A blind seven year old boy was sent by his parents to a madresseh so that he could learn to recite the Qu'ran by heart and become a Hafiz-e-Quran: a well-respected scholar whose achievements are reflected upon the family in this life and bestow salvation in the next:
"We kept pushing him to go because we wanted him to become a religious scholar," sobbed his mother Gulzar Bibi, 28. "We thought he was making the stories up like kids usually do to avoid going to school."
We thought he would be the key to our emancipation on the day of the judgment," she added.
The boy was hung upside down from a fan and beaten to death by a sadistical scholar who fled rather than face the punishment for his crime or to save the child's life. Violence and cowardice are universal sins that have proven ubiquitous across all societies. The perpetrator, Qari Ziauddin, would have acted in this manner whether he was a Victorian school-master, a mediaeval vagabond or a hunter-gatherer of the Khoisan.
Yet, the mother's telling statement would have some detract from her grief. Unconditional love is rare and proves too expensive in poorer, more traditional societies where such feelings are an unaffordable luxury. The murdered child was also a path to status and religious salvation for the parents. Is their love, their loss, their grief lessened in comparison with ours due to the role and the hopes that their son embodied?
The status of such children is spread through websites that celebrate their achievements. It is not difficult to discover other blind children, handicapped from birth, who can recite the Qu'ran. Perhaps Moulvi Hafiz Syed Noorul Haq was the role-model for their decision.
There is nothing distinctly Islamic that makes this brutal murder appear more or less likely than any other. Individuals murder, in the name of religion, money, anger or hate. Those who would single out such acts as a speciality of the muslims display their own prejudice.