Between Right and Wrong, All She Loved was the Art

Hani drew. And kept drawing with the movements of her little finger in the air or sometimes with a little stick in her hand, she drew those strange words on the wet sands of beach. She loved the art, but often was either scolded or even worse that she sometimes was slapped by an elder observing her words.

Those words and their meanings were unknown to her. But what she loved was the calligraphy and the beautiful art it carried. With her little lips, she kept repeating those words all the time, which for her parents, was a blessing, for the more she repeated those words, the more chances her parents had for a better here-after regardless of what they did in their daily lives.

Why she was doing all that, was completely unknown to her. Like every kid of her age, she too had questions teasing her little mind and creating stirring conflicts. But she was too scared to ask, for her questions were different or rather too absurd. She often dreamed to be in a world free of judgement and fear where all she could do, was to question what she was made to do without any certain understanding of what she did.

“All I want is either to be invisible forever or to travel far from this worldly chaos and find refuge and eternity within my soul,” she kept repeating these words before she closed her eyes at a peaceful night when she could only hear the whirling of wind, as if a whirling Darwish was encircling her very being and uplifting her in her dream.  

And yes, she dreamed and found herself in an unknown land where all she could see were whirling dervishes dressed in white robes, completely lost at what they were doing. Hani was amazed with what she just came across. As she walked between the whirling sensations, she felt a strange peace at one end but that too was questionable for her little mind.

“Seems like you are here to fix a jigsaw puzzle, creating chaos in your mind,” saying this, an old Derwish just tapped her shoulder.

“Hmm… ya, may be. But, but who are you?” replied Hani with a shivering tone, fear and astonishment.


“Well, you don’t have to know who I am but you could just simply call me “Molana” if you wish to,” the old Derwish replied.


“Sure, Molana,” she replied and walked along with him to an old tree. Under the tree, both sat.

“So, you have travelled within to untangle the strings of known and unknown?” he asked.

“Perhaps,” she replied with little confusion.

“Do you think that is so easy?” He asked looking straight in her eyes.   

“I assume it is not, but there is no harm is trying though,” this time she firmly replied.

“There’s no harm in trying,” he repeated her words and continued, “This is what human has done from the very first day when questions started to knock the door of his mind. He tried and in his attempt to find knowledge, he indulged or more certainly he deliberately started a war between right and wrong,” he said and sighed.

“This sounds more like the words of a Chinese philosopher, the war between right and wrong is continuous.”

“Yes, there is a constant war between right and wrong, but this is again questionable whether there is actually an absolute right or an absolute wrong. Well, I’m from the old times and even during my days, people used to say the old days were better for there was more righteousness than wrong-doing, and same is the case in your days when people complain about today and praise the past. During my days, the powerful had the right to determine right from wrong and same is the case in your days.”

“I’m not sure what power was considered in the past but in my world today, the more economically empowered you are, the more powerful you are. I don’t know what a better measure for power is but for me the more knowledge you have the more powerful you are.”

“Well, this is one of the principles of Quran for governance.”

“But the question is how can we evaluate our knowledge, what a better measure can be to determine whether the knowledge we have is what actually human needs,” she said narrowing her eyebrows as if some deep thoughts just  disturbed her.

“That is truly something to be addressed. But do you know what the biggest barrier between you and true knowledge is?”

“What is it Molana?”

“You!”

“Me?” she asked with puzzling eyes.

“Yes, you. You never get anything without truly craving and struggling for it. The process surely starts from self-consciousness and self-evaluation. When you truly know where you lag behind, there is where you begin with,” he explained.

“Self-consciousness is more about knowing our very self, our existence and it perhaps encourages individualism but what about our emotional attitudes, there are certain attitudes that are socially encouraged but there are several which are prohibited.”  

“That is right. Patience, love for humanity and so on are encouraged,” he said.

“But what about human as an emotional being?” she asked.

Looking straight into her eyes and stressing each of his words, he said, “Never let your emotions dominate your wisdom. Human emotions are merely changeable drives but can never be accurate measures to evaluate right over wrong.”

“But where does this wisdom come from?” she asked naively.

“From true insight.”

“And where does that come from?”

“You have to decide Hani or better to search,” he insisted.

“Hmm… that makes it complicated.”

“Not more than the world you live in today,” he sarcastically said.

“Perhaps Molana, but in your days, there were oppressive conquerors today people talk about global peace and nationalist governance,” she said again naively.

“That is an illusion. All this is nothing but war of power and resources.”

“But today people also talk about equality,” she tried to defend her argument.

“That is another of your illusions. Do you think someone who does nothing and someone who works too hard to achieve something deserve the same?” he asked.

“Absolutely not,” she replied.

“So?” he asked.

“So, you mean the dream of global peace and equality will remain merely dreams?” she asked puzzled.

“You can assume but it is somehow what you are within at the moment, a dream,” he said and continued, “with the dream for global peace, the world powers have destroyed the world peace and order and with the illusion of nationalism, the world has created more of oppressors and oppressed and raised intolerance.”

“And what about so many revolutions we have had for social and economic equality?”

“Where is their success, my little girl?”

“Hmm, perhaps you are right, there can never be a perfect system but the world has gone and is still going through processes. We come up with something overwhelmingly new each time and sometimes that works and often that doesn’t. But then we just can’t leave everything on its own and keep praying, there is need for a better solution, what can that be Molana?”

“Institutionalization and powerful states,” he replied.

“Do you mean strong constitutional laws and their implementation with a powerful democracy?” she asked.

“I agree with the first two but not the last one,” he replied.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Don’t you think there can be a better political system than democracy?”

“There can be but it is what we assume as ideal,” she replied.

“What most of us think is right, sometimes cannot actually be right,” he explained and continued, “And about institutionalization, the part of the world where you live has got so much used to of pre-designed definitions that you hardly bother to institutionalize your knowledge sources or even science you study, therefore you rely upon western definition and so on.”

“This can be one of the differences we have with the westerners. They have their own ways of interpretation while we often have a borrowed one,” she said.

“Let me tell you, people in the past were so much inspired with the Greek philosophy that they interpreted every inscription with that perspective which of course changed with time but it makes one thing clear here that if humans set a certain criteria or a perspective, it takes a lot of time to change that,” he explained.

“And what about Sufis, what makes you different?”

“That is a secret,” as if he whispered.

“How’s that?” she inquired.

“For now just know one thing, if you crave for something, don’t assume that it doesn’t exist, because this crave gives birth to inquiry and search.”

“So, is this what you Sufis believe?”

“Not really, there’s a lot more to it but we do guide people to be in righteous’ company, for now let’s continue with your other questions.”

“Most of our social issues are the result of the wrong-doings of the wealthy elites or the politicians, is that right?” she asked.

“Partially we can assume. Laws need to be strong enough to be followed by all and same strictness should be there for punishment. But when there is difference in both and for rich and the poor, things are always going to get worse and it is what you see today specially in your part of the world.”

“Exactly, what I thought. And what about political appraisals that we often see these days either for nationalist or religious defense, it seems like they want the world to believe what they believe.”

“This will go on and on. Your people need to learn that this is not what they need, this is what they are made to do and this will only create more and more divide. All they need in actual is to take stand for social indicators, for their basic social needs in the first place,” he insisted.

“And all the conflict is injected into public, you mean?”

“You can assume. Public is all the same, you are surrounded by lots of good people either you are in US or in Pakistan, you just need to understand that there are certain techniques used to divide people in order to make it easier to rule over them and oppress them even without their slightest knowledge.”

“So, I am one of the oppresseds?”

“I’m afraid you are,” he replied and continued, “but you are also one of the oppressors, may be.”

“Me and an oppressor?” she asked with puzzling eyes.

“You have oppressed yourself or your spirituality. In order to be on the right path, you gave up a lot of old habits, but did you think of replacing them with something new? Something always covers those empty spaces, think about that Hani, it’s exactly the way, you like the space between right and wrong.”

“And I chose art between both, without leaving slightest of space.”

“It should rather be, clarity of intention and crave for true knowledge instead of art.”

With these last words of Molana, Hani opened her eyes and she was in her bed, at her home, with the bright morning sun-rays, the dream she had just seen reflected in her eyes.

“It is over,” she thought but then she assumed this is just the beginning, from here she had got a roadmap where she had to move now.

Mariyam Suleman

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