“In individuals, insanity is rare; in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.”
Mr Victorious Sword or Zafar Shamsheer is a conservative, a Muslim conservative. He believes the entire world is busy conspiring against the Muslims.
The 9/11 never happened. And even if it did, it was a big Jewish conspiracy against Muslims. “Why were all Jewish employees in those buildings on leave that day?” he asks. Although he has seen pictures of Jewish people killed in the terrorist attacks, he refuses to believe them.
He also believes that Osama bin Laden was not killed in Pakistan. The US operation was a fake because OBL had already died in 2002.
All those Taliban who attack mosques, Muslim worshippers, Pakistani troops and military installations are not really Taliban. They are Indian and American infiltrators.
Shias are not Muslims, yes, Mr. Sword agrees with that. But he refuses to believe that Sunni militants are killing Shias. “Those who do such things are also Indian and American agents,” he claims.
He believes the Arab Spring is a conspiracy to weaken Muslims. And those fighting Syrian government troops are not Syrian Muslims, they are non-Muslim foreigners.
There is no limit to Mr. Sword’s fantasies. He has a fertile brain and can churn out a hundred conspiracy theories a day. His theories often contradict each other but that does not bother him. Nothing does.
Who is Mr. Sword? Is he real? Yes, there is one particular Mr. Sword that I know but there are many others who fit this description too. They all live in their small, make-believe worlds and refuse to look outside.
I did a brief Google search with words ‘Shia kafir’ and it showed me 141,000 results in 0.23 seconds. Most of these posts were by Sunni extremists but there were some by Shias too, calling Sunnis kafir.
So, it is not just Mr. Sword who is diseased. We all are. This jinni is sitting inside all of us and whenever it gets a chance, it comes out with full ferociousness, ready to destroy anyone and anything that it does not like.
Trying engaging a Muslim, liberal or religious, on a subject he disagrees with and see how he reacts. Note how ferocious he becomes, how cruel, how offensive.
Educated liberals do not call each other kafirs, true. But see how they change when using a sectarian or ethnic card to promote their interests. A person blocking a job they covet is signalled out as a Shia, Ahmadi, Christian or whatever sect or faith he or she may belong to.
Where the religious card does not work, ethnic differences do and are used blatantly, without feeling any shame. Racism is bad if the Whites use it against us, but not if Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Baloch and Mohajirs use it against each other.
At annual meetings of the Islamic Society of North America, I twice tried discussing the racial discrimination that South and Southeast Asian workers face in the Gulf. I did not succeed.
But let us get back to Mr Sword. We went to the same school, in Islamabad. He somehow passed the matriculation and intermediate examinations, both in third divisions, learned typing and joined a government office in Islamabad. He still lives in a poor neighbourhood in Rawalpindi.
For most liberals, he is a failure, a low-life semi-mullah who is neither here nor there. They are wrong. He is the key link between the extremists sitting on the mountains and the people who quietly slip in a hundred-rupee note into the donation box after Friday prayers in the name of jihad. He encourages them to do so.
People like Mr Sword are also important because, unlike liberals, they retain the ability to speak, write, compose poems and make speeches in their own languages.
The Mr Sword that I know speaks chaste Punjabi and fluent Urdu. He quotes versus from the Holy Quran and couplets from Sufi poetry in his speeches. Most liberals cannot. So when he speaks, he has an impact. The English-mixed, Urdu, Punjabi or Sindhi the liberals speak, does not have an impact.
This Mr Sword is also a poet. He can write melodious poems, in Urdu and Punjabi, glorifying Islam and Muslims. So he is popular.
During the Afghan war, Mr Sword joined a religious leader as his personal bard. He would travel from town to town, reciting his poems that also included at least one poem about this scholar.
Those were the days when the free world – mainly Americans, Pakistanis and Saudis – was busy fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. They were recruiting jihadis from all over the world, particularly from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mr Sword came in handy. His poems encouraged teenagers to join the Afghan jihad. Mr Sword was rewarded for his efforts with a small piece of land in the neighbourhood where he lives now. With support from his “maulana saheb,” he built a small house there and is happy with that. He does not want more.
So he did not migrate to Europe or America, like most liberals do. Some like him do go to the Middle East as unskilled labour and return home with a new zeal for promoting their beliefs. For instance, some of these Dubai-returned Mr Swords are more eager than the local ones in branding others as kafirs.
But this is not just Mr Sword’s story. This is my story too. And it starts at a news conference in Rawalpindi, addressed by a scholar, now dead, who often claimed that “every Moharram, I cause the death of two or three Shias.”
The maulana, as expected, demanded new restrictions on religious minorities or “their men will be enslaved and women distributed among the believers.”