A new book on Asia Bibi's imprisonment and death sentence in Pakistan includes an unpublished letter she wrote to her husband and children urging them to have faith in God.
“My children, don’t lose courage or faith in Jesus Christ,” Bibi says in her book, “Get Me Out of Here,” released the week of Feb. 20.
Spanish publisher LibroLibres issued the new memoir, which was written by Bibi in her prison cell with the help of French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet.
Bibi’s case gained worldwide attention in 2010 when she was condemned to death for violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which state that anyone who offends Islam will be hanged. Critics say the country's blasphemy laws are often unjust and have become a tool for abusing religious minorities as well as vengeance between Muslims.
Bibi is still awaiting a ruling on the appeal of her death sentence and has been moved to an isolated cell without any windows, sink or toilet because of Muslim threats against her life.
In her letter to her family, Bibi movingly addresses her husband Ashiq and their five children while she awaited the granting of the appeal of her death sentence.
“Even since I have returned to by cell and have known that I am going to die, all my thoughts have turned to you, my beloved Ashiq, and to you, my beloved children. Nothing pains me more than to leave you alone in total anguish,” she said.
However, despite her fear, Bibi encouraged her family to keep alive their desire to be happy even though life is not always easy.
“We are Christians and poor, but our family is a light...I still don’t know when they will hang me, but be at peace, my loves, I shall go with my head held high, without fear, because I will be in the company of Our Lord and the Virgin Mary, who will welcome me into their arms,” she said.
Below is the full text of her letter:
My beloved Ashiq, my beloved children:
Since I have returned to my cell and have known that I am going to die, all my thoughts have turned to you, my beloved Ashiq, and you, my adoring children. Nothing pains me more than to leave you alone in total anguish.
Imran, my oldest son of 18 years, I hope you find a good wife who you will make as happy as your father has made me.
Nasima, my firstborn daughter of 22 years, you already have a husband whose family has embraced you so much. Give your father little grandchildren who you will raise in Christian charity like we have raised you.
My sweet Isha, you are 15, yet still a little rowdy. Your father and I have always considered you to be a gift from God. You are so kind and generous…Don’t try to understand why your mother is no longer at your side, but you are so present in my heart. You have a small place there reserved only for you.
Sidra, you are only 13, and I know that since I have been in prison you have taken charge of the home, you are the one caring for your older sister Isha, who needs so much help. I am so sorry I have thrust you into adult life, when you are such a young girl and should still be playing with your dolls.
My little Isham, you are only 9 and you are going to lose your mother. My God, how unfair life can be! But since you will continue going to school, you will be well prepared to defend yourself against the injustice of men.
My children, do you lose courage or faith in Jesus Christ. Better days shall smile upon you and up there, when I am in the arms of the Lord, I will continue to watch over you. But please, I ask the five of you to be prudent, I ask you not to do anything that would offend Muslims or the laws of this country.
My daughters, I hope you are fortunate enough to find a husband like your father.
Ashiq, I have loved you since the first day, and the 22 years we have spent together prove it. I have never stopped thanking heaven for finding you, for being fortunate to have a marriage that was based on love and not arranged, as usually happens in our province. We both had personalities that perfectly matched…Slanderous individuals have crossed our path. Behold, there you are alone with the fruit of our love: keep guard over the courage and pride of our family.
My children…the greatest desire of your father and I has been to be happy and to make you happy, even though life is not easy every day. We are Christians and poor, but our family is a light. I would have liked so much to see you grow up, to continue raising you and to make you into honest persons...And you will be! …I still don’t know when they will hang me, but be at peace, my loves, I shall go with my head held high, without fear, because I will be in the company of Our Lord and the Virgin Mary, who will welcome me into their arms.
My good husband, continue raising our children like I would have liked to have done with you. Ashiq, my beloved children, I shall leave you forever, but I will love you for all eternity.