Never fall in love with war because blood never sleeps
“The pen is mightier than the sword” is a word picture as a metaphor created by an English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, which characterises how powerful and superior effective words, information and even education can be in resolving conflict, as opposed to reliance on weapons of war.
Trillions of dollars and highly sophisticated weapons used against one of the more archaic countries ends in naught after 20 years of fighting and thousands of lives lost with countless injured. That's one part of the saga. There is another phrase that comes to mind — “A man convinced beyond his will is of the same opinion still” — should indicate that until something changes within the man, he will remain the same. Which is to say, until something changes culturally and in the hearts and minds of the Taleban, things will remain the same. No bombs will change them.
The Taleban cannot be changed by the force of military action, in fact, military action serves to reinforce their beliefs, causing greater zeal. Since the 1970s, an ideology has been spread, which some refer to as jihadist or radical extreme Islam. All encapsulated in the idea of creating an Islamic State.
Sayyid Qutb back in the 1960s, in his attempts to throw off European imperialism in Egypt and the Middle East, unleashed an idea that inspired Arab nationalism through Islamic writing. Some of his ideas became a prototype for many movements all over the world, with proponents in particular new converts and the disenfranchised, giving them a new meaning and purpose for a life that was otherwise dull and meaningless.
That the idea of an “Islamic State” has no basis or any political or nationalist reference anywhere in the Koran is yet to dawn in their minds. It probably would come as a complete surprise also for the non-Muslim to know that even the term “sharia” has a different and more universal connotation in the Koran when it was used originally during the days of the Prophet from how the world popularly views concepts of sharia posed by Muslims today.
However, it takes research and bravery to stand up against canonised traditions that are centuries old. We live in a post-enlightenment, post-industrial, post-imperial and new information age. The Taleban are an old traditionalist group, but they can read, they have internet and have minds. Aside from the Taleban militants, the Afghan women and people are literate. Perhaps a campaign of ideology driven at the population would arm them with the truth from their own holy book, which can strengthen their resolve against tyranny by showing them what they — the Taleban — are attempting has no basis in their belief, and they can demonstrate it.
An ideological campaign would be more effective and less costly than a bombing campaign. As the old military leader Salahuddin said to his son, "Son, never fall in love with war because blood never sleeps". The effort to gain peace and civility in Afghanistan must revert to mass education.
Although this subject is too huge to describe in a few sentences, it should be said that all religions go through periods of change and adjustment. What we have come to learn as Islam since its 7th-century inception has undergone shifts and changes. The life and practice of the 1st-century followers of Muhammad, like that of 1st-century Christianity, was different from what followed centuries later. In the 1st century, neither the term Islam nor Muslim was used; these were adaptations that came a century or so later. The early community was known as “the community of believers” and the leader was called Amir al-Mu’minin (leader of the believers) not Caliph. The way of that early community was Hanifiyyah (free spirit like Abraham) much like the original followers of Jesus, whose path was called “The way” and later called Christian. It is useful to understand this point because in the beginning there was no distinction between the believers — all those who believed, whether Christian, Jew or Sabian, had their reward with God.
Now is the dawn of a new day facing an era of critical analysis brought on in part by this display of extremism. In reality, it is the metamorphosis of the intrinsic ideas implicit in its Koranic revelations and the human intervention of the Prophet, which will grow to meet the demands of the new world for a means of connectivity with the divine within all of us. But this time in a modern setting of a multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious society. It will attract the believers of all faiths and philosophies towards a common objective.
Unyielding orthodoxy will not prevail in a globalised world. It will either self-implode or synthesise, and a growth conditioned by understanding will emerge. Tolerance is good, but understanding is better. Soon most of the world, including those who call themselves atheist, will understand their common heritage as one humanity under one universal source.