By Mehboob Qadir
April 14, 2015
Why are vicious Fazlullah and the like thriving and why have dozens of APS victims been mercilessly maimed, disabled or crippled for life? What does one tell them was the divine scheme in this insane butchery?
God is of great things and lives in superlatives. He is credited with the creation of not only the world but also the universe, all life on earth and whatever is geo-physically placed in their environs. The universe is simply massive and is still expanding with thousands of galaxies whirling in endless space in the company of millions of their fellow stars, quasars, moons and suns but they never cross each other’s paths. Most astonishingly, every celestial body revolves around its own axis and over its own orbit. Any deviation is immediately punished, normally resulting in the errant turning into shimmering ash or luminous dust. The immeasurable expanse of the entire universe is beyond the compass of any known imagination. Therefore, the universe is His appropriate business, not insignificant earth and, in that, never Muslims alone.
In His grand scheme of creation, He seems to have allowed life on a small speck called Earth but with a purpose. What is it that He wanted out of human beings in a woefully short span of their lives? Our piety, power and wealth do not impress Him. Our worship does not add to or deduct a dot from His Godliness. His majesty and magnificence are not dependent upon our petty prayers.
No one has ever heard Him answer an urgent prayer, roar in anger, punish in indignation or help in a rush. He always takes His time. That should tell us where we stand in nature’s pecking order. Our significance or otherwise is relative to each other on earth only, bound by the extent to which we can influence or impact. That, in most cases, is ridiculously limited to the reach of our right hand. Our reward lies in how well we relate to one another and not as much to God. It follows that religions are mainly meant for those whose raw intellect refuses to see reason and therefore needs to be coerced through the fear of divine oversight and reprimand. Benevolence seems to have been added to the package to make it sweeter to endure. See how ornate obscenity drenched in perverse religious discourse has come to dominate and mesmerise mostly Muslim stragglers in their little islands among alien societies.
Recently, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) assassins indiscriminately gunned down 147 Army Public School (APS) Peshawar children and teachers, quite a few at point blank range. Those children were so delicate that, in many cases, the bullets passed through a number of children in one go. The assassins were Muslims and those killed were also Muslims. While shoals of our gilded mullahs and turbaned muftis remained speechless, a rare solidarity in our national grief was shown by the Turkish and Indians who observed silence in schools and colleges all across their country, just when Mullah Fazlullah and his compulsive killers were patting each other on the remorseless massacre of the most defenceless, in Your name. One has still to determine whose side You are on. Mullah Fazlullah and his slaughtering savages or the lovely little innocent school children of APS Peshawar, some of whom went up to the same killers looking for a friend, brother or a sister and were duly shot with a sinister grin.
What about that supremely brave APS female schoolteacher who stood up to prevent the massacre of her students and was burnt alive by the attackers? And the lady principal who refused to escape while there was a chance and was mauled down by a hail of bullets? Why are vicious Fazlullah and the like thriving and why have dozens of APS victims been mercilessly maimed, disabled or crippled for life? What does one tell them was the divine scheme in this insane butchery? How does one console a mother who saw her little child off to APS that morning and then lifted his blood soaked, mutilated body recognised only by a shoe on a mangled leg? How about those children who were shot and tossed over the wall like slaughtered chicken?
Yemen is rumbling with a muddled civil war. The opposing sides are Muslim. A Pakistan navy ship rescued a batch of stranded Pakistanis along with a number of Indians, UK citizens, Syrians, Filipinos, Canadians, Indonesians and Chinese. This was a remarkable example of character and a humanitarian approach to a tragic situation. These nationalities expressed genuine gratitude to the Pakistan navy and Pakistan itself while disembarking at Karachi port waving Pakistani flags; a very graceful gesture indeed. Why then a Pakistani boat was blown up summarily and gleefully with its crew and passengers off Mumbai’s waters? They too were human beings and had the minimum right to be heard before being sent to their watery graves.
Boko Haram kidnaps 274 schoolgirls in Nigeria and sells them into slavery and forced marriages purporting to serve Islam’s cause. Like al Shabaab in Somalia and the TTP in Pakistan, they abhor education and peaceful coexistence, and prefer guns as the main instrument of their evil doctrine. Al Shabaab has just killed 148 unarmed college students in Kenya merely to stamp their monopoly over terror. Is that how we are required to elucidate the kind of society Islam wants or is it a deeply brutal psychosis laced with biting lust for terrifying power? Why should it be so pernicious and so pervasive in Muslim societies? What kind of curse is this and why us? No one wants to be hated like we are today. Those whom the Gods want to destroy, He first makes mad.
Syria and Iraq are the heart of the Middle East and their geography makes Syria one of the two roundabouts of history. This roundabout is in the grip of terrible turmoil. Close to a quarter million people have perished since 1990 and the mayhem continues. Syrian-Iraqi volatility stoked by Islamic State (IS) will affect the world in many horrible ways. This is the same part of the Arab habitat where hundreds of thousands of prophets were sent. Their legacy remains by way of a vast store of ancient prophecies alive in local folklore. The trouble is that if those prophets had the privilege of knowing a bit of the future, there would have been clarity but their prophecies are generally obsolete, incoherent and opaque, perhaps on purpose?
Under the skin of every Arab there is an ancient Babylonian who is chained to the spell of prophecies as an article of faith and so is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the dragonhead of the despised IS. He has situated his murderous obsession over this ancient basin of Abrahamic religions and has set up a reign of stark terror, waiting for the foretold apocalypse to come. Why does he exercise a contemptible pull over Muslim men and women, boys and girls as far away as Canada, the US, Australia and Ukraine, gouging them out of their loving families and pressing them into his vile fight or the disgrace of being forced as war brides? How can Baghdadi debase Islam as a religion so obscure that he enjoins all Muslims to migrate to IS, an obvious impossibility that makes the whole thing look absurd besides being absolutely savage? Baghdadi and his barbarous pack quote authority from the same sources that the rest of the Muslim scholars opposing them do. Which way does a practicing Muslim go? This is not how we are supposed to relate to each other. Let us agree that religion is a strictly private undertaking between man and God, that no religion, however sacrosanct, supersedes humanity.
Mehboob Qadir is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan army