This little write up celebrates the life and personality of late Haji Sarwar whom you would get to know if you would choose to read till the end.
Long before the local “development crowd” started propagating the western ideas of social conflict resolution and peace building, Haji was doing it already. He was doing it in a way that ensured justice for the aggrieved, lesson for the aggressor and example for the others to follow. And none objected to his decisions. Haji Sarwar, a renowned “professional of his trade” in the little place where I was born, Malakwal, now district Mandi Bahauddin, was an institution in his own right and lived a worthy life.
He was all: sociable, polite, ever-smiling, empathetic, warm, sincere, kind, neutral, compassionate and most importantly honest. With these traits, there were very few who would not like and listen to him. All his life he lived in Malakwal but no one knows where he had come from. He was custodian of a mosque that he and his “colleagues” had built for the local community but after building it he voluntarily withdrew from leading the Masjid Committee. Readers must remember that the Chairman of a Masjid Committee in a small community wields social power and influence. But then this was Haji Sarwar!
I grew up seeing him in my hometown and when I left it in 1993, he was alive but was not keeping in great health. Haji Sarwar wore many caps: he and his colleagues fed the hungry, treated the sick, mediated the bloody feuds, reconciled the religious differences, prevented conflicts and always ensured that social peace prevailed in the end. He never went to school, forget about five-star training courses in Ivy League universities that our “development crowd” loves to go to, and could only study Quran without understanding it. He was not a scholar but had a great scholarly imprint on his personality. He knew a lot but kept mostly quiet. He was teased and poked by the strangers but he would only smile back and pray.
Among many of his achievements, two are unforgettable. He once prevented an otherwise potentially bloody feud when his intervention was requested by a local church committee on the issue of which of the Catholics and Protestants would get
to pray on Sundays. Fist fights had already taken place and there were a few police cases also. The environment was emotionally charged but Haji Sarwar’s magic prevailed. He first held separate meetings with leaders of both groups and obtained their assurance that their communities would follow them. After communities assured their compliance, Haji Sarwar then held a joint consultation of the leaders of both Catholics and Protestants in Malakwal and floated a formula that was accepted after some deliberation. Under the formula, both the communities got the right to worship in the same church alternately in the mornings and evenings on all the Sundays. Haji, at the occasion, refused to sign the agreement as “this would be signed in the presence of both the communities and just not the leaders,” he said. It happened and never again there was a single confrontation between both the communities.
In another incident, he supported the local janitors against the powerful Chairman of the Town Committee and won favors for them that the Chairman had earlier denied – publicly.
He demonstrated that resolving conflict is pretty basic commonsense. It starts from ensuring your neutrality and then builds up listening to all parties of the conflict. Then position the problem neutrally, exhibit an honest commitment and understanding, involve the communities and create a win-win situation based on the political principle of give-n-take. And in the end, ink a solution that does not make anyone a total loser but makes everybody a virtual winner. He did better than many qualified could ever imagine of.
And oh. I forgot to tell you that he was an eunuch, rather their Guru in Pakistan. An eunuch he certainly was but he led men and women by example and proved better than them in many testing situations. May Allah further bless his blessed soul.
By Mubashir Akram Butt