By Dr. Khalid Sohai

Late one night last week, when I returned my darvesh’s hut, I had a pleasant surprise on my answering machine. It was an affectionate message from Dr. Anwar Nasim stating that he was visiting Canada, staying with his daughter in Mississauga and would like to talk to me. When I called he was excited to hear from me and at the end of our conversation, we agreed to get together for dinner one evening.

While I was driving to Mississauga I was thinking of the time when Dr. Anwar Nasim lived in Ottawa and was actively involved in the welfare of the Muslim community in Canada. After leaving Canada, he went to Saudi Arabia for a few years and then went back to Pakistan to serve his motherland. All those who know Anwar Nasim, know that he has a soft corner for Pakistanis and Muslims in his heart and would like to see them educated and successful in the world one day.

When I met him that evening he was his usual graceful and humble self. It was nice to see that all his worldly success and prestigious awards had not made him arrogant and conceited. His humility was charming. He introduced me to his wife, his daughter and his granddaughter. It was obvious that alongside being a well respected scientist and writer, he was also a gentle husband, a kind father and a loving grandfather. For Dr. Anwar Nasim love is not a noun used in his writings it is a verb that he practices everyday.

After our brief chat at home, we went to have dinner in an Italian restaurant and while we were enjoying garlic bread, Chicken and Shrimp dishes, Dr. Anwar Nasim shared that he has been promoting science and technology in Muslim countries and communities as he sees the education of science as the key to the future success of Muslims It is sad that the same nation that had physicians like Avicenna and philosophers like Razi had not produced international scientists and philosophers in the last few centuries. In the recent past, scientists like Abdus Salam, Pervaiz Hoodbhoy and Anwar Nasim had been a breath of fresh air but they are still in minority, while the Muslim majority is influenced by religious extremists who are looking back at the past rather than looking ahead to the future. I shared with Dr. Anwar Nasim that I have just finished my next book titled Khuda, Muzhab aur Humanism [God, Religion and Humanism] in which I have translated the interviews and essays of those Muslim scholars who challenged the traditional concepts of God and religion. It is my humble attempt in creating a secular atmosphere in the Muslim world so that they can have an honest dialogue and people can share their truth without worrying about the consequences. We need to rise above the atmosphere of fear in search of truth. A genuine dialogue is the foundation of democracy and we need to encourage it in our homes, schools and parliaments. That is the only way to pave the way for democratic and humanistic societies in the Muslim world.

I felt quite excited when Dr. Anwar Nasim shared his project of NGIs [Non Government Individuals]. I had heard about NGOs but not of NGIs. He shared that he would like to bring all those individuals together who would like to serve their communities on a voluntary basis. He seemed inspired by Edi Foundation who has been serving the sick and needy for decades without any government assistance. When someone asked Dr. Anwar Nasim in an interview what was his solution to the national problems he said that rather than waiting for the governments to do something if every individual started living an honest, sincere and responsible life, the problems will begin to be solve.

I shared with Dr. Anwar Nasim that although we have spent little time together, we were still on the same page. The same philosophy that he presented as a scientist and a social reformer in his project of NGIs, I was presenting as a psychotherapist and humanist through my Green Zone Philosophy. I presented him my book entitled, The Art of Living in Your Green Zone. He was pleased to receive the gift. I added that I was in the process of preparing audio and videotapes to share the Seven Steps Program to a healthy, happy and peaceful living that I call Green Zone Living. It is my humble way to create mental health awareness and support individuals to contribute to the well being of their families and communities.

I congratulated Dr. Anwar Nasim that alongside being a well-respected scientist, like Abdus Salam and Albert Einstein, he was also contributing in philosophy and literature. He showed me his collection of stories and read me his latest short story. Then we started talking about the short story writers of Pakistan and I told him that the last time I visited Islamabad I met Mansha Yaad, Anwer Zahidi, Rashid Amjad and Irfan Urfi and many others. While I was talking about them I felt sad remembering the talented writer, Ahmed Daood who died young. He was a wonderful writer and had written a novella about gay and lesbian issues that most Muslim writers are too nervous to touch. I had offered him my anthology of gay and lesbian literature Har Daur Main Masloob and he had received it gracefully.

As the discussion was coming to an end we realized it was time for the restaurant to close. It seemed as if Dr. Anwar Nasim and I both belonged to that group of writers that liked to light a candle of social consciousness rather than complain about the darkness of the night of ignorance and prejudice. We shared a belief in a peaceful evolution rather than a violent revolution.

When I dropped him at his daughter’s house that night I gave him an affectionate hug. I felt that we had started the evening as acquaintances and ended the evening as friends. I feel that spending an evening with a creative friend is one of the greatest gifts of life. I will cherish the memory of that evening for a long time. As Dr. Anwar Nasim was leaving he invited me to Islamabad and I promised him that I would visit him next time I go to Pakistan.

July 16, 2006




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