Upholding Faith Amidst Slavery: The Tufail Masih Family’s Struggle

Farrukh Saif

December 2, 2023

Introduction:

The Tufail Masih family lived in Pakistan, where working-class families faced many challenges. Unfortunately, the Masih family found themselves caught up in a web of deceit, hardship, and religious coercion. Tufail Masih, his wife Sonia, and daughter Alishba tell a harrowing story of their journey from hopeful laborers in Lahore to involuntary servitude in Sheikhupura.

The Move to Sheikhupura:

Tufail Masih, seeking better opportunities, moved his family to Sheikhupura, following the promises of a friend who guaranteed better pay and advance money. However, their aspirations turned into a nightmare when they found themselves enslaved in a kiln, a reality they hadn’t anticipated.

The False Promise:

The kiln owner offered them a sum of 70,000 PKR to settle their debts and restart their lives. Little did they know that the looming threat of the coronavirus would bring their work to a halt, exacerbating their financial troubles. As the pandemic raged on, their debts mounted daily, pushing them to the brink.

Religious Coercion and Threats:

Facing insurmountable debts, the Masih family became victims of religious coercion. The kiln owner and his son, Muhammad Shafique, pressured them to convert to Islam, threatening dire consequences if they refused. Tufail, Sonia, and Alishba, staunch believers in Jesus Christ, resisted the relentless attempts to force a change in their faith. They have faith and hope that Jesus Christ will set them free from slavery.

Inappropriate Behavior and Uncomfortable Environment:

The family’s ordeal was compounded by the uncomfortable atmosphere at the kiln. Tufail, suffering from asthma aggravated by the dusty environment, accompanied his wife and daughter to work. However, their discomfort grew as the owner and manager began addressing women inappropriately. Muhammad Shafique, associated with Muslim clerics, escalated the situation, bringing religious pressure into their already challenging circumstances.

Forced Marriages and Imposed Choices:

Muhammad Shafique went beyond religious coercion, threatening to forcibly marry Alishba to a Muslim if the Masih family did not succumb to their demands by July 1, 2023. He insisted on sending the children to Islamic schools, asserting that there was no church in the area.

Upholding Faith and Resilience:

Despite the mounting pressures, the Masih family remained steadfast in their faith. Trusting in their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they resisted the forced conversion to Islam. Their unwavering resilience against religious coercion and their commitment to their beliefs serve as a testament to the strength of the human spirit even in the face of adversity.

Conclusion:

The Masih family’s story sheds light on the struggles faced by vulnerable communities, exposing the exploitation and coercion that often accompany economic hardship. As they navigate the complex intersection of faith, labor, and societal expectations, the Masih family’s journey serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of religious freedom and the resilience of individuals determined to stand firm in their beliefs, even in the darkest of times.

Listen to their testimony:

Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a fearless Christian Human Rights activist, founded the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to combat religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His focus on liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns has earned him international recognition. Despite facing threats and fatwas, his impactful work continues to support marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, amplifying its global reach.

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