“Aik insaan ka qatal poori insaniyat ka qatal hai” Quran
( Killing one human being is akin to killing whole Humanity)
“Musalman wo hai jis k haath oar zuban se doosray musalman mehfooz rahain” Hadith
a(Muslim is the one, the evil of whose hand and tongue does not touch other Muslims)
These were the commandments of God and His prophet that we distributed, among the flood affectees in the form of leaflets, along with the aid items a few months back in Drab Majoke, Charsaddah. To be honest, I was not very sure when getting these leaflets printed, whether anyone will bother to read them or not, especially considering the calamity these poor people faced. We were also not sure about the level of the literacy in the camp and interest these people had in such ‘Bookish Activities’. May be it was simply our arrogance and pride.
However the hope that even if one person reads it and may ponder and reflect over it, encouraged us to undertake the endeavour.
Drab Majoke is a small village near Charsaddah. It has a population of nearly 200 families, about 1000 people. Majority of the villagers, including all women, are illiterate. There is a government primary school in the village with no female teacher. Therefore they send their girls to a ‘madrassah’ which has been set up by a local woman in her home. Here they are taught Quran. Apparently these people do not think it appropriate for their girls to study in a ‘formal school’, especially when there is no female teacher.
The village has no clinic or any kind of health facility, even after the floods. The unpaved routes and open drains overflowing with sewerage water running by the streets present the picture of neglect, ignorance and apathy by local, provincial and central administrative authorities. Only a handful of families have televisions in their homes. Most simply cannot afford it. I was told that many hold the ‘opinion’ that watching TV will spoil them and their children and women. Most men are unskilled labourers, farmers and masons, while women take care of the children and daily house chores.
I have come to know a lot about Drab Majoke and its residents over past few months through my visits and personal meetings with the people in the village during our relief effort activities. I have seen the great devastations wreaked by the floods with their houses razed to ground and belongings swept away.
I was fully aware of the struggle of survival they faced. It was matter of life and death for them. Perhaps that was the reason which made me think, whether people will read or pay any attention to our leaflet. Under such circumstances when they did not even have food to eat and houses to shelter their bodies, who could blame them?
But I was naive and fool not to have Faith in Humans.
I visited the Drab Majoke again today. And I was first shocked, then pleasantly surprised and finally humbled and very happy to see how wrong I was.
As I entered the village the very first thing I saw from distance was an enlarged version of our leaflet, that had been painted in full colour on the walls, saying ‘aik insaan ka qatal poori insaniyat ka qatal hai’ and ‘musalman who hai jis kay haath oar zubaan se doosray musalman mehfooz rahain”.
It had been signed by ‘Village Committee’. Even an attempt had been made to paint our logo.
It was one of the most humbling moments in my life.
I just stood there silent for what seemed like an age.
Not only these ‘poor, illiterate, struggling for survival, sheltered in tents, penniless, clothes-less, homeless and foodless’ people had actually bothered to read the leaflet, so well had they grasped the meaning and import of what was written ,that they had jointly decided to display the message boldly in their village.
As if they were wearing a badge on their chest.
Displaying their heart on their sleeves.
And daring any extremist to challenge their understanding of Islam.
This display of boldness and understanding gave me the answer to, what for the quite some time, had become the reason of my depression. The worsening situation of the affairs in our country…all pervading terrorist activities and ideologies…deepening void of poverty pulling people in…hatred, ignorance and corruption reflected in the news on media and events taking place around me.
The answer is that the Hope never dies. Hope must not die.
We must not lose Faith in the Humanity of ordinary Pakistanis.
If there is optimism and faith in future among the people, who have lost their homes, livelihood and assets…why have we lost hope?
Two contrasting cases unveil the stark reality of the challenge we face.
A Lohar (ironsmith) in a poor underdeveloped, illiterate village has the understanding and the will to spread the message of Quran. That to kill a human being is like killing the whole Humanity.
And in the Federal Capital of Pakistan an educated guard of ‘elite force’ becomes the judge, the jury and the executioner and kills in the name of Islam.
Where should we pin our hope? For hope we must.
Faith in the Humanity of ordinary people of Pakistan.