Saturday, September 23, 2006


After breakfast I walked up the ridge, a spur of the Hindu Kush, that separated the Rumbur valley from the Chitral valley. It was a stout walk, climbing 1300m in about 8km. The reward was a nice view down onto both the Rumbur & Chitral valleys as well as towards Tirich Mir, at 7700m the highest mountain in the Hindu Kush. I hurried down when a mean looking cloud came over ahead & it started to snow.

On the way up the path I passed a very isolated Kalash village that was only reachable on foot. It consisted of a dozen or so scattered log houses. The village was not connected to either the electricity or telephone networks.

When I arrived back at the guesthouse my traveling companion Nick had arrived. In the valley it was raining which was a great excuse to sit under the covered balcony & chat. Later the guesthouse owner came home from his job as a school teacher at the local school. He was accompanied by a fellow teacher who was a Muslim. He was quite a devout fellow but very open to talk. We had a long conversation about Islam & in particular its rules & laws. His view which I believe is the orthodox one on the flexibility of Islamic law or Sharia came into direct conflict with fundamental principals on which Western law is based, in particular that a punishment for certain crimes is unalterable if it was laid out in the Koran. Examples of this are those for murder & theft, both of whose punishments may have suited a more chaotic & brutal time but are out of place in a modern society. Unless Islamic scholars are able to find some way of re-interpreting this I see this as a source of conflict between secular Western society & even open & liberal religious Muslim society.

Later after dinner we chatted with the owner of the guesthouse who was a bit of a local celebrity. He was the first Kalasha to have graduated from university. After finishing university he'd decided to come back to the valleys & set up a Kalash language primary school with support from the government. Up until then the only option were Muslim ones. Parents feared that their children would be converted to Muslims & thus lose their Kalash identify so kept them out of school. With the opening of the Kalash school parents were convinced to allow their kids to be educated. Since then the system has produced many Kalash graduates, most of whom have returned to the valleys & used their education to the benefit of the Kalash.

I cycled 0 km

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