Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Challenging demons who exploit human inadequacies

Afshana has a thing or two to say about a generic human weakness called back-biting

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 34, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

Tongue: A Ferocious Beast

Syeda Afshana

If it is Wound
Blood will bleed;
If it is Eye
Tears will trickle;
If it is Heart
Throbs will sink;
If it is Conscience
Facts will prick.
In the market of voices,
silence will fade.
Howling matters
Realities seldom change.

A famous story narrates that once an acquaintance came to Socrates and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?” “Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

Socrates continued, “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you are going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
“No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it.”

“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”
“No, on the contrary…”the man replied.

“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you are not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”

“No not really…”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

It has been a routine to speak spitefully or slanderously about people behind their backs when they are not around to defend themselves. It is similar to gossip but is more malevolent and obnoxious. Commonly known as back-biting, people possess an inexorable tendency to vilify others.

Words reflect thoughts and mentality. Incessant bad-mouthing at most of the gatherings, be it social or official, reflects the insensitivity of people towards the most disliked and disowned practice by all the religions.

We usually forget the old phrase that advises- ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’ A snooping and equally scandalous habit of talking bad about others is the hallmark of all and sundry who feel insecure about themselves. And doing so, they try to project themselves as good and better beings.

“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat flesh of his dead brother?”(Holy Quran 49:12). This verse depicts how much repulsive backbiting is in view of the Holy Quran.

A Muslim scholar interprets the verse as being addressed to those actually engaged in backbiting and warns them with six degrees of reprimand and restrains them from this sin with six degrees of severity. Elucidating, the Hamza in the original Arabic of this verse is interrogative. This sense of interrogation penetrates all the words of the verse like water, so that each word carries an interrogative accent.

The first word, would, asks, ‘Do you have no intelligence, with which you ask and answer, and can discriminate between good and bad, so that you fail to perceive how abominable this thing is?’

The second word, like, asks, ‘Is it that your heart, with which you love or hate, is so spoiled that you love a most repugnant thing like backbiting?’

Third, the phrase, any of you, asks, ‘What has happened to your sense of the nature and responsibility of society and civilization that you dare to accept something so poisonous to social life?’

Fourth, the phrase, to eat the flesh, asks, ‘What has happened to your sense of humanity that you are tearing your friend to pieces with your teeth like a wild animal?’

Fifth, the phrase, of his brother, asks, ‘Do you have no human tenderness, no sense of kinship, that you sink your teeth into some innocent person to whom you are tied by numerous links of brotherhood? Do you have no intelligence that you bite into your own limbs with your teeth, in such a senseless fashion?’

Sixth, the word, dead, asks, ‘Where is your conscience? Is your nature so corrupt that you commit so disgusting an act as eating the flesh of your dead brother who is deserving of much respect?’

Back-biting as loathsome and despicable act meddles with the social matters since they are by and large associated to tongue. This small piece of flesh is of huge consequence in social life. Calumny and spitefulness by this organ brings disastrous upheaval to social structure. Distrust and distances afflict the ties, generating misgivings and alienation.

Emphasizing the significance of tongue, the holy Prophet (SAW) said: “When man wakes up in the morning each day, all parts of the body warn the tongue saying, ‘Fear Allah as regards us; for we are at your mercy; if you are upright, we will be upright and if you are crooked, we become crooked”(Tirmizi, Hadith 2407).

Hazrat Ali (RA) said: “The tongue is such a ferocious beast that if let loose, it will act ravenously.”

Those who indulge in disparagement and denigration, with a malicious intent to distort realities, do not carry too long. Their seeming success lasts little. For truth never remains de-shaped forever. It gets back to brass-tacks.

Back-biters are left to lick the dust! Eventually. But the damage they fetch is too severe. Almost irreparable.

No comments: