Kafiristan’s ‘Muslims’

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  • Their tale of communal love, harmony and peace

 

By Hassnain Malik

 

We used to go to whichever village in Chitral, made a list of the earthquake victims, and then visited their homes and examined them, most of which ha0d become piles of rubble.

We also had limited funds and medicines, so we thought we would give money to 30 people and give medicines to 300 persons so that we could go to more villages and work according to our capacity. We visited every village’s Nazim, the local councillor, or a nearby police station, or an employee of that outpost. They helped us to make a list of 20 or 30 people, and after we had met and scrutinised them all, we gave them an equal amount of money, set up medical camps and headed to the next village. Most of the people live near the river so that they can get water and do farming easily.

Some people build houses over the mountains so that they are protected from floods. Such people have to come down from the mountain to collect wood and water near the river, and lift them on their heads and go back to their houses over the mountain. From the front of the river, descending from such a mountain, there appeared an Amma Gee who would have been at least 60.

She carried a large burden on her head that seemed to be too large than her age or health. I told my friend who knew the language to ask her why is she carrying so much wood. They were too much for a week, and then wasn’t it easier to take enough for two or three days.

Amma gee gaspingly replied as she was walking on her way that some girls in the village have little children, so she thought if she took wood for them too, they wouldn’t have to leave those children to come.

The Qur’an whispered in my ear “Help the people.”

One of my fellow social workers used to help women in their homes, especially women who did not have a family. She went inside a house while we were waiting outside. When she returned, there was a pearl garland in her neck that the women of Kailash usually are seen wearing. She said that, “When I gave the money to the lady of the house, she was so happy that she took this garland off and placed it around my neck.”

“Since Pakistan was created, no FIR has been registered. Here no one occupies the property of the other. Neither they do not fight among themselves, nor do they commit robbery. Many police officers consider it a punishment to come here because there is no ‘earning’. In extreme cases, someone’s animal is lost who would either find it the next day or it would come back on his own.”

Inside Kailash, there was a shop on Chitral Road, where samples of local artifacts, pearls, jewellery, and embroidery were available. We stopped there; I saw a pearl garland of the same kind. I asked its price from the shopkeeper. It was twice the money than we gave that woman for help.

Ayat 92 of Surah Al-Imran came in front of me and shone: “By no means shall you attain to righteousness until you spend out of what you love.”

In the middle of a village in Kafiristan, we set up a medical camp. We also had some common medicines that are useful for fever, sore throat, allergies, or coughs.

We thought these medicines should be distributed to all the people so that they could use them later. A sweet little girl came and stood by me.

I asked her if she knew Urdu, to which she answered she did, and that she went to school. I made her sit beside me and told her that this medicine should take for fever, and the second one for a sore throat, and so on.

The girl whose name was Gul Faria said she was not sick. I said “maybe someone in your home is not fine; take it for him or her.” She said everyone was fine at home. I said, “Keep them, if you ever get sick, then they will heal you.”

Then she gave her final decision. “When I get sick, Dezau will make me recover.”

When I got back to Chitral, Google told me that Dezau was her god’s name, and the girl was pretty sure that he would heal her when she gets sick.

It seemed like Gul Faria taught me to believe in this Ayat: “And when I am ill, He heals me” (Ash-Shu’araa’)

There I saw a board written in English outside the house, ‘English Language Academy.’ I was curious that there is also an English Academy in such a deprived or marginalised area. I got to know that a local man who is now quite old had been working in Karachi for some time, where he learned to speak and read some basic English.

When I met him, he said that he did not understand anything else he could share with his villagers. So, he thought he should teach English to everyone as it was the only thing, he had that other villagers did not have. So, he had been doing this free for the last 20 years.

‘Surah al-Baqarah’ explained: “If you disclose your donations, it is well; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you.”

An employee of the police station in Kailash accompanied with us from the beginning. I asked him one, “What kind of problems do you have the most?”

His response exploded like an atom bomb, the effects of which I still feel four years later: “There is nothing to do all day. Since Pakistan was created, no FIR has been registered. Here no one occupies the property of the other. Neither they do not fight among themselves, nor do they commit robbery. Many police officers consider it a punishment to come here because there is no ‘earning’. In extreme cases, someone’s animal is lost who would either find it the next day or it would come back on his own.”

Somewhere, Al-Baqara sounded up again: “O Believers: Do not devour one another’s possessions.”

One day we arrived in another village in Kalash. We met a local Kalashi employee there and asked him to make a list of 20 people. He wrote something on a paper for a long time and then came and said, “Sir! There are only 19 homes in our village that need financing, and everything else is fine.” A colleague of mine who was with us from Chitral took me aside and said, “This is a strange man. “Every village we went to, if we asked for 30 homes, they made list of 30 homes, and if we said 20, they made a list of 20. This is the first one who could include any person to complete 20 persons, and the whole village is poor, but he is saying there are only 19 houses deserving.

The verse of the Qur’an came from somewhere: ‘Speak the truth’.

It seems only Muslims are living in the entire Kafiristan.