The last night of a suicide bomber

“This is the last night, the very last night. In the morning I have to go. I have to go in the morning.

The mighty and the weak, the rulers and the ruled, we are all dreamers. And we all suffer our dreams.

What if the morning is pale, like a sick moon. The night is crippled too. What difference does it make to me?

Whether its day or night, we are always wide-awake. Or perhaps we are always sleeping. We are running away from the wrath of the city and from ourselves.

Why fear sleeplessness? It is always painful. Even to sleep is to suffer. It is dark, so dark there is no escape from it. It is so dark that any talk of light is welcome, even if it is a lie.

Who has enslaved us? Are we chained by a bewitching eye or imprisoned behind stone walls? Sheharzad, my friend, where are you?

In this quiet night, we are all awake. But no one utters a word. We hear nothing. Not a sound. Not even a sigh. Are we dead? Are we scared? What is it that we dread? There are no travellers in this dark night. We hear no footsteps, not even an echo.

Nobody is up. May they are but they dare not speak. The earth below is solid as stone. And the sky is light-less. Can someone please sneak out, hiding in this darkness, and write a lie on the sky?

That it is morning. That the dark and cruel night is over, it has gone back to its cave. But do I want the night to end, the morning to come? Do I?

In the morning I have to go. I have to go and kill myself. And kill others. I have to kill those who are innocent. I have to kill those who do not deserve to die. But do I care?

I am a lie. A lie written on my memory when I had no memory, when I could not see or think. I still cannot see or think. I am a lie.”

This was my attempt to look into an extremist’s mind. When I shared this with our group, it led to a general discussion on religion. And the question everybody asked was: Can we come to a comfortable conclusion while discussing religion?

One member of the group, Agha, agreed with this description of an extremist. So did Steve.

M. Ansari argued that there’s nothing wrong with religion, any religion. The problem is exploitation, burning a holy book in the name of another, promising paradise to killers.

Saeed said religion was so personal; it should not even be discussed in a public forum.

Foroud believed that religion once provided a legal framework to prevent people from hurting others. Now most countries had their own constitutions.

Rashid referred to a philosopher, Kant, who said the human brain was pre-programmed, the coded information was released slowly over time depending upon the societal and technological progress the mankind achieved.

He argued that despite all religious, ethnic and cultural differences we will see the mankind (unkind?) converge once more in a universal brotherhood. Technological progress is already pointing the way towards greater integration.

The humans face many dualities, which result in anguish. On one hand there is ego, the consciousness and the self. On the other, is the desire to converge but the human intellect is still unable to strike a balance between these two basic needs.

Religion regulates the importance each is to be given. “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; Give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish. Do you guys agree with this statement?” asked one commentator.

Ansari argued that religion, as a whole, not to catch a fish in haste and not to take away the share of fellow humans.

Rashid rejected the suggestion that religion was like opium, noting that science evolved from theology. “Religion does have the capacity to provide hope and immortality in the face of debilitating existential anxieties, in particular the terror of contemplating one’s own death. Is this the basis of our faith in God or gods?” asked another commentator.

Ansari observed that while there was nothing wrong with religion, the way clergy exploited it in the West, caused people to move to secularism. And now the same thing was happening in the Muslim world.

Rashid argued that “we are what we are due to the structure of our brains and concept of God and religion is inbuilt.”

The human brain, he noted, had evolved over time but the inherent message or bias had always been there.

Ansari and Foroud pointed out that when faced with a calamity, humans seek refuge in religion, “like a child clinching to parents when confronting danger.”

Steve argued that one must have faith but people must also learn to live with each other’s faith or the world will be a hell. Agha used one of Mahatma Gandhi’s quotes to illustrate the same point: “If there’s only one location in the sky, shouldn’t all passports be valid for it?”

“War in the name of religion is a social distraction from the true goal, the search for harmony among all faiths.”

“That is the approach of a believer. What about non-believers?” asked a commentator.

“There is no such thing as a total non-believer. The question is who is a true believer? My Answer: We all are,” said Steve.

“Religion isn’t something you advertise. You keep it within yourself and your heart. Advertising it causes trouble and leads you to a destructive path,” said Agha.

“Why debate faiths when in a sense we are all right. If I was born in a Christian family, I would be a Christian too and would have been equally happy with my faith.”

Steve argued that the causes of religious wars were the same as those of non-religious wars, like the World War II: power, politics and domination.

“The problem is we tend to get so distracted with details that we miss the main goodness. We digress, we argue, we suppose, we impose, we interject, we lie ... and then say religion says so. We twist things to suit ourselves.”

“Make your own decisions and control your life. Do not allow others to interpret your faith for you,” said Agha.

“It is difficult to find a true non-believer. And it is equally difficult to find a true believer. So where should we go?” asked a commentator.

“The extremists are neither believers nor non-believers. Believers and non-believers are both seekers. They seek more,” someone replied.

“An extremist is stagnant. He believes what he believes in and does not seek more because he is afraid that true knowledge will expose the falsity of his beliefs,” said she, who did not want to be identified.

“Some among the extremists are ignorant and they are misled by those with vested interests. Others interpret their inner violent tendencies for religion. It is a sickness which needs medical treatment.” “Even educated people can’t set aside their emotions while discussing religion — it is their ego that troubles them and they call it religion,” observed Peerzada.

Ansari quoted from an ancient Chinese manuscript found in a Confucian temple, to make his point.

“In the morning dew as freshly whispering dawn I recall my humble existence And feel the river flowing through my veins Oh, the traveller on the sacred Land Bow your head for me in the temple of your wisdom Chant for me in silence and solitude.”

“Once we rise above the curse of ignorance, prejudice, bigotry, hate, tunnel vision and myopia - we’ll start to appreciate religion,” said Z. Syed.

The author is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Anwar Iqbal is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

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Comments (32) Closed

Jul 08, 2012 07:50am
No Sir, None of those who exploded themselves have capacity to analyze so much. They are washed- many since years, many systematically. How many so called martyrs- belong to Mullah's families? None. Zilch. Zero. Wake up people, wake up. There are no 70 beautiful virgins waiting for you. Only your family and friends miss you, unfortunately, forever.
Jul 07, 2012 11:35am
The whole meaning of " Faith " has been twisted out of shape. Faith does not mean superstition. One has to always look at the bigger picture in life. There are few things that can be taken Literally and religious discourses are no exception.We need to take the water from Zam Zam but not drwon in it.
Jul 07, 2012 11:32am
Try Science for a beginning!!!
Jul 09, 2012 03:54pm
Man has created all mess around him by himself and yet instead of accepting his crimes he blames Religion and God for all the atrocities happens around him. So selfish and rude, such a hypocrite a Human being is. "Cant teach an old dog new tricks"
Jul 07, 2012 03:50pm
@Indian: But science is knowledge [The word science comes from the Latin "scientia," meaning knowledge.]!
Hira Naeem
Jul 07, 2012 02:31pm
Beautifully evocative piece of writing...!
prafulla shrivastva
Jul 07, 2012 10:15am
Dear Sir, I have thought about writing on this subject several times but the way you have written it, I would have never thought like this. You have written wonderfully on this subject. We should always enter the mind of such individual's and find out what causes extreme decisions. Innocent people are victimized; it just really hurts.
Mahesh Patil
Jul 07, 2012 10:04am
If every body stops exhibiting religion on his or her sleeve and keeps it personal,world be far better to live in.
Jul 08, 2012 05:57pm
very legible piece of work
Jul 08, 2012 11:22am
Religious wars is the one cause which has led to death and destruction of more people than all the wars put together in this whole world. It was an easy way some people ( Pandas, Priests, Mullahs) found to hold power over gullible multitude by playing on their ignorance about what would happen after death, and their sense of insecurity. What we actually need is to better understand our own selves and others around us, to learn to be more kind, humane, compassionate and respectful of others sentiments. It will lead to a much better world than we live in today.
Punjabi Jatt
Jul 08, 2012 10:41am
The beauty of religion is it gives you a path to believe in God. But the even greater beauty of God is you do not need religion to belief in God. God has always been God! If we have that strong belief in God, then we can simply lead a clean decent humane life, yet we do not need any religion to belief in God. God is that energy that flows in our universe. We need to feel God we need to embrace that energy that is God. The more you read about religions the more you realize you do not need religion to belief in God. God is in everything and everywhere. Feel the oneness, feel the energy flowing.
Janice Khan
Jul 11, 2012 11:05am
@Arju;Safaraj: You have the freedom to ridicule Islam and us Muslims all you want. Have fun and enjoy. It is a fashion nowadays. But it only make our faith and resolve stronger. But for your information there is no such concept or belief in Islam. Please show me. Cite a reference from the Qur'an.
Jul 07, 2012 07:49am
Ppl use religion to justify whatever acts they are doing, whether religion approves of those acts or not, to give said acts divine authority/backing... however its interesting to note that despite living in Washington DC, the author, like all Pakistani men, excluded women, and their viewpoint, from this discussion. chauvinistic much!
Jul 07, 2012 07:56am
Excellent writing!!! One who can see the light, is blessed and one who cann't is cursed.
Jul 07, 2012 07:57am
I am a lie. A lie written on my memory when I had no memory, when I could not see or think. I still cannot see or think. I am a lie. Amazing line. Everyone in this world is lie considering himself a truth negating another lie.
Jul 07, 2012 08:14am
Groups need to follow a similar train of though to work in tandem. So Religion is just that. We can do as well without it if we have some other objective which keeps our thoughts unified
akhter husain
Jul 07, 2012 08:56am
I have yet to know a branch of knowledge which one can learn without having faith in its basic principles.These fundamentals are there to progress and prosper.
Jul 07, 2012 09:33am
Islam is a complete code of life & if we practice truly the Sunnah of the Beloved Prophet Sallal Lahu Allahe Wasalam then we can help humanity in a great zeal
Anwar Iqbal
Jul 07, 2012 04:27pm
Huma, you are right. The group – Aliflaila Tavern, Virginia – that I report on is a working class group – cab drivers, grocery and gas station workers and waiters. They never involve their women in any of their activities. On many occasions, I suggested that they should but they made fun of me and rejected my suggestion. I am called me a ‘zun murid’ for taking my wife everywhere and for consulting her “even on bahar dey kum,” i.e. external matters. I also put this question on the internet and asked my friends to comment; only one woman sent me her comments but asked me not to identify her. I did as advised. I acknowledge my guilt and apologise.
El Cid
Jul 07, 2012 05:58pm
“...the author, like all Pakistani men, excluded women, and their viewpoint, from this discussion. chauvinistic much!” All...? A bit severe don't you think? Do I detect a touch of misandry there? How about...all Pakistani men you have known—an unhappy limited existence indeed. To be fair the author did mention a lady; said she'd rather not be named. This is she said it: “An extremist is stagnant. He believes what he believes in and does not seek more because he is afraid that true knowledge will expose the falsity of his beliefs,” said she, who did not want to be identified.
Jul 07, 2012 06:07pm
Yah I like fiction? The suicide bomber kills himself & many others (both may be innocents) but you manuscript does not say anything about what made him the suicide bomber illiteracy of centuries, permanent poverty & starvings, torchering done to his beliefs, AISAF & NATO done to his ideal system for baseless 9/11 with no proof at all nor anyone to ask them but that the SYSTEM IS THREAT TO US, blasphemy tried with the most beautiful human ever who his told to be his ideals The real culprits are to be blamed more
Jul 08, 2012 01:10pm
if islam is a complete code of life, then it must have a view for those who go for suicide bombing innocents(read infidels) in the path to serve Allah. WHAT IS THAT STAND? DOES IT ALLOW SUICIDE BOMBING OR NOT.
Jul 08, 2012 02:46am
I am observing a change. lots many mncs have come up in india. Most of the people working in these mncs are educated. Quite a number of them are coming from different places and are of different religions. Here people per force have to work together and interact with each other. Boys and girls working together judge each other, appreciate good and bad points. They find their life partners amongst these not caring about the religion. With number of such families increasing, in near future religious extremism may reduce and finally may end.
Jul 08, 2012 03:16am
Oh yeah?? so what kind of islam was practiced by osama, mullah omar, taliban, al-qaeda, LET and by your ISI? and how they helped the humanity? by killing innocent non-muslims ha??
Jul 08, 2012 03:46am
Hello everybody, I for one , can not make head or tail of this article !!! Perhaps i am not used to subjective perceptions voiced by others indirectly. Or, maybe, those who are steeped in teaching and reading mathematics , just acquire a fondness for axioms and theorems. However , can some one tell me , please, what these line , actually mean ?
Jul 08, 2012 06:11am
but who do we trust as a right source of sunnah? The ahle-bayt? The ashaab? Much of the source of sunnah is Abu Huraira, who was not the former, and hardly the latter. He was not with the prophet during either hijrat, or offered his services in any war, or in any peace mission, and of whom Lady Ayesha said "you quote ahadith that we didn't even hear from the prophet" (and Lady Ayesha herself goes to war with Haz Ali, and his sons, the Ahle-bayt, in war of jamal.) and Caliph Omar forbade him from quoting any ahadith, threatening to have him beheaded if he did. Surely you want proof that the one you blindly follow is on the path of heaven. I know the Ahle bayt who sacrificed all for islam are. I know the ashaab who spent 20-30 years of the their lives serving Islam and the prophet are. I don't see guidance from anyone less than that.
U.E. Hayyat
Jul 09, 2012 06:42am
I remember watching an interview of a suicide bomber (to be) on a Pakistani News Channel, who was captured by the authorities before he could blow himself up. I remember him being asked about killing innocent people including children, women and babies and his reply shocked me, he believed that no one was innocent in this country and everyone deserves to die. Then he was asked that where did he read that doing this is permitted in Islam, his reply was "I don't know anything about Quran or Sunnah, but my Imam told me and I believe him". The point is how miserable the lives of these people are that they think that doing this is going to be there ticket to heaven. If it was revenge they wanted, I might have understood. This person was not for Waziristan or any part of KPK where some drone strike killed his family, he was from South Punjab. I fail to understand the reasons or motivation for someone ending his own life and ending the lives of so many others. We as a nation need to condemn killing in the name of religion, be it the killing of innocent people in Pakistan or killing of NATO Soldiers in Afghanistan. Be it against United States, India or against Israel.
Jul 09, 2012 08:25am
Great. Happy to see someone really writing this. There are lot of moderates in muslim world who don't like violence and know what is happening is bad. But unfortunately there voice is not heard OR they are probably scared of raising their voice, which is natural to most of the people. when no one hears what they might be doing is wrong, they always feel they are right and continue the way they are. Hope that more such voices are raised and will reduce the number terrorists in the near future. Ironically there is no problem that has been solved from terror in the world. Be it India-Pak, Israel-Palestine, China-Tibet and many more. Every time there has been violence the conflict has increased with no sight of solution.
Naseema Perveen
Jul 10, 2012 06:22am
beautifully expressed
Jul 10, 2012 07:39am
That's what we really want, peace on all sides
Jul 10, 2012 07:37am
Absolutely Right!
Jul 11, 2012 09:44am
One question bugs me... If a Female suicide bomber explode herself....will there be 70 Handsome guys waiting for her?? Please somebody enlighten me...