There was a time when you didn't see any bearded men in Karachi. The only bearded person I knew when I was in school was an uncle who wasn't quite right in the head. He would argue with strangers about what constituted a good Muslim, and he would frequently lose his temper, sometimes even physically attacking those who had opinions which were different from his own. Children would tease and throw stones at bearded men in a bus or tram or walking on a street. Some would call them "bakras" (goats). 

Now, of course, it's different. Most men I know are bearded (some of them are relatives). It wouldn't matter if they kept to themselves, it's when they start behaving as if they're the only ones who know what Islam is that I want to get up and go away. A particularly irksome group is the one which urges you to go with them for a couple of days to stay in a mosque while they indoctrinate you.

My wife's youngest brother married a woman whose brother is the head of the Karachi chapter of this group (its head office is in New Delhi, India). So naturally, as the years went by, her daughter also became a strong fundamentalist (in fact, an extremist). She covers her face completely when I'm around

Although she's a qualified doctor, she doesn't practice, but spends her time going to various localities to persuade women to don the black burqa. Today I was invited to her marriage. I've not yet recovered from a recent bout of flu and diarrhea, so I politely declined. But I know that spending a couple of hours with such people would make a healthy man sick. I wouldn't have gone even if I'd been well. I know my wife's brother won't be happy, as I'm the most senior member of the family, but I can't help it. I was afraid that if I went, I might say something which would have shocked the family of the groom, and my wife's brother would have had a heart attack.