Saturday, January 17, 2015

Paris and Ali; a confluence of Ideals.

I have to write ...yes, I have to.

Everyone tells me,it's an addiction. It will never pay you, but consume you. It will engulf and make a fool of you. How can I explain, I am bound by my nature. 

I did a small experiment with myself. I wanted to see how long can I keep myself away from penning down my thoughts or reading something. Well, on the reading front,apart from the usual dose of 2 national newspapers,magazines and Quora feed.I have managed to keep myself away from the the "heavy readings". I could have stayed away from writing also. It is no big thing. Writing seems like work to me. 

Today the image that is dancing at the back of my mind is that of an small office in Paris. This office was unlike the normal ones. Here the people didn't just run through the motion. They were creators. Creative people are not bound by spaces, it's all in the brain. It's just that their antennas are still functioning compared to the other people, who bury their receivers the moment they get their first pay cheque. These people were cartoonists and satirists. They used their art to hit at the hypocrisy that is going around in this world. They made fun of aristocracy, politicians, corrupt and powerful. 

They also made fun of religious bigotries, their narrowness and in-humaneness. 

If one just picks up a beginners guide about any religion or for that matter a sect,one thing which is common among all is that their founders were iconoclasts of their generation. All the founders or messiah's refused to follow the norms. Criticized the then prevalent customs and way of life.

They showed people something they could only dream about.A fresh perspective , an evolution to their life style and thinking.Thoughts and philosophies  which may  seem archaic today, must have been revolutionary at that time. That is why, the all the founders had to face stiff opposition from the then rulers and religious leaders. They  all were  powerful orators. Unafraid  and principled. 

Then, why is that today, people who designate themselves as the "Google" of ABC religion have become so narrow minded that even a cartoon sketch is assumed to be an attack at one's religion. Why is our faith so weak? Why can't we laugh at that?Why do we feel like, taking revenge?  Why are we sending armed mercenaries to kill innocent, unarmed people?

There is a small story I was told just a couple of years back. It will  further elucidate the point I am trying to make.

My favorite hero in Islamic history is Ali.He is the composer and writer of the Holy Quran which was rendered to him by the Prophet(Pbuh). He was the nephew of the Prophet(Pbuh) and the first Muslim.Apart from being a brilliant scholar, he was a gifted fighter too. His sword, Zulfiqkar, sent  tremors down  the spines of his enemies. 

It was during one of the crusades. Ali was engrossed fighting  a giant from the enemy forces. This giant was a terror for the Islamic army.Hence, Ali was called to bring him down. All eyes were fixed on the two.Only one will walk alive. Ali, himself a huge man, was looking like a pygmy in front of the giant. His army was worried for him.

It took many hours and hits to bring this giant on his knees. His end was in front of his eyes, the Zulfiqkar was shining in the desert sun . Giant's army had already deserted him. There were victory shouts around. Ali's army was jubilant. Verses of his bravery were being sung around . They all pegged him to slash the neck of the giant with a swing of his sword.

Ali, looked upon the fallen giant and took his stance to finish him off. Suddenly, the giant did something unthinkable;he spat on Ali. People expected Ali to cut the giant into pieces.But, Ali did something which nobody could have anticipated. He rested his double edged sword  and walked away. He let that giant go. There was furore in the camp.

Everybody was shell shocked. How could Ali do that? This question was on everybody's lips.

Ali, did not speak to anyone. He quietly went for his daily ablutions and prayers afterwards.Nobody dared to ask him anything.

In the evening, all the commanders or Sipah-e-Salars,as they were called then, went to a Dervesh (Peer) with the question.

Dervesh slowly opened his eyes and said. Fools, he is the true follower. He could have finished the giant in one swing, but this war is holy. He is fighting this war for "him".It is not his personal war.

The moment  the giant spat on Ali, Ali  got very angry. But, at the same moment, he remembered why he was fighting this war. He didn't want to kill the giant just  to satisfy his own injury. He didn't want to bring "I" in this war. It was holy. Hence, he let him go. Anger had overpowered his senses. He was fighting to control his senses.

Years after, in some other crusade, this story teller tells me, that Ali killed the giant.

So, my question to so called fighters of the holy wars is, with such ideals as your founders, what has forced you to take this path of mindless killing?

Murdering  unarmed people, that too in cold blood like thieves will bring no Jannat on earth. Jannat is inside us all. Fight with the demons inside you. That war is the most difficult one. 

PS: The story teller is a man, who even after being a victim of religious extremism, respects the ethos of all religions and believes that all roads lead to the same place.


  1. Good Story Anshuman. Somewhere I read a quotation. "To be good and to do good, that is the whole of any religion." I doubt how many of us really understand what a religion means. The only thing which drives us is the 'I' in Ali's story. It's like having a name. Once you remove that name, what would we be? The one and only invention man should invent in future is, how to hack a human brain. Then, we can replace the Book of Religion with the book of Algorithms. Then maybe you really don't have to KILL somebody.

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  2. Thank you Anonymous. I am in full agreement with your point.

  3. we have forgotten meaning of Dharma.Dharma doesn't lead to darkness. it leads you to understand it, you are contented and peaceful. if you don't, you only waste your energy with fights and debates.sometimes even GREAT INTELLECTUALS dont really understand Dharma.