Monday, February 22, 2016



Above is an article from The New York Times written by Nicholas Kristof about Rafi, a young Pakistani who confesses that for a long time he thought of the Taliban as freedom fighters and hated Americans. He dictates how different realms of education influenced his beliefs and train of thought. First, in a madrassa; where he was sent to memorize the Quran and be his mothers golden ticket to heaven. Next, attending a public school in the province of Balochistan; where he fell pray to political Islam – the worst kind of Islam. As Nicholas Kristof says, you would think of education as an antidote to extremism – but in fact it is not. All the education in the world means absolutely nothing without the ability to critically think.

On the flip side, in no sympathy do I reason with Rafi’s parents and the route that they chose for their children. However, I believe it is important to realize that when you live in the outskirts of a poor rural area with not much money and very little hope – religion is all you can hold on to. With the combination of hard circumstance and lack of opportunity, religious extremism can be nurtured through misinterpretation of the Islamic Sharia (law).  But to think that all Muslims that have a steadfast faith are extremist is equal to thinking that all presidential candidates for the United States of America are like Donald Trump.

“Religion”; the belief in and worship of a God or Gods – THE OXFORD DICTIONARY GOT THAT WRONG! More like, “Religion”; a political approach towards gaining power through devoted submission from a group of people.

I feel this article does a great a job in highlighting the importance of the “right” kind of education; the one that allows intellectual growth and underlines the necessity of empowering women. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t lay out what Islamic Sharia (law) is truly about.

I leave you, with teachings of Shams bin Tabriz, a mystic Sufi; “The sharia is like a candle…It provides us with such valuable light. But let us not forget that a candle helps us to go from one place to another in the dark. If we forget where we are headed and instead concentrate on the candle, what good is it?”

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