Pakistani Heroes: Muslim/Christian Aitzaz Hassan and Asia Bibi

NOTE: Asia Bibi has been released.

Quite often Christians create strict boundaries around the Christian religion. These boundaries are fences by which we demarcate insiders, separating the “insiders” from the “outsiders.”

A key emphasis of the New Testament, however, is that Christ came to break down barriers between Jews (insiders) and Gentiles (outsiders). The one who preached “blessed are the peacemakers” made peace by melting the glue that keeps the religious fence intact, namely, the fence by which we separate ourselves as insiders from others as outsiders.

The glue that keeps such fences intact is the prince of this world (the evil one) who is enlarged and magnified by fear, hatred, and bigotry.

Aitzaz Hassan

Two Pakistani figures have been the news, internationally, as martyrs and heroes, one a Muslim boy named Aitzaz Hassan and the other a Christian woman named Asia Bibi. (For more on Asia Bibi, see link:  Asia Bibi Article).

Aitzaz Hassan, a fifteen year old boy, thwarted a suicide bomber, who was entering a school in order to detonate a bomb in northern Pakistan, according to the story in the Guardian (click link): Guardian Article

Although the bomb detonated, thus killing him, Aitzaz Hassan’s intervention succeeded to protect a school full of some 2000 students.

Like the parents of the children who died at Sandy Hook, so Aitzaz Hassan’s parents magnified the boy’s generous intentions, celebrating his heroism, rather than nursing grievances or bitterness of their own.

What did this boy die for?

Suicide bombing occurs in this region as a weapon of religious militancy in sectarian warfare between Sunnis and Shi’ites.

The real enemy in the story is neither Shi’ite nor Sunni but the prince of the world or the evil one, who feeds on fear, hatred, and bigotry, the glue that keeps the fence intact, which separates insiders from outsiders.

The militant crusader believes so strongly in this fence, that s/he will kill and self-destruct  (slathering on glue) in order to reinforce it, fortifying the barrier that distinguishes the elect (the insiders) from the reprobate (the outsiders).

The boy Aitzaz Hassan,  himself a Muslim,  stood up for principles of Islam that transcend sectarian rivalries: peace, love, and non-violence. He acted, instinctively, in a generous way that may resonate for Christians as being Christ-like.

From a Christian perspective, the self-sacrificing love exhibited by Aitzaz Hassan imitates that of Jesus.

As Jesus said: “No greater love has this than to give one’s life for one’s friends.” The friends of Jesus are those who follow God’s commandment, the greatest of which is love. Similarly, Aitzaz Hassan died on behalf of  love for his friends. Love is save thousands from the bomb of murder and sectarian rivalries.

Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, is a different kind of martyr, a woman and mother, now in prison on allegations of blasphemy.  Her case has been discussed and publicized for many years.

The Supreme court of Pakistan will be handing down a verdict any day, now. Sadly, the danger of mob violence against Asia Bibi is real even should she go free.

Asia Bibi had engaged in dialogue with some Muslim women, her friends, in a Pakistani town, close to where she lives. In the  course of conversation, she spoke about her own religious beliefs.  She made a comment to the effect that for her, and her family, Jesus Christ is savior not Mohammed.

Consequently, she was arrested on charges of blasphemy, a charge associated with apostasy and treason. Asia Bibi is still in prison. Please see this link for an update on her case: Update Asia Bibi Case

Jesus the Lightworker

From a Christian perspective, this case follows the pattern, again, of Jesus’s Christ’s martyrdom.  Jesus was put to death by the Romans on charges of treason and viewed as an enemy of the state.  Rome at the time mandated emperor worship and penalized prophets who were accused of blaspheming the civic gods or undermining the religious-civic order.

Jesus Christ, the light and the lightworker, shines through acts of self-sacrificial love — whether one is Christian, Muslim, or of another religious or sectarian affiliation.

 

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