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The Faithful Scribe A journalist explores his family’s history to reveal the hybrid cultural and political landscape of Pakistan the world’s first Islamic democracy  Shahan Mufti’s family history which he can trace back fourteen hundred years to the inner circle of the prophet Muhammad offers an enlightened perspective on the mystifying history of Pakistan Mufti uses the stories of his ancestors many of whom served as judges and jurists in Muslim sharia courts of South Asia for many centuries to reveal the deepest roots—real and imagined—of Islamic civilization in Pakistan   More than a personal history The Faithful Scribe captures the larger story of the world’s first Islamic democracy and explains how the state that once promised to bridge Islam and the West is now threatening to crumble under historical and political pressure and why Pakistan’s destiny matters to us all


10 thoughts on “The Faithful Scribe

  1. Zahra Zahra says:

    I am usually uite wary of non fiction and the uiet boredom it instills in my story loving soul but I bought this book after hearing of Shahan Mufti at the Lahore Literary Festival 2014 The annual book fair in Lahore offered a 15% discount on it and the cover promised to reveal “a story of Islam Pakistan family and war” I walked off with a staggering bill and a few other books For those of you who don’t know the book costs Rs 2695 in Pakistan2695 in the USUpon finishing the brilliant Black Book by Orhan Pamuk I was not prepared for any mediocre fiction The Faithful Scribe seemed like the perfect next pick Recent political and social upheavals have compelled even the most complacent citizens to garner interest in understanding their diverse and complex countryIn all honesty my love for fiction initially gave caution to approach the book with skepticism but as I began turning the pages a lovely story about ordinary Pakistanis began to unfurl It was a story about a people torn by multiple wars a land ravaged by corruption and a nation held together by the idea of political Islam; all painted against the backdrop of a personal family history that traced its lineage back to the second caliph of Islam It was also a saga cataloguing tales of life struggle and survival through the rich history of the landMufti deftly outlined the advent of Islam in the subcontinent and since then the major role the religion has played in defining the lives of the people here Starting from Mahmud of Ghazni and other Muslim invasions from Central Asian rulers the Mughal era the impact of British colonialism on Muslim life the fall of the Ottoman Empire Partition the fall of Dhaka and the subseuent Bhutto years the Islamic legacy of the Zia years Musharraf’s Enlightened Moderation down to Imran Khan’s modern brand of Islamic Democracy all discussed in relation to the WestSkeptical of the belief that it is Islam that holds Pakistan together Mufti actually marks the River Indus as the pulse of the region giving birth to ancient civilisations like MeharGarh and the Indus Valley It is indeed a powerful concept entrenched in the solid grounds of logicA wonderful book on self discovery through personal and land history recommended for all those with a keen interest in our region and its tumultuous political past


  2. Christian Christian says:

    Finished this book this weekend in Rye NH If I could recommend one book about family roots Islam and an easy to read history about Pakistan this is the one I enjoyed reading Shahan Mufti's The Faithful Scribe Mufti is an American born in Ohio and his family is from Lahore Pakistan His father taught at an Ohio college and Shahan went to Ohio public schools Shahan's family relocates to Pakistan and so Mufti is in a new place and learns on the fly everything about his parents' homeland In the book Mufti retraces the history of Pakistan He covers how and when it became the first Islamic democracy all the way to the 2010 floods that devastated the nation Shahan is a journalist and puts his expertise to work He teaches the subject at the University of Richmond and what makes it a good read for beginners is his simple sentence structure what journalists are essentially taught how to write There is also no nuance which can sometimes make it confusing for readers He takes the history of Pakistan weaves it into his family's story talks about how it impacted his family and how it shaped his life today Shahan also ties in Islam what Islam is and is not about and its significance in Pakistan With Shahan's story you develop a deep appreciation for the religion Lastly what makes this an intriguing read is the fact he traces his family of origin to major figures in South Asian history On his mother's side we learn that his roots go all the way back to azi Buddhan the Grand Old azi or ruler and how he was a respected figure in Pakistan history More importantly he also finds out his family roots go all the way back to the prophet Muhammad Mufti makes this discovery while on a trip to Pakistan Mufti is given an old parchment detailing his family tree It comes with a heart warming message that stood out in this book The scribe in the parchment wrote If it is the everlasting garden of refuge you desire Always and forever remember the greatness of religion If it is a success and recognition in the world you want Morning and night recite the greatness of ancestors I thought what a great message to send to future generations of the family It was touching to see that be written to those who may not ever meet them but that the person in the past calls out to them The Faithful Scribe is Musafir Azizuddin He was the one who recorded their lineage and he did a lot of work on the family It was commendable A book like this shows how important our ancestors are and how we are all connected to one another It's certainly gotten me interested in my own family and where we came from I found out that my grandfather's ancestors on my mom's side are from Rouen France and my grandmother's side are from La Rochelle France On my dad's side everyone he remembers is from uebec So I'm 100 percent French Canadian Mufti spoke at this year's New Voices a book festival put on by Misty Valley Books in Chester Vt He and several others were part of an up and coming writers group writers with much promise Some famous names that attended in the past were Dennis Lehane Colum McCann Alex Berenson and Dr Eben Alexander among others Perhaps Mufti will be among the best of the best The Faithful Scribe is a great premier book by Shahan Mufti


  3. Louise Louise says:

    The author presents the history of Pakistan as it parallels the history of his family The title and opening paragraphs imply that there will be a full sweep but most if it relates to Pakistan established 1947 as a nation There is some content on the British colonial era a bit on the partition and less on earlier timesRather than a chronology the author presents content both personal and national as he learns about it He starts by describing his earliest consciousness of history through his awareness of his parents' views on things It follows with the events that parallel his own life sometimes going backwards to a past event just learned or explained; for instance the description of the building of Islamabad comes as he visits it not as it is build The book ends with a visit to a rural family homestead where Mufti writes about past and present agricultural policiesThere are interesting glimpses of the different administrations the change from colonialism to partition to the independence of Bangladesh and Most of what was presented was interesting but each episode was breezy and not fully connected to the othersThe author sees Pakistan as a uniue experiment It is a new country the only democracy with Islam at its center and the only Islamic country with a nuclear weapon The book is relatively free of interpretation It could be that the author's being 100% American and 100% Pakistan has him walking a fine lineThe book was a fast read and provoked my interest in some of the issues presented


  4. Tariq Mahmood Tariq Mahmood says:

    The book kept me glued to the pages which was pretty commendable as the gist of the story was known to me and to every Pakistani The Pakistani family as an institution has grown from strength to strength as the government writ has weakened I guess the when any government grows weaker other players will fill the vacuum created The feudals together with the British laid the foundation of the state of Pakistan in 1947 hoping to keep the arrangement ticking with the new government of Pakistan But the plight of the ordinary working class and the improvised was not addressed in this feudal based model which naturally failed to deliver This major fault line is now abundantly clear with the rise of the new Islamic militias fighting the feudal government nexus across the country These militias are challenging the prevalent order and want to establish a system of adal Islamic socialist system The only issue is that even their vision of adal has no recent precedence and heavily relies on blind adherence to at least thousand year old era of mythical Islamic system which is impossible to realise in my opinion Which is precisely why I have little faith in the emerging political movements like Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf PTI to deliver because I have yet to see any proper guidelines to how such a system can actually work apart from the mere sloganeering efforts of their cherished and glamorous leader Imran Khan In the absence of a set plan enforcing writ by fear becomes the only method remaining for any new Islamic power emerging in the political vacuum This fear is a tactical solution rather than a strategic longer term solution of empowering the lower classesCurrently I don't see any political movement in Pakistan which can effectively address the plight and frustrations of the growing poor


  5. Melinda Melinda says:

    The Faithful Scribe is a story of Islam Pakistan family and war the cultural and religious roots of modern Pakistan Shahan Mufti gives a complete history of the complicated country of Pakistan He delves into how continued political and historical strife continues to plague the mesh of Islam and the West Mufti notes the first Islamic Democracy has been subjected by periods of military rule political instability and ongoing conflicts with neighboring India Pakistan continues to deal with issues such as terrorism poverty illiteracy and corruption Mufti is hopeful of Pakistan's future Mufti traces his geology and how his family fits into Islam and Pakistan He discovers his family dates back a thousand years to the inner circle of the prophet Muhammed He shares how his own family has been impacted by Pakistan's past present and remain hopful for a positive future for this beloved country Mufti does a wonderful job incorporating his personal family history with the history of Pakistan Great for history buffs andor those interested in Middle EastSouth Asian historyissues Mufti's family tree discovery inspires the reader to trace their ancestral originsARC copy of this book provided by Other Press Publishing


  6. Sharmila Mukherjee Sharmila Mukherjee says:

    Born in Ohio but raised largely in Lahore Pakistan Mufti frames this memoir as a response to a uestion his wife asked Why is Pakistan such a mess? His talent for explaining the political through the personal particularly the tormented embrace between his two home countries benefits from the uncanny convergence of his family's milestones with Pakistan's his parents married the day after India joined the 1971 war that bisected Pakistan; a cousin died in the 1988 plane crash that killed President Zia In 2007 Mufti moved from New York to Islamabad to work as a foreign correspondent and encountered a new era of violence that he describes as an auto immune disorder a devastating battle between the ideals of Islam and of Western democracy that the constitution of Pakistan aspires to reconcileFrom The New Yorker Magazine


  7. Yasmin Yasmin says:

    I wanted to like it but I got thrown off when he states there is such a thing as good violence along with bad violence He never went on to explain what this good violence is and how it is classified separately from bad violence


  8. Liza Liza says:

    I stumbled across this while sifting through books in a free little library near my house I’m not a history nut I’m not as up to date on politics as I feel I should be and I am pretty ignorant when it comes to world politics and international relations Having not known anything about Pakistan other than the assassination of Osama Bin Laden the Taliban shooting Malala and a vague understanding of the apartheid I felt ill prepared diving into this book If this sounds like you at all then I highly recommend giving this book a shot Mufti explores Pakistan’s history from beginning to present and goes into the relationship Islam has with it’s people However this book doesn’t at all read like a textbook rather it explains the ideas and emotions that shaped the country not the events The story of his family is woven into the history of Pakistan as well as it’s relationship with the West It is a uniue perspective from both a Pakistani and an American point of view Most uniue however is the personal and familial connections Mufti is able to make with Pakistan’s major historical events and the founding of Islam After discovering a copy of his family tree that dates back fourteen hundred years Mufti uses this to explore the ideas of what family and religion mean to himself


  9. Shruti A Chhabra Shruti A Chhabra says:

    I was fascinated by the book from the first page The book takes us through the history of Pakistan through the family tree of Shahan Mufti It takes us through the initial days of the birth of Pakistan to the political upheaval and socio economic conditions that prevailed in the country As a neighbouring country which has it very roots in Pakistan too i was intrigued to read all that It also talks about the influences of other countries and how it shaped up Pakistan to what it is The only thing that surprised me was that Shahan didn't talk about Indian and Pakistan relations He totally skipped Kargil kashmir issue and the other details about what we share with our neighbouring country I was tad bit disappointed with total abandonment of the relationship of Pakistan and India Also after Bhuttos' death he doesn't talk about the political situation of his country Other than that book is well researched and written


  10. Reading Lately Reading Lately says:

    The connection between the religion Islam and democracy in Pakistan explained with a family history of writer Shahan mufti The influence of culture in the newly created democratic nation drives the religion under different languages and ethnicities The influence of the west is also explained how this interesting cocktail works for the people of Pakistan An environment and setting with so many influences is a challenge to live and fulfill all aspects and priorities of life It all takes us to think about what the future is and where we stand A good work by Mufti and history telling is no double excellent Explaining religion culture influences threats and controversies together is a challenge and Mufti took it and fulfilled


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