Maulvi breaks a leg – literally

Published: August 23, 2011

PHOTO: AFP

I was 6-years old. Images of a long beard, flecks of spit flying out of an infuriated mouth, and an unforgiving cane had robbed me of my sleep.  I was sobbing miserably, twisting and turning in my bed, in the middle of the night while my-eight-year-old sister tried desperately to console me. My hysteria must have awoken my father, who came in to my room and asked in alarm:

“What’s wrong, my jaan?

“I’m very scared of Maulvi sahab” came the reply from my quivering lips.

My infuriated father probed me and prodded me as to what the Maulvi sahab had done to me that made me so frightened of him.

“He shouts and he screams, telling me ‘ungal rekho’ (keep your finger on the word you are reading)” I explained emphatically, with wide, terrified eyes.”

My father remained pensive for a moment, and then replied “You tell your Maulvi Sahab that if he ever raises his voice, or scares you again, your father will come to his house and pull his beard till he cries.”

I went to sleep happy that night, with no more tears because my father was Hercules in my eyes, and if he said he would protect me, I believed him.

The next day at school, during Arabic class, with the innocence of a 6-year-old, I promptly went up to my Maulvi sahab, and conveyed my father’s message to him. Now, my father was a senior army officer; his word was taken very seriously. My Maulvi  sahab , thus, did not raise his hand at me, glare at me or even blackmail me. He remained silent at my threat, and I never had a complaint against him, ever again.

I was fortunate to be blessed with a father who had a high rank in the army. Muhammad Adnan did not have the same luck. The 7-year-old was tortured and beaten brutally when he forgot the verse of a surah. Cleric Muhammad Latif beat him with a stick, and hung him upside down from a tree, whist screaming at him to recite the verse, last Friday, in a mosque in Vehari. The child eventually fainted from the pain, and was taken to the hospital, where the doctors said that his leg was broken, and that the bones in his leg could not be re-set.

This poor child was only 7-years-old. Think of your 7-year-old siblings or cousins. Think of the innocence on their faces – how could someone be so cruel as to beat a child of this age within an inch of his death? The worst part, in my opinion, was that the child was begging for water, but Muhammad Latif refused him countless times. Who could be so hard hearted so as to refuse anyone, leave alone an innocent child, water?

A close friend’s brother, whose name I shall not mention here, is also a Hafiz-e-Quran. Sometimes, he would tell me horrifying stories of how he was mercilessly beaten in the mosque if he would make even a minor mistake, or forget a verse. He too, was only 7-years-old. He told me that he would come home with multiple bruises on his arms, where canes had rained down on him if he erred.

Once, a cleric stepped on his foot and ground it in to the ground with such intensity that my poor friend could not walk for days. His father would beg the cleric to go easy on his son, and to not beat him. However, this only infuriated his cleric even more, who would beat my friend with greater vigor and gusto so as to establish the fact that my friend’s father had absolutely no power over him. It came to the point where my friend had to beg his father to ignore his beaten body because he was afraid of being beaten even more if his father intervened.

Now, I understand that all maulvis are not the same, and that it is unfair to generalize. However, the fact remains that we have heard of far too many cases of children being abused in madrassas to ignore it any longer. Many children who come under such torture develop personalities that are aggressive and resentful. Take for example, the Hafiz-e-Quran, who murdered his class fellow in cold blood, and threw his body in Phase 8, only a month ago.

We just cannot sit silent any longer, and let such inhumane acts of maulvis continue. Stricter madrassa laws must be enforced - this is absolutely vital. Muhmmad Latif, who beat Adnan, a few days ago, was set free after just an hour of questioning. The police said that they did not have enough evidence. In which world do we live where a broken leg, multiple witnesses and the statement of a doctor is not evidence enough?

Muhammad Latif walks free today, whereas the 7-year old Muhammad Andan may never be able to walk again.

Where is the justice?

Zahra Peer Mohammed

Zahra Peer Mohammed

Former Blogs Desk Head and Senior Sub-Editor at The Express Tribune. She is a business graduate from the Queen's School of Business who tweets @ZahraPeer (twitter.com/ZahraPeer). She blogs at zahrapeer.wordpress.com

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

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    I think we need to beat maulvis with sticks. Recommend

  • Marium

    If only Muammad Adnan had someone looking out for him. One can only be disgusted at the situation of our madrassas and maulvi’s. Recommend

  • d

    justice is needed ! we live in a country that prides its self on being the “islamic republic of pakistan” Now some one please tell me whats so islamic about this action. how can any one justify this inhumane treatment. The boy is only 7 n now can’t enjoy life as other kids do. i agree we need some regulation and punishments for these kinds of acts.

    ps thks for bring this to light . might get parents to think twice about sending their kids to madrassa or mosques for the teachings of the Holy Quran.Recommend

  • http://www.pakistani-revival.blogspot.com Ovais

    Completely agree with your article,altough i do think that maulvi’s have been picked up alot by the media lately but this thing is unjustified, Its time we implement these strict laws as any ulema would condemn these acts as well
    but then again we live in Pakistan , 1000 have died with in a month in karachi and countless dying each day . Karo Kari is still wide spread , Gang rapes are a norm so i guess we need to address these issues first. And parents should take care that no abuse is rattled on their children by opposing those kind of maulvisRecommend

  • Waseem

    This reminds me of the hadiths of the Holy Prophet pbuh. in summary the hadiths says that there will be a time in my ummat when the religious scholar will be worst creatures on earth. They will be as monkeys and swine.. Look around you and that is all we see. Religious extremism to religious intolerance and hatred. Thanks to these swine’s that we have no peace in our own country yet we blame western countries. Why is Allah being so cruel to us if we are going on the right path? Why do we have floods and bombs and terrorism? Is Allah with us? Definitely not… since we have been following these people who call anyone kafir, who call an innocent person kafir and gets him killed by the “innocent public”. I think we will see a lot more “azab e elahi ” in coming daysRecommend

  • Huzaifa

    Beautiful. The point I liked the most is that you have not generalized it to all the Maulvis.

    I also had to face a similar kind of Maulvi (sahab) when I was like 7 or 8 years old, and yes, he had become a nightmare for me and my brother both. A few times when my parents talked to him, his reply was, “Bachon per ustaad ka robe jamaaney k liye aisey karna parta hai” (or something similar to this). When the torture became a little severe, he was kicked off by some elders of my family.

    (Most of) These Maulvis have some sort of pride in themselves, and they show off this pride in the forms of torture to us. And the reason why most Maulvis are like this is that they were treated in exactly the same manner when they were kids. They think that all kids are careless and do not concentrate during the time he is present, and the best way to keep their concentration level above a minimum is to use this torture method. Seriously, the cases which you have mentioned have made me feel that those kids were treated like dogs with the Maulvis. Sad. Very sad indeed. Recommend

  • Choas A.D

    “Brother will kill Brother,
    Spilling Blood across the Land,
    Killing for Religion,
    Something I’ll never understand.”

    Pakistan? Land of the pure? hell, no. We don’t deserve religion, any religion, because we don’t have the mental faculties to understand anything other than the rod, the stick, the knife, the gun, and violence.

    The Chinese mode of governance is suited for us. zero tolerance for people who break the law. One of the toughest judicial systems in the world. Pakistanis are a nation which need to be kept strictly ‘in-line’, but not the ‘Taliban’ tag-line, because we just can’t handle religion with a logical mind.Recommend

  • Choas A.D

    And great article by the way, especially the ending. indeed, where IS the justice. These streets and towns and presidential houses are awaiting their own Bastille’s Day parade…Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Some Mullahs teach with love and affection (child rape) and some beat students to death (child abuse) hence proved Mullahs in any case are extremists.Recommend

  • Mastishhk

    Islam is the religion of peace and Pakistan is the land of the pure….Anyone who disagrees will be beaten, tortured, maimed, murdered. Peace will prevail in the end !!!Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Superbly written. I like how you started with a personal anecdote. I like to do that as well!

    But yes, terribly tragic why Islamic teachers deal corporal punishment on their students. I suffered from this as well, as a kid. Our Islamic studies teacher, from Sudan, stuck a pencil between the webbing of my finger, and pressed till I bled.

    I was only 8 years old and was a quiet shy kid. I just wasn’t interested in Islamic studies I guess, and that was enough for him to torture me.

    To be honest, I grew very far from religion growing up, partially because my teachers of Islam were so sadistic and insane.

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading this. Keep it up. Recommend

  • CRITIC

    Madrassahs = Munitions FactoryRecommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    Guess what I still have to deal with such a mullah at a state owned engineering university who teaches Islamiat, which we all know is a state’s view about our religion to facilitate politics back in the 80′s.Recommend

  • Zaki Mahomed

    I would think religion and brutality are unrelated. A more direct causation for inhumanity in society is the lack of quality education. This, and most other maulvi’s are actually frustrated, uneducated & backward men who have little to live besides making sure each Surah is recited perfectly in hopes of attaining their 72 virgins, which would be better than anything that ever happened to them in this world, at least.

    That’s not to say there isn’t a co-relation between overtly religious people and uneducated. It seems like the literal/hardline version religion sems to attract the most wretched folks with the dullest prospects in life (again, not exclusively, but you can’t argue this is untrue…)Recommend

  • rk singh

    Dear Zhara

    till the time pakistanis look into their religion (critically) and its interference in their day to day lives and correct the situation, you will keep seeing this kind of stories. Forget Pakistan, even most of the troubles India faces can be linked to this religion.Recommend

  • Waqar Ahmed

    Yes, I agree with you that this is a problem. Many of the madrasas are very strict. However I wouldn’t generalize all the mullahs. we ourselves have stereotyped maulvis so bad. These sort of cases also happen in most of our Schools, where teachers commonly beat students. I agree with you that Stricter madrassa laws must be enforced and I would also like to see only ONE standard of education in our country not three levels (O/A levels,Metric,Madrasah) Recommend

  • from India

    they are expressing their anger on the society by abusing innocent children …. Recommend

  • nafisa

    Muhammad Latif walks free today, whereas the 7-year old Muhammad Andan may never be able to walk again.

    Where is the justice?

    Where is the justice??? Where! Where! Where!Recommend

  • http://www.fahadfarooqui88.blogspot.com Farooqui

    Well written indeed, ALAS it is the same story every where, I have never come across a Maulvi who went a little easy on the student, Fearing such stories my mother never sent me to the mosque to learn the Quran, instead the maulvi sahab would come to my place and teach me.
    Kept my parent at rest as well. None the less I urge reader to learn the Quran themselves and teach their children themselves, why depend on some person to teach your kid the Book of ALLAH, instead learn it and teach your kids yourself !
    May ALLAH bless us all !Recommend

  • Faraz U.I

    Well written Zahra..there was a time when ‘Politicians’ were looked down upon – today it is a bigger insult to be a Maulvi than to be a politician…I don’t blame the world for associating terrorism with Muslims – there is no smoke without fire. Recommend

  • mohammed ali jawaid

    the kind of moulvis (not all) discussed here treat their students the way they were treated by their teachers. in subcontinent, centuries old method of learning is still in vogue be it a madrassah or a government school, all are the same. the whole system of learning needs to be overhauled, but the question is who’ll do it??? and how. the mess is so huge that everyone has become part of it. we already have punitive laws to deal with such cases but the rot continues, why? because the nation has accepted the way it is.Recommend

  • Adeel

    These Maulvis don’t know the first thing about the very religion they are supposedly teaching…
    the Prophet PBUH was so mindful of childrens welfare that He used to recite short surahs in prayer if He heard a child crying… just so that that the mother could attend to the crying child sooner…

    They are not preachers… but illiterate bigots who need to be caned once a day themselves.
    They are the reason why Islam has such bad publicity…

    Shameful… I want to break this maulvi’s leg nowRecommend

  • Optimus Prime

    Most Maulvis are really violent and perverted,I’ve had many friends who were hafiz-e-qurans back at school,and all of them are really violent,perverted, judgmental and intolerant,they would fight for no reason,talk about killing the ‘infidels’,they would assume that all the girls who wore ‘western apparel’ were sluts.

    All of them cursed and watched pornography, even-though they claimed to be the best Muslims alive.I honestly hate most of the Maulvis in Pakistan and the Middle-east.

    If the government can’t tame these heartless animals,then they should ban Islamic seminaries.
    The so-called “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” is a barbaric state,which shouldn’t have the right to exist.

    I’m glad I’m out of this Godforsaken country,but I’m still worried for the few open-minded and civilized people stuck in Pakistan.

    I hope someday Pakistan can become a Secular state,but I’m not really optimistic.

    -Optimus PrimeRecommend

  • ali raza

    u are saying right zahra.but,please never discuss again moulvi………………..ali from punjab university.Recommend

  • Omair

    Apparently these days having a beard, belching loudly with a huge tummy – and having Hafiz Quran with your name – gives you a ticker to murder and torture freely. Recommend

  • Arsalan

    Extremely tragic situation.. These people do not deserve to be called humans let alone being called Muslims.. Also I would request you all not to blame ALL the Maulvis for this.. Such beasts are found at large in our society, be it Maulvis or normal citizens.. Who do you think is responsible for the current bloodbath in Karachi? I have been to the Madrassa and a Cambridge school myself.. And have come across a more inhumane person in that school than I could ever have at a Madrassa.. I have also seen those Maulvis who wouldn’t hurt a fly unnecessarily and are the biggest advocates of peace and tolerance..so please stop generalizing!Recommend

  • Ahmed

    The author is wrong when he says that not all maulvi’s are like this…actually all maulvi’s are the like this.Recommend

  • http://mbik14.blogspot.com Muhammad Bilal Iftikhar Khan

    why are you generalizing and stereotyping and createing hate against molvies . if you dont like religion ..then dont follow it but who are you to mock and demonize molvies . Recommend

  • Anjum

    @Noman Ansari I never send my kids to a Madrassa I like let the Maulvi come to my house. I know too many cases of sex abuse or violence against children. I feel peace of mind this way. Otherwise my mind would be tortured with anxiety if my children went to a Madrassa.Recommend

  • Ran

    Although your maulvi did the wrong thing, he should have been reported to the police. Your father (no matter what rank he had) had no right to threaten anyone. Thats the problem with our country. The people with higher ranks tend to own it instead of following the law and order and acting according to the rules.
    Had your father acted properly, many more students would have been saved from the maulvi’s physical, verbal and psychological torture. You should not be proud of your father for pulling the maulvi’s beard. Recommend

  • rational

    @Rk Singh,

    Dear sir,

    While I understand your resentment towards Islam because of the recently extensive media coverage that we have gotten being labelled as extremists all throughout the world. I would beg to differ when you say ‘Forget Pakistan, even most of the troubles India faces can be linked to this religion.’ It is not this religion that is your problem, it is THESE followers. If you have a genuine interest in finding out whether Islam is the problem or the followers, then I would recommend reading more about it from unbiased authors such as Karen Armstrong for example, she has written good books on the life of Prophet(p.b.u.h) and his teachings. Good day to you.Recommend

  • asad

    Its truely embarassing but again there is little u can hope in a nation in which if u raise vioce against these ppl..u r gona b termed as favouring america..lolRecommend

  • Daggardalla

    I say we beat every mullah of that type & eliminate mullah culture from society. These mullahs are the cancer of our society & terrorist creators. The sooner we get rid of these mullah the better will be the results.Recommend

  • Ahmad M. Qamar

    These religious fanactics have torn apart such a beautiful country into countless groups. Even Ahmadis, whom I personally know to be very educated, truly patriotic, very kind and generous people who make extremely good and helpful neighbours, have been made aliens in their own homeland. Mullah is a curse, a stigma on the secular and liberal image of Islam, the relgion of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Recommend

  • Awais Khan

    These madrassas will have to be brought into the mainstream and initiatives will have to be taken to improve the education being imparted in them.Recommend

  • zain

    these clerics are just trying to fade the interests of kids who want to seek religious knowledge.. They should give such kind of punishments that have a positive impact on student.. The religious authority should give a fatwa also against such harm punishment and punisher. Also govt should bring these culprits behind the bars.Recommend

  • P

    When reading the part about the moulvis torturing children for forgetting the slightest verse, the only think coming to my mind was Mr. Rehman Malik failing to recite Surah Ikhlas. The extremism of the moulvis should be condemned more because it is limited to innocent children, but then, no one would touch a person of power, right?

    @Author..amazingly written article, especially the ending lines.Recommend

  • http://www.tarpley.net Moise

    Tale of two extremists. One whacking children other threatening to pull beard. Blame Islam and you will be accepted in psuedo-intellectual circles.Recommend

  • MK

    @ali raza: why? thats precisely the point. the article is written to highlight the maulvis, or at least the ones who brutally torture innocent kids.Recommend

  • Zahid

    did your father a “senior officer’ in army told General Zia to not to create such maulvis in his superficial decade of islamisation?…MMA..i will call it “mullah military ithehad”…against russia is the root cause of this….otherwise Jinnah’s Pakistan was moderate.Recommend

  • ARKhan

    @Waseem:
    Every mullah, without exception, is deranged
    Its about time we all screamed loud and clear…no more Maulvi’s Islam.Recommend

  • baqar

    yet another gift of mard-e-momin mard-e-haq— zia ul haq — zia ul haq

    the other point that needs to be highlighted and stopped is homosexuality in these places. This crime is rampant there and nobody dare talk abt it let alone do something. May God save the poor children.Recommend