Photo by TPS on 27 March, 2024

Pakistani Religious Leader Holds Historic Book Launch in Jerusalem

Public By Sveta Listratov • 27 March, 2024

Jerusalem, 27 March, 2024 (TPS) -- In a display of civil diplomacy between two nations without formal relations, a leading Pakistani religious figure held a book launch in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

“The bridge between our countries was there before me, and hopefully it will go on till we reach the goal of peace,” Peer Syed Mudassir Nazar Shah explained via Zoom to a gathering of two dozen people at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs research instiute. “In my humble opinion, it can be achieved with more engagements, exchange between people, between intellectuals, and thanks to today’s technology, it can be worked out.”

Peer,  a socially and politically active leader a head of both the Fatwa Council and the Global Imam Council for South Asia stressed, “If people are connected, their governments will follow.”

The book, “Whispers in The Stones, A Sufi’s Quest Through Time” is about holy sites in Pakistan. Interestingly, it includes a chapter on the history of the Jewish community in Pakistan, particularly in the city of Rawalpindi.

“In Pakistan, there exists a small Jewish community comprising approximately 900 individuals who, for obvious reasons, choose not to disclose their identity,” Peer said. “Despite the presence of Jewish archaeology in the country, these historical sites remain unmapped due to numerous challenges, a task never before undertaken.”

The book, published by the Pakistan’s Sufi Council, marks the first time that an official Pakistani publication has recognized having a Jewish community.

“Whispers in the Stones” notes that Persian Jews fleeing persecution in Mashhad first settled in Rawalpindi in northern Pakistan in 1839 and were documented in a 1901 census. Photos show Rawalpindi’s Rehman Manzil building — once a synagogue — in a state of disrepair, though Stars of David recur prominently on the facade.

He emphasized the importance of preserving the cultural legacy of Pakistan’s synagogues and religious buildings of other faiths as a sign of inclusivity and mutual respect.

Shah condemned Hamas’s attack on October 7.

“On October 7, a bunch of people brought a bad name to my religion, hurting kids who celebrated life, their parents who planned their future,” Shah said with tears in his eyes. “They launched an attack on the whole of humanity, not only on Israeli society. But, remember, they are only two percent of humankind, they are the minority. We should not let them hurt our prosperity and future, and that is my commitment.”

The book launch drew praise from Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who sent a recorded video congratulating Shah and lauding his commitment to friendship and co-existence.

Explaining the significance of the event, JCPA President Dr. Dan Diker said, “For the first time, a Pakistani author includes Pakistan’s Jewish history in his book, while also launching it in Israel.”

Said Diker, “Shah’s courageous leadership and rich knowledge emphasize his commitment to bring positive change in spiritual and social spheres.”