Another inspiring story

The following was a real event as re-told by Ali Asani, Professor of the Practice of of Indo-Muslim Languages and Culture, Harvard University. In professor Asani’s own words:

“In 1947, in the midst of the many horrific communal riots and massacres unleased by the partition of the Subcontinent, a miracle occured at the railway station of Arifwala, a small town in the Punjab. A train carrying Hidu and Sikh refugees fleeing communal riots in Rawalpindi has stopped at the station on its way to the Indian border. At the station it was met by a mob of angry Muslims. Incited by hate-filled invectives from local mullahs, the mob was getting ready to attack the train in revenge for Muslims who had been killed by Hindus and Sikhs. Suddenly, the angry mob became quiet. A Sikh, apparently under the influence of opium, was hanging out from one of the windows of the train singing verses from one of the most famous epic poems of Punjabi literature, Hir. Composed in 1776-7, in a village mosque, by Varis Shah, Hir is the most widely recited poetic version of a popular Punjabi legend narrating the trajic and illicit affair between Hir, the daughter of the local chieftain, and her beloved Ranjha, the son of a rival chieftain. The verses that the Sikh was singing were from that section of the epic in which the poet criticizes the corrupt and hypocritical mulla for denying Ranja hospitality in the mosque after he had fled from his family to be with Hir. Hearing these verses, the mob suddenly came to its senses and refused to obey the instructions of the mulla to attack the train. Literally saved by verses of peotry, the train left the station unscathed. It was the recognition of this unity and common humanity that saved the fleeing Hindu and Sikh refugees from a cruel fate.”

3 thoughts on “Another inspiring story

  1. Chicken soup for a fundamentalist soul! It is indeed a beautiful story. Too bad that in 50+ years since partition, tensions between the various communities on the sub-continent have not been resolved.

  2. More Soup:
    And Fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not begin hostilities, for, verily, God does not love aggressors. (2:190)

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