True bravery is far removed from the common perception

فَمَنْ عُفِيَلَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَأَدَاءٌ إِلَيْهِ بِإِحْسَانٍۗ ذَٰلِكَ تَخْفِيفٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَرَحْمَةٌۗفَمَنِ

اعْتَدَىٰ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَهُ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ.

‘If the offender is granted some remission from the heir of the slain person, the agreed penalty should be equitably exacted and should be discharged in a handsome manner.’

(Al-Quran, 2:178)

In our Pulay Poray parts, most customs are pretty well in accordance with Islam. However, some customs deviate from true Islam. For example, people tend to be excessive in matters pertaining to revenge. One person being responsible for a murder, and another person’s life being taken in revenge; one person being slain, and two or more people being slain in retaliation; a murder being avenged, then the revenge also being avenged, bringing an unending cycle of revenge of revenge into existence: all these actions are not condoned by Islam. Equal retaliation – qisas – from an Islamic point of view, is designed to put an end to feuding. The way revenge is practised among Pashtoons brings feuding into existence. 

In such a situation, where Pashtoon customs deviate from Islam, the only thing that Pashtoon will listen to is Islam. That is why, at Da Pulay Poray Radio, we take inspiration from Islam, when trying to address Pashtoon customs that deviate from Islam. Revenge is on such custom. Amongst Pashtoons, there is generally no question of the guilty party being forgiven, even though forgiveness has been mentioned in the Quran as one option. Generally, a murder case will lead to a feud. Sometimes, feuds can go on for decades and decades.

The feud between Mullah Karim Khan and Malik Bahadur, in Kandao village where Da Pulay Poray Drama is set, was a case in point. In fact, Malik Bahadur is from another village, nearby Kandao village. Mullah Karim Khan is also from that village. Their enmity was left to them by their elders. Malik Bahadur’s elder brother had been killed by Mullah Karim Khan’s brother in what started off as a small squabble over land. Due to the enmity, Malik Karim Khan did not return to his own village, but settled instead in neighbouring Kandao village. Some shooting did take place between Malik Bahadur Khan and himself, Mullah Karim Khan was slightly wounded, but his life was intact. Both sides showed a readiness to settle the matter, and usher in a period of peace between their two families.

This is not an easy matter in Pashtoon society. It is difficult for Pashtoons to withstand the rebuke of their fellow Pashtoons and to forge – and then stick to – a peace agreement of this nature. To do so requires real courage, courage such as that mentioned in a Hadith carried by both Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim:

لَیْسَ الْشّدِیْدُ بِالصُّرَعَةِ. اِنَّمَا الشَّدِیْدُ الَّذِيْ یَمْلِکُ نَفْسَهُ عِنْدَ الْغَضَبِ

‘A strong person is not the good wrestler. A strong person is one who controls himself when he is angry.’

And that was how things turned out. During Mullah Karim Khan’s time in the land of refuge, Malik Bahadur Khan had taken possession of his land. With the peace settlement between the two families, the land was returned to Mullah Karim Khan. However, as part of the settlement, Malik Bahadur kept some of the land, as blood-money or compensation for his slain brother. The two parties stood firm in the face of the rebuke that their peace agreement invited, from parties wishing to pit them against each other. Now they have decided to build a ‘Peace Madrassah’ on the very land that was donated to Malik Bahadur, by Mullah Karim Khan as part of the peace agreement.

So much for Da Pulay Poray Drama, and events in Kandao village. What is even more gratifying is that Da Pulay Poray Drama seems to be influencing people to make similar similar peace agreements  in the real world. In this regard, a girl of school-going age – Rukhsar from Aska Mina, an area of Nangarhar inhabited by the Shinwari tribe – phoned into Da Pulay Poray Drama to say that amongst their relatives, there was a feud which recently had been settled in accordance with the settlement between Mullah Karim Khan and Malik Bahadur. In fact, they had been inspired by this peace settlement, to make peace among themselves.

Aska Mina, from where Rukhsar rang in to express her appreciation of Da Pulay Poray Drama

In the course of this feud, two deaths had occurred. As part of the peace settlement, two fields and 1,200,00 rupees changed hands. Rukhsar’s relatives stipulated that a school – or a madrassah – for young children would be built on the land, and they would return the money to them.

It is gratifying when one hears of Da Pulay Poray Drama having a direct impact, as in this case. It takes real bravery to make a peace settlement of this nature, since one has to endure the rebuke of others. It takes even more courage to stick to the agreement. It will be good if Mullah Karim Khan and Malik Bahadur do so in Da Pulay Poray Drama, in the process becoming an inspiration for others.


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