‘To me, my husband was my son’s murderer. He was also my daughter’s molester. A parasite nibbling on the Holy Book. He was Lucifer holding me by the throat and driving me to sin every night. He was Bhai’s destroyer, Amma Sain’s tormentor, Ma’s humbler and the people’s exploiter. He was the rapist of orphans and the fiend that fed on the weak. But over and above all this he was known to be the man closest to Allah ... the one who could reach Him and save us.’
Blasphemy was the first work of fiction written by Tehmina Durrani, published in 1998 by Ferozsons. A highly controversial book, it looks at the lives of the Muslim clergy and spiritual leaders or pir through the eyes of the main character, Heer, who is married off as a young girl to a prominent pir.
While this treated as a great honour to her poor widowed mother, it slowly reveals itself to be the worst decision ever made for their family, and especially for her. Heer is subjected to violence, cruelty and extreme sexual abuse at the hands of her highly respected husband, a man ‘closest to Allah’, and soon discovers that she is not the only victim of his tremendous ego and megalomania.
I felt chills go down my spine as I read portions of this book; the writing is so brutally simple it makes everything you read seem that much more real. I could not put the book down, and am sorry to report that I actually felt sick once I was done reading it. I just wasn't able to digest the horror the book presented. To add salt to my wounded mind, I read that Durrani had based her novel on a true story, only changing names to protect the identity of Heer.
I know that all religious clergy and men of God are not to be painted with the same brush, but realizing that if even a small percent of the population is able to garner enough authority to act like Pir Sain (which can and does happen, unfortunately), makes me terribly afraid for religion and where it’s headed . . .
Definitely not closer to Allah, that’s for sure.
|Author and activist Tehmina Durrani|