Khan, Abdul Ghaffar - Remembering a Non-Violent Soldier

Dr Fazal-ur-Rahim Marwat

Posted Jan 1, 2004      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Remembering a non-violent soldier

“My faith is clear. I will forsake it even if I stand alone in the People”
(Bacha Khan)

Dr Fazal-ur-Rahim Marwat
Source: The Frontier Post

When the history of the sub-continent is being written, perhaps only a very few of those who occupy public attention will find a mention in it. But among those “very few there will be the outstanding and commanding figure of Badshah Khan” said Jawaharlal Nehru, “Straight and simple, faithful and true, with a finely chiseled face that compels attention, and a character built up in the fire of long suffering and painful ordeal, full of hardness of the man of faith believing in his mission and yet soft with the gentleness of the one who loves his kind exceedingly.” If any body can be said to be a universal man it is Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly known as Bacha Khan for h e stands not for any narrow sectarianism or political group, but for the eternal values of love & peace that will be valid for all times to come. D.G. Tendulkar in his book Abdul Ghaffar Khan:

Faith is Battle, asserts, “The life of Abdul Ghaffar Khan is an inspiring saga of a triumph of spirit which knows nothing of force, whose conquests are won by the power of invincible gentleness.” Bacha Khan was against violence in any form and for any case. Violence always promotes a sense of hatred. It is not good for any country or nation because it is ultimately self-destructive. The alarming growth of violence, itself a manifestation of social disruption and moral degeneration has been prohibiting progress on all fronts. Without overcoming this trend, we cannot solve the political, economic and social problems of our society. If some individual or party, state or nation supports violence and terrorism in any form and for whatever objective, that individual, party, state or nation would ultimately plunge itself in trouble and disorder. Bacha Khan’s was a difficult saga and difficult mission. Difficult because, the people, the political parties and the government have moved so far away from the party of non-violence and peace. Commenting on Bacha Khan’s observation, Searchlight in its October 14th, 1969 issue writes: “There is much force in Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s observation that if the political leaders in this country (India) did not pay heed to the fast changing world and take immediate steps to improve the lot of the common people they would meet the fate of Ayub Khan of Pakistan and Chiang Kai Shek of erstwhile China. No country can ignore the march of time and the forces of change that mould history.”

The life and work of great personage like Bacha Khan gives us faith in the future of humanity. In his person and movement one could search for peace, vision and progress.

One of his admirers wrote about Bacha Khan in his lifetime. “With the vision of idealism in his eyes, he looks beyond the desolation now surrounding man. He is striving to bring man and man, nation and nation closer to one another. His achievement signifies the evolution of a new type of human force which alone can ultimately be the motivation of enduring international amity.” Bacha Khan was more adherent to non-violence than Gandhiji and never deviated from his path throughout his life. In 1940, when all Indian National Congress discussed the policy towards the war, Bacha Khan resigned from the working committee by saying:

“Some recent resolutions of the working Committee indicate that they are restricting the use of non-violence to the fight for India’s freedom against constituted authority…. I should like to make it clear that the non-violence I have believed in and preached to my brethren of the Khudai-Khidamatgars is much wider. It affects all our life, and only that has permanent value… The Khudai-Khidmatgars must, therefore, be what our name implies, servants of God and humanity by laying down our own lives and never taking any life…”

Mostly the Western and Indian scholars and even in his latest book about Bacha Khan ‘A Frontier Gandhi’ by a Sindhi scholar-bureaucrat S.M. Korejo tries to prove that Bacha Khan was a follower of Gandhiji and his non-violence. This observation is regrettable. J.S. Bright MA writes in his booklet “Frontier and its Gandhi” in 1994 about Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, “Ghaffar Khan is in complete accord with the principle of non-violence. But he has not borrowed his outlook from Mahatma Gandhi. He has reached it. And reached it independently. Independently like a struggler after truth. No doubt, his deep study of Quran has influenced his doctrine of love…” He added, “At any rate, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan is not a Brahmin. Neither he is a Mullah commissioned by his Majesty the King of Afghanistan.

He is a plain Khan and tribesmen do not doubt his sincerity. Hence, if Ghaffar Khan has arrived at the philosophy of non-violence, it is absolutely no wonder. Of the two, Ghaffar Khan and Mahatma Gandhi, my personal view is that the former has achieved a higher level of spirituality. The Khan has reached heaven, while the Pandit is firmly on the earth but ironically enough; the Mahatma is struggling in the air! Ghaffar Khan like Shelley has come from heaven to the earth, while Mahatma Gandhi like Keats is going from earth to be heaven.

Hence, I do not understand why Ghaffar Khan should be called the Frontier Gandhi. There is no other reason except this that the Mahatma was earlier in the field, more ambitious than spiritual and has been able to capture somehow or the other, a greater publicity. If we judge a person by spiritual qualities, Mahatma Gandhi should rather be called the Indian Khan than Ghaffar Khan the Frontier Gandhi, true, there the matter ends.” He has given his people a new consciousness of life. A life of labour and love. He was man of conviction rather than of words. He was Muslim but neither a pretender nor a hypocrite. A man who for his services is known as Fakhari-Afghan but he called himself simply Ghaffar or Abdul Ghaffar.

He was a man who tried to light the lamp of hope and struggle in the hearts of young Pakhtuns. A person who spent half of his life behind the bars and in chains but still preached message of love and compassion to his people. It was Bacha Khan who practically proved by raising the professional cadres (Qasabgaran) to the status of general and commanders of the Khudai-Khidmatgars over Khans and Chiefs in the traditional Pakhtun society.

To him no man is superior to another except for his services for the community and his piety. He tried h is best in invite the Pakhtuns to trade and business by opening himself a shop. He was so particular about the quality and quantity of items/things advertised in his journal ‘The Pakhtun’ that that he advised to check the advertised items himself or by anyone before publishing it, and if the trader was found of adulteration or wrong-doing his advertisement would not be published again in his journal. Without following the principles taught by Bacha Khan, our nation, our country, rather the entire world would wait for another Messiah, to rescue us from the quagmire of violence, terrorism, sectarianism and selfishness.