A Large White Crescent

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(Anthologization of heritage)


Toheed Ahmad[1]

Jesus Christ, Fanny Brice,

Wolfie Mozart and Humphrey Bogart and

Genghis Khan and

On to H. G. Wells.

Ho Chi Minh, Gunga Din

Henry Luce and John Wilkes Booth

And Alexanders

King and Graham Bell.

Ramar Krishna, Mama Whistler,

Patrice Lumumba and Russ Colombo,

Karl and Chico Marx,

Albert Camus.

E. A. Poe, Henri Rousseau,

Sholom Aleichem and Caryl Chessman,

Alan Freed and

Buster Keaton too

And each one there

Has one thing shared:

They have sweated beneath the same sun,

Looked up in wonder at the same moon,

And wept when it was all done

For bein’ done too soon,

For bein’ done too soon.

For bein’ done.

DONE TOO SOON, a Neil Diamond song, 1970

What did Mortimer Wheeler, Muhammad Bin Qasim, Al-Beruni, Amir Khusro, DaraShikoh,ShahWaliullah, MaulanaAltaf Hussain Hali, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, AllamaMuhamadIqbal,S.M. Ikram, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, Dr. Abdus Salam, Abdul RahmanChughtai, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Justice A. R, Cornelius and Eqbal Ahmad have in common, besides sweating under the same sun and weeping under the same moon? It is hard for me to say, and yet they have all charmed me into gathering extracts from their works in a single volume. Titled ‘A Large White Crescent’, the book has finally been published by Apa Publications, Lahore. My inspiration for undertaking this yeoman’s work was another book which I chanced upon ten years ago while visiting the Dr. Raziuddin Siddiqi Memorial Library of Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. These were actually twovolumes – one in Persian and the other its Urdu translation – in the Dr. S. M. Ikram Collection called “Darbar-e-Milli” (The Court of the Nation) sub-titled ‘Life History of the Nation as Narrated by Those Who Lived It’.These were anthologies of writings of yore, which defined the young nation’s heritage, compiled by Dr. Ikram (a CSP officer who obtained a History Ph.D. from Columbia University) and Dr. Waheed Qureshi, a renowned Urdu scholar. These were published by the Board for Advancement of Literature, Lahore. The original Persian volume contains 49 selections beginning with the Treaty of Brahmanabad, writings of Sultan Feroze Tughlaq, Mughal emperors Babar, Jahangir, Aurangzeb and Prince Dara Shikoh, several poets like Khusrau, Mir Taqi Mir, Ghalib, saints like Ali Hajvairy, Khwaja Bandanawaz Gaysoo Daraz, Imam RabbaniMujaddid Alf Sani, scholars like Faizi, Abdul QadirBadayooni,ShahWaliullah etc.( Recently Mr. Shahzad Ahmed, the current Director of the Board, told me recently that their reprints are in the pipe line).

I thought of replicating this work in English. The result is “A Large White Crescent: Readings in Dialogue among Civilizations: The Pakistani Experience”.The Wikipedia defines an anthology as a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts.The word derives from the Greek word anthologia; literally “flower-gathering” for a garland or a bouquet of flowers. So my anthology can be seen as a bouquet of flowers, where we see the effects of aggregation of such powerfully fragrant works as Alberuni’s Kitab ulHind, Khusrau’s masnavi Nuh Siphir (The Nine Skies), Dara Shikoh’s Majma ul Bahrain (The Mingling of the Two Oceans), Shah Waliullah’s Hujjat Allah ul Baligha (The Conclusive Argument from God),Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s Causes of the Indian Revolt,  Allama Iqbal’s seminal lecture on The Principle of Movement in the Structure of Islam, Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi’s “Idea of a Hindustani University in Kabul”,and more. This is not an exercise in doctrinal totalization but a confluence of ideas that may yield a civilizational pattern or delineate the cultural contours of a nation.

The main objective of this ‘gardenization’ of our heritage was to suggest Pakistan’s assets in the context of the Dialogue among Nations. This theme seems to have faded away as the downside of the two Iraq wars and the endless warring in Afghanistan has choked the Western conscience. It is no longer fashionable to talk about the Clash of Civilizations, ergo what Dialogue, and among whom? Briefly the interfaith platforms took centre stage but bowed out as the world realized that there can be no dialogue among sides that swear by their positions, fatten on them, and have never succeeded through history. The worst case scenario is the Dialogue among the children of Abrahamic faiths. The House of Abraham has rained spears and bombs in defense of their tenets and killed mercilessly to enforce their version of the Creator. Our own government in Islamabad seems never to have taken this Dialogue business seriously may be because our mandarins were convinced they have nothing to say to the world, and sadly still to each other within the country on intercultural matters. The Eighteenth Amendment seems to have destroyed the Federal architecture of Islamabad; many Ministries have been shut down, some transferred to the provinces which do not seem to have the capacity to handle such mighty matters of the State. One of the grotesque experiments is the renaming of the Ministry of Religious Affairs (forever a troublesome Ministry for the Ministers and the bureaucrats alike) as the Ministry for Interfaith Harmony. Our universities and schools do not know how to teach the subject of Comparative Religion.Some 20 years ago I put this question to the Rector of Islamabad’s International Islamic University with my comment that with Muslim teachers teaching Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, what hope did we have that those religions would be taught in a scientific manner. Such teachers probably close the minds of their students into believing that all these others are hell-bound. The poor Dr. M. Afzal seemingly agreed with me but mumbled something about lack of resources. No wonder we are facing the menace of extremism that we do.  I would call the ‘Large White Crescent’ a textbook of Tolerance and Dialogue as practiced and preached on our lands over the centuries.

My second optic in undertaking this arduous exercise is looking for synergies among these icons of Pakistan’s history and culture. Arguably many more could have been added, and I agree, should have been added. But, alas, time, space and money have been my constraints. The words ’synergy’ and ‘energy’ are said to be companions. Energy studies are familiar. Energy relates to differentiating out sub-functions of nature, studying objects isolated out of the whole complex of Universe.But synergy represents the integrated behaviours of all the differentiated behaviours of nature’s galaxy systems and galaxy of galaxies. This book might as well have been sub-titled The Pakistani Galaxy or “Mapping the Pakistani Soul”.Perhaps the more accurate description of this exercise would lie in the area of Synergetics, which postulates that wholes have properties (functional effects) different from those of the parts.

The Pakistani Mind is a living organism. Our search for a synergistic fit among these megastars of our heritage, we are in fact asking for a merger of synergy and complexity science so that we may bring better scientific rigour to synergy as a concept, whilst also focusing the complexity sciences upon what is really important about complex systems i.e. their ability to bring greater benefit to the parts than would be possible without their cooperative association. Looking at the whole requires that we admit that we do not know everything. In fact, getting beyond the closed partial theories held by all parties with the full certainty of dogmatic fervor, shows us that currently our actual knowledge systems is pretty minimal, and our knowledge of synergy proves to be even less.Neglect of the study of overall behaviours, of integrated values within complex systems, has allowed a delusion of knowledge (based upon isolated parts) to replace real knowledge of holistic properties and their dynamic evolution. (For more on this fascinating discussion see the excellent website of the Complexity and Artificial Life Research Concept at http://www.calresco.org/wp/synergy.htm).

Having covered some hermeneutic ground, let us see what the contents of this artificially constructed galaxy are. The first item is extracted from the rather long Introduction to Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s book “5000 Years of Pakistan: An Archaeological Outline”. Published in 1950 by Royal India and Pakistan Society, London, the purpose of the book as given in its Foreword by Mr. Fazlur Rahman, the then Minister of Commerce and Education of Pakistan, was of presenting a brief sketch of the imposing material heritage of Pakistan in the form of ancient buildings, sites and cultures prior to the death of Emperor Aurungzeb. The first chapter of the book opens thus: “although presence of mankind in what is now Pakistan cannot yet be traced backward continuously, it would have been in a sense excusable to entitle this book ‘500,000 Years of Pakistan’. For if the calculations of modern sciences are correct, it is to that remote age that we may ascribe the earliest manmade implements discovered within the territory of the state”. This is the vast age span of Pakistan against which the story of our heritage unfolds.

The second entry is a chapter from Fathnama-e- Sindh which contains the most detailed record of the Arab conquest of Sindh not found in any other known historical work. In it are preserved the more detailed reports of the campaign in general and eyewitness accounts of the different battles in particular. It is the oldest work of Indo-Muslim history, and in fact, is the first written historical account relating to the subcontinent. From this book I have selected the episode of The Brahmanabad Declaration which was signed in 713 A.D. guaranteeing freedom of worship to the local Brahmans. The settlement of the conquered populace of Sindh resulted in the closure of the Hindu Temples of the Budh  (this was the period when Brahmans were wilting  under pressure of the Buddhists – but that’s another story) and ruination of the priestly class. The merchant and the thakurs had stopped giving them alms for fear of annoying the new Arab rulers. The attendants of the temples were likewise in distress. One thousand of them came to the gate of the palace with shaven heads, lifted up their hands in prayer and asked for permission to repair and reopen their temples and thus restore their livelihood. Qasim wrote to his boss Yusuf bin Hujjaj in Basra and sought his orders. Hujjaj wrote back that “these priests have been taken under our protection and we cannot in any way stretch our hands upon their live and property. Permission is given to them to worship their gods. Nobody must be forbidden or prevented from following his own religion. They may live in their houses in whatever manner they like”. So it was. Muhammad bin Qasim permitted them to retain their position like the Jews, the Christians and the fire-worshippers of Iraq. An example worthy of emulation fourteen hundred years on today.

The next entry is from Alberuni’s famous Kitab-ul-Hind. Alberuni was an encyclopedic scholar who came to Pakistan in the 11th century in Mahmood Ghaznavi’s train. He lived for some years near KallarKahar in the Salt Range near Islamabad. Here at Katas Raj he learnt Sanskrit and after lots of discussion and readings of Hindu texts he translated two of them into Arabic – Samkhya and Patanjali. In his Preface to Kitab ul Hind, Alberuni dilates upon some basic principles of historiography, he says, “This book is not a polemical one. I shall not produce the arguments of our antagonists in order to refute such of them as I believe to be in the wrong. My book is nothing but a simple historic record of facts. I shall place before the reader the theories of the Hindus exactly as they are, and I shall mention in connection with them similar theories of the Greeks in order to show the relationship existing between them”. After giving the text of the Preface, ‘A Large White Crescent’ contains the annotated list of the 88 Chapters of Kitab ul Hind followed by the seven- page long first Chapter of the book entitled “On the Hindus in general: an introduction to our account of them”.

The next entry in my anthology relates to Amir Khusrau (1253-1325 A.D.), the greatest genius produced by the Indo-Muslim Civilization. I have quoted extensively from a Ph.D. Thesis submitted by Dr. Muhammad Wahid Mirza to London University in 1929. Fourteenth century Delhi was a ferment of civilizations and languages. Khusrau lived in this whirlpool of cultures and worked in several languages with a mastery that was perhaps unparalleled in his age and after.He was a man given to ecstasy and rapture. He also acquired mastery in playing anc composing music. Though a household name throughout the subcontinent, Khusrau’s poetry is largely unknown as well as the fact that he was also a scholar, historian, a court officer and a Sufi par excellence.  Most of his poetry being in Persian is not easily accessible today; we are systematically cutting off our links with our linguistic heritage. One result of which is that Urdu is being pauperized.

Besides giving a brief account of Khusrau’s life, I talk about his ‘Hindui’ poetry followed by an introduction of hismasnavi calledNuh Siphir (the Nine Skies) as an illustration of his love for the culture and land of Hindustan.In the end I reproduce the Epitaph seen on his grave in Delhi. I am convinced that this paragon of civilizational harmony remains a great model for us Pakistanis in our Dialogue among Civilizations.

Then we see a torn and tattered man walk into our garden holding two and half pages from his book Majma-ul-Bahrain (the Mingling of the Two Oceans); a one page of Contents and one and a half page Introduction, in which this “unafflicted,  unsorrowing fakir” says “that after knowing the Truth of truths and ascertaining the secrets and subtleties of the true religion of the Sufis…he thirsted to know the tents of the religion of the Indian monotheists; and having had repeated intercourse and discussion with the doctors and perfect divines of this religion who had attained the highest pitch of perfection in religious exercises, comprehension (of God), intelligence and insight,  (I) did not find any difference, except verbal, in the way in which they sought and comprehended Truth”.Prince Dara Shikoh (1615-1659) went a step further than Alberuni. This was enough to have this eldest son and Crown Prince of the great Emperor Shah Jahan condemned by the ulema of his younger brother Aurangzeb and dragged to death in the streets of Delhi. This most tragic figure of the Mughal Dynasty lies buried in a corner of the mighty mausoleum of emperor Humayun in Delhi. What could be a better interlocutor between the two great faiths of the subcontinent? Perhaps interfaith dialogue makes sense in our sub continental context if only Islam and Hinduism had designated authorities to speak for them. Apparently they don’t; ergo what dialogue!

Next we have some pages from Shah Waliullah’s magnum opus Hujjat Allah al Baligha (The Conclusive Argument from God). The author aimed at writing a book ‘which could provide understanding and guidance to the beginners and serve as as reminder for the learned’. It is a remarkable compendium covering a vast spectrum of themes ranging from philosophy of religion, law, jurisprudence, ethics, psychology, mysticism, sociology, anthropology and economics to a philosophy of state and government. Here Shah Waliullah (1703-1762) is supposed to have improved upon the work of Ibn Khaldun. According to Maulana Shibli Naumani, Shah Waliullah’s “subtle arguments eclipsed the academic accomplishments of al-Ghazali, arrested the spiritual degeneration which had set in the Muslim scholarship since the time of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Rushd”. My anthology presents the seven-page Preface and the 17-page Introduction to the book. There is also a brief extract titled ‘The Administration of the City State’ which is a discussion of civics wherein the author states, “People who are more narrow-minded are more violent, have greater tendency to kill and are inclined to be seized of fury, are in greater need of coercive political authority. It is a source of great disorder that some wicked individuals attaining ascendancy and prestige should join together to pursue their desires and violate the established norms of fairness and justice. Such people either pursue their wicked ways out of greed for the wealth possessed by others and become highwaymen, or they inflict injury on the people out of mere contempt or jealousy, or out of a desire to capture political authority. Apprehension of such a disorder necessitates marshalling of human resources and preparation for war”. Word which ring true for Pakistan where we face a war against just such a conglomerate of wicked terrorists and narrow-minded extremists.

Next we have a five- page Introduction to the famous poem Musaddas – the Story of the Ebb and Flow of Islam, by Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali (1837-1914). The poem exhorted Muslims to wake up from their sleep, keep in step with the fast-paced work, grab every opportunity to educate themselves, open their minds to winds of change, become gender sensitive, eschew obscurantism and acquire moral authority. He condemned dogmatism, obscurantism and bigotry which seemed to have become the hallmark of those professing to be Islam’s custodians. He attributes the decline of Muslims to the stifling of dissent, curbing of questions and allowing rituals to take precedence over the spirit of religion. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan had this to say of the immensely popular Musaddas, “I consider this long poem among the fine deeds of mine that when on the Day of Judgment, God asks me what did you bring with you, I will say, ‘Nothing but I got Hali to write the Musaddas”.As Urdu poet, Hali is known as the first among moderns.

No account of Tolerance and Dialogue in South Asia can be complete without Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) who is acknowledged as the father of Muslim awakening in South Asia. He founded the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh (while the Hindu community was establishing Anglo-Vedic Colleges) which later became a Muslim University. His vision of this institution stated, “I may appear to be dreaming and talking like Sheikh Chilli, but we aim to turn this MAO College into a University similar to that of Oxford and Cambridge. Like the churches of Oxford and Cambridge, there will be mosques attached to each college.” The statement went on to add, “It will be strictly enforced that Shia and Sunni boys shall not discuss their religious differences in the College or in the boarding house”.

Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi (1877-1944)is a fascinating character of our freedom movement who appears to have receded from our collective memory. A small set-up in Karachi prints his books and pamphlets in Urdu to promote his thought. Soon after independence, MaulanaAbulKalam Azad, a devout scholar of Islam, when condoling the death of Maulana Sindhi,lapsed into deep sorrow, bordering on the cynical, and wrote, “Now there survives only one memory which is accompanied by the deepest sorrow not because these people have departed, but the matter which grieves us is the fact that the very world in which these noble souls lived has changed. We, the survivors of this passed caravan, are neither getting any trace of the caravan, nor can be acquainted with the destination. Neither any one knows us, nor do we know anybody”. Is he talking of the Muslims of India?

The Maulana spent a great part of his life in the study of the philosophy and teachings of Shah Waliullah. During his close to 25 years of exile beginning 1915 ( in Kabul, Istanbul and Moscow) he closely observed the conditions and circumstances leading to the fall of kingdoms, dwindling of empires and the birth of movements leading to revolutions. In Istanbul he wrote the constitution of Federated India (text included in the anthology).He also set up an Urdu school in Kabul which he wished to be raised to the level of a Hindustani University, for which he drew up an insightful constitution which is reproduced in my book.

Allama Iqbal (1877-1938) delivered a series of lectures in the late 1920s in Hyderabad and Madras which were later published as Reconstruction of Religious thought in Islam. These constitute the most authentic statement of Iqbal’s thought but remain a daunting read for a common man as its language is philosophical and are full of learned references and allusions. The book has been translated into several world languages. I must tell you a story about the book which its French translator Eva deVitray-Meyerovitch narrated when I visited her in Paris in 1989. She said that before the Second World War Mahatma Gandhi visited Paris when she was a student at the Philosophy Department of the University at Sorbonne as a student. She went to hear him speak where she met Raziuddin Siddiqi (the famous theoretical physicist and mathematician) who had travelled from Germany for the same Gandhi meeting. They kept up correspondence which was interrupted by the war. Sometime in 1953 she met Dr. Siddiqi who was now visiting Paris as Vice-Chancellor of Karachi University. He left a book of Iqbal’s lectures (Reconstruction) for her to read. She said she did not have the time to read the book which kept gathering dust in her book shelves till one day while sweeping her shelves she chanced upon it and took time to read it. “It answered most of the philosophical questions swirling in my mind”. She decided to read more of Iqbal and to discover his Murshed Rumi. Eventually she became a Muslim and devoted her life to translating Iqbal and Rumi into French.

Taking one lecture out ofReconstruction to read makes the work dramatically easy. I chose The Principle of Movement in the Structure of Islam for inclusion in my anthology whose subject Ijtihadgives rise to so much controversy among Muslims all over the world but nobody denies its central importance to ‘modernizing’ Islam. Also included in this chapter is the text of Iqbal’s Presidential Address t the 1930 Allahabad Annual session of All-India Muslim League where he expounded his thoughts about territorial specificity for Islam in the subcontinent.

Next to follow is a chapter from a book History of Muslim Civilization in India and Pakistan by Dr. S.Ikram (1908-1973) who was a civil servant with a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. Titled Interaction of Islam and Hinduism, it builds upon the Muslim-Hindu conversation theme of Alberuni. He cites from the book Rihla (literally The Journey) IbneBattutah, the fourteenth century Moroccanwho is regarded as among the greatest travelers of all times. IbnBattutah came to India some three hundred years after Alberuni and noted that Hindus and Muslims lived in separate quarters and as entirely separate communities. The Hindus maintained no social intercourse with Muslims by way of inter-dining or inter-marriage. They regarded the touch of the Muslims or ‘even the scent of their food as pollution’. If an innocent child happened to eat anything of which a Muslim had partaken, the Hindu elders ‘would beat him and compel him to eat cow dung which, according to their belief, purifies’. Dr. Ikram concludes that a ‘Chinese Wall’ continued to divide the two communities in spite of the work of the saints, sufis and savants like Amir Khusrau. The number of people affected by sufi and mystic movements was not very large. The path of sincere syncretism (a la Dara Shikoh) also ended in a blind alley.The path shown by Alberuni alone had any possibilities which recognized the separateness of the two cultures but was also based on knowledge and understanding – in other words, a perennial Dialogue.

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah sums up the conundrum posed for the Indian Muslims by the departure of the British rulers which would have left them a permanent minority even in the states and regions where they were in majority because of the Federal State structure advocated by the Indian National Congress. This chapter includes texts of his speeches at the 1940 Lahore session of All-India Muslim League where the resolution demanding separate states for Muslims was passed. Also given is the text of his address to the first Constituent Assembly in Karachi on 11 August 1947.Also given are Mr. Jinnah’s remarks at the Presentation of Credentials of first Ambassadors of USA and Turkey where he assures the world that Pakistan is determined to be a useful member of the comity of nations. He told the American Ambassador, “I can assure Your Excellency that after having emerged from an eclipse which lasted over a century and a half, the people of Pakistan desire nothing which is not their own, nothing more then the goodwill and friendship of all the free nations of the world. We in Pakistan are determined that having won our long-lost freedom, we will work to the utmost limit of our capacity, not only to build up a strong and happy State of our own, but to contribute to the fullest possible measure to international peace and prosperity”. He told the Turkish Ambassador that “Right from the birth of political consciousness amongst the Muslims of this great subcontinent, the fortunes of your country were observed by us with deep sympathy and interest”. The Indian Muslim community was outward looking, and thus experienced in dialogue with others.

Dr. Abdus Salam (1926-1996) is the best known scientist of Pakistan and our only Noble laureate (1979).His areas of specialization were Theoretical Physics and Mathematics in which Dr. Raziuddin Siddiqi also earned great fame. He matriculated from Government High School,Jhang at age 14 securing the highest ever marks recorded in the history of the University of Punjab. I attended his lecture given at Damascus University in 1986 where he recalled his school days and said that he once asked his science teacher, “Sir, where can we see the electricity?”.  The teacher thought for a moment and replied, “Son, it lives in Lahore”.  He served as Chief Scientific Advisor to President of Pakistan from 1961 to 1974.He was appointed full Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London, at age 31. He published 273 original papers and wrote numerous articles on the state of science in developing countries.

Accepting science s an integral element of a culture, and as a fertile field for international conversation, I have included a chapter from his book Ideals and Realitieswhich is titled Scientific Thinking: Between Secularization and The Transcendent. It combines two lectures given by him; one at UNESCO Headquarters in April 1984 on the subject of “Islam and Science” and the other given in Torino, Italy, in June 1988 called Scientific Thinking: Between Secularization and the Transcendent – An Islamic Viewpoint”.  Therein he makes a strong case for a faith-inspired science and makes several suggestions for catching up in science and technology.

Abdul RahmanChughtai (1897-1975) is our most famous painter who belongs to an ancient family of architects, painters and artisans. In 1914, he graduated from Lahore’ Mayo School of Arts (later renamed National College of Art) specializing in Photolithography. He spent several years in the 1930s travelling through Europe where he trained in etching and acqua-etching. His first overseas exhibition was arranged in Wembley in 1924. ‘A Large White Crescent’ contains an English translation of one of his seminal essays titled “Art and Westernism” where he makes a penetrating comparison of the art principles of East and West and makes a strong case for Oriental Art even though his was a colonial setting.

Then we have the English translation of the Speech that Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984) delivered in Urdu at the ceremony in Moscow in 1963 where he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. We also have texts of his memos on the need and importance of the revival of the Takshila Institute. He describes Taxila as having been an ancient seat of learning and commerce and as a meeting place of cultures in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent since the pre-Aryan era and presents a detailed case for its revival so as to broaden the horizons of Pakistan and Pakistanis.

Mr. Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius (1903-1991) was the only non Muslim to head the judiciary of a Muslim country in the modern times. He is fondly remembered in the judicial community but the readers at large seems unaware of his important contribution to furthering the thought processesinthe Islamic Republic, especially about “The Role of Law in the Political Development of Pakistan”. His other essay included in the anthology is called “Morals: The Islamic Approach” written in late 1983 or early 1984 and led to him being characterized by his colleagues as being more Muslim than the Muslims.

Eqbal Ahmad (1933-1999) the celebrated scholar-activist was also a prolific writer and journalist. Besides obtaining a Ph.D. in Political Science from Princeton, he taught World Politics for over 15 years at the prestigious Hampshire College in Massachusetts. He had a deep understanding of the deviousness and double-face of the arrogant West and exposed the immoral roots of the Western Imperial and Economic dominance of the world. His seminal essay, “Terrorism – Ours and Theirs”, included in the book makes a fascinating analysis of this latest paradigm of hypocrisy heaped by the West on the struggling Third World while turning a blind eye to the terrorism it has itself spawned.

The last chapter is a glimpse into some of our outstanding achievements in the world of sport – squash, cricket, and field hockey. After all sports brings health, fame and wealth to sportsmen and inculcates a spirit of competition and fitness that all nations seek. Sports arenas are also arenas of dialogue among nations where men and women compete and become friends. Achieving the highest honours in so many games did every Pakistani proud.

‘A Large White Crescent’ ends with eight appendices which give texts of relevant resolutions, reports about discussions and speeches relating to the theme of Dialogue among Civilizations from the forums of UN and the Organization of Islamic Conference.

The book will hopefully be seen as a primer of tolerance and peaceful coexistence as well as reminder that Pakistan has a contribution to make to this important theme of Dialogue in the future as its land people have been doing in the past. I end with a quote from the Stanford Professor of History, Ian Morris, whose book “Why the West Rules For Now” is being read the world over, in which he noted that, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”


[1]Toheed Ahmad is a former Ambassador of Pakistan.