Asma: the radical fire to rebel
Asma Jahangir’s life was dangerous, but a life that is not dangerous is not life at all. She accepted the challenge of the unknown.
By Zahid Ali
To understand Asma Jahangir the rebel and her rebellion is very simple: she was a woman who did not live like a robot, conditioned and indoctrinated by the past. Religion, society, culture, anything that was past worship was abominable to her way of life, to her style of life.
She lived individually, not as a cog in the wheel, but as an organic unity. Her life was not decided by anybody else, but by her own intelligence. The very fragrance of her life was that of freedom, not only that she lived in freedom, she allowed and inspired everybody else also to live in freedom. She did not allow anybody to interfere in her life; neither did she interfere in anybody else’s life. To her, life was so sacred, and freedom was the ultimate value that she could sacrifice everything for it: respectability, status, even life itself.
Men have lived down the ages like sheep, as part of a mob, following its traditions, conventions, following the old scriptures and old disciplines. But that way of life was anti-individual; if you are a diehard adherent of old scriptures you cannot be an individual. She was one who lived totally according to her own light, and risked everything else for her ultimate value of freedom. She was a contemporary individual as she knew the mobs are not contemporary. Mobs believe in scriptures which are five or ten thousand years old. Such is the case with mobs everywhere: believing in something dead which eventually dominates the living.
She rebelled against the dead, took her life in her own hands. She was not afraid of being alone; on the contrary, she enjoyed her aloneness as one of the most precious treasures. She was aware that mob is an illusion that gives false security, safety at the cost of one’s soul. She knew it enslaves and gives guidelines on how to live: what to do, what not to do.
She was conscious of the fact that all over the world, all shapes of fanaticism and authoritarianism has given rise to hatred, revenge and oppression and these were given by people who had no idea how the future is going to be, how man’s consciousness in the future is going to be. To her all of this was primitive, crude and they have been shaping our lives. She always presented her original face to society and declined the cultural notion of being a carbon copy. She lived according to her own light, moved according to her own intelligence. She created her path by walking on it, she did not follow the mob on the superhighway.
Her life was dangerous, but a life that is not dangerous is not life at all. She accepted the challenge of the unknown. To her yesterday was never going to be her tomorrow. She was aware that up to now this is how man has lived, ones yesterday’s prepares him for his tomorrows. To her very preparation was a hindrance. In this hindrance one cannot breathe freely, one cannot love freely, one cannot dance freely, and the past cripples one in every possible way. The burden of the past is so heavy that everybody is crushed under it.
She was a continuous process of rebellion; she was not static. And that is where she made a distinction between the revolutionary and the rebel. The revolutionary is also conditioned by the past. He may not be conditioned by Jesus Christ or Gautam Buddha, but he is conditioned by Karl Marx or Mao Zedong or Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini, it does not matter who conditions him. The revolutionaries have their own bibles. Just like any other religious person, they are not living according to his own consciousness. They are living according to a conscience created by others.
The revolutionary is nothing but a reactionary. He may be against a certain society, but he is always for another society. He may be against one culture, but he is immediately ready for another culture. He only goes on moving from one prison into another prison, from Christianity to communism; from one religion to another religion, from Christianity to Islam. He changes his prisons. The rebel simply moves out of the past and never allows the past to dominate him. It is a constant, continuous process. The whole life of the rebel is a fire that burns. To the very last breath he is fresh, he is young. He will not respond to any situation according to his past experience; he will respond to every situation according to his present consciousness.
Asma was a rebel personified and to be so was her way of life. She knew that every form of past worship has destroyed humanity completely. It creates a certain conscience which goes on dominating men. She threw away the past worship because she wanted to live her own life according to her own longings, according to her own nature not according to some fanatic, authoritarian or despot. She was a hope for the future of humanity, especially in Pakistan.
She destroyed all forms of fanaticism, discrimination and oppression because they because they are all rotten, past, hindering the progress of human evolution. They don’t want human beings on the earth. Asma made others to believe in their own consciousness. She told that there is no need for any pope, mullah, pundit, despot, clever politician to be a mediator between the man and his life. She was conscious that these are the greatest criminals in the world, because they are exploiting man’s helplessness.
Asma practiced to be free from churches, from temples, from mosques, from synagogues, from fanaticisms, from dictatorships, from fake politicians, from multiple discriminations. She did not have a doctrine, a philosophy, a theology to teach you. She had only her own experience of rebellion to share, to infect you with rebelliousness. She did not have any teaching, any doctrine, any discipline to give to you. Her whole effort was to wake you up.
She didn’t have a teaching. But whatever she experienced, it was a living phenomenon which she shared with you, not words, not theories, not hypotheses. She gave you as much closeness as you need; just as when you bring an unlit candle close to a candle which is burning there is a point where suddenly the fire jumps from the lit candle to the unlit candle. The lit candle loses nothing, and there has not been a transfer of any teaching, but a transfer of fire. She didn’t have any teaching, but she had great fire in her heart, and whoever came close to her became a flame.
She shared an experience which could burn all that is false in you and could purify that which was your essential individuality, your authentic potential.
She didn’t have a message to give , but she had a fire to impart. A fire to rebel, to stand up, to struggle, to fight for rights, to battle for freedom from all sorts of chains. And if this fire is not radical, then nothing else can be radical in the whole world.