Shakespearean Tragedy Plays Out in Afghanistan

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Well!

Insanity is occurring at this moment.

An Afghan acquaintance has “kidnapped” a young women and run off with her. I don’t think she was kidnapped so much as they have simply decided that they can’t live without each other and absconded away with one another…for the sake of their youthful, idealized, idyllic love.

Much to the consternation of his family and friends. He has also caused some turmoil for some folks who have helped him out along the way here in the Stan. His father may have faked a heart attack to escape the scene that now evolves and has situated himself in a hotel in Kabul. That may be the “Ariana Hotel.” His father may have had an actual heart attack or episode from the stress of tonight’s events. I’m not sure.

I called one of my acquaintances cell numbers only to reach his family. Specifically his father…who did not sound healthy at all. The father gave his phone to his young son who spoke English quite well. I asked after my young friend. Little Brother excitedly replied; “Wahid not come home after work. We looking for Wahid. If Wahid call you…you tell us.”

Little Brother is who informed me of their location – the Ariana Hotel.

As of this moment, this young man and his lady friend are on the run. Being that this is Afghanistan and his family SEEMS to have connections, I fear more for the safety and welfare of this young woman.

In Kabul and Herat, there are Women’s Prisons which hold many young Afghan ladies who were guilty of nothing more than being in love and running off with a young fellow. These women are usually found guilty of the idiotic “Crimes Against Chastity” and/or “bewitching young men and forcing immorality upon them.”

I’m sure the young man will get his hand slapped and little else. I fear that, if they are found or return of their own volition, the young girl is going to wind up in Kabul Women’s Prison.

There is another unfortunate twist to this.

The young lady in question is supposedly pregnant. The Father allegedly being my young acquaintance. Supposedly, they’ve “run off to Qandahar.” I’ve tried to contact him to talk some sense into him. Alas, my efforts bear no fruit.

Sounds like something out of a crime novel, does it not.

I hope everything works out. I fear it will not.

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The other twist to this is Sharia law combined with Afghan customs. The oft discussed Pashtunwali has another side to it’s code of hospitality. It is a code of revenge. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Blood for blood.

If Wahid has either kidnapped this young lady. He will owe a blood debt for he has dishonored the family of the young lady. Wahid’s actions have humiliated this young woman’s family. That stain upon their family honor will exist until they have extracted a measure of satisfaction. This can be paid in blood or gold. The family might even demand female siblings of Wahid’s family as a means of settling this dispute. If the debt is not paid in gold or women, blood will be demanded. They will hunt Wahid. They may even avenge their “honor” by murdering or kidnapping members of his family.

Badal –may be understood as vengeance, revenge or justice.  It requires violent reaction to a death, injury or insult.  Advances on one’s zan, [ZAHN] zar [ZAHR] or zamin [ZAH-meen] (“women,” “wealth,” or “land”) are the most common offenses requiring revenge.  The only acceptable defense of honor is revenge, equal to but not exceeding the original insult.  Avenging an insult to a woman’s sexual purity is particularly important.

It is a strange and violent culture that must be navigated with care.
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Reason and Passion

And the priestess spoke again and said: “Speak to us of Reason and Passion.”

And he answered saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against passion and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or our rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion; that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows – then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”

And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky, – then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”

And since you are a breath In God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

Khalil Gibran

The Prophet is a book of 26 poetic essays written in English in 1923 by the LebaneseAmerican artist, philosopher and writer Khalil Gibran. In the book, the prophet Almustafa who has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for 12 years is about to board a ship which will carry him home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses many issues of life and the human condition. The book is divided into chapters dealing with love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.

Khalil Gibran was an extraordinary writer whose words have inspired me to live and love and continue down my path for the whole of my adult life. I’ve actually forwarded this book as a gift to several people in the hopes that they will find the same inspiration in it for their lives and loves.