Conflict, erosion of tolerance and flawed decisions

Create: 05/30/2015 - 09:12

Decades of conflict-related misfortunes have taken a heavy toll on the Afghans, forcing them from their motherland and leaving a large number of citizens in a state of intolerance. The flawed decisions they tend to take in tense circumstances are equally corrosive of the social fabric.
We recently identified and investigated a similar problem between the families of Saleh Mohammad and Mohammad Khan. They had been on cordial terms before the Soviet invasion compelled Saleh’s family into migration to the Pishin area of Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province.
Mohammad Khan and his family belonged to the Shahjoi district of southern Kandahar province. Khan’s mother lived with other sons in Gird Jangal area, whose residents respected her as an authoritative elder. Playing a proactive role in problem resolution, she was often consulted on a variety of issues by the locals because of her wise suggestions.
An influential woman with a lot of experience, foresight and intelligence, she herself dealt with domestic irritants. No one ever dared challenge her decisions. But now a lot of water has flown under the bridge and the situation has radically changed. A decision taken by her long ago triggered a whole host of problems.     
Brain teaser
In 1993, the elderly woman -- Khan’s mother and Saleh Mohammad’s mother-in-law -- lived together with her sons in Gird Jungle. Her son Khan, who moved to Balochistan, was imprisoned in Qalat district in connection with a traffic accident.
Both Saleh and Khan were blessed with babies, the former with a daughter and the latter with a son. On receiving information, the woman in Gird Jungle once again asserted herself as a rallying point for both households.
Without listening to anyone, she abruptly announced the babies would tie the knot when they grew into puberty. Celebratory gunshots were fired outside, as women started beating the drums. Girls went into a frenzy of dance and singing inside the house.
Six months later, Saleh and her spouse came from Pishin to Gird Jungle, where the couple was informed of the decision taken by Khan’s mother. On hearing the decision, Saleh’s wife said she was the foster mother of Khan’s baby whom she had breast-fed in Pishin.
In a fit of rage, Khan’s mother retorted she was ready to retract her decision. Other members of the family remained silent. Several years down the road, the two families ran into serious trouble.
How tensions flared?
As years dashed, the children of Saleh and Khan grew up. Their childhood and innocence became a thing of the past. Another family came to Saleh, seeking his daughter’s engagement to another boy. The proposal was accepted, but Khan came to face increasing taunts as a result of the question that had been popped up.
Khan’s mother, whose decision touched off domestic complications, kept quiet. Instead of explaining the sordid saga to his cousins, he went to Saleh’s residence and told him the girl had already been betrothed to his son. Appreciative of the sensitive nature of the matter, Saleh took the case to the Kandahar Tribal Coordination Council.
Dispute resolution efforts
The council head, Haji Wali Shah Agha, met both sides to listen to their versions and sought clarifications from them. Before the jirga swung into action, Haji Agha received compliance guarantees from both sides that pledged: “Fully wise and mature, we know everything. By our mutual willingness and consent, we authorise Haji Agha and other members of the council to bring about a patch-up between us. We will be bound to accept the jirga’s verdict.”
The jirga heard the views of Saleh before calling religious scholars to ascertain their position on the subject, according to Agha. Saleh’s mother-in-law confirmed the babyhood betrothal and arranging celebratory functions. She also explained the withdrawal of her decision after grasping complexity of her action.
Obviously frail and pale, the ailing woman encountered difficulty in speaking. “I did tell my son about the decision. He agreed to reversal, promising he will never hurt his sister. Nonetheless, outside instigation prompted him to rake up the tangle.
Khan, whose voice was drowned out by relatives’ noises, was very angry with what his mother had done. “This grave situation could have been averted if you had sent me a short letter at that time,” he observed.
Mullah Abdul Hadi Akhund, a Tribal Coordination Council member who made strenuous efforts to end the spat on a pleasant note, recalled: “Once the opponents were pinned down, we thoroughly discussed legal, religious and social aspects of the problem before arriving at a decision.”
Council’s verdict
After lengthy discussions and in-depth investigations
, the council handed down its verdict based on a fatwa of religious scholars. “The girl’s mother said she had breast-fed both children during their infancy. For this reason, we decided, their engagement was not permissible under Islamic tenets.”
Council Chairman Haji Agha, not content with the situation, asked Khan if he could produce witnesses to the betrothal and the subsequent celebratory ceremony. The boy’s grandmother also reiterated her stance and referred to statement of Saleh’s spouse regarding breastfeeding Khan’s son.
Khan remained unmoved but the jirga argues: “There are doubts and suspicions surrounding the case. Doubt is in such matters is alien to Islam. A conjugal relationship between the boy and the girl, having the same foster mother, is of a brother and a sister. Their marriage, therefore, will harm social norms and violate Islamic teachings. Let’s forget about this un-Islamic proposition.”
The boy, meanwhile, wrote to the jirga a letter, staking out his position. “Now my father and I have come to know the proposed wedding will be in conflict with religious principles, because the girl’s mother has also breast-fed me. I, therefore, unconditionally walk out of this suspect relationship. I wish her a happy life.”
Pleased with the propitious development, Saleh gifted the boy a sum of Rs800,000. Both families returned the cordial old terms. Saleh said the gift was a reward for the boy’s courage and sagacity.
Enormously pleased with the positive change in the situation, Khan’s mother said though she was no longer taken seriously, yet she was very happy over the elders’ ability to defuse tensions between the two households.
Saleh thanked God for salvaging his honour, advising his countrymen to exercise caution in taking such decisions. He urged all Afghans to show tolerance and wisdom to prevent small issues bringing abiding misfortunes to their families.
By courtesy of Killid Group.