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Reaping What We Sow

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

By this time, you’ve been inundated with social media pulsating with Malala Yousafzai’s debacle and how different assessments provide for a scarce week of introspection by the inebriated populace. Pakistanis everywhere have been up to the challenge, so far. Initial shock gave way to resentment and finally protests. There are even a few conspiracy theories abound and we’re now distancing ourselves from the extremists. Conveniently, even though we all know the stakes and apparently so do the Taliban. They’re more resolved and organized it seems, shouldn’t expect any less from years of practice against the former U.S.S.R.

"Malalai Of Maiwand - The Famous Female Pashtun Warrior" [Acrylic paints, 18X24] By Samar EsapZai


But first a quick reminder: As everyone and their mother scrambled to weigh in on this story with caricatures, tattoos and naming schools, they all forget one simple fact, Activism is not unheard of among Muslim women. Over the past few decades, we’ve witnessed a steady stream of confident and smart women activists who have struggled but remained steadfast in the face of aggression both from myopic self appointed custodians of honor, and from an ignorant media that continues to perpetrate it’s own understanding of feminism and modesty. Malala’s life was almost cut short by a bullet unlike Malalai’s who rallied the Pashtun forces against the British troops at the Battle of Maiwand in 1880. This is still a popular name in that part of the world.


But the next few lines will not be yet another diatribe against Taliban, it will be an introspection about the realities we must acknowledge and embrace. If we ever want to survive beyond the immediate puddle we’ve gotten ourselves into.


Muslims have failed Islam and we’re now looking for reasons to distance ourselves for the realities that we face today. I have a fair bit of inhibition writing this piece, will I be caste out for ‘outing’ the people. Fatwas wont make their way to Toronto but spite can. And it does.


In the past 300 days of my decision to live in Toronto, Ive come across extremists who would put the Mullahs of Lal Masjid to shame. I do not exaggerate. This small but very active lot lives in its own delusions, home schools its children, abuses free speech, openly promotes hate against the west and refuses to participate in civic activities as responsible citizens of Canada. It shuns its academics and intellectuals weaving a hateful narrative about lack of opportunities, conspiracy theories about selective media all the while refusing to accept it’s lack of participation in the same.


I don’t blame them. Why expect more from sheep? I lay the blame elsewhere. May I suggest an alternative to the narrative: Islam’s problem is not the radical extremists, it is the moderates.


Because the moderates enable all of this. By not fully understanding the stakes.


I will not indulge your talk about there being only one kind of Muslims because there aren’t. We covered a murderer with garlands because he silenced a man who choose to question a flawed law. And these mobs with garlands were Muslims so there. So if you weren’t a part of that mob, then you’re a different Muslim hence the distinction.


There are even Muslim leaders today arguing for the legitimacy of attack on Malala by harping the same old drone narrative. We all know the attack had nothing to do with the drone attacks, which incidentally is a CIA operation and should be dealt with at the parliamentary level.


Moving on …


Islam’s problem is not the radical extremists, it is the moderates. Rather it is the radical moderates.


I will not indulge your talk about ‘Radical Moderates’ being an oxymoron. If you weren’t a part of any mob burning city, shopping mall, cinema or an embassy, and also choose to sit and hit back a few, then you are a radical moderate. Some would call you a wuss as well. Religion will call you a hypocrite.


And no, this article is not funded by the ‘powers that be’. This is an introspection of how empty an existence can be if you chose to live ignoring the realities of life.


Illustration by Peter Nicholson


Consider this, when was the last time you heard the clergy from any religion openly accept science, logic or rationality? While there are exceptions, there is only talk of Saviors and Fate instead of encouragement. No talk of taking charge of one’s destiny. After all it’s the bread and butter to let the orange alert rein.


I will not indulge your myopic conspiracy theory about polio drops rendering Muslim children impotent when they grow up. Diseases are real and if you don’t take appropriate antidotes/medicines/vaccines, you lose life and limb. Literally. And between you and me- you’ve rendered yourselves impotent by tying your belief and salvation to an exact measure of piece of cloth.


Do you come across similar bile in your community, I do. In Toronto. And my struggle is to keep afloat in the face of such parochial monologues. And not give up and turn into a radical moderate – who only finds comfort in distancing himself from the extreme lot. I challenge these assumption. It is my understanding as someone who believes in Perdition and Judgment, that I will be penalized for every time I stayed quiet and let a aberration of an ideology pass me by. You think there is no accountability for your indifference? That you’d saunter by something clearly against the basic principles of humanity, benevolence and peace, and you will not be questioned about it?


Have you ever encountered a sibling, a relative a friend or an acquaintance who says the most extreme or racist things imaginable. And you’ve let them off the hook? Guess that talk about exerting oneself or striving against sin, wrong and temptation is all bull. Isn’t this about introspection and accountability? It is and everyone’s in the wrong here.


There is an ominous, deadly wave of indoctrination underway in Canada, and the Muslims need to come together to fight it. This is about a choice – and as you know a choice is an informed decision based on a desire to achieve a goal in the future.


We will reap what we sow.



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azfarrizvi (Azfar Rizvi)
Member since August 2012


Rizvi is an award-winning multi-platform media producer who has delivered content for several national and international networks. Apart from producing news and teaching broadcast journalism, Rizvi has also collaborated with non-profits over the past few years delivering compelling digital advocacy campaigns and films. Rizvi started his career in 2001 as a producer and presenter with the state-owned English radio network FM-101. In 2003, he segued into News and Factual television.

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