Tehrik-e-Niswan turns back time

Collaborative performance about the city of Jerusalem staged in Karachi.

Saadia Qamar November 27, 2010

KARACHI: Jerusalem - a journey back in time was a collaborative performance with a multi-media presentation of historical facts narrated by Dr Iftikhar Salahuddin and performances by Tehrik-e-Niswan, a cultural action group formed by Sheema Kermani.

Salahuddin has been deeply fascinated by the history of Middle East for many years and was fortunate enough to visit Jerusalem in 2005 and 2009 respectively. He now brings to light historical facts “in the form of an unbiased version of history keeping all three religions (in retrospect).

I talked about the Jews from the Jewish perspective, about Christians from their perspective and took a Muslim point of view as well,” said Salahuddin.

His narration about Jerusa-lem begins from the Land of Canaan, which Jews hold sacred, then moves onto Moses and the revelation of the Ten Commandments and then discusses King David who stood against the mighty Goliath.

The narration spans the life of Christ. Salahuddin also incorporated the Ascension of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  The narration ended with the birth of Israel after the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and the problems the Palestinians have suffered since 1948.

Sheema Kermani’s troupe performed a few scenes from the historical chapters and two were particularly notable.

One was enacted by Kermani as Rabia Basri, the saint who left Basra in Iraq and came to live in Jerusalem. The other performance was a dialogue between Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi, played by Paras Masroor, and Musa bin Mamoon, a Jewish scholar, portrayed by Anwer Jafri. In the dialogue the scholar emphasised the presence and acceptance of all of three Abrahamic religions.

Palestinians lost the city of Jerusalem to Israel in the 1967 war and when asked about the current situation in Jerusalem, Salahuddin said, “The land has a 4,000 year old history, every stone and every street has its own history.

Today all the historic sites of the Muslims are poorly maintained so much so that there is heap of garbage around them regardless of whether it is a souk (bazaar) or a Mumluk artefact.” He added, “Arabs keep a low profile in today’s Jerusalem not only for survival but because of business reasons as well.”

Proceeds of the event were in support of Janum Network’s initiative to rehabilitate people displaced by the floods in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2010.


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