HUMAYUN GAUHAR | 18 OCTOBER, 2017
The great Muhammad Ali said this when asked what he thought about other religions – “All rivers fall into the ocean”.
Makes one pause, doesn’t it? It at once reflects the greatness of Man and his smallness. The great mystic Shams Tabriz, mentor of Jalaluddin Rumi, would have loved to own this statement. Shams Tabriz did saythat, “Every drop of the ocean contains the qualities of the ocean.”
Remember, God says in the Quran that he is closer to us than our jugular, meaning that he is in us and our spirit comes from His Spirit. Earlier he had said in the Book of Genesis that he blew his Spirit into Adam. He is the ocean, we the drop, thus we contain all His qualities if only we were to tap them and become one with God instead of wasting our lives in trivial pursuits like power and wealth.
Muhammad Ali’s greatness lay beyond his incredible boxing prowess. It was his conscience and beautiful intellectual honesty that made him greater. He had the most recognized face of his time. His greatnessshone brightest still when he refused to get drafted in the US army to fight in the Vietnam war and preferred to be imprisoned, because he believed the war was immoral.
“The Vietcong did nothing against me,” he is supposed to have said, or words to that effect. What does that tell us? It tells us that intellectual honesty means to always do what one thinks is correct. For a believer the best way to do that before taking any step or decision is to always ask oneself, “Will this please the Creator.” Or, “Will it be accepted by the ocean into which
I will finally drop, or will the ocean reject me?”
Muhammad Ali’s compatriot, US President Donald Trump, would be well advised to take his words seriously. Instead, he shoots his mouth off without (seemingly) thinking or because he is badly advised by people who try and sublimate their prejudices and proffer excuses for failures by placing the gun on his shoulder and shooting every which way.
They think that is safe, because the return fire will come on their president and cause great damage to their own country and to others, not to them. They forget that when it hits the fan the shoe is placed on their foot and they rightly take the fall, as has already happened far too often in a short presidency. Soon the question will be raised: “Why does Trump select such bad advisers?” Answer: because they think like him and agree with all he says, especially his nonsense and tripe.
When Trump thoughtlessly shoots from the lip, his administration’s officials are left scrambling to do damage control and bring relationships back to what they were before the verbal gunfight at the OK Coral.
To be fair, virtually every other head of state and government would be well advised to follow Muhammad Ali’s example if we are to avert global military and financial turmoil.
Look at Philippines President Duarte who shoots from the lip every so often, using expletives galore, and like Trump shoots himself in the foot every so often.
Look at Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and his utterances on Kashmir and Bangladesh. He did great damage to India, not us.
Not to stray from home, look at the frantic and hysterical utterances of our own ‘lion,’ our disqualified and disgraced Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who goes on lamenting, “Why was I sacked?” when he knows pretty well why.
There’s something called unmitigated corruption, money laundering, lies, possible murder, ballot rigging and what have you, so the man has to be either such an oaf that he really does not really know (the jury is out on that) or he is working overtime to prove that he is an inveterate, congenital liar. Most likely, he trying to bring the state and the system to the brink in an effort to force a judiciary-army-civilian intervention so that he can paint himself as a political martyr of ‘undemocratic’ forces. In mocking the army he commits patricide, for the army is his political father. So if I were to name all shooters from the lip, I would run out of space and patience.
A Pathan was asked, “Does a lion have a cub or does he lay an egg?” The Pathan replied: “Khocha, a lion is king of the jungle. It is up to him whether he wants to have a cub directly or lay an egg. Kings do what they wish.”
Well, Lion Trump laid an egg when he most undiplomatically and brazenly tried to scapegoat Pakistan for America’s loss of the Afghan war by facilitating terrorists against America. It was a pathetic attempt at trying to pass the buck, forgetting that the buck stops at the mouth of his labyrinth.
For our part, we carry on the futile blame game with the usual tit-for-tat exercise and ask, though rightly: why, in 16 years, were you unable to win your war against Afghanistan considering that you are the strongest and richest country in history and Afghanistan the weakest and poorest? If Pakistan could prevent your victory, Mr. Trump, then that makes us the strongest country in the world, and cleverest, does it not. Sorry, your excuses don’t fly.
These losers would have the world believe that Pakistan facilitates terrorists but don’t think why. Could it be a reaction to being constantly blamed for every failure, or for refusing to comply to their demands that would go against our interests?
Pakistan is blamed for recklessly making nuclear bombs, forgetting that it happened in reaction to India going nuclear in 1974 and then wantonly testing sixnuclear devices in May 1998. If America develops balanced and rational thinking, they would do better than they have done. Now on the brink of economic decline if not outright failure, America would be sensible to start thinking like the great Muhammad Ali. After all, he was one of theirs so they shouldn’t feel embarrassed.
(Humayun Gauhar is a well known columnist and writer based in Islamabad, Pakistan)