journeys at home and abroad
Multan is known in Pakistan as the City of the Sufis and that’s where I’ll be next week, speaking at a conference arranged by my old friend and colleague Toaha Qureshi.
I visited Multan three years ago with my son and we had a wonderful time meeting the Qureshi family and visiting the mausoleum of Sheikh Rukn -i Alam, a widely loved C14th scholar. That was during the winter; at this time of year it is the archetypal heat and dust city (anyone remember that Julie Christie film?).
I hadn’t realised that Multan had such a multifaith history: Alexander the Great is believed to have captured it in 324 BCE and the Chinese traveller Hsuan Tsang visited in 641 CE. The Sanskrit Rig-Veda is believed to have been written in Multan and it was the first town of Punjab to be captured by Mohammed bin Qasim in 711. Under the Mughals, Multan was renowned for its architecture, music, ceramics and artistry. Before the British stormed the citadel in 1848-9, the Sikhs were in charge. Quite a history!
This time I’ll be travelling with four colleagues from London and Germany and the focus will be on education and on the exellent work which Toaha and his colleagues are involved with in the UK. We will be calling in on Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore and the programme is tightly packed with meetings from breakfast to dinner each day. We will be meeting senior academics at the University of Lahore and senior church leaders who are involved in interfaith work in Pakistan. I am very much looking forward to learning all about it.
Pakistan is rarely out of the news these days, so it will be good to talk to people who are not hitting the headlines and to listen to their thoughts and ideas.
Please keep in touch with comments! It was so helpful when I visited Bosnia last year – and let me know what kind of questions you would be asking if you were travelling with me.