Mullah Omar and the Gift of Laughter

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A little while ago, I learned via the BBC that the Taliban had published a 5,000 word biography of Mullah Omar on one of their websites. The BBC’s accounts made for moderately interesting reading, but what amazed me was the fact that the authors of these features saw fit to emphasise the fact that Mullah Omar possesses a ‘special’ sense of humour.

Does no one do any research of their own these days? I’ve been reading about Mullah Omar (among others) for as long as I’ve been aware of him and it was evident to me a very long time ago that he possessed a highly developed sense of humour, but because this was never officially commented on by an an accredited news outlet, it could not be a ‘fact’, only a privately-held and doubtless eccentric opinion. I was highly amused by what I read and I’ve never forgotten it, but there was no point in airing my views and it would not have been wise to do so, because in these strange times in which we live, it is often bordering on treason to suggest that, regardless of the terrible flaws that many of us possess, we are all nonetheless human beings, regardless of which political party or religion we choose to follow.

I don’t subscribe to Mullah Omar’s world view by any means. As just one example, I think that the Taliban’s destruction in 2001 of the Buddhas of Bamiyan was unforgivable, particularly so since the leaders of every other Muslim nation on Earth begged them not to destroy works that were part of humanity’s common heritage. Nonetheless, I don’t subscribe to the power of nightmares, either, so I’ve never seen Mullah Omar as some remote, forbidding, one-dimensional figure lurking somewhere in the mountains of the East, but as it’s easy for otherwise sane and rational people to genuinely hate mainstream political figures in Britain, because the internet and the media guide them to do so, then I suppose it’s inevitable that someone like Mullah Omar should be perceived as one of Nostradamus’s AntiChrists, devoid of all humanity, possessing nothing but a form, a name and a malevolent intent.

Century 2, Quatrain 62
Mabus will soon die, then will come,
A horrible undoing of people and animals,
At once one will see vengeance,
One hundred powers, thirst, famine, when the comet will pass.

Century 8, Quatrain 77
The antichrist very soon annihilates the three,
twenty-seven years his war will last.
The unbelievers are dead, captive, exiled;
with blood, human bodies, water and red hail covering the earth.

The visions of mediaeval apocalyptic poets aside, I wish to return to and conclude with Mullah Omar’s sense of humour. The supposed insurmountable contradiction between humour and religion is something I wrote about briefly in February in a post entitled The Name of the Rose, but it’s something I’m tempted to write about at much greater length. Humour and laughter aren’t necessarily indistinguishable from each other, but the distinction is a fine one and I’d regard a sense of humour as one of the greatest blessings that humankind has been provided with. I don’t suppose I need to elaborate on this, other than to say that when we have cause to smile, it makes us feel good, something we all need as much as we need food, water and the air we breathe.

Prime Minster Cameron has a sense of humour. So does President Obama, and President Bush before him. President Putin has a sense of humour, as does Chancellor Merkel, President Mugabe and many other world figures, including Mullah Omar. I even remember learning last year, when Robin Williams died, that numerous ISIS fighters were sending tweets to say how sorry they were that he’d gone. It is one other thing that, as human beings, we all have in common, so it’s just a crying bloody shame that these figures can’t put aside their differences and their ‘Game of Thrones’ and give the rest of us something to smile about.

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