Bacha Khan: A Messenger of Nonviolence

bacha khan pic 20The society is the collection of individuals. The communication between or among the individuals in society is under some kind of established ethos known as the social order. Therefore, when the individuals communicate with one another, then conflicts are inevitable. These conflicts are resolved through two ways. One is violence and the other is non-violence.

The entire history is bear witness to the fact that the issues are never resolved on the battleground but on the table through talks. Bacha khan is not only the most vocal persona, but also the practical manifestation of nonviolence in the subcontinent and Pakistan.

The philosophy of nonviolence of Bacha khan has been widely quoted; however, never attempted to be explained in a manner, in which it has manifested itself. Therefore, I’m going to diagnose and then try to explain the attainment of the philosophy of nonviolence through simple yet difficult rules.

The First question which we have to ask from ourselves is that why we retreat to violence in our social behavior?

The answer is that whenever we are hurt, then we retreat to violence to vent out our anger.

The second question is why we are being hurt?

1) When someone physically harms us, then we feel the pain and try to retaliate with violence.

2) Similarly, when our ego is hurt, then we retreat to violence as well. The violence may be psychological or physical.

3) Moreover, when our dear and nearest ones are hurt by someone, then we try to retaliate.

The violence can either be directed against the same person who is the cause of our pain. If it is not the case so, then our other acquaintances and even strangers would feel the brunt of it. Consequently, a vicious circle of violence is perpetuated through vengeance and revenge. Therefore, the settlement of disputes through violence becomes the order of society.

Pashtuns have become more violent in their social behavior after the colonialism of the British, and then the neo-imperialistic wars of former USSR and USA. The pain inflicted upon them through exploitation and killing have created contuse on their minds and souls. Though they are unaware of the fact that from where it came, yet they are utterly in pain. Henceforth giving birth to anger which is manifesting itself through violence.

Bacha Khan recognized this fact long ago. Therefore, he tried to relieve the Pashtuns from their pain. The strategy was two pronged and the modus operandi, he adopted to channelize the pain of his brothers in faith and blood, was education. He opened Azad schools for which he was imprisoned by the British colonialists for the first time, when he was only 22 year old. The life he spent in prisons is almost 30 years, in which 15 years were in British controlled jails and 15 years in Pakistan controlled jails. However, he never retreated to violence. He was still advocating to his sixty thousands (60,000) Khudaye Khidmatgars (The servants of God) and the entire Pashtuns to remain peaceful in their socio-political endeavors.

He was fully aware of the philosophy of violence and its repercussions viz. violence breeds violence. Hate can never generate love; however, only love can create love. Therefore, he was advocating the philosophy of nonviolence on both political and social front.

In the meantime, he founded his Khudaye Khidmatgar Movement in 1929. Owing to the success of the movement, the British started crack down on the nonviolent servants of God. However, they adhered to their oath, which was:

  • I am a Servant of God, and as God needs no service, serving His creation is serving Him,
  • I promise to serve humanity in the name of God.
  • I promise to refrain from violence and from taking revenge.
  • I promise to refrain from taking part in feuds and quarrels and from creating enmity.
  • I promise to treat every Pasthun as my brother and friend.
  • I promise to refrain from antisocial customs and practices.
  • I promise to live a simple life, to practice virtue, and to refrain from evil.
  • I promise to practice good manners and good behavior and not to lead a life of idleness.
  • I promise to devote at least two hours a day to social work.
  • I put forth my name in honesty and truthfulness to become a true Servant of God.
  • I will sacrifice my wealth, life, and comfort for the liberty of my nation and people.
  • I will never be a party to factions, hatred, or jealousies with my people; and will side with the oppressed against the oppressor.
  • I will not become a member of any other rival organization, nor will I stand in an army.
  • I will faithfully obey all legitimate orders of all my officers all the time.
  • I will live in accordance with the principles of nonviolence.
  • I will serve all God’s creatures alike; and my object shall be the attainment of the freedom of my country and my religion.
  • I will always see to it that I do what is right and good.
  • I will never desire any reward whatever for my service.
  • All my efforts shall be to please God, and not for any show or gain.

Furthermore, he started a monthly journal ‘Pashtuns’. In which his own son Khan Abdul Ghani also wrote various essays regarding the flaws of Pashtuns. Bacha Khan had three sons. One was Khan Abdul Wali Khan, who was a prominent politician in the political set up of Pakistan. The other son was Khan Abdul Ghani Khan, who was a philosopher poet. The last not but not least was Ali Khan, who was a prominent educationist. He served as the Vice chancellor of university of Peshawar.

When Bacha Khan opened his Azad Schools then he enrolled his sons first, despite the fact that they were studying at the National Model School Peshawar. But still he enrolled his sons into that school so that the Pashtuns follow his footsteps and enroll their sons and daughters to the Azad schools.

Bacha Khan never discriminated on the basis of gender. He was a great proponent of women’s education. He used to say that if you want to gauge a nation that how civilized they are; then observe, how they treat their women.

Attainment of non-violent behavior

The attainment of nonviolence philosophy of Bacha Khan in our social behavior is very simple.

We should never taint someone’s ego or hurt him physically. If someone is angry on us then it means that we have caused him pain. Therefore, we should not reciprocate with anger, but compassion.

Furthermore, we should seek forgiveness from the angered person. It will soften the attitude of the belligerent party.

While I was explaining the philosophy of non-violence to my friends, then Fahad (who is a Police official) put forth a question that some people are jealous of me for no reasons, so how could I reconcile with them?

I inquired that why they are jealous of you?

They are jealous of my success, he replied.

I responded that they are not jealous of your success. You have hurt them whether intentionally or unintentionally in some point of time. Therefore, they are manifesting their hate, for which you are using a misnomer jealousy.

However, still whenever, someone is jealous of you then he must be in your acquaintances. There are two kinds of relationships in this world. One is through the blood, which takes birth with the birth of a person. However, the other relation is made through hearts. It is our conscious endeavor that includes friend and our better-half. Your wife will never be jealous of your success because she loves you. Similarly, your friends will be happy for your success, if you are in good terms with them. On the contrary, people will hate you, if you have either hurt their ego or their beloved ones. For example, a father sometimes disowns his offspring, owing to the pain which has been inflicted by the son or daughter. Henceforth, those who hate an individual are just because that he is hurting them.

So what should I do now, he (Fahad) asked with a usual smile.

Invite them over at your home; have a healthy conversation with them and give them a gesture that you are considering them as an important part of your life. With communication, you can remove the gaps, I replied.

If we understand this simple fact then we would be able to heal our wounds, and be in peace, because anger is only causing a person more pain instead of relieving it. Whereas nonviolence makes a person stable, and breeds feeling of humility and peace.

Violence is not only the problem of Pashtuns but it is also a widespread phenomenon throughout the globe. Therefore, to inculcate the philosophy of nonviolence into our coming generations, we have to focus on our education system, as was done by Bacha khan. The oath of Khudaye Khidmatgar should be included in our text books.

Furthermore, the educated youth has to take the solemn pledge that they will never reciprocate anger with anger, but treats the aggrieved person with compassion. The difference should be vivid between the educated and uneducated lot in the conduction of social relations.

The institutionalization of bravado and the machismo through our textbooks must be renounced. The warriors and swordsmen, which are glamorized in our textbooks, will only create violent generations. We have to accommodate the philosophy of nonviolence of Bacha Khan into our national narrative. Otherwise, the widespread violence in our social behavior cannot be curtailed.

Bacha Khan001

The media should also highlight the life and philosophy of Bacha Khan. The noble peace prize nominee’s birthday is on 6th February. Unfortunately, it would go unnoticed in the mainstream media, as was his death anniversary on 20th January. The deliberate indifference is heart wrenching.

Happy birthday Bacha Khan (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan)

 

By Noman Wazir

The writer is a socio-political analyst from FATA. He can be reached at nomanwazir75@yahoo.com

THE PASHUTN TIMES 

 

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