Dasht-e-tanhai

A friend wonders why we are afflicted with a feeling of being abnormal, of being cut off from those around us. I was reminded of something I read recently:

Seeking refuge in history, out of fear of loneliness, I immediately sought out my brother Ayn al-Quzat, who was burned to death in the very blossoming of his youth for the crime of awareness and sensitivity, for the boldness of his thought. For in an age of ignorance, awareness is itself a crime. Loftiness of spirit and fortitude of heart in the society of the oppressed and the humiliated, and, as the Buddha said, “being an island in a land of lakes,” are unforgivable sins.

— Ali Shari’ati, from the introduction to Kavir (Desert)

These Eid holidays have given me a chance to sit back and think a little, watch a little al-Jazeera too. Robert Fisk, interviewed by Riz Khan, said two very interesting things. First he said something about the most dangerous front-lines running through our minds and then he quoted Imam Ali who is supposed to have said something like “When you see another man, he is either your brother in Islam or your brother in humanity.”

So, one is the message of universal brotherhood and God knows we need that to be heard and practised if we want to come out of this mess alive. The other is about the mind. Too often in the past, I’ve continued going through the motions, until I eventually lost steam, which would happen because I would give up mentally.

The nuclear tests in 1998, the first LFO, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, NGO corruption I’ve heard about or witnessed myself, Akbar Bugti’s assassination, JI’s infiltration of the PTI, the burial of five Baloch women in Naseerabad a few months ago… there’s really a whole list of issues that I haven’t read or written enough about. And if I can’t even read about an issue, how can I possibly hope to go further and find people with whom to mount effective and long-term resistance to oppression?

So it’s a mind game, first and foremost. Battle has to be joined in the solitude of one’s mind.

And for that, I thank Awais Masood for leading the way with some really well thought-out posts.

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