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I imagine it; for that’s what I do. I imagine stories.


I see it in my mind: a regular day at school. The front benchers attentive, the back benchers bored and trying to hide their yawns. The 12 year old boy in the corner is playing with a rubber band and a paper pellet; elsewhere a 15 year old girl is drawing hearts and arrows on the back page of her notebook. She is in love with a boy in her class. He has wide shoulders and a cheeky smile and she hopes he feels the same way about her. Who knows he may finally look her way that evening!

One teacher is thinking about the call he has to make to his old mother as he looks through assignment sheets. Another teacher is planning a birthday meal for her husband of six months even as she shows the workings of a math problem on the blackboard. All is calm, all is quiet and all is fine until the men come in, it seems, almost from nowhere. Their faces are not hidden and their voices are devoid of expression. The bullets fly. Blood splatters on the walls and ceilings, children and adults fall; wailing and screaming; terror and horror and rivulets of blood flow. “Look under the benches to see if anyone is hiding and shoot them, “ a man calls out.

But tonight I don’t have to imagine it. This happened for real. An estimated 145 people were slaughtered in cold blood, and most of them were students between the age of 12 and 16 in a school in Peshawar in Pakistan.

Life will never be the same again. For the wounded and the families of the dead children and adults. For each one of us in this world for who can be immune to the massacre of the innocents.

Sometimes I wonder if the prophet Jeremiah’s prophesy “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” didn’t end with when Herod gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity. Time and again the weeping and mourning rents the air as innocent lives are taken and all in the name of faith.

Sadly the perpetuators of this horrific war against life have mostly been followers of Islam thereby causing the rest of the world to wonder about a religion that seems to propagate terrorism. And it makes me wonder if these butchers have even read the Quran. For the Quran states loud and clear : that whosoever killeth a human being for other than man-slaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whosoever saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind [ Surah V : 32 Translation Marmaduke Pickthall]

Tell me Taliban, tell me all you fundamentalist Islamic groups, in your warped justice system, how can you accuse children of man-slaughter or corruption? Which surah of the Koran says it is alright to kill children? Or which hadith instigates it? In fact, ‘Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, gave these instructions to his armies: “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town . . . ” (Malik’s Muwatta’, “Kitab al-Jihad.”)

Children do not know what religion sanctifies or forbids. Children do not know what governance or borders are. Children do not plan war strategies or military operations. Children are not responsible for the doings of a land or its adult people. Children are our hope for tomorrow. So how can you religious heads who are fighting religious wars live with yourselves knowing you have taken the life of children. They who have no part in adult machinations, why do they have to pay the price?

Forget about the jannah, none of the eight doors of your heaven, not even the Baab al jihad will open for you. For how can you conduct a jihad against children? For your hands are stained with the blood of the innocent and your soul is tainted with evil that can never be erased.

Imagine the pointlessness of your existence if the heaven of your faith has no place for you. Imagine the tears of the mothers and fathers of the wounded and the dead. Imagine a world without children…and know that you caused it to happen.

- Published in La Repubblica Italy & Times of India December 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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