Dr Zafar Iqbal

A letter to Dr Zafar Iqbal: a great mind’s greater dilemma

Last updated on September 8th, 2023 at 04:26 pm

I am more than sorry to take too long to express my solidarity with the conscientious people across the country. In fact, I was looking for a fitting way of doing so and for that matter to begin this letter to you. After all, my way of doing so in an open manner is a very bizarre one. 

After the reprehensible incidence of stabbing you in your own professional campus by an assailant named Faizu, the country is reeling from a shameful, unpredicted and unwarranted scar that has thrown the country into hot water. Social Media, electronic media, print media, the political arena and institutions of education have found a common ground to empathise with you. Many have found various means of standing for you regardless of one’s social, economic and political standing.

The fact that you were attacked by the assailant, obviously with the worst possible fatal intent, on your own beloved campus is beyond understanding that too it happened while you were being guarded by the state-provided security personnel. 

The rationale of being attacked is self-explanatory going by the current state of the country which is not incomprehensible even to the naive. People with libertarian standing and free-thinking have never been left alone by the fundamentalists from time immemorial. 

Rational, logical, enlightened, forward-looking individuals have been subjected to intimidation and treated as parasites of the world. Following the death of Dr Humayun Azad, many such minds fell victim to heinous acts of fanaticism and which happen to the only malice beyond cure. 

Sir, didn’t Francis Bacon rightly say that ‘men are borne ignorant, not stupid but it’s our education that makes us stupid’? If ignorance is an end to ignorance itself, then stupidity is a sustained possession of an idea of something or someone which cannot be warded off with the light of enlightenment. Ignorance is inherent, stupidity is a possession; ignorance is dispensable, stupidity is defensible; ignorance is artless, and stupidity is craftiness. Having said that, an ignorant may find his path to enlightenment while a stupid chooses his path to voluntary ignorance. 

The fist of the stupidly of the sort was Socrates, in 399, at 70 of his age, which is a fact we are all well aware of. He was never able to make the people of Delphi that he was actually not corrupting the youths of Athens. We draw inspiration not from what the people of Athens meted out to him in the name of the trial but from the courage he espoused and the moral standing he demonstrated by being right to what he believed to be abstract.

The utterance of the timeless- ” Now I go to die, you to live. God only knows which is the better journey” – still sounds incomparable mantra to people like you and us. And to the eyes of the god, there was no wiser man in Greek than Socrates. 

Ignorance is bliss in a way that there no space for stupidity in it. Stupidity may be partly a state of ignorance, and ignorant cannot be stupid because it’s voluntary possession of ignorance while ignorance is an involuntary prospect of an inexperienced mind. 

Dear sir, that ‘the truth breeds hatred’ is an age-old maxim, and which has its rightful existence in our parlance today. The truth cannot be told, for it is an insult to stupidity. Additionally, the truth cannot be held either, for it is an approval to the stupidity.

When Aesop was appointed as an ambassador of King Croesus to Crete in order to oversee the fair distribution of subsistence, he was not accepted fairly at all. He was rather beaten up and thrown from the mountain cliffs to rocks to death only to enrage the king.

Aesop’s predilection for collective benevolence was demeaned; thereby the social injustice and deprivation prevailed at the will of the people of Delphi. The truth, the sense of fairness, justice, kindness, collective well-being, social upliftment, human value, equality, altruism, egalitarianism, sympathy, empathy, reverence toward fellow beings, religious tolerance, ideological acceptance all are nothing but eyes sores to the fanatics for the ages. 

Dear sir, we are ashamed of the fact that we are merely being schooled instead of being educated. Do you not think way too many people are being schooled regardless of their ineligibility? It is indeed beyond my comprehension that how and why do you still think, going by the theory of Universal Education, that education is really for all? Wasn’t Aristotle right to say that ‘things that have multiplied acceptance loss their proper value’? 

Education is meant to create enlightened minds, breed just ideas and produced human values. Is the modern education system, which strategists like you suggest, is begetting more stupid? Do you really think being schooled is the only objective to dispel stupidity, and mental darkness from our society, after all? Are you not causing intelligent stupid in an institution like yours? Do you know what our state Intelligence Agency came up with? 

Do they think the Institutions like yours have been infested with fanatic stupid like Faizu? Do you remember the film ‘A Man for All Season’ where the protagonist Sir Thomas More, one of the most famous early Lord Chancellors, explained the so-called reality of modern education saying, ‘education is a delicate commodity by which one can distinguish right from wrong? 

We are ashamed that in a nation like ours where a lifeless statue has its liberty to stand firm but the people who speak the truth, care for justice, stand against social malice, remain intolerant against economic inequalities, voice for the inalienable right to freedom of speech, and think of a productive and uncorrupted young generation have no right to exist in our social scenes. 

We are ashamed that a quarter is, patronised by the state sometimes, in a constant mission to silence the voiced instead of empowering them. Equally ashamed for not being able to accept a dissenting voice; we also shamelessly would like to accede to the fact that our land is not ripe yet to be governed by the democratic polity, rule of law, discerned minds where a bright mind like you would be able to train, teach, and impart knowledge and wisdom to the young minds. We are ashamed to know the fact that our state Intelligent is not intelligent enough to detect another perverted mind’s intelligent craftiness.

I never knew you personally nor am I fit to be one of your disciples (yeas I have said, disciples). I have known you to be a figure of justice and teacher of values, and of morality, and in fact, you came to my knowledge as the only sci-fi writer in Bangladesh mentioned alongside Sir Arthur C. Klerk, in the early 2000s as I start reading and writing. 

I am nothing but an inquisitor of knowledge who is not even remotely fit to be a student of yours but has been regarding you as a figure to be immolated. Unlike many other intellectuals of the land, raising a voice against any social and state patronised expropriations has generated high regard for you.

In fact, yet a great many a number of intellectual properties is being wasted away. Their intellectual existence is next to non-existence. To them, ’seeking is not always to find’; seeking is to condone the falsifications. To them, obstacles are stoppages not a pathway to the way forward. Unlike other intellectuals, you chose not to live in a utopian state where everything appears to be hunky-dory. 

Just so because of your moral and guardianship standing you have been able to replicate millions of Zafar Iqbal across the country. Heart moistens, and eyes float in tears as we witness how so many minds stand for you protesting the incidence of the day. The dawn of new hope blinks on the far horizon to see the holistic voices for the holistic reason. 

Finally, sir, enormous thanks for standing for the voiceless, for the community of the free thinkers while freedom of expression is subjected to the lesser mind’s scrutiny when oligarchy is eroding our social fabrics, where education is nothing but a mere marketable commodity, ethics is counted as the weaker’s last refuge, brawn is valued than brain, ingenuity is undervalued, beauty is subjected to the external property rather than internal intend, love is a by-product of lust, the politics is the helm of rascals and shrewd, right of the rightless is ignored and the law is to protect the lawlessness. 

The seven social sins of Mahatma Gandhi: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, religion without sacrifice and politics without principles- greatly resonate in our societal context today. 

I, on behalf of our collective stupidity, ask for your forgiveness, and please take it as a state of failure to protect you from any harm caused by any evil minds. And there is no greater tiding than that you are going back to your beloved campus, to your beloved students very soon being out of any fatal danger. But how about the scar that is incurred in your heart?

Please keep us inspiring and talking for us, and yet still keep bringing about changes to our beloved nation and in the human faculty of wisdom. “We can be knowledgeable by someone else’s knowledge,’ says Michael de Montaigne, ’but we cannot be wise with someone else’s wisdom”. 

Romzanul Islam
March six, twenty eighteen  

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