Written while listening to the Sufiana Kalaam Soz-e-Ishq, sung by Abida Parveen.
Progress is stunted and a part of humanity dies when we destroy precious truths. We do it by taking a body to the gallows or by picking up stones to shatter the vessel that contains them. We do it by pillaging sacred and priceless literature of ancient civilizations, which bear them. We do it by demolishing shrines of spiritual symbols, which reveal them. We do it by murdering an entire family who were deliverers of the Divine’s truth. The destruction of truths, I contend, is one of the greatest tragedies humankind can inflict on itself.
When we took Mansur Hallaj’s body to the gallows for uttering Anal-Haq, Anal-Haq, we mistook it for herecy and silenced a truth that the Divine was closer to him than his jugular vein, that which ran to and from his heart and his mind. When we threw stones at Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow we shattered the truth that human beings shouldn’t be subjected to the harrowing torture of losing their lives slowly with heavy blows to the body. When we pillaged Bayt al-Hikma and when the river turned to ink we erased the truth that hard-earned knowledge should not be ephemeral. When we demolished But Hay-e Bamiyan in Afghanistan, we crushed the truth that cultural and spiritual sanctuaries should not become empty caverns. When we murdered the Prophet’s family at Karbala on Ashura, we destroyed the truth that religion shouldn’t be exploited and used for rampant debauchery.
I ask us to examine the sorts of truths we destroyed when Reyhaneh Jabbari was executed, when Afghan orphans are sold into bacha bazi, when Mukhtar Mai was paraded around in front of hundreds of onlookers but no onhelpers, when an injured child named Zubair Rehman says “I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. Drones don’t fly when sky is grey,” when the United States’ present day prison industrial complex resembles a bitter pre-Civil War past, when an Apartheid wall and annexations render thousands stateless–a people belonging to a land but becoming a people without a home to call their own.
I ask us to consider the sorts of truths we would expel if we end Asia Bibi’s life in the name of contrived blasphemy laws. We would dispel with the truth that children and adults threw stones at the Prophet in the city of Taif and that his companions still lacked an aggressive response. We would flout the truth set as a rhetorical question that: if the Sahaabas, those closest to the Messenger, had no right to inflict this sort of injustice, what right do we have? We would castigate the truth that Asia’s country was created under the premise of free exercise of religion for all and not the establishment of religion to others’ detriment. We would dull Quaid-E-Azam’s truths, echoing
You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State.
Progress is stunted and a part of humanity dies when we destroy precious truths. A mob was responsible for destroying each one of those earlier ones, screaming with their figurative pitchforks and torches. How sheep could and continue to carry out a terrifying pride’s work is beyond me. And although, we have done it many times before, I ask us, why must we do it again and again? I ask that we spare our ether of the desolation that plagues it every time this happens. I ask that we spare the truth that whosoever saves a life, saves all of humankind.