Dr Farooq: The loss of an intellectual

Published: October 6, 2010

Dr Farooq was a writer, doctor and scholar who was active in social work in Mardan

The assassination of religious scholar, intellectual and author of several books, Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan, reminded us once again that anyone who dares to challenge extremist and militant forces will meet with a tragic end. Dr Farooq, a psychiatrist, was killed along with his assistant while he was taking a lunch break in his Mardan clinic. According to reports, two bearded men entered the clinic and wished to see the doctor. Dr Farooq’s assistant was killed upon resistance. One of them fatally shot Dr Farooq while his accomplice stood guard at the door. The perpetrators fled after committing the heinous act.

A defender of women’s rights and moderate values

My acquaintance with Dr Farooq was through a book that he and his wife authored, about the status of women in Islam. I was writing a research paper and wanted to read an unbiased work by a contemporary author. At the time, I didn’t know that he was one of those rare religious scholars who strive to present a moderate image of Islam in the light of religious resources which are available to everyone but invariably narrowly interpreted.
Dr Farooq’s representation of religion, especially with regard to issues related to women’s rights, was well-explained and impartial. I found his work surprisingly refreshing, particularly because he belonged to the conservative province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where women in rural areas are not encouraged to seek education or pursue a career.

Condemnation of militancy and terrorism

Perhaps Dr Farooq’s writings about the empowerment of women or his encouragement of family planning didn’t hurt as much as his scholarly works about the religious war or jihad did. Dr Farooq, like Mufti Sarfaraz Hussain Naeemi, vociferously lectured against the so-called jihad and suicide bombing by militants. In his pamphlet Jihad versus Terrorism, Dr Farooq wrote:

“If the people go on forming their own armed factions, different political parties erect their private armies, do not respect the state treaties and declare war at their own end, the country would be stricken with chaos and anarchy.”

He wrote these lines with respect to the jihad in Kashmir, but they sound completely true even if we study them in the context of the current situation.

Dr Farooq also denounced the increasingly common suicide bombings. He said:

“If the religious scholars had issued decrees against the suicide bombing eight years ago, the menace would not have spread to such an extent. Extremism is averse to dialogue and democracy and is not related to any religion.”

Silencing voices

According to recent reports, the Taliban have accepted responsibility for killing Dr Farooq and the reason they gave for doing so was that he openly criticized the Taliban and jihad on public forums. Dr Farooq was also a vice-chancellor (VC) of the Islamic University of Swat. A while ago, Kohat University VC Dr Lutfullah and Islamia College University VC Ajmal Khan were kidnapped. Ajmal Khan is still missing.

In the wake of these attacks, teachers at public universities have demanded effective security. The first and foremost task of investigation authorities should be to determine whether the Taliban were behind these attacks or local rogue groups who kidnap for ransom. If the involvement of the Taliban is proven, it means that not only are they destroying the educational infrastructure in KP, they are systematically silencing moderate and educated voices. This is too heavy a loss to be borne by society.

The police are working on Dr Farooq’s case with two possible leads for investigation: family enmity and the possibility of target killing and a breakthrough is said to be expected in a few days. However, the fact remains that intellectuals like Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan are difficult to find today, when the opposing forces are so intimidating and formidable. His assassination has been a great loss not only for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but for all of Pakistan.

ayesha.umar

Ayesha Umar

Interested in current affairs, cultural and gender-based issues Ayesha religiously tweets @ayeshaesque. In her free time she blogs at Fifth Junction and indulges in random photography.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha

    May Allah bless his family the patience to bear with the loss and grant him an abode in Heaven.

    I don’t understand the reference to the beards of the murderers.The one who got killed had one too didn’t he? What’s with ‘bearded men’ wanting to meet the doctor?Recommend

  • http://ayesha5.wordpress.com Ayesha

    Natasha: In FIR and in criminal cases such information matters a lot. It’s been mentioned in all the news reports so along with the other facts – I incorporated it too. You must have read that many times the witnesses testify that a clean-shaven, teenager blew himself up. These are just fact of the incident. Recommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha

    Ayesha , I have hardly seen bloggers talking about ‘clean-shaven’ terrorists. They love stressing on the beards when it’s the bearded ones though.

    If what you’re saying is why the reference is there , then yeah ,I do understand.

    BTW, Youve become very serious in your writings. Gone is the ‘light-hearted’ Crossroad eh?

    Good luck!Recommend

  • Humanity

    Making noises about whether or not the murderers were bearded is simply a shenanigan to derail the crux and context of the article and to make light of a heinous crime. The irrelevant digression exposes a bigoted, sealed mindset

    The post is about the cold blooded murder of a supporter of plurality and egalitarianism. The nation should mourn at falling further into the abyss of darkness. There is nothing light-hearted about silencing the voice of dissent just because one disagrees with it.

    Shame and laanat on the wretched murderers, their supporters and sympathizers. They are all accountable for the tyranny and jahalat that they pander. Just remember that ‘Khuda kee laathi bae-awaaz hai’. Recommend

  • parvez

    An excellent article, you have said what had to be said.
    Since the issue of beards or non-beards has been raised, I think it is worth saying that
    ‘ be careful of the non-beard who uses the beard for his nefarious agenda’.Recommend

  • MR

    He was supervising a program intended for those brain-washed children in Swat who were going to be “suicide bombers”. The program’s name was “Sabawoon” and it was the Army’s attempt to put these children back on the right path, maybe!

    Dr. Farooq, a psychiatrist, was an excellent choice for it. But then, anyone who works with/for the army and against these headless chickens is a target. Another brave life lost. May his soul rest in peace.Recommend

  • murassa sanaullah

    if we had condemn these killing since day one the situation would have been different now ,for this all the pillars of state are to be blamed.in the past we never protested against the killing of minorities because the majority was had differenrence of opinion with them the police ,courts all gave protection to the murderers ,this lead to the killing of people of different sect our country men still gave no response now the such a situation has started any one who does not agree with any person kills that person.still we are sleeoing has there been any discussion of such a serious problem in media .i havent seen any programme on any channel on this murder .media is busy discussing on irrevelant topics.Recommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha

    Yes shame and lanat on the perpetrators and supporters.

    Humnanity,

    Who said im talking about how light-hearted the incident is? It is better to stay quiet than to look like a fool by opening your mouth brother. You have no idea about what I said , the author does. Recommend