Muslim villagers in a small Pakistani village called Khaksabad are helping to fund a new church for their Christian neighbors when their old one got destroyed by heavy rains.
People of Khaksabad aren’t very well off but are donating whatever they can afford to build a new mud chapel.
"I learnt about the project in a community meeting last month,” said Dilawar Hussain, a local Muslim shopkeeper who donated 10,000 rupees ($95.58). “A church is also a house of Allah, praying is what matters. We worship the same God.”
In 2009, the Christian community of Gojra, the closest city to the village, was attacked by religious mobs, which resulted in 10 deaths. Four churches were also destroyed in nearby villages.
Ever since then, the locals have been trying to amend and improve interfaith relation and promote religious harmony.
“After local riots we are trying to bring people together even more,” said Ijaz Farooq, a villager. “We have increased our activity so we don’t have to face something like that. By building this church we want to show that we are united as a community,” he added.
“Since my childhood we have all lived together in this one place. We live with love [and] attend each other’s weddings and festivals. We are together in times of happiness and grief. I pray that we never have to go through what happened in Gojra ever,” said Faryad Masih, a local Christian.
Pakistan is not known to be the most tolerant country for minorities of other religions, however, that does not mean humanity is extinct.
Tolerance isn’t as farfetched a notion for the people of Pakistan as one may deduce from the events usually making headlines in international media.
When twin bomb blasts at a church killed dozens of Christians in the northern city of Peshawar in 2013, not only did the Muslim clerics from different schools of thought condemned the act, they issued fatwas (religious decrees) declaring such acts of violence against innocent minorities as “un-Islamic.”
The very same year, around 3000 people belonging to different religions gathered and created a human shield to protect Christians outside a church in Islamabad.
More recently, when Christians of a small town in Punjab were threatened by religious zealots and the mainstream media and the government seemed indifferent to their plight, the civil society came to their rescue.
Pakistan For All, a citizen resistance network, shared updates and encouraged people to contact local politicians and law enforcement officials to protect the Christians.
And indeed the actions bore fruit: