Changing Reality: A jihad we can all support

What do Mick Jagger, Coca-Cola and Lahore, Pakistan all have in common?

They are all elements in one man’s ongoing jihad to build bridges across borders.

Salman Ahmad is a modern warrior, armed with weapons of mass destruction aimed straight at hatred, mistrust and divisiveness. Using his favored tools – a guitar, haunting melodies and poignant lyrics – he is out to tear down barriers and get people around the world to stop and really take a look at each other.

Ahmad is a recording legend in South Asia who counts Al Gore, Melissa Ethridge and Bono as his fans, and has sold over 30 million records with his band Junoon (known as the “U2 of Asia”). He’s a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations who has stood up against political and religious fanaticism to deliver his message.

But the truth is a lot of Westerners know as little about Ahmad as they do his home country of Pakistan. While it may have been in the news more than any other country in the world (beside Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and North Korea) over the last decade, Pakistan remains one of the least understood places on earth.

How do I know? Because I lived and worked there for almost four years after the 9-11 attacks. Because I’ve watched in dismay as Pakistan is repeatedly portrayed as backwater hellhole full of nothing but guns, black turbans and suicide bombers on motorcycles. Because I’ve had to listen, slack-jawed, as other Americans have asked my Pakistani husband – in all seriousness – whether there is furniture in Pakistan or if people just eat on the floor.

In his newly released autobiography “Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star’s Revolution” Ahmad takes the reader on an enlightening journey that traces both the personal changes he experienced growing up in America and Pakistan, and the bigger changes that have wrought havoc on the generous and strong-spirited Pakistani people.

It’s a great read – sometimes painful, occasionally depressing, but simultaneously funny and uplifting. There’s adventure, romance and a hysterical story about the Rolling Stones’ frontman that is absolutely priceless.

Ahmad does an incredible job of raising the veil of misunderstanding that separates east and west, Muslim and non-Muslim, in a clear demonstration that every person – whatever their ethnicity, religion or nationality – is on a similar journey.

His message of hope and understanding shines through on every page, and much like Junoon’s music “Rock & Roll Jihad” will leave you cheering.

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3 Comments to “Changing Reality: A jihad we can all support”

  1. Those are some ignorant questions posed to your husband. I used to get that, too.

    I’ve heard about this book. I’m going to add it on my wish list.

  2. Kieryn Syed says:

    Oh my. I just spent 3 weeks in Pakistan. 2 weeks in Islamabad and 1 week in Lahore. It was FASCINATING. I came home with a totally different view of the country than when I went.

    The country as a whole is trribly misunderstood. There country is little different than ours in the regard that there is good and bad all around. Sure there are bad people in Pakistan, but I can tell you from my short visit that those people are far more civilized and aware than anyone gives them credit for.

    Are they poor? Horribly poor, but whatwould you expect. hey must fightforevery scrap they get because as fa as I can figure, everyone, including most of heir government officials would rather castem aside and blame them for the world’s problems tan help them.

    I saw people living on the side of the road with their goats tied to their cots, but they were smiling and tankful for all they had.

    I pray that the rest of the world will open its eyes and realize that people are people and we deserve peace.

  3. sherry stevens says:

    you write so brilliantly about the most interesting stuff!!