Bari Jahani and a Step Towards Self-criticism

Selfcriticism is not a part of our culture, and therefore we do not have an appropriate and precise term for it in our language and literature. In some cultures, this concept is respected and the termselfcriticism is considered to be one of the most noble and esteemed terms in any language. We do not have an equivalent for it in Persian. Some Muslim scholars believe that the Quranic interpretation ofnafsluwamah refers to the same concept, but this concept is only found in religious texts and has not been integrated into our culture to create a cultural phenomenon under this title. On the contrary, selfpraise and the refusal to accept any criticism is a widespread phenomenon among us, which has caused our downfall and humiliation. When it comes to selfcriticism, we are left speechless. Of course, there are some exceptions, but it is commonly accepted that exceptions do not make the rule.

Abdul Bari Jahani‘s recent writing, which addressed the Taliban and pointed out their gross errors, was a step towards selfcriticism and thus received relatively wide attention. However, it was met with criticism from a number of experts. One criticism was that its tone indicated a dialogue with a legitimate government, rather than an armed group that had seized control of a country by force. Another was that the most expensive part of his criticism was the concern about the consequences of this process for a part of a nation, which evoked the mentality that the author‘s pain was not the pain of the citizens of the society, but the pain of a specific region that would face enmities after the collapse of the Taliban. Many argued that if someone is writing in the position of an intellectual and social reformer, their pain should be the pain of each and every citizen of that land, without any distinction or difference.

Despite the valid criticisms of the writing, this step is commendable; instead of needlessly defending the work of some of the author‘s compatriots and colinguists, he has opened the door to open criticism of them and has signaled the start of the process of selfcriticism, which, if adopted by the intellectual and cultural circles of this country, regardless of nation or language group, will be a significant step towards mending fractures, bridging gaps and overcoming disturbances.

Although the Taliban‘s rule has had devastating consequences for the people and the country, selfcriticism should be broadened so that all nations and political groups can question their politicians and demand answers. They should be asked what they have done to benefit the people, and what they have done to promote their culture, knowledge, language, literature, and history. They should be asked honestly and openly whether their record is a source of pride and honor for their people or a source of humiliation and historical shame. Until we learn to criticize ourselves as well as others, our days and times will not improve.