Reform the mindset, not individuals

Recently I went through an article observing the militant behavior of the tribe dwellers of Pakistan. I appreciate the good intention of the author, but her insight on this menace of ‘Islamic militancy’ is incomplete or limited.  It isn’t just Pakistan, majority Muslim on earth are brought up with the same interpretation of Qura’an. Muslims may or may not agree, but the whole theory of the ‘glorified Jihad’ (the armed one) is fed since they are very young.

This early radicalization of one’s belief is the root cause of these people being exploited by the extremists. I was reading the interview of one of these failed bombers in a Urdu newspaper and I was shocked and disgusted what they did with this innocent minds, turning them into killing machines. Please be cautioned that it might be explicit to certain readers, here is the abstract of that report.

The young boy claimed he was shown videos of Palestine, Kashmir and Afghanistan and told that he must wage Jihad against these people who are fighting with Muslims. In return, he will be married to 72 virgins in heaven. Then he was taken into a completely dark room, where he was asked to touch a girl/woman for a brief moment who was brought so closely he could feel her breath. He was told that he would get not one not two but seventy-two virgins like this up there.
……………
While they were driving him to the site, his eyes were covered, the driver started to drive wayward claiming that the 72 virgins are here to claim him that is why he is avoiding them to get hit.

Quite the craftsmen I must say, they exploit every inch of deprivation of these young men. Not only do they tell them of the fruits of heaven, they actually make them feel closer to it. And to imagine the Taliban want ‘Shariah‘, just thinking about this makes me sick. In the light of the report I quoted above, I must say that Talibans aren’t the culprit, the real con are religious clerics and the beliefs they put in the heads of young children. It is an open fact that what you put in a child’s mind grows firm as they age. The concept of Jihad and heaven is built within a young ones since they learn to talk. Apparently what the Taliban / Al-Qaeda is doing, is using this ‘Muslim belief’ and turning it against them.

I agree that reforms are required, but not just in the militants, in every Muslim, every individual. The solution is that we (the Muslims) need to take up religious beliefs and try to rationalize them. Take interest in it as we take interest in other subjects like arts or science. Once we are free from the ‘helping hand’ of these clerics, difference will be eminent. Those who are hell-bent on feeding their clerics, claim that not everyone is the same, it might be true, but they are teaching from the same books. There might be nothing wrong with these clerics but, I for once never met a cleric who knew what Andromeda is, or what was Einstein’s theory of relativity.

The holy scriptures are filled with scientific knowledge if read with a clear mind and pondered upon. But these (self-proclaimed) clerics fail to understand that, and in turn preach the same to the young ones. Religion is something which is personal to every individual, it has been stolen from the Muslims and controlled by these clerics. History has taught us that religion has been the basic attribute of all civilizations. When religion is no longer in ones discipline, then there is no stopping to its use against them.

Victims of negligence [Associate Engineer selling Pakoras]

Earlier this week, a friend of mine shared the following video with me, after watching it, I had mixed emotions. I felt very happy yet extremely grieved, here is that video

I was sad that yet another talent is going to waste on the streets of my beloved country, I was angry at Sheikh Rasheed, who rather than do effort to get the guy a decent job, sit there claiming there are a lot of people like him in Pakistan. Is this why the youth gets education for? Other countries do not let go of their skilled labor easily, then there is Pakistan, where all those years of study and effort, a guy like him have to resort to do ‘something’ to make ends meet. The dreams of his mother can be seen washed away by her tears.

It is a sad situation but, there was a very powerful and strong message in this clip, the fact that though this guy was down and nearly out, he didn’t opt for the criminal path, rather than the honest way of living. People like these easily fall victim to the ‘jihadists’ and ‘terrorist’ networks, where they are used for all sorts of gruesome activities.

It is people like these, despite of being deprived of their rights, they strive to make this world a better place.

Jihad: The misconception

IN modern times, Muslims have been at the center of criticism due to their ‘violent’ concept of Jihad. In the following post I will try to explain (both to the Muslims and the non-Muslims) that Jihad is not the name of violence rather it has a much wider meaning.

Today, Jihad is understood as a ‘holy war’ waged by Muslims to conquer land and implement Shariah, which a ridiculous and stupid concept because Islam doesn’t promote violence at all, it is a religion of peace. The word ‘Jihad‘ literally means ‘exerting one’s utmost power contending with an object of disapprobation which can be a visible enemy or can be one’s self’.

While Islam was still young, it was threatened by the powerful forces of the Arab tribes who were known for their fierceness in battles. They persecuted the Muslims mercilessly in the streets of Mecca, until it was unbearable. The Prophet (peace be upon him) with his followers migrated from there, he didn’t raise his sword or even his hand on anyone. But the Arabs weren’t content with this, they wanted blood, so they came to Medina with an intention of eradicating this new-born religion from the face of the earth.

It was only then Qura’an called upon Muslims to defend themselves, it taught that when war breaks out, it should be waged in such a way as to cause the least possible amount of damage to life and property; and that hostilities should be brought to a close as quickly as possible.

2:191 And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves NOT the transgressors.

2:192 And kill them wherever you meet them and drive them out from where they have driven you out; for persecution is worse than killing. And fight them not in, and near, the Sacred Mosque until they fight you therein. But if they fight you, then fight them: such is the requital for the disbelievers.

2:193 But if they desist, then surely Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful. (hence show mercy to them)

2:194 And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is freely professed for Allah. But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors.

One can clearly see from these verses that God is asking Muslims only to defend themselves. The Qura’an in no way permits violence rather it asks the followers (Muslims) to respect other religions.

60:9 Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable.

The most important thing about fighting in Islam that people often neglect is that it is ONLY allowed if certain conditions are met.

22:40 Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged — and Allah indeed has power to help them.

22: 41 Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ — And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated.

Islam forbids violence, but if it is brought upon by others, only then Muslims are allowed to fight i.e. only in their defense. It is not Jihad if it is the Muslims who become violent. It will clearly be in defiance of the Qura’an.

A metaphor for secularism

(originally published in Dawn News)

‘SECULARISM’ may be a bad word in the dictionary of our ideologues, but it unites Pakistanis like nothing else. Take cricket as a binding force, for instance.

There’s nothing Islamic or un-Islamic about the sport, and in that it defines what the much-mistaken term ‘secularism’ means: neither religious nor explicitly irreligious, and certainly not anti-religion; secularism is religion-neutral; it can hold all religions in its fold, like in India and Bangladesh.

Of course, there are a handful of those on the fringes of society who oppose even cricket because it is too ‘secular’ for their liking. It is not about going up in the rugged mountains and training to kill in the name of God, but a sport that is enjoyed and played most passionately right down to the grass-roots level — from the dusty streets of Gwadar to the valleys of Hunza. It is everything, including popular, that the Taliban are not.

That is perhaps why they attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009, putting an end to Pakistan as an international cricket host; they even called football ‘a waste of time’ when football fever was high during last year’s World Cup, ostensibly because it distracts the youth from their mission which is to kill and maim to enforce their version of Islam.

It can be argued that historically populism in Pakistan is tied to secular causes, the kind of populism that sweeps across the land and brings people together. Basant did that for years in Punjab before the killer twine killed it under orders from the highest court.

In the 2008 election, none of the political parties that got the popular vote harped on religious idiom because they knew that since the imposition of the Islamisation process by Gen Zia’s martial law regime, religion had become more of a dividing rather than a uniting force. Among the top victims of that controversial process have been women and the minorities; sectarianism amongst Muslims also sprung up as its ungodly offspring.

That is why Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s JUI-F, a religious party, now practises public issue-based politics, believing in the electoral process even if their goal is to enforce Sharia — a demand that should be more popular than, say, cricket, as the proponents of Islamic ideology would insist, but what to do when it is not? That’s why the Taliban have come to hate him too.

Then, take the 2007-2009 lawyers’ movement for the restoration of the judges sent packing by Gen Musharraf. It united the legal community from across the board, as indeed did the election last year of Asma Jahangir to the post of the president of the Supreme Court Bar. The only ideology embraced by the legal fraternity and which won the day was pushing for ‘rule of law’. And this too leads us to a very interesting point in the sphere of law itself. Consider the Raymond Davis case.

When pressure did not work, the US was forced to fight out his case under Pakistan’s existing, controversial Qisas and Diyat law, which favours the rich — no conditions of faith or nationality or the nature of the crime committed attached — as opposed to serving the cause of justice. The outrage over Davis’s acquittal was shared equally by Pakistanis across the land.

Paradoxically, the religious right which wants more such laws enacted in the name of Sharia was most vocal about the ‘injustice’ done in the case. Paradoxically again, instead of the religious right, the Americans were embarrassed before their own voters for having paid for the release of Davis. Washington denied paying any blood money itself; it was arranged through diplomatic channels with help from friendly governments which had no such qualms.

Davis would have gone to trial and probably have been convicted under secular laws, which Ziaul Haq and after him Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Nawaz Sharif replaced with the controversial Sharia laws. Dare anyone today say that the cause of justice was served by Davis paying blood money and walking away a free man?

Granted all Pakistanis today want the rule of law under which justice is served and also seen to be done. For this do we need laws that are abused or dispense injustice under the pretext of having divine sanction? In fact, they don’t, for Sharia laws are just as man-made as so-called secular laws. We had rather have laws that we can change to meet the demands of justice as human intellect evolves and embraces values that are universally applicable.

When secular causes can bring and keep Pakistanis together why not secular laws? Secularism does not negate Islam as a popular faith as it was practised before the imposition of controversial laws, under which rape victims can be locked up if they cannot prove the crime; mothers can forgive their sons for murdering their own daughters; the rich can pay blood money to escape punishment while a poor man goes to the gallows for committing the same crime; and minorities are booked for blaspheming against Islam. All this brings Islam only disrepute and no glory.

For God, for unity, for the country, we need to rethink our laws. Meanwhile, keep counting on cricket as the secular binding force at a time when all else, especially an obscurantist state ideology, does all to divide and rule us with its misrule.

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