The true meaning of Ghairat


Irshad Ahmed Arif’s piece in Daily Jang of Monday titled Toollu expressed rather eloquently the righteousness of Ghairat Brigade, and it took me back to my childhood days.

A gentleman on our street was a famous alcoholic. For some time he was able to hide this problem. He had a decent house, a respectable salary, a nice car etc at one point in life, but just as with any other addiction, his life started spiraling downwards. He would miss deadlines for things, arrive late for work hung over and always be short of money. But the man would never face the fact that his drinking habit was causing his problems. Rather it would always be someone else’s fault, or somebody conspiring against him. It wasn’t long before he lost his job. Not long after, he had to sell his big car and ultimately his house. That guy kept on blaming his downfall on one thing or another but his ego wouldn’t let him admit that his own alcoholism was the root cause of these tragedies in his life.

My father on the other hand, is a very hard working man who was living on the same street with this family at the time. Since our house was not on the main electricity transformer for that particular street, we had more electric outages compared to everyone else. I remember complaining to him how inconvenient that was and at times caused hindrance in performing homework or other daily activities typical to that of a teenager. It was embarrassing. Some of the other fathers had rigged cables into the main transformer to overcome the problem, and I begged my father to do the same. My father sat me down and said, “My son, I know you are frustrated and inconvenienced by this. It will not always be this way Inshallah. But there is no honour in cheating. We should acknowledge our shortcomings and face the challenges, not try to always find the easy way out of things”. That sentence stuck with me ever since.

To me it seems like Mr. Arif is trying to find the easy way out here by implying that what he stands for is extremely honorable and dignified and those who disagree with him do not care about honour and dignity. A major portion of his article is dedicated to showing disdain towards the west and it would also seem that he is a little confused on what Ghairat actually is. Ghairat is a word of Pushto origins and it means the integrity of an individual. It is not just sticking to your principles but acknowledging the reality as well.

Mr. Arifs latest piece talks more about how the “Ghairat” attitude is absolutely justified rather than explaining the issues related to the current political scenario (why we need aid or what other possible solutions to the national issues might be) and he fails to mention the repercussions that might follow if we stuck to his convictions out of a sense of stubborn pride.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe pride honor and dignity are extremely important but let us not confuse Ghairat with the difference between right and wrong. Ghairat should never become a cover up of ones shortcomings or wrongdoings. An example would be that I do something illegal like park my car in a no-parking zone. A cop comes and gives me a ticket and asks me to move my car. I say no, as my “Ghairat” does not permit me to because admitting to it would mean I’m cowing down which belittles me and how can a petty police constable belittle me?

Same is what is happening between the Ghairat Brigade and the west. An American politician or general says that some elements are supporting militants and this should stop. Ghairate Brigade’s reaction is to pretend that it is an insult to suggest that there are elements supporting the militants or making excuses and pretending that militants are only attacking because of Americans in Afghanistan. Or they will even say that there are not militants and that suicide bombings are ‘false flag’ attacks by CIA.

Till date, we have seen so much fabrication in the name of religion and culture that we have ended up looking too emotional and sentimental as if we cannot handle issues with reason. It’s a shame because today’s ghairatmand doesn’t feel the need to improve our education because westerners have a hold on subjects like Sciences and English. He is keen however on having a translator translate all these books and accruing all the advantages from these “Gora” subjects. These “ghairatmands” follow none of the virtues ordained by Islam (patience, peace, love) and are keen to point out conspirators, traitors and “agents”.

Where is the Ghairat in keeping an underpaid servant who can barely feed his family or shooing away the little kid selling flowers or newspapers at the traffic signal? It is this egotistical self-loving attitude that we need to say goodbye to. We need to focus on education and modern skills and try to find honor dignity and respect by constructive means.

The true Pakistaniat is shown not by individuals complaining and whining but by the ones silently toiling away in the forms of engineers, government salaried doctors, community members and social workers etc to strengthen the infrastructure of our country. Maybe they can tell us the true meaning of Ghairat.


Author: Mukhtar Ahmed


  1. Adeel Sahib, In our language when we are told lag zan ke ghairat paiyda ka; It means have some shame to accept your
    fault.Understand the difference between your false pride and being humble. I do not know how the the word Ghariat
    is interpreted in Baluchi,Punjabi and Sindhi.

  2. Mr. Mukhtar!
    Ghairat is a word of Arabic Origin not the Pashto Origin… Get your mind right…!
    And don’t make such stupidities again of saying something about which you have no knowledge of!

Comments are closed.