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Wavering Saga of Sentiments and Sensibility 

Mahboob Qadir


The writer is a retired Brigadier. He has extensive experience in dealing with UN matters related to strategic policy on countering violent extremism.

Human society is a mosaic of various colors and hues which create a rainbow effect upon some and bewilderment to quite a few others. These responses are a function of multiple factors like the level and scale of one’s physical and moral wellness, existing state of mind, the leisure or leverage to assess a spectacle, the extent of visible panorama and finally the prevailing environment that one is in. These inputs are processed by the mind to produce a certain effect or response.

You must have seen in roasting summers certain people falling asleep with in minutes after they walk into an air-conditioned room. Notice also the effect of a glass of ice cold water upon your parched throat and overheating body the way it cools down just like the blacksmith’s red hot iron blade slowly dousing in the water urn and the steam rising with a whooshing sound has seen visitors from dusty hot planes below almost crying with joy as they step out in the soothing cold breeze of Nathia Gali. I feel awfully sleepy and hungry when awake for the first few days whenever I happen to stay in Murree in summers. These are accumulated body responses to a pleasant external motivation.

There is another set of motivations which produces fear, apprehension and anger. These threaten one’s carefully constructed security bubble, hard-earned wellbeing, or simply your delicate scheme of peaceful life. When they pose a threat to one’s poise, belief or dearly held values the situation becomes dangerously volatile. This is where the trouble starts. If the threat is casual and unintended that can be ignored or overcome but if it is deliberate and persists the reactions can be violent and harmful. The velocity of such violence also depends upon how the recipient’s mind had been conditioned before. If it was programmed to expect a  preconceived threat or impingement and a response already tailored then an suspecting Salman Taseer will be gunned down by his own bodyguard who remained unrepentant till hanged. A mother of three children will blow herself up with explosives killing others too. But if a cleaner mind is spot agitated the responses can be completely unforeseen. Then an unarmed fellow will stand before an advancing tank and stop the entire convoy, jump over the rally stage and floor the speaker or turn the waffling political imam from Friday prayers out of the mosque door.

When they pose a threat to one’s poise, belief or dearly held values the situation becomes dangerously volatile. This is where the trouble starts.

There is a yet another but highly sublime motivation that draws sweat, subdued and respectful responses from the soft hearted pilgrim was a reluctant hajj intended and might not have performed one but for the ardent wish and prayers of my wife. It was 1994and was my first hajj. We applied for the GHQ contingent and sadly could not make it to the list. My unholy reluctance was duly blamed which I quietly accepted and we travelled on a few days leave to Rawalpindi. There one day I get a call from GHQ to pack up for hajj in three days’ time, as a couple already selected had met an accident and were unable to travel. My wife was beside herself with joy but I knew it were Almighty’s summons for me the chronic absconder.

Shortly we flew to Jeddah and by bus to Makkah. Our guide kept telling us not to lift our eyes till he says so and then pray without blinking it will be answered. I saw a window of opportunity for a preemptive. Slowly respectfully we entered the haram and when asked I lifted my eyes to an absolutely stunning, awe-inspiring, and irresistibly overwhelming view of the Kaabah. Tears welled up and I said, “I was not coming, You got me here. Now what I beg You will have to grant me. Or else I will sit outside Your door and tell 25 lac pilgrims that You called me and did not answer my prayers”.I simply broke down.

As we sat down on the haram floor after Fajr prayers I heard a loud Pushtoon voice from the rear, ‘O God I am your guest. Whatever I ask for you will give. How come you will not?’. This was one of the loveliest prayer I have ever heard. The grand old man was father of one of our fellow officers. My wife was busy requesting Al-Mighty to be called here again and again. Her prayers were answered four years later when I was posted as Director General of Pakistan Armed Forces Deputationists to Saudi Arabia, and stationed in Riyadh. We performed innumerable Umrahs and four more Hajj while there.

We travelled to Madinah and what a soothing, mellow feeling it injects into one’s searing, sizzling soul. Unparalelled calm, an otherworldly sense of peace and a feathery float into the twilight as if sleepwalking. Unbelievably serene. One day I was standing outside the Holy Prophet’s mausoleum when an elderly Turk approached and asked in Turkish something like where was the way to go inside. This was an amazing request as we were standing right next but I thought it was a unique honor. I led the graceful Turk inside the mosque right to the golden grill and requested him to pray for me too. Then there was this tall handsomely dark athletic Sudanese man in his loose flowing white robes who came from the rear and in a sing-song friendly voice said loudly ‘Salama alika Ya Nabi’. Everybody turned and we saw a happily beaming face walking up towards the golden grill completely pleased with himself. There was yet another Lahori wrestler with a freshly shaven and oiled head in a typical Punjabi dress with a shorter cloth sheet on his shoulder in the salaam queue. As he came face to face with the Holy Prophet’s burial marker he yelled ‘Ya Rasool Allah’ flew to touch the shoulder cloth with the grill falling two burly shurtas in the process and went out dancing with joy. I marveled at Imran Khan’s barefoot pilgrimage in Madinah and wish the Almighty may give me just one chance to do so myself too. I regret why it did not occur to me earlier. But then this respect occurs with God’s special blessings only.

My moment of reckoning came when we were taken to offer respects at the graves of Shuhahdah-e-Badr. Then you could go quite close. Hazrat Amir Hamza’s grave was only few yards away behind the iron grill. I lifted my hands and was about to offer fatiha when realized that he was the chief of the martyrs of Badr and living with Almighty. He did not need my prayers, it was in fact me who needed his. So I requested Hazrat Amir Hamza to pray for me. I am sure he must have ,he was a generous and a brave man. How one wishes one could emulate him.

             

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