bible are mostly those referring to its historical parts. If you remove these parts, to my knowledge, no one has said anything about changes in its other components. At the utmost, it can be said that some researchers who knew Hebrew or Greek made some objections about some of the translations. The same debates also occur about translations of the Qur'an. This is because, translation, after all, is a human effort. When you understand something and translate it, some differences are bound to occur. The Psalms has not been brought into this debate because it does not contain anything of the sort. When I read it, however, I do feel that some of the psalms may have been included later. There are some researchers, even Christian researchers who say that some parts were added at a later time. These are purely academic debates: they are not matters that should be major topics. In our institute, a scholar, 'Abd al-Sattar Ghawri was a highly reputed scholar. He passed away recently. He had made a formal study of some sections of the Psalms and explained how David (sws) had travelled to Makkah and what his connections were with the progeny of Ishmael (sws). He explained it by using the Psalms itself and he referred to some aspects of Hebrew to indicate how the translation can affect our understanding. So, the Psalms has always been given attention. But this has only been within the academic world. Usually, comments related to changes made within the Bible were about its historical parts.

E.S: This changes the discourse entirely. And I think that it will be a challenge for the Christian world to move away from debates and enter the academic world so that it might be more fruitful.

We were talking about David (sws). In your view, what influence has his character, his role as song writer, a singer, a composer, his melodious voice, had within Islam? Has it impacted only Sufism or has the ordinary Muslim also made an effort to see it this way?

JAG: It has shown more influence in the Sufi tradition. Even in this, it became more prominent only after Imam Ghazali. The Qur'an also presents it in such a fashion so as to demonstrate its uniqueness with regard to expression of gratitude to God. In examples of repentance given in the Qur'an, the greatest example is that of David (sws). A comment has been made in the Qur'an about Abraham (sws) that he was the one on the right path, but an incident has been related about David (sws). It says how he would focus his concentration upon the Almighty; how he would repent on his mistakes; how, at one stage, when he was made cognizant of his error and prostrated before God. David (sws) has been used as model of gratitude and thankfulness. The Almighty bestowed His blessings upon him and awarded a special status to him and his son. In spite of all this, he continued to demonstrate the highest degree of gratitude to God. There is no doubt that this has influenced the tradition of Sufism most. As I have mentioned before, people normally do not refer to these books. Sufis, too, have not mentioned them. However, if you look at the supplications of the Sufis, especially in the tradition of the kafi in Indo Pak, which uses the relationship between the lover and the beloved, it shows this influence. Some examples can be given that indicate as if the Psalms are present in the background and their interpretations and allusions are being talked about.

E.S: Psalms has a huge influence on worship in Christianity. It is said that Christian music was born from the Psalms. Especially, the musical practices used in monasticism were greatly impacted by it, during the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D in Egypt and Syria. You have mentioned its influence on Sufism. In your opinion, the chanting, singing, the human voice- where do these connect with Islamic practices in terms of Islamic vocal art?

JAG: Here, if we clarify one point, I think we could understand the point fully. We praise and supplicate to God and in this we do not use prose but create a sort of melody with it. The Qur'an itself is not only a book of prose, but it can be sung in the same way because there is a unique lyrical and musical aspect to it. And you are aware of the fact that our people have been learning to recite the Qur'an in this manner from the very first day. There is a particular type of modulation, melody, rhythm, music to it. It is as if it is also poetry, but without the blemishes of a poem. It is also prose, but without the dryness of prose. It is a most beautiful merger of both. So, this has been the tradition from the beginning. Although I do not think that the tradition has the same meaning as is generally understood. People normally believe that at one time, the Prophet (sws) had said that one who did not recite the Qur'an tunefully was not from among them (Muslims). This may have meant something different in that context, but some people have derived this meaning from it. After this, people began to focus on pronunciation and on rhythm. You have seen how people recite in a melodious manner. At the same time, people also started to believe that perhaps music was forbidden and musical instruments could not be played. People continued to sing and in beautiful voices too. Our adhan is recited in some of the most beautiful voices and it is called out in beautiful rhythm. The Qur'an is recited similarly. You know that as soon as Sufi tradition was started, Imam Ghazali took a very different approach to other Muslim scholars and jurists, and slowly, a special kind of music called sama' was started. This was a devotional kind of Sufi music. Our various schools of Sufism, such as Suharwardi, Qadri, Chishti etc employ the sama' as a part of their daily lives. They have held debates with the scholars, in which they have sung formally. We have heard about famous qawwals, especially from India, who are from the Chishti tradition. Even today, you see gatherings of qawwals and qawwalis being performed at shrines of Sufis.

Moving away from Sufism, we have a strong tradition of singing praises of the Prophet (sws). In this also, people have sung with beautiful voices. However, jurists have formed the opinion that musical instruments cannot be used. So, instead, the tradition of reciting in a sing song, lyrical tone of voice is used. If you belong to Punjab, and if you have had the occasion to listen to scholars making speeches, in Punjabi rural areas, you would know that they do so in a sing song style. It is a piece of prose, but they sing it. So, the tradition exists because singing, the beauty of voice, its rhythm, its tune, its melody-all are inherent within the nature of humankind. When we are overwhelmed with repentance, when something affects us deeply, it impacts our voice. I have seen my elders create a kind of musical intonation even while weeping! These things have existed in our tradition in this manner. Because of the opinion formed by jurists about musical instruments, formal music has not influenced us in the same manner as it has influenced Christianity.

E.S: You are aware that 500 years of reformation are being celebrated throughout the Western world to pay tribute to Martin Luther, on 31st October. This is when he rose against the Catholic Church. The foundations of the reformation are important because when he turned his attention to music, he focused on Scriptures based on hymns. You referred to the Punjab. I would say that today, even votes are being solicited through singing. But that is another story.

So, what you are saying is that vocal art has been more prominent in Islam than instrumental music.

JAG: Yes, among Muslims, because they have been influenced greatly by jurists. Sufis have not accepted this. They have continued to object to it and there are many who have spent their entire lives in resisting it. They believe that the state of rapture to express one's connection with God is essential through the creation of a religious movement and this can be done through music and musical instruments. They have also explained various parameters of this. But for us, the recitation of the Qur'an, the qira'ah, as it is called, in a beautiful voice, creating rhythm, a sing song style, the adhan called out beautifully- these are all viewed as being praise worthy. No one has ever condemned this. It is normally praised highly. Similar is the case when you read Sa'di's Gulistan and Bustan, Or Shaykh 'Aṭṭar. Then, when poetry came into being, people, especially Sufis began to present religious facts in the form of verse, such as by Mawlana Rum, Shaykh 'Aṭṭar and Sa'di, people began to sing their ghazals, poems and supplications. I can tell you about myself. Even today, I read Pandnamah in Persian, before beginning my fajr prayers, in the same manner. So, we have this tradition, but the link between religious practices and musical instruments does not exist. The main reason is because of the opinion that has been formed by jurists. This is why I have tried to explain that this opinion is not correct. Music is one of Almighty's blessings. The adornments which God has created in this world include dress, jewellery, furniture of homes. Similarly, the voice, too, possesses an instrument of beauty or adornment, as does poetry. The Qur'an has presented its point of view on this in Surah al-A'raf. It says: "Say: 'Who has forbidden the beautiful [gifts] of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, [which He hath provided] for sustenance?" Say: "They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, [and] purely for them on the Day of Judgment." (7:32)

So, this means that those who are denying faith take benefit from these blessings because of the faithful. These things have been created especially for the latter. In the Afterlife, these will be designated only for them. At the end, the Qur'an says: "Say: the things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to Allah, for which He hath given no authority; and saying things about Allah of which ye have no knowledge." (7:33)

Nothing else has been forbidden. But we have developed this perception about music being a forbidden thing.

I have tried from the beginning to explain to people that music, poetry, literature, are in themselves not forbidden. There is no reason to condemn them as such. If one can use them to sing praises of God, it can create great beauty within the soul, give it power and reduce arrogance. It overcomes harsh attitudes and a particular type of softness is created in one's approach. This role is played by poetry, by music. There is no need to worry about these things. However, their content should be looked at. It is possible that one can bring lewdness and undesirable aspects into one's normal language. So, the same opinion can be formed about that too.

ES: From what you have said, it seems to me that the adornments you have mentioned are the heritage of the Believers and other people are benefitting from this heritage.

JAG: Yes, God Almighty has said that these have been created by Him especially for the Believers.

ES: If I try to explain this in my words, I would say that this is the divine heritage of the Believers. Based on the foundations that we have talked about today and what we have learned from you, what would be your recommendations? How do you see these being implemented practically? For Muslim- Christian interface or dialogue, which specific practical implications exist that can be used by both groups and implemented jointly? What is the common ground between them?

JAG: The same that has been provided by the Qur'an, and in my view, as soon as it comes to the forefront, the entire history will be turned on its head. See, both our groups have been standing up to reject each other. Our relationship is based upon disputes and debates. Muslim scholars have been trying to prove that Christians are wrong; they have changed their holy books; such and such has happened. Christians have focused on trying to prove, if you read about previous centuries, that Muhammad (sws), was not a prophet; that he took all of this from various sources and put it together into a book. I think that by now, many pages of history have been revealed. Both groups need to give up on their hard stances and be ready to deliberate upon the place in the Qur'an where it talks about the same issue. They should sit down and consider what the Qur'an says. It says that every prophet, from Adam (sws) to Muhammad (sws) had brought the same religion. Christianity, Judaism, Islam are not separate religions. It says that Islam is not the name of anything. It only means "to surrender." When you bow your head in front of God, that is Islam. Adam (sws) taught this; Noah (sws) taught this; Abraham (sws) taught this. It is the same religion throughout which has been presented as the religion of God. All these books are books from God. All of them need to be studied and commonalities between them should be determined. Instead of rejecting one another, we should understand that these have emerged from the same source and find their links to each other. If the Qur'an is not saying that it has brought something new, then what is the reason to link it with something new. It is announcing that this is the same faith that had been brought earlier by other prophets:

The Messenger believed in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one [of them] believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His apostles. We make no distinction [they say] between one and another of His apostles. And they say: We hear, and we obey: We seek thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys. (2:285)

In this way, if our people are ready to study these books objectively, they would be surprised to find the manner in which the Torah has explained the concept of tawhid (monotheism) practically. I can tell you that no such example can be found anywhere else among us. The manner in which the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus (sws) clarifies the role of wisdom in religion is unsurpassed. I have been constantly advising Muslims to adopt this in their communications. If it was up to me, I would advise Muslims to read out the Sermon on the Mount in mosques and tell them how one of God's prophets, in times when he (Jesus) was facing circumstances that we Muslims face now, was giving them creating sincere love for God in their hearts and telling them how they could enter God's Kingdom. If both groups of people can get out of the mindset of debates and begin to read these books, I can say that there may not be need for dialogues anymore. We would stand up together and interact with each other with love. Any differences would only be in interpretation and serious and positive discussions can always be held on matters of such differences anytime. Muslims do this among themselves; Christians do this among themselves. Why is it impossible to accept the idea of only one religion being from God; we are all believers of the same religion. There are differences that have occurred in interpretation and, on these, we need to talk with each other in the light of the same books to see what God's true guidance is.

ES: Viewers, you have heard Mr. Ghamidi speak and the fact that I am sitting here with him, is a sign of the fact that, as he has said, the idea of both Christians and Muslims getting out of winning or losing mode needs to be furthered and they need to treat each other with love and acceptance. And this is our message today.

Mr. Ghamidi, I am from Pakistan and so are you. I just remembered the song: "I am Pakistan, you are Pakistan". It is a strange coincidence that we are meeting here in California. I represent a Christian community that has been persecuted; there is social hatred, the blasphemy law and many other things. You, yourself, being such a highly reputed scholar have faced heavy resistance. My last question is that, in the Pakistani context, where people like you, who explain the true spirit of the Qur'an are also in danger, as well as people like us who are situated in a different scenario altogether- how do you see Christians and Muslims, especially with respect to creative art, such as what we have discussed with respect to David (sws) and the Psalms? How do we implement this in our daily lives?

JAG: I do not see this as an issue between so and so being a Muslim and so and so being a Christian. I see this as the struggle between knowledge and ignorance. The basic problem of our nation is that it has never been educated. We must get together and educate it. Pakistan is a nation; it is a state. All citizens have equal status. When Pakistan was created, this was done on the premise that it will house Hindus, Christians, Muslims and all of them would be equal citizens of this country. There would be no discrimination between them. They would lead their lives according to their respective faiths and a relationship and dialogue based on love would prevail. People need to be educated on this. We should try to bring people out of their ignorance which gives rise to the killings, disputes, hatred, persecution and other things which you have mentioned. They are not connected to any special group regardless of whether one is in the majority or minority. When ignorance dominates, and power comes, the results become evident. Power can come to anyone. If you study history, you will find that where Christians have gained power, they have created problems. So, we should try and eliminate ignorance. In the face of power, human beings bow their heads and surrender. We need to educate our nation to bow their heads only to God.

ES: Finally, what message would you like to give to Christians in Pakistan and, in general, in the Western world?

JAG: I would like to give the message that, in case of religion, please rise above all your prejudices and study the entire religious tradition. Times have changes drastically; however, we have stayed within our closed homes and cast aspersions upon each other. But we are all children of Adam (sws) and Eve (sws); thus, we are all siblings. We might have differences of interpretation. These can be presented to each other in the academic world in an academic manner. We should understand that, as human beings, we have the same blood flowing in our veins. We have the same heritage and our destination is the same. If the call of the prophets is true, and you also believe that it is true, and I also believe that it is true, then they are all telling us that life will not end at death but that a new world will come after that. Let us try to enter that new world with purity.

ES: Viewers, you have listened to our discussion today and we hope that many concerns would have been addressed and many curtains would have been lifted to clarify how Muslims and Christians can apply Psalms especially in the Pakistani context. I end this with a line from the Psalms:

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (Psalms, 73:25)

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