comment: Iqbal, Bacha Khan and terrorists — Suroosh Irfani
Daily Times, February 26, 2009
It might well be that the heartless war our homegrown jihadis and Afghan Taliban are waging against Pakistan exemplifies Islam’s dangerous inversion that Iqbal had warned against some three generations ago. Such inversion has virtually displaced Bacha Khan and Iqbal’s spiritual humanism by a jihadi extremism at war with humanity
“Muslims are at war with one another, in their hearts they only harbor schism. They cry out if someone else pulls a brick out of a mosque which they themselves shun” — Allama Iqbal, Armaghan e Hijaz (verse translated by Mustansir Mir)
When Muhammad Iqbal, the ‘spiritual founder of Pakistan’, wrote the above verses shortly before his death in 1938, the blowing up of mosques and beheadings of fellow Muslims had not yet become part of everyday Muslim life. Nor was the destruction of schools, or the ban on girls’ education and music part of a freedom struggle that led to the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947.
Indeed, by the 1930s when Iqbal’s Islamic rethink had earned him the appellations of ‘Poet of Islam’ and ‘Wiseman of the Ummah’, non-violence was shaping the freedom struggle against British rule in much of India. While Gandhi was emblematic of such a struggle, shades of non-violence also permeated Muslim political discourse. Such a discourse was as much in evidence in the ‘martial’ North West Frontier Province — the cradle of jihadi terror in Pakistan today — as the rest of India.
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