Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s Philosophy of Non-Violence and Pluralism

” “The Frontier Gandhi,” they called him. He was a towering man, a Muslim, and his heart was dedicated to non-violence. Abdul Ghaffar Khan was the Pashtun who tried to help give Islam a good name by living up to the best of its tenets. He was from the frontier region that is now called Pakistan, and an ally of Mohandas K. Gandhi in the struggle for freedom from Great Britain. After independence, however, India and Pakistan split, and Abdul Ghaffar Khan did not find the new Pakistani government to be much better than the old British one. A champion of peace, good-will, and a believer that all of God’s children were to be cherished and served, Abdul Ghaffar Khan was not martyred like Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He lived a long life from 1890 to 1988. Yet he spent more time in prison for his non-violent protests than Dr. King and Gandhi combined! It is indeed a shame that this great man is not as well-remembered by the world today as he should be. If ever there was a man who understood the heart of religion, interpreting and practiced it well, it was Abdul Ghaffar Khan.”
– Dr. James Rowell

James L. Rowell is associate professor of religion at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. He holds a PhD in religious studies from the University of Pittsburgh. He has authored articles in Theology Today, Journal of Political Theology, and Journal of Conflict Studies. His first book, Gandhi and Bin Laden: Religion at the Extremes, was published by University Press of America in 2009. He is also the author of Making Sense of the Sacred: The Meaning of World Religions published in 2021.

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