I’m sorry, but Habib Jalib who?

Published: March 20, 2011

Our education system is responsible for creating intolerance towards other religions and nationalities.

It was Habib Jalib’s death anniversary a few days ago, and, as expected, when I inquired from my friends if they knew who this revolutionary poet was, they said no.

Why would they know Jalib anyway? I didn’t know who he was until I stumbled upon a few videos of his poetry recital when I was in college three years ago. It was then that I was exposed to a man whom I went on to respect. In fact, I made sure I learnt some of his verses, as they seemed very applicable around the year 2007, as they were when written in the times of Ayub Khan and Ziaul Haq.

The purpose here is to emphasise the ignorance of the educated class when it comes to knowing about important people in Pakistan’s history.

Learning to be ignorant

Jalib was one of very few people who spoke against military rule, but our history books remain devoid of not only his but many other names too.

Every Pakistani knows who Allama Iqbal is. However, other than his picture where he is depicted as dreaming of Pakistan, people know very little about the scholar who was one of the greatest philosophers of his time.

We are taught that Iqbal’s poetry was used to instill emotions in the youth of pre-partition India and to awaken its spirit. But it has now been reduced to verses used in songs for children

Hating on India

Other than ignorance, our education system is also responsible for creating intolerance towards other religions and nationalities.

For instance, we are taught that our freedom struggle was a way of escaping what would have been an oppressive rule of the Hindu majority in India. This automatically suggests the idea that Hindus are somehow enemies of Muslims. This is completely untrue!

Not only that, all our history ranging from Muhammad Bin Qasim invading India, to Babar setting up the Muslim Mughal Empire and partition, the picture depicted reinforces this subtle enmity.

We have grown up with these notions because of what we learned at school and at home. Madrassas are criticised for breeding intolerance and ignoring progressive education, while our mainstream education system which may look harmless, is doing the same damage – but in a relatively subtle manner.

Ali Syed

Ali Syed

An MBA student at LUMS who likes to write about matters that may not really matter to most. He tweets @alisyedsays

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

  • siddiqui

    have u grown tire of meeras and veenas already…?Recommend

  • rofl

    @ siddiqui

    and your point is???Recommend

  • http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com Said Chaudhry

    “we are taught that our freedom struggle was a way of escaping what would have been an oppressive rule of the Hindu majority in India, This automatically suggests the idea that Hindus are somehow enemies of Muslims. This is completely untrue”
    Look, I dont have anything against your opinion but if you think memorizing a few verses of Habib Jalib gives you the right to shoot a statement like that, you couldn’t be more wrong.
    You need to learn more about the state of Muslims in India before partition. How they were treated, the inhibitions held by Hindus against Muslims. For example, in middle class Lahore, Muslims were not even allowed to drink water from the same tap as Hindu. Muslims were not given the better jobs nor were accepted to higher education as Hindu’s were. The same trend continues today in India, as the Muslim population there suffers from one of the lowest rates of life style amongst any minority of people living in India. “The Muslim literacy rate in India ranks well below the national average in and Muslim poverty rates are only slightly higher than low-caste Hindus, according to a November 2006 government report. Muslims (mostly Sunnis) make up 13.4 percent of India’s population, yet hold fewer than 5 percent of government posts and make up only 4 percent of the undergraduate student body in India’s elite universities. The report also found that Muslims fall behind other groups in terms of access to credit, despite the fact that Muslims are self-employed at a far higher rate than other groups.” So if you tell me that our ancestors struggle for freedom was a way to escape what would have been an oppressive Hindu rule in India is a common misconception – I’ll say you don’t know what you’re talking about. The realities that created a strong Muslim uprising for freedom were churned on by Iqbal’s poetry, his message to the youth was to wake up and rid themselves from mental slavery, and they did. Enemies are created by oppression and that’s also a reality, but that been said, we have moved on from that phase of history. We have our own country and we have scores of problems, but for the largely Muslim population, prejudice is not on the list. I have no problems with Hindu’s, Sikh’s or any other religions as long as they find a way to co-exist peacefully and give equal human rights to all. And that’s what we should be teaching all the children in Pakistan, however, history should not be forgotten. Pakistan is going through its time of adversity right now, but I know we are strong enough to make it through as we always have. Recommend

  • Rajat

    The Indian education system has no bias per se, but the media more than makes up for it. So, children are not taught hate, its more of a Zeitgeist. Recommend

  • kazmi

    learn to hate india … i dont agree with that part!! we have nothing against common people of indians … its just people in their govt and political parties who dont wanna see Pakistan as a progressice nation. in school i dunt remember learning anything which would promote hate speech against indians!! … dont know which school you go to!Recommend

  • Paki Mukka

    I have to say whats the point of this article ???

    In my college I was taught that Quaid-e-Azam was jealous of Ghandi… so do I hate Quaid? NO!
    Truth is out there.
    Schools teach you Crap!
    and I would have loved my school if they would have taught me to Hate India :)Recommend

  • Hina

    is jalib hidden in the article..??Recommend

  • Haseeb

    With due respect sir,Allama Iqbal was not a philosopher he himself criticized philosophers in his poetry

    Blockquote> BlockquoteBlockquote

    Na falsafi se,na mula se muje garz
    ye dil ki mout,wo andesha e nazr ka fasad BlockquoteRecommend

  • parvez

    Many countries education systems are tailored to suit the ideology propagated my the state. As for the logic of your argument I would say :
    Main nai manta.
    Main nai janta.Recommend

  • Hanif awan

    Soon after the creation of PAKISTAN , a particular .GROUP OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT, who were basically against it,got the control of education system.They succeeded in bringing the people like Sir syed Ahmad,husain madni n abul kalam in our histotry books n black outed the real HEROES n JALIB is like one of those heroes.Don’t worry , some day the TRUE HISTORY will take place against the DISTORTED / FABRICATED HISTORY.Recommend

  • Marium

    @Ali Syed What you were trying to say?I think you are still a school boy or someone who hates to grow up.Recommend

  • zaigham

    my point was a writer should know his limitations…
    if not other people are forced to let it be known unto him…

    this kiddo or the “pappu bachcha” (zulfiqar mirza would call him that) obviously doesn’t know Iqbal and Habib Jalib at all… he doesnn know even know what to talk about them… he jumps here and there… despise for babur, qasim has sort of become part of our populist vocabulary and these magic words have to dragged in almost every article these days… for his earlier article it was apparent he loves to talk about veenas and meeras… he should better stick to that… or start reading if he wants take up such subjects…Recommend

  • Harsh Srivastava


    Before partition, the subcontinent was ruled by Britishers.. not hindus. And before britishers it was muslim rule in India. Your saying muslims not allowed to drink from same tap.. sounds rather unbelievable.

    It’s true that muslims are under-represented in govt. jobs and educational institutions. There is a reason to it. Most of the wealthy muslims migrated to pakistan and bangaladesh after partition leaving behind only the poorer lot. Secondly, most of the muslims are concentrated in provinces of Uttar Pradesh.. Bihar.. West Bengal and Assam. This region of India.. is the poorest of all the regions. Thirdly, there is a lot( 2-3 million) of illegal migration to India by poor Bangladeshis.

    Nowadays.. there are a lot of sops given to minorities. Loans are given to them at subsidised rate. Some states are offering reservation to muslims to jobs and educational institutions.Recommend

  • http://habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    very true, agreed!Recommend

  • Ron(Indian)

    @Said Chaudhry:
    have you heard of the concept called reservation for minorites and low cast hindus as per indian constitution..?? You guys check India after 10 years you will see massive difference between your country and the progressive India.. I am sorry that you didn’t had democracy in your country for last 63years. 4 times It was hijack by the patriotic army. All your institutions are considerably weak including your economy.. Did u know most of your government actually copied of Indian schemes just the name gandhi is changed to bhutto… “Open your eyes try to think differently ask the question why?? try to find out the answer.” You will see the massive difference. Indians are working hard. are you??
    Proud to be an indian minority. Thanks.Recommend

  • Ashutosh

    @Harsh Srivastava:
    I will further like to compliment what Harsh said.

    After the partition, Pakistan realized that there were not enough literate Pakistanis to form even a skeleton government infra-structure. So, Pakistan had to seek all those educated and semi-educated Muslims in India and requested them to migrate with a promise for good job and opportunities.

    With the development taking central stage in India, the government is now flushed with funds and can now look for development of its social infrastructure and address the anonymity that existed in India.

    @Said Chaudhry:
    You will get the details of the backwardness in the Sachchar Committee report (Google it yourself if interested) and based on that report various steps had been taken by the Indian Government. The fruits too are visible as more and more minorities are getting at various key locations in Government, PSUs, Defense and private establishments in India. The details of schemes and facilities can be seen on the relevant ministry websites too.

    India will shines bright and Indian Minorities will sight brighter !!Recommend

  • http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com Said Chaudhry

    @Ron: Sure, we can all wait another 10 years to see how prosperous the Muslims are in India. And then have ourselves a celebratory reunion. To be honest, I don’t care. Read my response again, it was strictly binding to the subject matter of pre-partition, and to further prove my point I wrote about how things have only become worse for the Muslims in India since partition. Whether the formation of PML was because of Hindu oppression or not. If the Indian Congress Party which was formed in the 1800’s looked after the Muslims with equal efforts as it did for Hindu’s, there wouldn’t have been a need for a separate party, or calls for a separate home land.
    @Harsh: the name’s Chaudhry. If it’s so hard for you to believe what Im saying, please go read some literature by neutral authors about the state of Muslims in India before partition. Actually, not being allowed to drink out of the same tap is well documented in the BBC documentary “The Day India Burned”. Watch for yourself.
    @Ashtoush: I have read the report, it reiterates the same points I already made. Whether or not the recommendations put forth bear fruit will be seen in the future, perhaps the next Sacchar report will give us a good insight. I dont have time to surf individual ministry sites of India. But, what you said makes no sense, “after partition there were not enough literates in Pakistan to form a government infrastructure so they had to call Muslims from India with the promise of better jobs?” Of course they called Muslims from India, that was the whole point of creating Pakistan! Unlike India at the time, Pakistan did not enjoy the richness of industry, functioning government, social and judicial infrastructures. We had to build all these institutions from scratch. Where as India was handed over on a plate by the British with all important institutions already established. I hope your slogan for Indian minorities to shine bright is right, for your sake.


  • http://raheelaijaz.blogspot.com Let us not digress

    @ Said Chaudry
    If you are delving this far down the memory lane, why not a bit further. As far as i’ve read and remember, Aurangzeb’s rule was famous for anti hindu activities. he burned downed hundreds of hindu temples. before akbar, things were worse. the muslims ruled india for like five six hundred years and in that period trashed the hindus to their hearts content. if that doesn’t give the hindus the right to respond, then what does
    im not blaming muslims for all the fiasco, but in retrospect, that generalization makes total sense. i’d like to correct my wrong doings before i go around throwing mud on others.
    true, there are red necks in india too. but are our muslims so different then their hindus? shahbaz bhatti. aasia bibi. the general conduct towards the minorities. how do u justify that.
    my friend, i’m not trying to be the devil’s advocate. im just trying to convince u that muslims are equally guilty of the crimes we accuse the hindus for.
    as far as muslims in india nowadays, at least they have a muslim president who didn’t have to worry about some mullahs running after his neck, as was the case with some early ahmedi pakistani PM in the 1950s.
    i respectfully disagree.Recommend

  • Atif

    move to india, ask shiv sena to give you ashram and clear doubts of pakistanis about love of hindus for youRecommend

  • J

    History has been distorted in our text books, I agree. However, I do not think our education (atleast in private schools) teach children to hate India or Hindus.Recommend

  • Harsh Srivastava

    @Said Chaudhry:

    And why do you blame hindus for state of muslims in pre- partition India? Didn’t muslims ruled India for over 700-800 years? That’s really really strange. Do tell me how muslims, though being ruler class, were below par with hindus?

    Britishers did play pivotal role. Both Jinnah and Britishers found useful ally.in each ohter.Recommend

  • http://billaytoot.wordpress.com Bilal

    Our education system…

    Mein nahein Maantaa mein nahein Janta…:pRecommend

  • Ron(Indian)

    @Said Chaudhry: Listen chaudhry, I am not hindu nor muslim I am an Indian christen. In india minority term is used to all sorts of minorities. Even our prime minister is from minority community.. Chaudhary is one of the old hindu biradari but your 1st name seems to be muslim. So it seems that you are muslim. Regarding Indian muslims they hate pakistani more for bringing bad name to islam so please talk to them if you are a muslim… Read our goverment schemes from official sites.. indian government is working hard for minorities. or rather just wait for 10 years and then compare your country with India.. Proud to be Indian Minority.. thanks.. Recommend

  • Faris

    “We are taught that Iqbal’s poetry was used to instill emotions in the youth of pre-partition India and to awaken its spirit. But it has now been reduced to verses used in songs for children”

    You are ready to mock people for their ignorance about Jalib but at the same time you seem to be oblivious of the fact that Iqbal’s verses are much more than patriotic verses and children’s songs. The depth behind each of his “shair” is immense.

    Just because Laal which is supposedly a cool band has sung Jaalib’s poetry, it’s apparently cooler to know about Jaalib :)

    And thankyou for starting a battle between Indo-Pak once again! Recommend

  • http://Multan ILLIDAN

    To the likes of Saad –

    Please shut up!

    Lets be Realistic –

    India is progressing & we’re not & certainly India is not the reason for our failed progress, if you still think India is behind it, then I applaud the Indian govt. for having done that so easily and I equally boo the Pakistani govt. for being a prey to India tantics!Recommend

  • Aijaz Ahmad Baba

    Love you LALARecommend

  • Fahad Raza

    I thought the heading of your Article was ill matched, and your article was inconsistent. Recommend