Real Life Books
‘It is a grave mistake we have made in oppressing women’
Badshah Abdel Gaffer Khan
From Heathcote Williams’s investigative poem, ‘Badshah Khan: Islamic Peace Warrior’
Ghaffar Khan would say, “If you wish to know
“How civilized a culture is,
“Look at how they treat their women.”
And Ghaffar Khan (who founded a girls’ school In Utmanzai,
A rare thing in the Muslim North)
Berated his fellow Pashtun For their treatment of women.
In a speech at Bhaizai he encouraged women
To step out from behind the veil, to defy purdah
And to leave the Middle Ages behind:
“My sisters, God makes no distinction between men and women.
“You are today oppressed because men
“Have ignored the commands of God and the Prophet.”
“In the Holy Qur’an you have an equal share with men.
“If you study history you will see that there are
“Many scholars and poets among women.
“Today we are the followers of custom
“And we oppress you.
“It is a grave mistake we have made in degrading women…”