The Greek Philosopher Socrates said “life unexamined is not worth living “, this was the thesis and synthesis of his famous dialectic method of teaching. He taught his students to search for the truth, but not to accept answers that seemed truthful on the surface. When one reads his Dialogues, one can see the unending trail of questions, one leading right into the other. It was as though he was trying to coax and persuade the individuals engaged in discussion to doubt their premise, every seemingly rational answer led to another question, another inquiry, another quest for the truth. The journey seemed unending and that was the objective of the Socratic Dialogue. Socrates said that objective was not to find an answer but to ask a good question. Which essentially means that search for truth is unending. As an educator, I am a huge fan of Socrates and the Socratic method, the idea of teaching young people to search for the truth and question social and political ideologies, belief systems and norms of society is not only exciting but serves as ladder to higher level critical and cognitive skills creating a society of thinkers instead of followers.
It was followers and not thinkers who fell prey to a demon, a sadistic self-proclaimed holy man in Sargodha, Pakistan. A monster in the guise of a spiritual guide brutally and mercilessly murdered twenty unsuspecting devotees. He drugged several men and women and then he along with others began to brutalize them. His intentions for such a demonic and heinous act are not clear and may never be clarified completely, while several families have suffered the ultimate loss and are traumatized forever, and yet I wonder if anybody would ever question the self-proclaimed spiritual guides that are spread like a disease throughout Pakistan. They claim to offer solutions to all difficulties, success in all spheres of life, they even promise progeny, as if they have magical powers to make the impossible, possible, all under the sacred cover of religion. Countless number of weak minded and vulnerable fall prey to these vultures, losing money, property, self-worth, dignity and ultimately life.
The Indian Sub-Continent has a history and tradition of Sufism and revered saints who preached peace, harmony, and brotherhood among all regardless of religion or caste. Their message often revolved around justice and equity for all. They aspired and inspired to achieve a higher level of consciousness and practiced humility through service, prayer, and meditation. Many of these Sufi Saints are still revered and garner a sizable following worldwide. However; present day self-proclaimed pirs, as they are called are not spiritual guides, they do not preach peace and harmony among all, they do not practice humility, instead make grandiose claims to deliver the impossible and yet they have devotees, who do not, rather dare not question the nonexistent powers of Pir Sahib. The fear and ignorance is a lethal combination, as evident in Sargodha and it will happen again, unless and until people are enlightened, educated, and feel free to question that which is presented as truth.
During the Dark Ages in Europe unscrupulous members of the clergy sold salvation to the illiterate peasantry until the practice was questioned. In the same vein these abusive and horrific individuals must be stopped and the only way to do that is to educate, inform and enlighten the people of not only Pakistan but anyone who can be vulnerable to such things. The Omnipotent, Omniscient and the Omnipresent does not require the services of criminals to answer prayers, otherwise the very idea of a Supreme Being would be contradictory. Faith is never shaken because of a good question, it just seeks a deeper and firmer foundation.