I decided to bring to the erudite readers of PD a couple of stories from the pages of history that have a lot in common except for their endings. Neither of my two stories is imaginary. They are accounts of real life events. The names of the characters in both stories are nearly the same. The interval between the two stories is 1000 years.
My First Story
The scene for my first story is the Khorasan province of Iran. The year is 2005. The central characters are two boys – 16-year-old Mahmud Asgari and 18-year-old Ayaaz Mahoni. Both boys were charged with sodomy and homosexual acts - which under Shari’a are punishable by death. Both boys were lashed 228 times and hung by their necks on July 19, 2005 in the Iranian city of Esfahan. This incident caused furor at the international level. Many held the belief that the rape allegations were false and that the Mullahs had carried out this inhumane punishment of the juveniles to instill fear in the hearts of the public. My first story is hardly a story. It is just an account of a real-life incident. It is less a story but more a yardstick by which my second story should be considered.
My Second Story
The place of my second story stays more or less the same – the Khorasan province of Iran. We back up by a thousand years from 2005AD and go back to ca. 1005AD. Let’s change the name of the characters some. Mahmud Asgari becomes Mahmud Gaznavi and Ayaaz Mahoni becomes Malik Ayaz for my second story.
Malik Ayaz was the slave and lover of Mahmud of Gaznavi. Mahmoud and Malik Ayaz were inseparable. In fact, Mahmoud of Ghazni made him the Governor of Lahore – where his grave is today.
As per a popular Islamic folklore, the following events record the deep gay love of Mahmud Ghaznavi and Ayaz.
Mahmud asked Ayaz "Who is the most powerful ruler in the world?"
Ayaz replied "I am the most powerful"
Mahmud said "Please explain what you mean"
Ayaz replied "You, Mahmud, are the most powerful of all kings, But since I rule your heart, I am more powerful still."
As per another incident mentioned in Bustan by great Persian poet Sa’di:
Someone said: "Ayaz, his favorite slave possesses no beauty. It is strange that a nightingale should love a rose that has neither color nor perfume."
Mahmud Ghazni replied: "My love, O sir, is for virtue, not for form or stature".
In another story the king was travelling with some of his men when they came across an overturned chest of pearls. All except Ayaz went after the pearls. When Mahmud asked why Ayaz did not go to collect some pearls for himself, he explained that he wanted nothing. “I walk behind you. I do not occupy myself with riches away from your service.”
A miniature painting from that time showing Mahmud Gaznavi and Ayaz in the act (making love) is available on the internet for the curious reader. It was too graphic and gross to be included with this story.
For the Pashtuns, having a young, attractive boyfriend (called bachcha in Afghan and Pakistani culture) is a symbol of prestige and wealth for affluent middle-aged men. To this day, Pashtun men often keep a young boy in their hujra, the male guest room of the house that the wife rarely enters. Sometimes men swap their ‘bachchas’ with their other close friends. Homosexual sex is commonplace in Pakistan's gender-segregated madrassas, or religious schools as well.
Mahmud Ghaznavi’s raids were limited to the western and central part of India. He massacred the timid Hindus of this region, and to the few he spared, he offered them a choice between conversion and the sword. These people today live in Pakistan and find it hard to come to terms with their ancestral origins. Mahmud of Ghaznavi made a breed of losers who were definitely not Arabs, neither were they Turks like Mahmud himself. The children of these Punjabis and Sindhis who were forced to accept a foreign faith by the threat of Mahmud’s sword even denied the mother they were born to. Now if that isn’t unfortunate, what is?
Mahmud Gaznavi is considered to be a Ghazi (promoter of Islam) and a great Emperor by the same Mullahs who hanged the two teenagers of my first story. Reader is free to draw his own conclusions.