Bacha Khan Raised the Moral Standards of Pakhtuns: A short essay by Dr. Syed Rashid Ali
In order to face the sufferings and pave way for a progressive society, Bacha Khan reiterated for raising the moral standard of Pashtuns at individual and collective level inclusive of gender, age, occupational class, and religion. His perspective on moral education was rooted in his ideology of non-violence extracted from the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH). For achieving the purpose, he initiated a multipronged strategy where in 1921, he started with the establishment of “Islahul Afaghena” (the Society for the Reformation of Afghans). This society is established with the aim of reformation in the society through socio-cultural reconstruction by awakening people towards educational uplift, economic activities, pragmatism, collective wisdom, national sense of unity, and understanding the true religion.
He started Azad Schools with an inclusive curriculum and attracting poor people to come forward to enroll their kids. He was an aristocrat who could have afforded sending his kids to abroad for education however, enrolled them in the school in order to wiped out the class differences and/or elitists’ hegemony on educational institutions (Khan, 2018).
On the social status of woman, according to Bacha Khan, Pashtun women are wiser than men. He emphasized on equal and respectful treatment of woman and asserted that a civilized nation treats their women with respect. He considered men and women as wheel of a car. He himself sends his daughter for higher education. Today, 15 schools are providing education to female in the province under the Baha Khan Trust Foundation (Dawn, Nov 13, 2017).
He also felt the need that youth especially educated youth shall be provided a platform to use their faculties for the unity and uplift of the Muslim and Hindus of the province. Hence established the “Zalmo Jirga” (Youth League) in September 1929. In order to provide space to the elderly, he established “Khodaie Khidmatgar Tehreek” (KKT) (Servants of God) in October 1929 where through a week long camps in each village, the members were trained in reading, writing, speeches, drama performance, cleanliness drive, dialogues etc. the members were to undergo an oath where they had to pledge to renounce violence, enmity, eradication of social evils like lavish spending on customary ceremonies etc. they were trained, disciplined, ranked and uniformed like an army but unarmed with a weapon of non-violence to serve humanity irrespective of their sect, creed, and religion.
Through this organization, in addition to other purposes, Bacha Khan redefined the social status of the occupational class by providing them positions like sadar, karnail, jarnail (President, Colonel, General). Previously in Pakhtun social structure, this occupational class, Dum, Naie, Koolal, Jola (Musician, Barber, pot maker, cloth weaver) was considered disrespectful as pointed out by Ghani Khan a Pashtu poet and Philosopher, that Pashtuns love music but had contempt for musician (Khan, n.d.). Bacha Khan himself started business in order to dismantle the negative construct/derogatory term of “banya” in Pashtun society regarding business and businessmen.
- Bacha Khan launched movement for women uplift. (2017, November 13). The Dawn, Newspaper. Retrieved from https://www.dawn.com/news/1370221
- Khan, A. G. (n.d.). The Pathan. Retrieved from https://ia802701.us.archive.org/1/items/live_Tpgk/The_Pathan%28English%29_By_Khan_Abdul_Ghani_Khan%5Bwww.Kitaboona.BlogSpot.com%5D.pdf
- Khan, M. S. (2018). Bacha Khan’s vision of alternative education. Bacha Khan Chair Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan. Aamir print & Publisher’s Peshawar.
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