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I Dared to Call Him Father The Story of Bilquis Sheikh by Fr. Joe Joyce


s we travel the journey of life, we all come to know of people we never get to meet in person but who nevertheless leave a marked impression on us. For me, one such person is Bilquis Sheikh, and she was born on December 12, 1912, in what is now Pakistan. She belonged to a noble Muslim family descended from Nawab Mohammad Hyat, and her exhusband, General Khalid Masud Sheikh, was the Interior Minister of the country from 1962 to 1965. After her divorce from the General, she came to live in a village called Wah, just off the Grand Trunk


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Road between Rawalpindi and Peshawar. She owned a comfortable house there and kept an impressive flower garden that gave her much pleasure. It was in this garden that she had an experience which initiated a profound change in the course her life would take. One evening, as the sun was setting, she was taking a stroll in her garden when she felt a chilly breeze. Then a mist blew past her, and she felt something touch her hand. She screamed in fright and ran indoors where her maidservants took care of her. After hearing about her experience, they urged her to get a blessing from the local

mullah, but, not being a fervently religious person, she refused. Some days later, however, her little grandson Mahmud who was living with her became ill, so she relented. After the blessing, Mahmud quickly got better, and Bilquis felt drawn to read the Koran. As she read, she noticed that other religions were mentioned, including Christianity, and she decided to have a look at the Bible too. She acquired a small copy, and opening it at random, scanned the page. The passage that immediately caught her eye deeply touched her heart. It said, “I will say to a people that was not mine, ‘You

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Columban Mission Magazine December 2011  

Columban Mission Magazine December 2011