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Political jugglers (Part I)

Asadullah Khan Ghalib was an indomitable and versatile figure.  He could, in simple verse, express human characteristics in all aspects. The following verse is a masterpiece in describing the contradictions within a human being – i.e., the difference between the persona and the inner self.

Hen kawakib kuch nazar aatey hen kuch

Dete hen dhoka yeh bazigar khula

(The stars are not what they seem; so are cheaters)

Ghalib was a large-hearted, humble person. He graciously accepted the greatness of Mir and Bedil in the following verses:

Rekhte key tumhi ustad nahin ho Ghalib

Kehte hen agle zamane men koi Mir bhi tha

(You are not the only expert in composing versus, Ghalib; there used to be Mir in yesteryears.)

Tarze Bedil men rekhta kehna

Asadullah Khan qayamat hey

(To compose verses in the style of Bedil is an almost impossible task.) But I digress (I can’t help doing that when I am talking about Ghalib). What I was going to discuss was the political jugglers and cheats who are now croaking like frogs after the first rains. Since the matter is very serious, I am venturing to approach it through an indirect, philosophical route so that the readers are able to understand the full implications of the problem.

Who has not heard of the famous saint, Maulana Rumi? His spiritual status in known, both in the eEast and the west. He was an intellectual par excellence. He could explain the most intricate problems in very simple words. He frequently chose allegories of simple stories.

Difficult matters relating to religion, politics, individuals or groups, even purely philosophical and physical phenomena, were explained in such an attractive, simple manner that the reader was able to understand and grasp their meaning without even realising that these were the questions discussed by such great men as Socrates, Aristotle and Plato, who had not found satisfactory answers to them. No wonder his Masnavi, presented in his versatile Persian style, was referred to as a holy book.

Let us ponder on how this book originated and on its sudden appearance. For a long time Maulana Rumi had had some kind of divine guidance in putting important matters in poetic form. During that period, his bright disciple, Maulana Hisamuddin, was the first to hear these divine inspirations and he would memorise them and write them down. Rumi narrated thousands of verses to his disciples, who memorised them and wrote them down.

Then one day, quite suddenly, the divine inspiration stopped. So suddenly, in fact, that one verse broke off in the middle. It was many centuries later that one Mufti Elahi Kandehlvi from India was blessed by the Almighty with the ability to complete that verse. The Masnavi is not only considered to be a classic, but also a spiritual treasure. Even Michael Jackson, the famous pop singer, used English translations of selected verses from it for some of his songs and music, which made it extremely popular with the young generation.

How unfortunate that some of our own intellectuals do not recognise and appreciate the worth of our own poets, whereas western scholars recognise and praise their poetry. We only started reading Ghazali, Razi, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Rushd, etc., after the west wrote about them.

The same was the case for Farabi, Ibn Sina, Omar Khayyam, Jabir bin Hayyan, Ibn Haitham and many other Muslim scholars. It is often said that the main source of our knowledge of our own eminent scholars has come through the western press. This is mainly due to the fact that we often consider our own culture inferior to that of the west. This is because of the rapid advances made by the west during the last 200 years, while we lagged behind. Before that the west used (or stole) our valuable cultural assets and scientific inventions and discoveries. A large number of our invaluable artefacts are now the greatest attractions in western museums, as well as being a good source of revenue to them.

The most recent examples of this are the plunder of historic, invaluable cultural assets from Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Genghis Khan and Hulagu Khan did not play that kind of havoc. They never claimed to be champions of peace, prosperity, human rights, justice, law and order, welfare and equality of all human beings as is being done by the west.

They neither raised these lofty (hypocritical) slogans nor claimed to be torchbearers of superior human rights or civilisation. They simply eliminated all that stood in their way. They appeared what they were and did not claim to be anything else. Though difficult to face, their method was clear and unambiguous.

Nowadays the situation is quite different. Most educated people did not get religious education and principles taught to them at home or have not sought to acquire knowledge of our religion, culture, civilisation and history.

Allama Iqbal said that if a person is not lost in himself/herself (khudi) and their religion, they become an easy prey to alien cultures. Then, slowly but surely, they are indoctrinated to like and praise western culture and civilisation. All they seem to be able to talk about is the superiority of western culture and the inferiority of our own (rich) one. One can hear people praising western literature, music, way of thinking, way of living, way of dressing, free expression, humour, etc. – in short, everything is better than our own values.

All this benefits our adversaries. All the benefit of this change is reaped by our local turncoats and their foreign masters. This is exactly what Lord Macaulay advised the British to do in 1835 – destroy the local Hindu and Muslim culture, force on them the sense of the British culture being superior and then enslave this huge nation. His advice helped the British to rule us for more than 110 years and the consequences are still with us today.

All this was made possible by our own inferiority complex and weakness, our ignorance. The enemy is always lurking, waiting to strike the moment we are off guard. The point to ponder is: how long are we going to sleep and lose our wealth and culture? Are we going to sit around and wait for Doomsday? We need to assess what our long-term plans are, what it is we want.

Or do we have no vision for the future, no plans but simply to sit and wait for ultimate destruction? We must learn to lead respectable, independent lives in accordance with our own values and religion and not allow ourselves to be guided and led by turncoats and political jugglers. In my next column I would like to discuss how these political jugglers and turncoats are destroying the fabric of our society and the very roots of our country.

Email: dr.a.quadeer.khan@gmail.com

Dr. A. Q. Khan, "Political jugglers (Part I)," The News. 2013-01-14.