Nonviolent Soldier of Islam

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Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan, a man to match his mountains
Ghaffar Khan with Mahatma Gandhi (cover of 1999 edition)
AuthorEknath Easwaran
LanguageEnglish; later translated into Arabic,[1] Indonesian,[2] Italian,[3][4] Korean,[5] and Turkish[6]
GenrePushtuns - biography; Politicians - Pakistan - Biography
PublisherNilgiri Press; others
Publication date
1984; 1999; others
Pages274 (1999); 240 (1984)

Nonviolent Soldier of Islam is a biography of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890-1988), an ally of Gandhi's in the Indian independence movement. Originally written by Eknath Easwaran in English, foreign editions have also been published in Arabic[1] and several other languages.[2][3][4][5][6] The book was originally published in the United States in 1984 as A Man to Match His Mountains: Badshah Khan, nonviolent soldier of Islam. A second edition was published in 1999 with the title Nonviolent soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan, a man to match his mountains. Both editions include an afterword by Timothy Flinders. The 1999 US edition contains a new foreword by Easwaran, and an enlarged section of photographs of Khan. The book has been reviewed in magazines,[7][8] newspapers,[9][10][11][12] and professional journals.[13] The book inspired the making of the 2008 film The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, a Torch for Peace.[14]

Topics covered[edit]

Arabic edition (1987), published by the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence.[1]

Both US editions of Nonviolent Soldier are divided into four major parts. Parts one through three tell the story of Khan's life up to Indian independence in 1947. Part four, by Flinders, contains an afterword that describes Khan's life after 1947, and also contains a chronology, as well as a glossary, bibliography, index, maps, and extensive notes on sources.

Reviews and influence[edit]

Reviews have appeared in the New York Post,[12] the Washington Post,[9] the Christian Science Monitor,[10] the Los Angeles Times,[11] The New Yorker,[7] Frontline (India),[8] and Kashmir Images.[15]

In 1985, the Washington Post stated that "Eknath Easwaran's great achievement is telling an American audience about an Islamic practitioner of pacifism at a moment when few in the West understand its effectiveness and fewer still associate it with anything Islamic."[9] A year later, after Badshah Khan had won the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor, the same paper again quoted from the book:

"Easwaran writes of the myth that the British were civilized oppressors. In the 1930s and '40s under British tyranny, the 'Pathans had to endure mass shootings, torture, the destruction of their fields and homes, jail, flogging and humiliations. Khan himself spent 15 years in British prisons. But the Pathans remained nonviolent and stood unmoved -- suffering and dying in large numbers to win their freedom.'... Easwaran believes that 'were Khan's example better known, the Western world, as well as Muslims caught in the web of violence all over the Middle East, might come to recognize that the highest religious values of Islam are deeply compatible with a nonviolence that has the power to resolve great conflicts.'"[16]

In the journal History Compass, a review of resources for teaching about Afghanistan and Pushtu populations, stated that Nonviolent Soldier of Islam was a "highly readable book for the popular market [that] incorporates some of the clearest discussions of an Islamic version of something akin to liberation theology.... its explicitly Gandhian perspective might serve as a useful counterpoint to colonial perspectives" (pp. 548–549).[13]

In late 2001, the book was discussed in Whole Earth magazine, which stated that "Perhaps no time is more apt than now to study the life of Abdul Ghaffar Khan."[17] The book was also reviewed in Yes! Magazine,[18] and elsewhere.[19][20][21]

Ghaffar Khan with Mahatma Gandhi.

The publisher quoted Mubarak Awad, director of the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, as stating that "This book is a must for every Muslim. The life of Khan can change and will challenge many readers in the Middle East."[22]

In late 2001, the book was reviewed in Frontline (India), and described as "crisply written, expertly organised and gripping.... [Easwaran's] subtle grasp of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan's non-violent vision of humanity makes this a very exceptional and special book."[8] The reviewer, who stated that "between 1969 and 1988 I was in his [Khan's] presence many times," noted that

Easwaran calls the 6'6" tall Khan, "a Muslim St. Francis". It is so apt.... The Pathan had a most moving and magnanimous understanding of his great religion. He saw no conflict in his triple identities - his Pathaniat, Hindustaniat and Insaniat (humanity) was an organic whole....[8]

In the National Catholic Reporter, John Dear described Nonviolent Soldier as "the best introduction to Khan."[23] Dear wrote that "over the past few months, as I have struggled to pray for and think about the suffering people of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, I have carried around a favorite book, Nonviolent Soldier of Islam."[23]

The book inspired the making of the 2008 film The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, a Torch for Peace, which won the top award for documentary films[24] at the 3rd Middle East International Film Festival at Abu Dhabi in 2009. The film's director, T. C. McLuhan, stated that, upon receiving the book's first edition in 1987 from an acquaintance, "I looked at it and thought, 'I don't know anything about this part of the world,' and three weeks later, at about 3 in the morning, I picked it up and felt all the electrons around me shift."[14]


The original edition was published in English in 1984 by Nilgiri Press, and a year later by Random House. Foreign (non-English) editions have been published in Arabic,[1] Indonesian,[2] Italian,[3][4] Korean,[5] and Turkish.[6]

A second edition was published 1999 in the US by Nilgiri Press, and English-language editions have been published in India. The US editions are:

Indian editions:

See also[edit]

  • Gandhi the Man (by same author, a biography of Gandhi)
  • Bapu (contains record of a visit with Khan and a Khudai Kitmatgir camp)


  1. ^ a b c d Eknath Easwaran (1987). A Man to Match His Mountains (1st ed.), translated into Arabic by Wadih Ibrahim Atta. Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence. (link to Google-translated Arabic page, accessed 3 April 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Eknath Easwaran (2008). Badshas Khan(Leo S. Perwira, trans.). Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Penerbit Bentang. ISBN 979-1227-46-2
  3. ^ a b c Eknath Easwaran (1990). Badshah Khan. Il Gandhi musulmano (L. Armando, trans.). Italy: Sonda. ISBN 978-88-7106-024-8 (252 pages).
  4. ^ a b c Eknath Easwaran (2008). Il Gandhi musulmano. Un'alternativa per Bin Laden. Italy: Sonda. ISBN 978-88-7106-514-4 (256 pages).
  5. ^ a b c Eknath Easwaran (2003). 바드샤 칸(역사인물찾기 14) (Nonviolent Soldier of Islam) (김문호 [gimmunho], trans.). Seoul, South Korea: Silcheon Munhak (via BookCosmos). ISBN 89-392-0453-0, ISBN 978-89-392-0453-9, (452 pages)
  6. ^ a b c Eknath Easwaran (2002). Badşah han: islam'ın silahsız askeri (Badshah Khan: Nonviolent Soldier of Islam) (İhsan Özdemir, trans.). Istanbul, Turkey: Timaş yayınları. ISBN 978-975-362-671-2, OCLC 62399751 (278 pages)
  7. ^ a b Bill McKibben (1984, Sep. 24). "Notes and Comment" (in "The Talk of the Town"; discusses Easwaran's A Man to Match His Mounts, a biography of Abdul Ghaffar Khan). The New Yorker, pp. 39-40. "A straightforward yet devoted biography.... By his example, [Khan] asks what we ourselves, as individuals made from the same stuff as he, are doing to shape history" (pp. 39-40).
  8. ^ a b c d K. Natwar Singh (October 13–26, 2001). "A non-violent giant [review of A man to match his mountains: Badshah Khan, nonviolent soldier of Islam, by Eknath Easwaran]". Frontline. 18 (21). ISSN 0970-1710. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2010.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. ^ a b c Colman McCarthy (February 5, 1985). "On the peace path of Islam [review of a man to match his mountains: Badshah Khan, nonviolent soldier of Islam, by Eknath Easwaran]". Washington Post. pp. E4.
  10. ^ a b Brad Knickerbocker (February 20, 1985). "Ghaffar Khan: Leader of the world's first nonviolent army [review of a man to match his mountains: Badshah Khan, nonviolent soldier of Islam, by Eknath Easwaran]". Christian Science Monitor. p. 21.
  11. ^ a b Donald Shojai (February 10, 1985). "A Man to Match His Mountains (review of book by Eknath Easwaran)". Los Angeles Times. pp. Q2. ProQuest 154099927.
  12. ^ a b Bill McKibben (1989, May 21). "A guru who offers no guarantees: Easwaran teaches a practical method of self-mastery." New York Post, pp. 4-5. Review of Gandhi the Man, A Man to Match His Mountains, Meditation, The Mantram Handbook, and Conquest of Mind.
  13. ^ a b James Caron (2009). "Teaching & learning guide for: Afghanistan historiography and pashtun Islam: Modernization theory's afterimage". History Compass. 7 (2): 548–553. CiteSeerX doi:10.1111/j.1478-0542.2007.00402.x.
  14. ^ a b Allan M. Jalon (2008, Oct. 19). "A Gandhi-like force for peace." Los Angeles Times (retrieved 3 April 2010)
  15. ^ Shah, Roshan (25 September 2016). "Book Review: Tale of two Gandhis". Kashmir Images. OCLC 867751840. Retrieved 9 October 2016.; Worldcat states the journal "Provides local and regional news coverage for Srinagar, India"
  16. ^ Colman McCarthy (February 9, 1986). "Struggling a century for freedom". Washington Post. pp. H2.
  17. ^ Michael K. Stone & Vijaya Nagarajan (2001). "Nonviolent soldier of Islam (book) [review]". Whole Earth. 106: 83. (NB: Whole Earth magazine, ISSN 0749-5056, was preceded by Whole Earth Review and later Whole Earth Magazine; in 2003 it was superseded by the Whole Earth website)
  18. ^ Carolyn McConnell (2006), "Book Review: Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan by Eknath Easwaran", Yes! Magazine, Issue 37 (Spring 2006) (ISSN 1089-6651), accessed 3 April 2010.
  19. ^ Frederic Brussat and Mary Ann Brussat (n.d.),Book Review: Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan by Eknath Easwaran, at Spirituality and Practice.
  20. ^ Aisha Muhammed (2002). Islam and Nonviolence, review at Pace e Bene (NB: website states also published in The Wolf, Winter 2002, and also anthologized in a 2009 book)
  21. ^ Nick Megoran (2002, May 11), posted at
  22. ^ Quoted from 1984 edition, inside front cover (paperback) or front flap (hardcover).
  23. ^ a b John Dear (2010). "Pakistan's Gandhi [discussion of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, drawing largely from Nonviolent Soldier of Islam, by Eknath Easwaran]". National Catholic Reporter. (accessed 26 November 2010)
  24. ^ "MEIFF Announces Winners of 2009 Black Pearl Awards" [1][permanent dead link], retrieved 3 Apr 2010.