Hometown: Lahore, Pakistan
My name is Kaiynnat Nadeem. ‘Kaiynnat’ means Universe and ‘Nadeem’ means friend. Mostly when I interact with others, people assume that I am Muslim because Kaiynnat Nadeem is a common Islamic name. However, both my parents are Christian, so my sisters and I came to be Christian by birth. My father’s name is Joseph Nadeem and my aunt, who is serving as a Dominican sister in Pakistan,
gave me the baptismal name of Mary. That is why I like to put my full name as Kaiynnat Mary Joseph – because it is how people come to know that I belong to a Christian family.
I live in Lahore, one of the largest cities of Pakistan. In Lahore, there is a Christian community called Youhana Abad. Youhana Abad is named after Saint John. ‘Youhana’ is Urdu for John, and ‘abad’ comes from the word ‘abadi’, which means population. Youhana Abad is said to be one of the largest Christian communities in all of Asia. We’ve got several churches within our community and I go to Saint John Catholic Church.
However, in school, I was the only Christian girl in my class. It was kind of overwhelming in the beginning. I remember an instance when my classmate was thirsty and was asking the other kids if they could share some water with her. No one did, so I felt pity for her. Then, I offered my water bottle and she responded by clearly refusing me and saying that, “My mama told me not to share anything with Christians.” I was hurt.
It took six years for me to realize that somehow, by being open and kind, I had created an impact. By this point the thirsty girl and our unsympathetic classmates were sharing lunch with me. After they got the chance to know me, my class fellows came to love me so much. According to them I’m probably one of the best Christians they’ve ever met. It feels great to hear such sort of comments. And I love them with all my heart too.
It’s such a big achievement and a victory that I succeeded to make this kind of an impact within a majority of Muslims. It feels great when people realize that it’s about the person, not their religion.
The Salemite: what do you think it would be like for Muslims living in America?
I don’t think it’ll be too hard for them as long as they’re ready to accept and adapt themselves in a new culture. In the U.S.A people can enjoy freedom. That’s the best part about America — that people can freely practice their religions. Therefore, Muslims are able to enjoy that liberty. But they’d just have to adapt a few changes like clothes, food, and language. Of course, they would have to be open to meeting and learning about new people and places.