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Forgotten History – Badshah Khan:

Pashtun warriors so impressed the British, including Indian born Rudyard Kipling, that in 1847 they created a separate Pashtun force, the Corps of Guides. But what is little known is that they also created one of the world’s great pacifist movements of the 20th century. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan who was born in 1890 and died in 1988 led it. His life is heroic. He spent more than 25 years in British Indian and Pakistani jails.

Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 13:37:04 -0500
From: STEPHEN JONES (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected) (spam-protected)
Subject: Forgotten History – Badshah Khan

Forgotten History – Tuesday, December 11, 2001
“Little known facts and overlooked history”

Badshah Khan

By Denis Mueller

Pashtun warriors so impressed the British, including Indian born Rudyard Kipling, that in 1847 they created a separate Pashtun force, the Corps of Guides. But what is little known is that they also created one of the world’s great pacifist movements of the 20th century. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan who was born in 1890 and died in 1988 led it. His life is heroic. He spent more than 25 years in British Indian and Pakistani jails.

Khan practiced non-violence as a way of life. “There is no- thing surprising in a Muslim or a Pathan like me subscribing to the creed of non-violence.” He was an ally of Gandhi and once persuaded 100,000 of his countrymen to lay down their arms and vow to fight nonviolently. His profound belief in non-violence came from the depths of his experience and his belief that these principles lay at the heart of Islam.

Khan and Gandhi worked hand in hand using the tactic of non- violence to free their land from British oppression. Khan opened schools and brought women out of their homes to become a part of society. For over two decades Khan and his followers dominated the Northwest Frontier without resorting to violence as a means for independence.

He was a valued Muslim ally of Gandhi who sought a non-secular India. In 1947, political backfighting between Hindu’s and Muslim’s split India in half. Khan opposed this and asked his followers to boycott a referendum on their separation. Muslim politicians derided Khan and called him a lackey of the Hindus. This caused Khan to be arrested by Islamabad’s new masters.

When Khan called for local autonomy within Pakistan he was rejected. At this time Afghanistan warlords saw this as an opportunity to extend their influence. Khan was jailed and defeated. He was eventually released but banished from the area. But his non-violent message was lost and the whole world of Islam is poorer for it.

When he died in 1988 at the age of 98, the funeral procession stretched for miles and miles. It was called a “craven of peace, carrying the message of love.” This forgotten chapter of history suggests that Islam is more complex than its radical supporters and western detractors are willing to say.

Khan said, “the Holy Prophet Muhammad came into this world and taught us, ‘That man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but who works for the benefit and happiness of God’s creatures.” Belief in God is to love one’s fellow men.” At the end of his life he left these words. “No true effort is in vain. Look at the fields over there. The grain sown therein has to remain in the earth for a certain time, then it sprouts, and in due time yields hundreds of its kind. The same is the case with every effort in a good cause.”

Sources: Karl E. Meyer, The Great Game and the Race for
Empire in Central Asia. (http://www.shagmail.com/sub/history.html)

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