People light candles in memory of victims of the Taliban attack on the Army Public School, along with others in a rally in  PeshawarPhoto credit: Reuters/Khuram Parvez

Earlier this week, millions of people looked on in horror as the news filtered in of the devastating attack by the Pakistan Taliban on a school in Peshawar. 132 students were killed in an attack which specifically targeted as many children as possible. In total 148 people are believed to have been killed in the attack. Its difficult to find the right words at this time, the shock of this tragedy will be felt by all parents.

The Holy Quran says;
And a believer would not kill a believer except by mistake…And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell, abiding in it; and Allah is furious with him and He has cursed him and prepared for him a grievous punishment. [4:92-93]

A believer would not kill a believer – an instruction ignored in Pakistan on an almost daily basis. Attacks are so frequent in Pakistan that it seems to have become a part of daily life, but this was such an egregious attack that even the Afghanistan Taliban condemned it. People are asking how we can solve this issue, how can we stop this happening again?

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, in 1899 said the following;

This callousness and this immorality make many a Muslim appear no better than the beasts of the jungle. A Jain or a Buddhist is afraid of and avoids killing even a mosquito or a flea, but, alas! there are many among us Muslims who, while they kill an innocent man or commit wanton murder, are not afraid of the powerful God, who rates human life higher than that of all the animals. …

What is this callousness and cruelty and want of sympathy due to? It is due to this – that from their very childhood, stories and anecdotes and wrong views of the doctrine of Jihad are dinned into their ears and inculcated into their hearts, the result being that gradually they become morally dead and cease to feel the heinousness of their hateful actions; nay, rather, the man who murders another man unawares and thus brings ruin to the murdered man’s family thinks that he has done a meritorious deed; or rather, that he has made the most of an opportunity to win favour with his community. As no lectures or sermons are delivered in our country to stop such evils – and if there are any such lectures they have an element of hypocrisy in them – the common people think approvingly of such misdeeds…

So, the doctrine of Jihad proposed by these sects of Islam, as well as the belief that the time is near when there will arise a bloody Mahdi whose name would be Imam Muhammad, that the Messiah will come down from the heavens for his help, and that both together will kill all non-Muslim people if they deny Islam, is utterly opposed to our moral sense. Is not this the belief which puts out of action all good human qualities and morals, and encourages the qualities of life in the jungle?”

What has changed since these words were written in 1899? It seems that this could have been written just yesterday.

Sixteen-year-old Naba Mehdi, who attends the Army School in nearby Rawalpindi, had a message of defiance for the Taliban.

“We’re not scared of you,” she said. “We will still study and fight for our freedom. This is our war.”

Education is the golden bullet. Education is everything, it can be the catalyst for monumental change. And just like Naba said – This is our war.

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