Pakistan is bursting at the seams with intolerance polluting the very air we breathe. Gone are the days where such behavior was associated with the level of literacy. Extremism seems to have taken over in our daily lives while this is the very plague we are pressurizing the state to fight. What we fail to realize is that a suicide bomber is nothing but an extreme form of intolerance.
Experts quote many reasons for one becoming a terrorist including extreme set of belief in the name of religion, poverty, lack of education, to name a few. Once a person is all set to be a terrorist due to any deep-rooted reason, it becomes more and more difficult with the passing of age to mold this mind and to turn it away from extreme aggression and violence. Such beliefs may only become strengthened with time and therefore, even more challenging to address before irreparable damage is done.
While addressing such extremism may be an uphill task, it can be safely assumed that such a mindset is not formed overnight. According to Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., the mature brain develops with a set of sufficient motor, sensory, emotional, cognitive and social experiences during infancy and childhood.
“The most delicate and crucial period of life is the childhood. The foundation for the future personality of the individual is established at this time… This is the most impressionable and delicate period of the child’s life. During this apparently uncomplicated period the moral, cultural and religious instincts of the child take shape… There will hardly be any person who can recall events of the first years of his life. All the events of the time will be under a cloud of oblivion and forgetfulness. But, all the same, those forgotten memories would already have had tremendous effects on the nature and personality of the individual.” (Excerpt from ‘The Codes of Training’ by Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, translated by Sayed Tahir Bilgrami).
The upbringing of a child is no less than nurturing a nation. The people in a family, a neighborhood, a community, cities, countries, the world and how day-to-day life is being conducted is nothing but manifestations of their childhood and exposure. Who is to say what was picked up when and how something which they may have been exposed to became a part of character?
Bushra Gohar (BG), a Pakistani Stateswoman, an intellectual and one of leading woman politician, Senior Vice President of Awami National Party, raised a very important question. “Wouldn’t you worry if your children are taught this?”
According to BG, the above are images of a few pages of a book being taught to children in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. A very disturbing exposure to children by any standard. In ‘The Codes of Training’, Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini says: “…the scenes and anecdotes that the child experiences and the sounds that he hears will have impact on its subconscious and have a bearing on his learning experience… The time for commencement of moral training is the moment of the birth of the person. This is the time when the training commences without any possibility of failure. If the training is commenced later on, there will be likelihood of confronting negative attitudes.”
The pages belong to a book put together by Iqra Publications and claims to be compliant with standards of Islam. This quote by Hazrat Ali (as) addressing Imam Hasan (as) may reflect on the Islamic thoughts on a child’s upbringing and how important it is to watch what children are exposed to:
“The child’s mind is like the virgin land. Whatever is put into it, will be accepted. Therefore, before your heart turned hard and engrossed otherwise, I took steps to make you polite.” – Wassail as Shia, 197.
It is a moral obligation to restrict such exposure to our children. It is of utmost importance to raise our voices to reach the authorities for corrective measures. If not, a peaceful Pakistan may just be a dream, until no one is left to even dream such.