Terrorism is a Mindset

(Our correspondent from Pashtun Times shares his thoughts on the source of radical Islam)

Terrorism. Extremism. Fundamentalism. Violence. Killing innocents. What exactly do we talk; or justify about? Is it the act of it? Or is it the thought process? Is it the action? Or is it the thinking and ideology behind the action? Is it really the 72 virgins or is it just the self-satisfaction of being harmful? Is it about trying hard to show how we can dominate the others to respect us of fear? Thinking fear is the only ultimate way to enforce a belief? Or are the 72 virgins more important than the family and the crying mother he is leaving behind? Is it the crying mother or actually a proud mother who is by thinking her son did a great job and maybe the son also knows about it? And if so why? Because this world is not giving her son the virgin when he needs? Or is it that he has nothing in life to do except read just one book in life and stay worthless and jobless? Therefore before dying herself the mother wants to see the end of her son’s struggle on earth? Whatever is the reasoning, these are not individualistic one off cases- as such cases are so many. And it is not just any result of just a few individual’s or family frustrations. It is a common phenomenon seen.

First let us get a few fundamental concepts right. Poverty is not an excuse for crime. And war is not a reason for producing future criminals. Bin Laden belonged to a very rich family and so do many other terrorists. There are millions of poor Muslims in India too. If war would have created terrorists then Vietnam would have been hub of global terrorists and a few other nations too. So stop blaming USA and any local civil war either. Of course Islam as a whole can never be blamed either because 200 million Malaysians and almost 175 million Indian Muslims are not terrorists. More importantly, only handful and very few brainwasher Imams and Molvis cannot be blamed alone either. Equally responsible are the societies where these people are born; the people they grow up with; the things they see and hear around them, throughout their lives. In the lands of Wahabis there are very few blasts. Why? Only because their law and order, police and army are more strong and strict? Or because they keep their land safe and fund terrorism outside in other Muslim countries? Even if that is true what is it that provokes people of those other countries to do the acts of terrorism? Is it only the misinterpretation of a holy book? Is it really that simple? Even if we accept that they are taught these things and are trained from childhood in Madrassahs then the question is whom to blame eventually? The preachers or the parents who are willingly sending their children there? Doing suicide blast is equal to burning after death which is Haram. How that will give Jannath/paradise? Plus if they are not Muslims after hanging let their bodies be burnt.

A Hindu friend, Prithwi Banerjee, told me that he is living and working in Afghanistan for over 7 years  with so much of pleasure, happiness and friendliness with all the Muslims around him. He said that he knows very well how much the Muslims in Afghanistan hate terrorism.

So, it also does not look good that the entire community is blamed for a few people. Moreover, it looks worse when people give justification of Islam is religion of peace as there is no need of that. Rather such justification makes things worse. If few people start saying that some of us are really so very bad people and are motivated by some of us only; then and only then they will start getting the proper empathy from everyone else globally. Justification makes them more close to the criminals. And telling all that terrorists have no religion is also like giving another unnecessary justification which does not change anything. More justifications like only 1 out of 10,000 are like this, Muslims are killing only Muslims so how you call them they are Muslims, and Islam prohibits killing of innocents; makes things worse. Everyone knows that. No need to justify. Are you saying that if they kill non-Muslims then we can call them to be true Muslims? Statements like ‘If the killers kill in the name of Allah or kill those people who does not know Kalma that does not make them followers of Allah’; this is not required. What is required is very sensible thinking for the entire society.

It has to be accepted that just doing blast, suicide attack or any other sort of attack on innocents are not the only part of terrorism. The real sort is in thinking process. Did the misinterpretors of the Koran come from Mars? No. Did those disciples of such hate preachers come from Moon? No. Are they creating any book of their own and misinterpreting it? No. Do they have any print media of their own and is it a global nexus of any sort? No. Then from where such thoughts of such acts are coming? It is coming from basic core thought process of the society. And that has to change. That social thought process is provoking the misinterpretations of the Koran. Even if the 1400 years old context means something drastic, today’s globalized thought should not take the wrong meaning out of that. When there is pure hatred of each and every citizen towards these people then nobody will give them shelter and then you will not need police or army to kill or capture them. If this does not change one cannot blame only the terrorists for doing wrong because then everyone is equally responsible. And those who are killing they do not think they are killing the innocent. They think anyone who is non follower is criminal. Word of Jihad is not their invention at least. Almost everyone needs to change themselves from inside to make sure these things stop. So stop blaming outsiders only. A small child does that. Blaming another boy in school for doing the wrong thing. Without internal motivation how can external motivation effect so hard? Without demand how can continuous supply work? Examples of such thoughts need to change:

  1. Thinking my God is better than yours
  2. Thinking this is the best religion – all others are rubbish
  3. Thinking Israel is pure Jews – but still ISIS is not Muslim
  4. Having soft corner for them who provoke Jihadi thought
  5. Being happy when US Army convoy is hit by the Taliban
  6. Being again and again fooled in the name of brotherhood
  7. Not being able to accept science in modern education
  8. Saying Congrats of Eid on Facebook only to all Muslims
  9. Being happy that Zakir Naik “defeated” Sri Sri in debate
  10. Saying Shah Rukh is our’s but unaware of Selina Jethley

I can go on. The list will become more than 50 and not just 10, but next time. There is shortage of space and time now. But I hope I have been able to clarify my points. And those people, who will show extremist reaction to this post, they are actually the very good examples of what I am talking about, where lies the real problem, and what they must change in themselves and their children. Always remember that getting rid of the responsibility by saying they do not belong to us is not a solution to save oneself. Would you have accepted a same reaction and logic of terrorism if people of another faith carry on the same thing? So stop making up fake stories of which big country is behind this and start counting how many millions of your own people indirectly supports or at least in the heart enjoys any such thing that happens. Think. There is time. And surely Allah needs you. To be a part who will actually start to get into the root of all these things and bring the peace back. Or else – the Dajjal being born and grown inside will finish everybody.

Pashtuns and Pashtunwali

Pashtun is a Central Asian nation that lies between the rivers Oxus and Indus. Pashtun is also known as Afghan, Pakhtun and Pathan; the latter name, however, is construed as offensive by the Pashtun people because, it is said, that the name ‘Pathan’ was given to the Pashtun by the British during their rule in India. The land of Pashtun is called Loy Afghanistan, Pashtunistan and Pashtunkhwa. Since Pashtuns of Pashtunkhwa or Pakhtunkhwa were fighting for their freedom against the British Imperial might, they had a great contempt for the colonizers and everything about them. It is also said that the word ‘Pathan’ is actually derived from ‘Fatey-Heen’  meaning  ‘conquerors’, as the Afghans came to India as conquerors where the word ‘Fatey-Heen’ was mistakenly pronounced as ‘Pathan’ by the British.

The Pashtun social life has an unwritten code of ethics known as Pashtunwali. Every Pashtun is expected to abide by Pashtunwali, which is based upon centuries of collective wisdom of the Pashtun. Pashtunwali consists of important principles that guide social and individual life such as:

Pashtun Hospitality
Pashtun Hospitality

Melmastiya which means an open-hearted hospitality; Pashtuns are famous for their hospitality.

Nang means chivalry, a moral and social virtue or a noble deed. To stand up for the weak is the very essence of Nang.

Nanawatey is derived from the verb meaning “to go in”. This is used for the protection given to a person, who requests it, against his/her enemies. The person is then protected at all costs. It can also be used when a vanquished party is prepared to go in to the house of the victors and ask their forgiveness. This is a peculiar form of “chivalrous” surrender, in which an enemy seeks “sanctuary” at his enemy’s house.


Badal defines an obligation to seek revenge by retaliation although the performance of Nanawatey means one can obtain forgiveness in his enemy’s house. Through the tradition of Nanawatey, a typical Pashtun will always forgive the killer of his dear ones in the presence of a Jirga.

Jargah or Jirga a council of Pashtun elders through which justice is sought. Settling disputes through negotiation is the basic objective of Jargah: in other words, Jargah is a form of direct democracy in Pashtun society, where every individual has the right to speak.

Namoos the respect of women, country, and property.

Attan - Pashtun Women Dancing
Attan – Pashtun Women Dancing

Attan is an Afghan national dance, performed before war and after the victory. It is also performed at various cultural celebrations in Pashtun society. Every Pashtun man and woman is trained to dance the Attan as well as being the best in playingRabaab and singing Tapa – a typical Pashto song.

Pashto or Pakhto is not only a language in Pashtun society, but is synonymous with the Pashtun code of life – Pashtunwali (the Pashtun values). Pashtuns love their mother tongue Pashto and claim that in paradise they will speak Pashto instead of Arabic; it is pointed out that according to the teachings of Islam, Arabic is the only language that will be

spoken in the world hereafter. However, a well-known Pashto poet, Hamza Khan Shinwari (Hamza Baba), in one of his poetic verses responding to the teachings of Islam and Mullahism, says:

“The rivals (Mullahs) name Pakhto as the tongue of hell,

 But I (Hamza) will go to paradise with Pakhto.”

(Hamza Baba)

Ghani Khan, the great Pashto poet of 20th century, is of the view that “a typical Pashtun is kind and gentle but hates to show it. He loves fighting but hates to be a soldier. He loves his new
rifle and his old wife. He will


forgive you anything, if you do it bravely enough. In a historical perspective the Pashtun bears close resemblance to the people of great civilizations. His villages have Greek names. His tribes have Greek customs. Like the Greek he is a great poet and a great warrior and like the Greeks, almost all his wars are over women.”

Pashtuns are basically a proud people, as former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, in his book ‘The Malakand Field Force’, says, “Any poor Pathan (Pashtun) here is ready to look into the eyes of the Queen of England and say, I am no less than you”.

Pashtuns have a great love for Pashtunkhwa which is their historical land, but unfortunately, British-India occupied part of it and later, in 1893, divided it by drawing a line, called the Durand Line, through its centre, effectively cutting the Pashtun nation in half. With the withdrawal of the British from the subcontinent, the land came under the jurisdiction of Pakistan in 1947. To date, Pashtuns in Pashtunkhwa are occupied by Pakistan, but the spirit of freedom among the Pashtuns will never die. Yes, it can be weakened by fate and time, but stays always strong in will. PoetExpressing love for the land of Pashtunkhwa, Ahmad Shah Abdali, the founding father of the modern state of Afghanistan, spoke in his poetry in 1760, “I forget my Delhi throne when I recall the mountain peaks of my beautiful Pashtunkhwa. If I conquer the whole world, even then I can never forget thy beautiful gardens.”

Now the Pashtun land is divided into many parts and almost all occupied by their neighbors. The Durand Line is considered with hate, dividing the Pashtun as once the Berlin Wall divided Germany. Now, it will not be wrong to say that Pashtun cannot be called a nation, but rather groups that are divided and scattered and the uneducated Pashtuns, are unable to realize the dilemma of their disintegration. In Pakistan, Pashtuns are not taught their own history, but that of the Indo-Pak and Jihad in Islam. The Pashtuns are indoctrinated into the belief that they are born to fight against   infidels, for the sake of Allah and Islam. In Pakistan, the Pashtuns are appreciated for their fighting skills but not for their intellectual abilities. Their language Pashto has been replaced by Urdu and as a result the majority of the Pashtuns living under the jurisdiction of Pakistan, cannot read or write their own Pashto language and only a few are able to understand news bulletins in the original and pure Pashto. The Pashtuns are being pushed into darkness and ignorance by the Pakistani establishment. By doing so, Pakistan can easily use the Pashtun for their own purposes, especially for proxy wars in the name of Islam, proclaiming that Islam is in danger. As a result, Pashtun society is falling apart politically, socially and economically.

Historically speaking, the Pashtuns, as individuals or a people, are a great people having done great deeds, but Pashtun as a modern nation has failed and for centuries, they have done nothing to forward a collective national cause.

Pashtuns will always have a dynamic character with a great zeal for music and dance, poetry and art, but in contrast to his poetic nature, the Pashtun is a warrior too. The best example of this contradiction is the great Khushal Khan Khattak.


At the present time Pashtuns are unfortunately the most unfortunate people because they live in a society where

religious Mullahs have dominated all the powers in the name of Islam, and have declared love, art and music as taboos. But if one looks through the pages of Pashtun’s history, they will find a culture full of creativity and art of any kind was not considered a taboo. In Pashtun society there is an institution known as ‘Hujra’, the essential symbol of Pashtunwali. Hujra is the site of great learning, for the promotion of art, poetry, music and culture in the Pashtun society. It is a common sitting or sleeping place for men in the villages, as Pashtuns are basically people of villages rather than cities, and guests and unmarried young men (bachelors) would sleep there. The Rabab and Mangay are two old Pashtun musical instruments and the real ornaments of Hujra and it is a well-established custom among the Pashtun to welcome guests with music. Hujra is also the decision-making forum of the villagers and provides vivid picture of the real Pashtun society and traditions. Today, the Hujra tradition is on the verge of disappearing, constituting a great loss for the culture. Although one can still see Hujra in some parts of Pashtun society, it exists in a very wretched form. Due to the dominance of the Mullah, Hujra has lost its important significance and the decision making process now takes place in the mosque instead.  The mosque and the persons connected to the mosque are at full gallop to grab away the powers of Hujra.

The Rabab and Mangay in Hujra actualize the Pashtuns’ basic love of art, music and poetry that the


religious Mullah has declared taboo in the name of Islam. With the banning of love, art and music in Pashtun society, religious extremism has been increased and the society altogether looks orthodox. This is not only a threat to all liberal Pashtuns but also an attack on the cultures throughout the rest of the world as the religious extremism benefits Mullahs in the recruitment of Mujahideen (Jihadists). Yet there is a group of cultured and progressively-minded Pashtuns who prefer Pashtunwali – the Pashtun code of life, to religious law ‘Shari’a’ for the conduct of matters. Such liberal people strongly proclaim that first, they are Pashtuns and then, Muslims.

(This article originally appeared in The Pashtun Times)