A real life superhero

Aitzaz HasanJanuary 6, 2014. It was just another day in Ibrahimzai, in Hangu district of Pakistan. A young boy from this small village, never thought this would be the day he will lose his status as a mortal, to become immortal for his nation. He would go on and make history.

Aitzaz Hasan was standing outside the gates of his school  with his friends, when a man with beastly intentions tried to gain access to his school. This sick being wanted nothing else other than to put to death, if not thousands, hundreds of children who were inside the school compound. As the story goes, Aitzaz confronted him despite the pleas and cries of his friends. He fearlessly asked them to get shelter and went ahead, grabbed that stonehearted man in his arms, what followed next was inevitable.

In a glimpse of a second, this brave kid went from being an ordinary boy, to being a symbol of gallantry. Only few before him have imitated what he did, just a few. What was extra ordinary in Aitzaz’s case was the fact that he was only 14 or 15 years of age. An age where many like him would be enjoying their youth, going out with friends having fun around. But not Aitzaz, the moment he saw that coward marching towards the school, he was clear in his mind what he had to do. His goal was to save the precious young lives, a new generation in the making. To achieve his goal, he paid the ultimate price.

Words cannot suffice his act of bravery, no amount tears are enough for his patriotism. In a nation which is divided into castes, sects, ideologies and classes, comes a 15 year old kid who’s selfless act saved many families from visiting the graveyard that day. His bravery, shines in the face of those cowards, who are bathed in the blood of many before him. He sent out a clear message to them, to the enemies of his motherland. He showed them that there is still hope, there is still an Aitzaz ready to lay down his life when his motherland is in need. Let the terrorists know, that there are more like Aitzaz than those who are intimidated by their cowardice.

No medal, no prize is enough for this act of valor, no honor too big. Children of Ibrahimzai school, went back to school the following day but they will remember January 6th, they will remember it as the day they were virtually given new lives. The children of that school will remember that day, when they witnessed a boy who used to be like one of them, become a hero. “A real life superhero”.

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Save Burma, let Pakistan burn

Social networks are crowded with pictures, pleas and appeals for the Burmese Muslims caught in the midst of a terrible conflict with the Buddhist majority in Burma. The tales and pictures (most of which are fake though) being used on social media are gut-wrenching and horrifying. Amnesty international has accused the security forces and ethnic majority of Rakhine Buddhists for the violence being perpetrated in the north. It should be well-known that this conflict is purely ethnic and has nothing at all to do with religion. Loss of life (in any way or form) is condemnable and all measures should be taken, to bring these horrific crimes against humanity to an end.

As with everything remotely related to Muslim persecution, my Pakistani (Muslim) friends are at the forefront of the campaign to ensure that the news reaches everyone. They consider this their ‘religious duty’ to make sure every Muslims is actively participating in spreading the news of such violence. Words being used to describe the acts of the Rakhine Buddhists are “shameful”, “heinous”, “criminal”, “in-humane” etc. Just yesterday I noticed a poster where it was claimed that Muslims aren’t allowed to say “Azaan” and that this was “cruel in-justice”. I cannot say it is true but it did sadden me, to think that an individual is being deprived of his most basic religious activity.

But then, it hit me, Burma’s situation is not that different from Pakistan. The majority Muslims in this country impose on (whatever) minority (is left) in this country. Christians, Hindus and other minority religions are being persecuted all the time. Even minority Muslim sects like the Shia sect is not safe from this persecution. They are killed upon identification, Christians and Hindus are forced to give up their religious belief and convert. Those who do and revert back are killed again. Ahmadis are barred from praying, their places of worship (which cannot be dubbed as mosques according to the constitution) are being demolished. They, and other minorities, even some Muslim sects are dubbed ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ (obligated to be killed) and yet the same Pakistani Muslims feel sorry when they find Muslims in the same situation?
hypocritical isn’t it?

In no way I am justifying the crimes against humanity in Burma. They have the rights of religious liberty and freedom of living and speech. But since when does a Pakistani Muslim care about it? Burma is not a Muslim state, if Pakistanis can legislate killing of people who believe in the freedom of speech, why are they outraged if another country uses something similar to it for Muslims? They celebrate when Mumtaz Qadri kills someone who have a different opinion on some issue, but they protest if the same thing happens in Burma. I hope they understand how it feels to be at the receiving end of this persecution which is deemed ‘HOLY’ by many. It isn’t that holy when it is brought upon them (or people from their clan).

The point of writing this is not to condemn the protests against these crimes being committed in Burma (they are to be condemned strongly), but to make my fellow Muslims understand that they are no different from these Burmese military men or the Buddhist majority, imposing their will on the helpless and exposed minority. I hope this might help them understand.

Burnt alive: religion is served

While the 4th of July brought fireworks to the United States, a small town in Punjab Pakistan witnessed a totally different type of fireworks. An alleged blasphemer was burnt alive in front of hundreds of people, including those who are burdened with enforcing the law. The Police was found useless (as ever) in preventing mob justice. As always, none of the religious leader/(alleged) cleric failed to condemn the incident because it is a matter of ‘public emotions’. What is even worst is the fact that it was public knowledge that the man was mentally unstable. Even that never put any sympathy in the hearts of these (so-called) Muslims.

I am disgusted, both as a Pakistani and as a Muslim, I am ashamed to face questions which make their way towards me from non-Muslims outside of my country. How can I justify this barbarism to civilized people? How can I testify that Islam is a religion of peace and allows everyone the right to live freely? How can I tell people, that Pakistan is a nation of diversity, tolerance and compassion? A nation where Mumtaz Qadri, a convicted murderer gains fame by publicly killing someone whom he was asked to protect. A country where two innocent teenagers were beaten to death over an allegation of robbery.

These are just the highlights though, while other nations develop themselves day by day, Pakistan seems to be regressing into the dark ages.I am yet to see such incidents in Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia or even Saudi Arabia. Is Pakistan ‘more’ Islamic than these nations I quoted? I am sure the answer will be no. I wonder how many of these ‘Muslims’ present in the mob actually understand what are the teachings of the Quraan. I have given the famous example of the Ta’if incident, where Prophet (peace be upon him) was stoned by the ignorant people of Ta’if, rather condemn them, the Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed for them.

Do these people not read the Quraan? Can they not see that Quraan speaks of mercy more than punishment? Did they not learn the value of human life from the life events of the Prophet (peace be upon him)? When will Pakistanis stop being the care takers of Islam and understand that they are doing more damage to my religion than they are serving it.

Outraged over Veena Malik?

Veena MalikVeena Malik (the Pakistani actress) is in the news, once again for controversial reasons. According to the story, the actress posed in the nude for a photo shoot for an Indian magazine. As usual, many Pakistani’s have denounced her act and started labeling her infidel, anti-Pakistan, liberal extremist etcetera. To top it off, her shots contain the letters ISI (which is the central intelligence agency of Pakistan) tattooed to her arm. The news have spread like wildfire (among the Pakistani’s at-least) which has sparked a series of tweets and blogs on the internet and news stories emerging with the headline, ‘Pakistani’s outraged over nude photo’.

The outrage is due to the fact she is a representative of Pakistan (which by the way is a [so-called] Islamic Nation). It baffles me how people call her a ‘Pakistani representative’ while her actions are clearly targeted to gain fame for herself and get casted for a Bollywood film. This is not the first time she is in the news for such reasons, her performance in the Indian reality show ‘Big Boss’ stirred quite a controversy. While the liberals defended her, the conservatives bashed her with ‘fatwas’ and labels.

In all of this, I fail to understand the anger of Pakistani people. It is as if everything  is fine in our country and the people are living in a peaceful and civil manner, there is no injustice and everyone is secure. Is that the case? I am afraid not so. Once again the people of Pakistan are showing hypocrisy on matters that should otherwise be ignored. They dub the act of this infamous actress as unIslamic, while in the very heart of Lahore (the cultural hub of Pakistan), brothels exist under the shadow of the most prestigious [Badshahi] mosque in Pakistan. Why doesn’t that trigger outrage? In the very same country, women are paraded naked through the streets and the incident fails to be noticed by those eager to show off their love for Pakistan and Islam. This is the country where child rape happens every other day, but all that makes Pakistani’s angry is an actress posing for nude in an Indian magazine.

In the light of the cases I mentioned above and the fact that many incidents go unreported in our ‘Islamic Republic’, I wonder if it is Veena Malik bringing shame to the nation or something else.

پاکستان میں اسلام کی خدمت

برّصغیر پاک و ہند میں اسلام کی تاریخ اگرچہ پرانی ہے، لیکن اگر مسلمانوں کی کل تاریخ کا مطالعہ کیا جاےٴ تو معلوم ہوتا ہے کہ یہ کویٴ اتنی پرانی بات نہیں۔ برّصغیر میں اسلام گو کہ تجارت کے ذریعے متعارف ہوا، لیکن اکثر اوقات افغانستان کےلٹیرے اور فارس کے حکمران اس خطہ میں مذہب اسلام لے کر آےٴ۔ آج جس محمود غزنوی کو بت شکن قرار دیا جاتا ہے، معلوم ہوتا ہے کے اس کا ہندوستان پر حملے کرنے کا مقصد صرف اور صرف مال و دولت اکھٹّا کرنا تھا، افغانستان کے بت اسی طرح سلامت کھڑے تھے۔

بہر حال اب جب اسلام کی جڑیں اس خطے میں مضبوط ہو گٴیں اور مسلمانوں کی تعداد میں اضافہ ہونے لگا، تب برّصغیر پاک و ہند کے مسلمانوں نے اسلام میں آنے کے بعد اپنے اقدار اور ثقافت سے کنارہ کشی اختیار کرنی شروع کر دی، یہاں تک کے عرب ثقافت کو اسلامی ثقافت کا نام دیا جانے لگا۔ کچھ علماءکرام میں چند بنیادی اختلافات پر فرقہ بندیاں شروع ہوگٴیں۔ اس زمانے میں مسلمان فرقہ در فرقہ بٹتے چلے گےٴ، یہاں تک کے مسلمانوں کے فرقے ۵۰ سے بھی تجاوز کر گےٴ۔ ان فرقہ بندیوں کے نتیجے میں مسلمانوں کی مرکزی طاقت بھی بٹ گیٴ اور یکّے بعد دیگرے، ہندو اور پھر انگریز اِن پر مسلّت ہو گےٴ۔ ان دنوں سر سیّد احمد خان جیسے روشن خیال لوگ آگے بڑھے اور مسلمانوں کو تعلیم حاصل کرنے کی ترغیب دی، جو کہ بہت سے علماء کے نزدیک بہت غیر مقبول ہویٴ۔ اِن عالموں کے نزدیک انگریز کی تعلیم حاصل کرنا اسلامی تعلیم کے منافی تھا۔ حالاںکہ آحضرت محمّدصلیﷲعلیہوسلّم کی حدیثِ پاک کہ علم حاصل کرو چاہے چین جانا پڑے، اس سے صاف ظاہر ہے کہ مسلمان پر ہر قسم کی تعلیم حاصل کرنا فرض ہے۔ ذرا غور تو کیجیےٴ کہ ٦ صدی عیسویں میں چین میں کونسا اسلام تھا؟ تاریخ کا مطالعہ کریں تو معلوم ہوتا ہے کہ اس زمانے میں چین کیمیایٴ اور فلکیاتی علوم میں ترقّی کررہا تھا۔

اب آگے آ ٴیے، تحریکِ پاکستان کے وقت تقریبًا ہر بڑے عالم نے پاکستان کی مخالفت کی۔ لیکن جب مسلمانوں کی اکثریت نے ان نام نہاد علماء کو مسترد کر دیا تب ان علماءکرام نے پاکستان پر اپنے پنجے گاڑھنے شروع کر دیےٴ۔ محمّد علی جناح کی وفات کے بعد، جناب خان لیاقت علی خان نے اپنے اقتدار کو طول دینے کے لیےٴ پاکستان کے آ ٴین میں قراردادِ مقاصد متعرّف کروا ٴی۔ واضح رہے کہ محمّد علی جناح نے ایسی کسی قسم کی قرارداد آ ٴین ساز اسمبلی کے سامنے نہیں رکھی۔ اس قرارداد کے آنے سے علماء کیلےٴ سیاست کی ایک نیٴ راہ کھل گیٴ، مولویوں نے اپنے کارنامے دکھانے شروع کردیےٴ یہاں تک کے ١۹۵۳ کے فسادات تک نوبت پہنچ گیٴ۔ ان فسادات کے بعث لاہور میں جزوی مارشل لاء لگانا پڑا جس کے بعد پاکستانی فوج نے کیٴ مارشل لاء لگاےٴ۔

بہرکیف ١۹۷۴ بھی آگیا، جب قومی اسمبلی نے قادیانی فرقے کو اقلیّت قرار دے دیا۔ ٦ اکتوبر کو نواےٴ وقت نے اس خبر کو اس طرح رپورٹ کیا

ٰقادیانی فرقہ کو چھوڑ کر جو بھی ۷۲﴿بہتّر﴾ فرقے مسلمانوں کے بتاےٴ جاتے ہیں، سب کے سب اس مسلہ کے اس حل پر متّفق اور خوش ہیں۔

نواےٴوقت ٦ اکتوبر١۹۷۴

اس اعلامیہ کو علماء نے اجماعِ امّت کا نام دیا۔ اور یہ بھول گےٴ کے اسلام میں فرقہ بندی پر خود مہر لگا رہے ہیں۔ مزید یہ کہ مسلم علماء نے اس فرقہ بندی کو تسلیم کرکے آ ٴین کا حصّہ بنادیا گایا۔ لیکن اس وقت کے علماء کی اقتدار کی حوس پوری نہیں ہویٴ، بھٹّو کے خلاف مہم میں تمام علماء نے شمولیت اختیار کی، اور آخر میں ایک آمر جنرل ضیاءالحق کے ساتھ مل گےٴ۔ جنرل ضیاءالحق نے بھی اپنے اقتدار کو طول دینے کے لیےٴ مولویوں کا سہارا لیا۔ توہینِ رسالت کے تمام تر قوانین اسی عرصہ میں متعرّف کرواےٴ گےٴ۔ جنرل ضیاءالحق نے افغان جہاد کے نام پر ان نام نہاد مذہبی جماعتوں کو پروان چڑہایا۔ افغان جہاد کے بعد ان جہادی تنظیموں کو پالنا مشکل ہو گیا، تب ان مذہبی جماعتوں نے آپس کے تعصّب کی بنیاد پر ان عسکری تنظیموں کو ایک دوسرے کے اوپر استمعال کرنا شروع کردیا۔ تب سے اب تک اس فرقہ واریت پر قابو نہیں پایا جاسکا ہے۔

مذہب کے نام پر سیاست نے اس ملک کو اس نِہج پر پہنچا دیا جہاں سے واپسی بہت مشکل ہے۔ ہمارے مذہبی رہنماوٴں نے عوام النّاس کو تعلیم سے دور جہالت کے اندھیروں میں دھکیل دیا۔ آج کے علماء نے اسلام کے نام کو جس قدر نقصان پہنچایا ہے شاید ہی کسی اور شہٴ نے پہنچایا ہو۔ یہ وہ لوگ ہیں جو ممتاز قادری جیسے قاتلوں کی حوصلہ افزایٴ کرتے پھر رہے ہیں اور کویٴ پوچھنے والا نہیں۔ توہینِ رسالت پر خاکسار پہلے ہی کافی کچھ لکھ چکا ہے، لیکن ہمارا جہالت سے بھر پور معاشرہ ابھی بھی ممتاز قادری کے فعل کو اسلامی اقدار کے مطابق سمجھتا ہے۔ ﷲ اس قوم کو ہدایت دے اور ان نام نہاد علماء سے پاکستان کو نجات بخشے۔آمین

Blasphemy Law: Coming a full circle

via Dawn.com: Blasphemy Law: Coming a full circle.

It was bound to happen. When you have a vaguely worded law with so many loopholes, and a clergy hell bent on defining religion in asphyxiating, rigid boundaries, its supporters and enablers were bound to get scorched themselves. The law was eventually going to come and bite them in the back and that is exactly what happened two weeks ago.

According to the news story, a student of a religious seminary in Chakwal, Junaid Ahmad was arrested for being blasphemous. He was apparently seen burning pages of Quran a week ago, was beaten by a crowd and handed over to the police. Ironically, however, a shaken and frightened Junaid claimed that he was in reality disposing off Quran’s loose pages to save them from desecration.

The story behind Junaid’s action was simple enough. His teacher, who belongs to Tehrik Khuddam Ahl-i-Sunnat, had told him that burning Quranic pages was a legitimate way of disposing them along with putting them in flowing water (stream etc) and burying them. As he was unable to find the other two options, Junaid resorted to the third one. It was just his luck that the man who saw him as he set the pages on fire had heard from another cleric that burning the Quran amounted to desecrating it. What followed is an ominous reminder of sharply converging, and rigid, interpretations among various schools of religious thought.

Diversity, whether religious or cultural, is always a good thing. But here, this diversity of belief within sects and sub-sects is stamped with unflinching righteousness, intolerance, and violent knee-jerk reactions. Leaving the organised sectarianism between Shias and Sunnis aside, these widely varying interpretations in such an environment result in friction and veiled hatred towards other sects within one’s circle. In such a situation, incidents like the one in Chakwal are in reality a mere prelude to what can follow. One of the most obvious possibilities, while remaining within the ambit of law, is the misuse of the blasphemy law against those who are fanatically in favour of it.

This misuse has already started albeit it is infrequent at the moment. In January this year, an imam and his son from Dera Ghazi Khan were convicted for life for committing blasphemy. They were accused of ripping posters from outside their grocery shop which advertised an event to observe Eid Milad un Nabi (the birth and death anniversary of Prophet Muhammad). There was strong speculation that the issue was not of blasphemy but difference of belief. The Deobandi philosophy, to which the imam and his son prescribed, do not believe in commemorating such days. So where the incident might have simply been that of removing a poster from their personal property, it was forcefully catapulted in the sphere of intentional blasphemy.

The problem, boiled down to its essence, is this: In all this ritualistic madness, this manic obsession with the act rather than the intention behind it, these “men of faith” have lost the plot. And that is an under-statement. Here school girls are ostracised for misplacing a dot in a word. Doctors are locked up for throwing away a person’s visiting card who shared the prophet’s name. People are persecuted for greeting others in Arabic language. Supporters of blasphemy laws obsessively defend its need to deter people from taking the law in their own hands; but when a man defies this very logic and kills a sitting governor whom he had taken an oath to protect, they cheer and holler themselves hoarse in his support.

So far, most of the victims of these laws are minorities and those belonging to lower and lower-middle income groups. But it won’t remain the same forever. With ferocious intolerance being allowed to breed unchecked in our country, it was only a matter of time before the factions started using this law to target religious rivals at will.

Right now a broad spectrum of religious right is united in its defence of murderer Mumtaz Qadri. Their slogans, demonstrative of their tunnel-minded support for his actions, should be deafening alarm bells for the rest of us.

It is a matter of time before these stout believers, momentarily united in their hate against
“liberal fascists”, turn on each other. With such varied interpretations of religion, how will the courts interpret criteria of blasphemy? Will they take the easiest way out and just continue sentencing people in the hope the High Courts will correct the injustice? Will these cowardly actions really serve as a long-term pre-emptive solution or will the religious factions soon interlock horns?

If there is a legal or public showdown between people of different beliefs, the result will be more bloody, brutal and long drawn out than we can imagine. With all sides equally sure of their virtue and willing to die or kill for it, there might not be anyone standing at the end.

On a sardonic note, that will work out just right for the rest of the country.

Everyone’s a cleric

On the 9th of October 2011, satellite town in Rawalpindi was engulfed in fear when 60 masked men decided to impose Shariah on school girls. This group of ‘religious vigilantes’ demanded the girls dress modestly. After wreaking havoc for a good amount of time (in broad daylight) the group dispersed and no one has been arrested till now. I am shocked and baffled how 60 armed men with masks went unnoticed in broad day light in what should be a cantonment city of Pakistan. One is bound to ask how and why did this happen?

After reading about the incident, I had flashbacks of news stories about how the Taliban of Afghanistan used to impose their own set of rules for women dressing up. I for once, am not ready to believe that Pakistan has gone down that far into the ditch of ignorance, but I cannot ignore the facts either, I am still wondering why anyone failed to act? Is it only the start? This incident will surely open a Pandora’s box for the self-proclaimed (and now self-made) clerics to start ‘forcing’ their Islam over the (already illiterate) masses.

As a Muslim, I have to condemn this shameful act. There is no room for ‘imposition’ in Islam as I have proven previously with multiple Qura’anic verses. Their ‘service to the community’ is will do nothing but collect disgrace for my religion of Peace, Islam respects privacy of each and every individual. On the issue of women, they must know that Islam is the only religion which has exalted the status of women. What these ignorant ‘clerics’ don’t understand is the fact that their acts resemble to those of the 5th century ignorant Arabs. The only difference between then and now is that in those days, only a few were known as the holder of knowledge while today, everyone is a cleric.

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