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Self love and its fruits


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The middle class is acknowledged as the back bone of every society in the contemporary world.

Every nation’s middle class has some distinct features of identity. So has ours. But our middle class has some unique features of distinction too, ranging from some that may amuse, to many that are tragic.

Pride is a defining color of our middle class. But we do not think any performance is necessary for pride. We live in a land of four seasons; we have mountains in our north and in this blessed land, God even sends rains when dust makes it hard to breathe; is it not something unique to be proud of? The other day a young proud Muslim with a college degree pointed out all these blessings to me, and then explained, “We are so blessed because we are Muslims, you know.”

This innocence is the fruit of a well organised movement which teaches our students that the whole world, not a part of Arabia, was dark and ignorant before Islam. Civilization started in the 6th century after Christ.

A lack of awareness is a precondition for narcissistic pride. Bragging is as natural to a child as humility is to a wise man. An organised movement has been active for centuries to keep us away from wisdom, which grows only when we learn and think. This movement was put in motion in our past to maintain the dominance of Muslim kings and aristocracy who needed some dedicated force to fight for them. Hindu subjects could not be that force. So, Muslims were pumped with pride: the pride of faith, pride of valor, of ability to kill, of sexual prowess.

Our literature is replete with stories of massacre, of ravaging the infidels and their cities, and of sleeping with so many wives, although we claim our ancestors were the kindest, so delicately spiritual, the most pious and just of all mankind. We have been told that reciting the Qur’an was enough to be self-righteous; all skills of life except wielding the sword were low jobs for the subject people. No system of education, therefore, developed during the 800 years of the Muslim rule.

What is learning? What fields need learning? Do we need to know about agriculture, trade, manufacture, health or social matters for a peaceful society? These questions were seldom taken up; countless issues, that need the good ruler’s attention, were left to their fate. Our Muslim kings had little interest in the famous handicrafts of South and East India beyond collecting taxes or using their products. So the ancient India of arts and crafts, of mathematics and music did not grow in any field except some architecture. We make tall claims that our rulers of India established justice and equality, but the tragic truth is that the untouchables were never rescued and Sati was never challenged while our kings collected taxes on Hindu worship.

When the British colonialists ended the rule of our kings, our religious leaders declared it a tragedy for Islam and pitted us against new sciences. The narcissist self-love, which had alienated us from Hindus for centuries, again served as a tool to keep us from “Christian sciences”. Those who pleaded for new sciences were declared infidels and continue to be declared so, to this day. Whatever the motivation of Pakistan’s founding fathers was, our aristocracy and clerics were clear on their mission. The mission was to keep us sick with nostalgia and pride, to hold us from the wisdom of humility. Islam served as the most effective tool to perpetuate their hold.

An ever expanding religious upsurge and an ever deepening self love inevitably complement each other. A similar self love was injected by Hitler and also by the Japanese generals into the veins of Germans and Japanese. Unlike us, these nations were recognised by the world for their creativity and innovation, they did not borrow or steal scientific secrets as we did, and nobody doubted the character and courage of their generals. What fate befell them in spite of all their merits, is history. Who really knows why our religious, holy men and our ruling elite have pushed us into ignorance through the arrogance of faith. Maybe it was done in good faith or in sheer lack of vision. But the process has created the Taliban with their suicide explosions who rip apart the entrails of our own people, pushing us ever deeper into chaos, toward a senseless clash with the world. It’s weird that even after such tragedies our leaders insist on the same way of thinking.

There is not a single nation to support our Islamic politics of clash. On the other hand, we hear rumors of a united action by the Nato forces, Russia and India, while China will probably keep her cool. Let us hope our leaders are not preparing our people and armed forces for some horrendous sacrifice! For whose benefit can they do so? And what benefit can that be?


Listen to this blog in Urdu [soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

The author is a renowned Pakistani intellectual. His urdu books Tehzeebi Nargisyat and Mubaalghe, Mughaalte are widely regarded as the revival of critical thinking and free inquiry in Urdu non-fiction.


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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Comments (72) Closed

Jan 08, 2013 03:38pm
I admire your insights Sir. A wonderful article and very very refreshing
Jan 08, 2013 01:34pm
well after quite a while i have read an srticle in dawn which is tickles your thought, especially after reading a gentlemen based in delhi or even irfan saab who sometimes write briliant articles i do not undestand the followers of islam, they claim they are following the prophet, on how to live ect then why do they not follow his advise on knowledge, correct me if i am wrong but i have read somewhere that prophet moohamed even said to gain knowledge if u have to even travel to china do so in pursuit of knowledge, when it is so clear the how can the mullah keep children for getting an education specially girls, muslim live in past glory, they considere their rule in spain as the only time europe was elightened, otherwise it was a dark continent, but they forget it was a great period because the ruler let the people be, there were jews and christin these was no interference in their life, hence when the 3 cultures met and lived in relative peace great things happned, but the rulers did not grow with them, and they withered away pakistn as it is has brains, man power, big country, density of population is far less the india or japan, fertile land ports, strategic location ect then why is it not progressing, its something people like the lerned gentlemen who told the author that pakistn was blessed bec it was a muslim country should ask himself Richie
Jan 08, 2013 06:22pm
It has been said, "Life is a gift of God to us. What we do with it, is our gift to God" Will it be blasphemy if I substitute the word "God" with "Allah" in the above statement ?
Azad Qalamdaar
Jan 08, 2013 10:49am
Urdu is here;
Jan 09, 2013 10:20am
The only one here with the most incredible bias towards promoting delibrately the views of leftist/liberal thinkers is Dawn itself. I ask Dawn if you claim to be an 'awami' newspaper then a huge section of the 'awam' subscribes to orthodox Islamic thought, based purely on Quran and Sunnah upon the understanding and methodology of the sahaba and those they taught, why should you not publish articles/blogs in which they can respond to all allegations thrown at them in your newspaper, and give out their views and opinions in solving the people's problems in their writings?
Vikas (Progress)
Jan 08, 2013 06:24pm
Vow those thoughts are available for someone to read in Pakistan news paper is by itself a breath of fresh air. Too much has been said, I would just say that same forces who slaved the community either will have to be uprooted or they accept this change. People have been made like vegetable, crushed when rebel, silenced when said something same using the dosage of self pride and prejudice towards anyone else who says otherwise. This thought is renaissance, will need lots of effort, blood and sweat to be made more acceptable for sure. May be Allah has better plans for Pakistan after all. Just wish and hope.
Jan 08, 2013 01:06pm
Dear Mobarak Haiderji, Million Salue to you sir....Pakistan needs people like you to come back...
Jan 09, 2013 10:38am
Umair, please stop dreaming, wake up and face the harsh realities. The article paints a true picture and truth hurts.
Agha Ata (USA)
Jan 08, 2013 02:24pm
Mr. Mobarak, you are a wise man. Our establishment has given us two main things that they want us to be proud of. One is the stolen and borrowed lethal weapons, and the other is the creation of Taliban. I wish we could be without these things; that would make us more humble and humane. We keep dreaming and wishing to be s super power one day, but it would be better if our ideal country is Norway, instead.
Md Imran
Jan 08, 2013 01:06pm
Totally baseless ! Look at all the scientific innovations during the Ummayad and Abbassid caliphates - this really set the foundation for modern world. Lets not forget some of the most important inventions in 19th century were during Ottoman empire's reign. Majority of Europe was in "dark ages" until Islam showed them light and gave them intellect. Again, until 1980s, the GDP in scandinavian and western european countries was struggling, post immigration of muslims, the same economies are considered as some of the best in the world. Closer to home, before our ancestors set foot in India, India was going through its own dark ages. India's golden years were during the mughal empire, and it ended with the mughal empire. Ishaallah, we'll soon take the rest of the world towards light and enlightenment once again.
Ibrahim Raja
Jan 08, 2013 10:10am
Jan 08, 2013 10:14am
Jan 08, 2013 10:15am
Excellent. Keep writing
Jan 08, 2013 09:31am
Well said. Self-righteousness goes hand in hand with the ritualistic rather than the spritual variety of religiosity. Fortunately in most religions and nations, such people are in the minority. Hopefully Pakistan will also get there before it is too late.
Md Imran
Jan 08, 2013 04:56pm
Janaab, the "lethal weapons" has given us respect and admiration in the ummah world. Also, don't forget without them, India would have gobbled up Rawalpindi by now. Thanks to the hardwork of ZA Bhutto and later by Zia and vision of Dr AQ Khan we became a superpower. Proud of it !
Jan 08, 2013 05:29pm
Harvard research University located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA was established in 1636 , Yale University in 1701, Columbia Uni in 1794 etc Contemporary Mugal Kings in India were lavishly spending tax revenue on themselves and getting Mausoleums built for their wives. Nalanda University was located in the Indian state of Bihar. It was established in the fifth or sixth century and lasted until about Circa 1190 (About the time When Muslim Invaders started getting established as new rulers and kings) To the best of my recollection Banaras Hindu University started in 1918 and Sir Syed dream realized in the establishment of Aligarh Muslim University in 1920 . This was the result of British legacy . For more than 500 to 700 years Since the beginning of Muslim rule (Before and during Mugal rule) until British came to India no educational system or learning institutes were established and as a result we missed Industrial Revolution. To this date I see farmers using wooden plough and cart with wooden wheels. I am not sure if it is true that Akbar was introduced Gutenberg's Printing Technology for which he showed no interest. What boggles my mind is that even though we have more than 2000 miles of Seashore no Hindu or Muslim ruler (After Ashoka) ever thought of exploring sea to find out what what the rest of the world looked like!!!
Dr Khan
Jan 08, 2013 06:29pm
"Pride is a defining color of our middle class. But we do not think any performance is necessary for pride." Golden words. And also, denial is our legacy we will never leave. Our nation consider it pride but in medical term it is called " delusion of grandiose" which is one of the manifestations of schizophrenia. Over a period of time we have become schizophrenic. We are in urgent need of psychotherapy from people like you Mr. Mubarak.
Jan 08, 2013 05:49pm
Actually Islam is a very progressive and peaceful religion. It is the use of name Islam by Taliban and some Arab countries that gives a false impression. Islam is the first religion that declared rights for the prisoners of war (people captured by Muslims) right after they were attacked by the army of Abu Sufyan. Prophet said to learn even if you have to travel to far lands. What Taliban do is completely against Islam. They are the greatest threat to Pakistan and Islam.
Capt C M Khan
Jan 08, 2013 09:58am
Excellent and correct analysis. Dawn must print it in URDU. Unfortunately I donot see any change for the next hundred years. So Sad.
Raj Chaudhary
Jan 08, 2013 02:16pm
Really thought provoking
Jan 08, 2013 12:12pm
Maybe it is time muslims woke up to the fact that there is another system and way of life other than than your Islam.The problem is that most of you do not accept that. I am not telling you to change your religion.What you need is take a look as to how people of other religions manage to incorporate education in all it's fields in their life.Religion alone is not going to feed you.It may feed the Mullahs and your religious teachers.God has put you on this earth for a purpose.You have to earn a living for yourself and your family and bring progress to your Umah.Every human has a brain.How well you use it is what makes a human being.Religion is just one small part of it.
Jan 08, 2013 02:07pm
Thak God someone is talking sense. Hope Urdu press also picks up some sense.
Jan 08, 2013 01:56pm
Religion and politics combine to form an explosive mixture. Unfortunately in the Islamic world, religion is mixed with every aspect of life and thats the main problem. Religion needs to be a private affair and as soon as the state gets involved in this you go to a path of destruction.
Jan 09, 2013 09:01am
What a Shame it is to be proud of lethal weapons. When I read the article and the comments in general, there is hope that one day the middle class of Pakistan will be the most vibrant society. I am sure you guys can really be proud off the vibrancy.
Capt C M Khan
Jan 09, 2013 09:01am
@ akil my must seriousily think of buying a CAVE in Afghanistan...the Saudis will never sell you one...We will never let Pakistan turn into a Cavistan ...the author is just Calling a Spade a Spade..that is all.
Jan 08, 2013 07:30pm
Raika45 ji: Namaste Are we the Muslims really behind? The Primal Question of Existence is Survival, Growth, Evolution, and religions provide the most optimal answers to this question. Islam is winning and the West has lost the battle of Evolution
Jan 09, 2013 10:01am
Undisputable artical.In India , the population survey of minority reveals sikhs are outclassed in population 20 times by the muslims live in india but they contribute 50 times more then the muslims in national wealth or GDP.Not all sikhs are in Army or big landloards but majority of them in service sector and contributing a lot where if we look at muslim population ,in almost all states they have significant figure but their contribution in GDP is very low as tax payer , wealth generator.It is all due to lack of interest in education which they are still dening and showing cold feet .No teacher in system can deny teaching but a good student is needed always.
Jan 08, 2013 09:56pm
The reason why Pakistan and the remaining crumbs of the international Muslim contingent are, and will, fail, is because of men such as the one who wrote the article above, and the remaining self-imposed intellectuals which are embracing his words. It seems a deeper rooted inferiority-complex might be pulsating such thoughts, as Islam has undoubtedly led to the success (and also failure) of many nations which exist today and in the prism of history. Historians originating from America to Spain, which practice every type of religion, do not contest this fact. So to blame a religion on your economic, social and developmental demise, is a sad state of affairs. Maybe Pakistanis need to dig a bit deeper and source where the success they see in other countries was actually sourced. And no guys, Pakistan won't be ''getting there''. As for it to develop and resemble the modernized and liberal superpower that you so crave, it will have to gain ground on forces which are not intent on giving it up. Expect plenty of explosions, ''mullahs'', bad press, and other similar items. For you guys wont be breaking the stereotype of originating from the nation otherwise known as the ''armpit of the globe''.
N Parvana
Jan 08, 2013 10:22pm
I appeal to young and educated, please wake up from the slumber.
Jan 08, 2013 10:38pm
Even though I am sympathetic to the topic and agree with the general notion of the article, I was hoping it to be a little more researched and precise. Good examples and precise quotes from history to explain "organized movement to keep us away from wisdom", would enhance the impact of the article in my opinion...
Ram Krishan Sharma
Jan 08, 2013 10:43pm
Mr. Haider is 100 % correct in his assessments . I can't see Any peace in the world as long as this idealogy of superiority exists among Muslims . In general , Muslims are far behind in modern education as compared to Jews , Christians , Hindus , Budhists and Sikhs . This is a fact . The only race in which they are ahead of the others is in over populating this planet earth with each having an average family of 4 or 5 children .
akil akhtar
Jan 08, 2013 11:28pm
Wow so much hatred for your own nation. We are gettign fed up with these self righteous writers who seem to be on someones mission to rubbish Pakistan and its existence.
akil akhtar
Jan 08, 2013 11:32pm
We actually need more nationalism not less if we want to become strong and united instead of the divided nation that we are today, thanks to our politicians who still practice the colonial divide and rule policy. It is allright for indians and israelis to be fanatiically nationalist and not hear a word of criticism about their countries but how dare Pakistanis feel proud of Pakistan no no no its is a crime in teh eyes of these so called liberals.
Jan 08, 2013 11:49pm
An excellent and thoughtful article! Please keep writing.
Jan 09, 2013 11:21am
You are hilarious.Are you a fan of Zaid Hamid.
ibn arastoo
Jan 09, 2013 02:28am
Amazing! wow just amazing! I am very pleased with this article ! just amazing and wonderful... So clear sighted, so direct and the to the point... so fluid! there is hope maybe for our people yet ... it makes me want to cry for our poor and battered and broken people....for those who suffer at our hands and for our own suffering....
Jan 09, 2013 02:29am
I appreciated your thinking Sir...I like the way you delivered a nice message for whom understand...
Jan 09, 2013 03:45am
The best critical thinking about the present day affairs of Pakistan ever written in English Press.
Masood Hussain
Jan 09, 2013 03:17pm
Funny though,the contagious virus to ridicule and making fun of history is fast spreading.It is time to put a break to this suttle art Instead we should try to study our past objectively .We should try to learn reasons,seriously,why we lagged behind other communities?.Kings and rulars are all same, some less and some more Middle class is never a back bone of a community as it is always opportunist and unreliable,it is the working class which ii the back bone.
Jan 09, 2013 04:35am
And still we have writers like you, good job sir.
Jan 09, 2013 04:41am
Stunningly brilliant and bold article. Bravo Mobarak Haider and Dawn for publishing. Spot on and leaves the mind refreshed when viewed from a different angle.
Jan 09, 2013 05:01am
Writing is one thing ,practicing and implementing its belief is another. Author life might be in danger but his courage is appreciable to speak the bitter truth of Muslims particularly Pakistani. Religion is so deep rooted into mindset of people that honestly it is impossible to penetrate and cultivate modern thinking. I have seen this very closely while growing with muslim boys\girls in Uttar Predesh India. What ever you do they not only just donot get it but also become violent if you do not stop. This is the situation of majority Indian muslim even though they are far better moderate and professional than muslim in other countries. So simply forget about Pakistan which is created based upon Muslim agenda and remained deeply rooted in the stone age thinking and on top of that the rulers of this country cultivated this culture systematically in people generation to generation. There were religious fanatics also arose in India after partition and wanted to implement their strategy but its rulers and intellectuals were far beyond their approach and never let them successful. Thats why India produced leaders\intellectuals from all the religions to the level of international standard. Truth is bitter and I know many will not like it.
Jan 09, 2013 05:29am
The author has given a very relaistic picture of past mistakes including the presently prevalent attitudes of middle class regarding denial of facts under the cover of false pride. I would request the author to discuss the middle class dilemma more in detail and share some suggestions which can help to change the situation.
Jan 09, 2013 05:59am
But sir what is the solution. Now we are fed up of reading these harsh realities. It is more appreciable if we focus on the solutions.
Abdul Waheed
Jan 09, 2013 06:05am
Realistic, informatic but unfortunately majority of our people will not agree rather cannot understand. Such articles should be translated in Urdu and propagated in electronic media. Our mindset is developed by Moulvies of nearby Masjids which keep our minds unable to accept realities. However, with spread of education minds of new generations are gradually enlightened to some extent. There is need for revision of syllabus of schools / colleges and uniform syllabus even for Madrassahs.
Jan 09, 2013 06:26am
You seem to be as much unaware of the progress of Muslim civilization as much as the one who is proud of it. You picked the worst examples and tried to paint a dirty picture of subcontinent under Muslim rule. Lets talk about Poverty during mughals, lets talk about the rights of non-muslims, lets talk about the education curriculum, lets talk about why everyone in the world wanted to conquer india ( british, portugese, Nepolean, russians etc) Stop seeing the picture from the "everything was worst" angle, and I am definitly against the "everything was best" angle. Give a balanced opinion. Not a biased one!
Jan 09, 2013 06:56am
Very well written article in very straight forward words. Problem has been very much with Muslims is what raika said. They have always been taught that their religion is the purest one and only way to reach the god. When you listen the same things again and again right from childhood then you start thinking everyone belongs to other faith is on wrong path. which makes you intolrent. Muslim scholar should come forward and add these things in teachings that there can be many ways to reach to god and Islam is one of them.Humanity will come as compliment and most of the things will fall in place with course of time,
Jan 09, 2013 07:08am
Solution is simple: regulation of every mosque, madrassah and molvi in the country (like our "ideal country" Saudi Arabia does) to ensure no maniac exploits religion for his personal gain, peace (however undesirable) with India to render our military (and militants) redundant and use that money on education and finally to confiscate any land/wealth which is illegally acquired or not fully utilized to reduce income disparity. Who will carry out the solution? That is the hard qestion.
Cherian (Melbourne)
Jan 09, 2013 12:46pm
The author deserves appreciation for sharing his convictions despite them being controversial.
Jan 09, 2013 08:08am
Absolutely gem of an article. it all starts with education, its the key for a better change. start educating the future generations in a different and creative way than teaching of the false prestigious past.
Sunny Boy
Jan 09, 2013 10:54am
Boss it was a critical essay and not an opinion... Change comes by first recognizing the ills rather than cure...
Jan 09, 2013 01:07pm
I believe that there is a lot of things for us to be prude of ourselves, of our culture, of our religion and of our history. The world should remain indebt to muslims that they designed the standards of education in asia and went through spain into europe. We, muslims, have ruled the world for centuries. Yeah they were warriors. They fought for their land, for their people and their religion. we can not call bad names for all of them. There were too many good people too. There is a big list of those people who with their kind, civilized and fair play of their character inspired people to accept islam and follow it as true religion. To add, such along history would have some mishaps, however, this doesn't mean that all were barbarous and brutal. The author should go back to history and realize that we have not borrowed knowledge we have respected the work of non-believers and spread it throughout world. Had muslims not spread the light of knowledge to the world the germans and japanese would not have succeeded in their technology and science. there have been some blacksheeps that happens to be everywhere. As for taliban are concerned our religion doesn't own them at all. Why to blame religion then?
S Haider
Jan 09, 2013 01:26pm
Very true. So it might be worth mentioning the Army that also plays a role in reminding us what a stellar role our glorious martial traditions are playing in routing the infidel enemy.
Jan 09, 2013 01:41pm
Exactly the same attitude the author of the article was referring to.
Jan 09, 2013 02:35pm
Md Imran All you need to do is read KDP's comments as above
Jan 09, 2013 02:50pm
Most Pakistanis still think it is India, the US and Israel that is the greatest threat to Pakistan and Islam.
Jan 09, 2013 02:53pm
With historians like this person, Pakistan will crack out a lot of crack-pot PHDs in history. And become delusional in the bargain.
Jan 09, 2013 02:54pm
Thinking like a caveman,
Md Imran
Jan 09, 2013 03:09pm
Lots of Indian posters here who are lapping up the leftist writers. Please read about the Ummayads and Ottomons, and please how India attained its golden years under Mughals and what happened to her post Mughals.
Md Imran
Jan 09, 2013 03:12pm
Mashaallah ! Finally a person who speaks truth !
Jan 09, 2013 06:18pm
You are voicing your opinion right here right now... People like you blame dawn and other such forums just because they voice the opinions differing from yours as well...
Jan 10, 2013 11:46am
@Danish, I dont know who told you this but India had university even before Islam came in existenece. Just search about Nalanda it was started in 5th century and education system in india goes back to thousnds of year . In ancient Hindu book Mahabharata it clearly states the education of Kaurav and Pandava. Mahabharata is around 6000 years old. Even before that in Ramayana it is clearly written that Ram and Lakshman went to Guru Ashram for education and training purpose. Some time German and japanese definitely would like to know that what was the knowledge you enlighten them but could not enlighten yourself.
Jan 09, 2013 10:41pm
Well. The Tamil have always been seafarers. Check out Cholas over the web. Indonesia/Thalland/Vietnam was in their sphere of influence. Guess you need to read more Tamil History. Yes, agree the areas called India/Pak missed the Industrial Revolution. Industralize/Urbanize to the 21st century both Indians and Pakistanis. End of story. Nothing else will do..Quit Bickering
Jan 10, 2013 11:25am
Why should we read anything?. Do you read any book related to any other religion . I am sure no. Because your religion will not allow that. Opinion about anybody is made based on their deeds so what ever is the image you have today in the world is a reflection of your deeds.
Sue Sturgess
Jan 10, 2013 03:52am
It has long been known that uneducated people tend to be easier to control. All early religions made great use of this principle, however, over time, education flourished and most religions lost their hold. Islam did not - it did its best not to educate, especially for women.
Jan 10, 2013 11:56am
We need to take our 'baby steps' first.
Jan 10, 2013 11:54am
You should have gone to the Times of India site to see how critical the Indians were of India at the time of the Delhi girl rape. We need to be fanatically proud of the good we have, IF we have it, but be fanatically critical of the so many ills that we have.
Jan 10, 2013 06:17am
Writer need to go back in history and study more about the education system, science, medicine and other contributions done by muslims. Muslims were the one who introduced the first education system and many other things... for current situation its right and need a big change and not at national level first at individual levels.
Jan 10, 2013 12:00pm
That 'lethal weapon' has given us only one thing. HATE. And you want me to feel proud about this hate. No Way. I am not a retard.
Jan 10, 2013 11:44am
You hit the nail on its head.
Jan 10, 2013 02:21pm
was that sarcasm?
Jan 10, 2013 02:23pm
Actually Islam did its best to educate people. Prophet PBUH said "learn even if you have to go as far as China". Quran at many places says "why don't you think", "Sun, moon and stars follow a set path and there are revelations in this for those who seek", etc. Unfortunately the control of government passed to people like Yazeed, who were Muslim by name only. Now Taliban are following the same path. They want to keep people away for education for their political benefit. Taliban have nothing to do with Islam. All religions including Islam, Christianity, Judasim, Hindumat, etc teach peace and love. It is some followers that use the name of religion for their political benefit.