We live in a world where we have to fight to achieve the idea of coexistence. In our own homeland, the white in our flag suffers greatly, day in and day out. Therefore, stories of communal harmony restore our faith in tolerance and love. One such story is that of a Muslim family that has been diligently looking after a century-old church.
Waheed Murad and his family take care of St. Matthews Church in Nathia Gali.
St. Matthews Church, located on the mountains of the Hazara district, has been one of the major tourist attractions in the area.
The church was built out of cedar wood in 1914, during the rule of the British, but it has stood the test of time and still stands in all its grandeur. The credit for its existence, however, goes to Waheed and his family.
They have been passing down the custodianship of the church from generation to generation and still continue to serve and maintain it by themselves.
Since there isn’t any significant population of Christians in the area, they did not get any funds from the previous governments for the church. Eventually, Imran Khan’s government took over and provided some funds, due to which, some maintenance work was also done on the site.
Waheed mentioned how he has been looking after the church for the last 17 years. Before he was given this responsibility, his father oversaw matters for 45 years. Moreover, even before that, his grandfather was there for 35 years. If Waheed’s family had not taken this task, the church would have remained unmaintained and the structure might have been lost.
Waheed is proud of the work he does and says that he is the only person who knows how to ring the church’s bell. He wants to continue the work he does for more years to come.
When Waheed was asked why he and his family have been doing this for decades, he said that all houses of worship are important for them, and need to be well-kept.
He further went on to say that his family believes in all the messengers of God and all the Holy books as well. Therefore, the same amount of respect is given to the church as they give to their mosque.
If only there were more more people who thought the way Waheed and his family do. The church seems well-maintained and the fact that this family has dutifully looked after it for such a long period of time is a testament to the fact that there are still decent, well-meaning people left in the world. Truly, we need more people like them for our country to prosper, while being inclusive of all communities.
You can see Waheed Murad’s entire interview here:
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Cover image via BBC News