The Infidels of Mecca by Abbas Zaidi

Category: Fiction
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Rights: World rights available (excluding Indian subcontinent)

Benazir Bhutto’s arrival has set in motion a revolution that will at last create a new world in which the wounds of the past will be healed, Professor Umer tells the al-Hallajis, a band of idealists and activists who have lost everything in pursuit of justice and equality. On the other side of the divide are God-fearing men of action and power led by the messianic Colonel Burq who believe that the Maker of all history and Arbiter of every destiny is not only on their side, but has indeed commanded them to rid the world of Benazir Bhutto who symbolizes subversion and sacrilege in the name of democracy and human rights.

The leaders of these two worlds of competing values and destinies have crossed each other’s paths in the past and now Benazir Bhutto’s rally in the next few hours will pit Professor Umer against Colonel Burq in the grand existential denouement. Dara Shikoh—Professor Umer’s brilliant pupil and Colonel Burq’s prodigal son—straddles the two worlds.

But the suicide bombing at Benazir Bhutto’s rally leads to the great unraveling where Dara Shikoh is left with questions that seek to blunt the binaries of life and death, love and hate, and savagery and civilization.