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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The ‘only’ way out for Muslims (especially for Pakistani Muslims)

On a tribune blog post I was asked a question:

how do you think ‘taking up religion’ will help our cause when Muslims themselves remain divided on so many aspects of Islam? How does one ‘take up religion’?

here is my response, which I think is the main issue in all of this

The reason ‘Muslims’ stand divided today is because they have left others to decide their religion. For instance, since when did the ‘clergy’ have the power to dub anyone ‘non-Muslim’? They do it and the rest follow blindly. I can give many examples.

What is causing this ‘radicalization’? Why are these who call themselves Muslims hell-bent on taking innocent lives? Even the educated fail to take up issues with the clergy when it comes to belief. For instance, how can you ask a young Muslim man not to wage Jihad? or ask a cleric to stop preaching about it? My question is what according to you is educated and literate?

General Zia, in his ruling period, formed a team of elite ‘scientists’ who were sent to research how to harness the power of djinns. Measure the temperature of hell, find the speed of heaven. Should they be considered literate? Now the other side of the story, a simple man from Jhang, who was educated in this country, goes on to win the Nobel prize in Physics for his famous electro-weak theory (which I doubt many Pakistanis know about) and he is dubbed infidel and thrown out of the country. Why? because he said he found this enlightenment from the Holy Qura’an. Should I consider him illiterate? I am ofcourse talking about Professor Dr. Abdus Salam.

The messed up religious views have created another level of illiterate, they are known as the educated illiterate. Our armed forces personnel are provided with education on science and technology, even they cannot stop this ‘radicalization’ from infiltrating their ranks. Whether you agree or not, even education will not be able to fix this radicalization. I say that because we have examples of ‘western educated’ Muslims turning into radicals. An investigative report suggests that even at this moment this radicalization have penetrated into our Universities.

We have to take up religion personally, take interest, be curious about it. It is not merely fairy tales (like we are made to believe by the clergy), it is the ONLY way out of this.

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.

Taking hypocrisy to a new level

There is a saying,  “the true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity”; I think that this quote sums up all the politico-religious groups in Pakistan.

Since the infamous incident of Lahore, there has been a lot of controversy theories developing within the political system of Pakistan. This is a tough one for, not just for the government, but everyone even remotely involved with politics or government. Wikileaks have proven the fact that every political figure is either directly or indirectly in contact with the American establishment. Americans will not tolerate the fact that its ‘official’ gets punished for being a terrorist by another country, since they are the leaders in the global war on terror.

The issue has grown out of proportions, it’s now a matter of dignity rather justice. Americans have already announced that the case of Raymond Davis will affect the bonds between Pakistan and the United States, which (it may not appear the case to a commoner) is taken very seriously in Pakistani political camps. I don’t have to re-iterate the revelations of Wikileaks, one can figure why some in Pakistani politics are so keen to hand Raymond Davis over to American officials.

The most interesting side to this story is the one of our politico-religious sections. Progressions, are being carried out, speeches are being made, banners are raised and (American) flags are burnt in protest of the murders carried out by Raymond Davis in broad daylight. Ofcourse no one in their right mind can defend the extreme actions of Raymond Davis, every Pakistani is in a state of shock and rage after what happened in Lahore that day, this man should be brought to justice and that should happen in Pakistan only. But these people who are once again bringing the nation on the streets, are the same who not so long ago were celebrating the horrifying murder of Salman Taseer. Those who celebrate one murderer (Mumtaz Qadri) are condemning the other one (Raymond Davis). It really confuses me, how people follow these ignorant, self-centered, deceiving and self-proclaimed scholars who openly contradict their own actions? First the infamous ‘Namoos-e-Risalat Tehrik’, now Raymond Davis, they just need an issue, may it be calling Islam a peaceful religion (they don’t like it at all), or anything against the United States of America and they will make it look like its an ‘attack on belief’.

Why is it that the nation fails to observe their hypocrisy? When will Muslims of Pakistan will understand that fact that they are being played by these (self-proclaimed) religious scholars? How will the common Muslim know his religion is being hijacked by an ignorant man who doesn’t even know laws of Physics? The only way to put an end to this is to separate religion from politics. If that doesn’t happen, this menace will bring more shame and misery to the Nation.

Pray tell (by Nadeem F. Paracha)

January 23, 2011 (Dawn Opinions)

Oh, my, that label again: ‘Liberal extremist.’ What on earth does it mean? Absolutely nothing. Great wordplay and deliciously idiosyncratic, but that’s about it.

However, since the popular electronic media in Pakistan is usually about a rather nihilistic strain of whatever it considers to be news and analysis, this topsy-turvy label has become the catch-all term of a number of TV anchors, hosts and, ahem, analysts.

So, then, what is a liberal extremist? How many Pakistanis do you know who advocate the abolition of faith, legalisation of cannabis, the creation of nude beaches, support gay marriages or… oh, okay, so this is not what you mean. Then what? If you guys who have suddenly become so fond of this phrase mean by it Pakistanis who emphasise reason over passion (especially in political and theological matters), or who find religion synonymous with humanitarianism, tolerance and compassion, or who like political parties that they support to retain a degree of secularism, or those who cherish the concept of social and religious pluralism and diversity, if these are the dreaded liberal extremists so many Pakistanis have suddenly started moaning about, then I pray for me to become one of the finest liberal extremists in this land of the pure.

So, can one suggest that what passes as being plain old liberal elsewhere becomes liberal extremism in Pakistan? There is another innocent question I would like to ask of all those who have been swinging their fists by suggesting the following brilliant insight: ‘The problem in Pakistan is religious extremism and liberal extremism.’

If so, then pray tell, dear sirs and madams, exactly how can one couple the two phrases in the same sentence? To begin with, one can safely suggest that those you call liberal extremists constitute an embarrassingly minute percentage compared to the glorious blooming and flowering we have seen of what are called religious extremists.

Over and over again we have heard and seen the delightful things faith-based extremists advocate, preach, feel happy about and shower rose petals for, but what have the malicious liberal extremists to gloat and float about? I’ve heard arguments (and that’s about it) from the liberals in the following cases, but no liberal extremist distributed sweetmeat when Dr Aafia was convicted; never saw this extremist chant ‘yea, baby, let’s have more,’ when the news of a drone attack breaks; never seen one claiming that such or such person should be killed just because he or she disagreed with the liberal extremist. Sure he or she may have a sympathetic argument about what their counterparts may consider to be treason, sacrilege, etc., but that’s it.

Kindly stop using this term, liberal extremists, as if it was an indigenous made-in-Pakistan media masterstroke. The term first began being used in the US during the 1970s. It was coined by some ultra-conservative Republican politicians and Christian evangelists against certain mainstream American newspapers, TV channels and filmmaking circles. These guys from that country’s far right in politics and religion thought that the American media and Hollywood were brimming with atheists, agnostics and liberals who were soft on the Soviet Union (mostly because the media was opposing the war in Vietnam).

It was a lunatic fringe whom the then liberal American media suspected of having extreme political and religious views, and this fringe retaliated (in typical knee-jerk fashion), by calling their detractors as liberal extremists. This term was again used during the conservative Reagan years in the 1980s against mainstream media outlets who were opposing his overtly laissez faire economic policies and his arming of the paid mercenaries to topple the revolutionary leftist regime in Nicaragua.

By the end of the Cold War (1990), the liberal extremist tag was hung around social and environmentalist groups that began agitating against large multinational corporations and ‘globalisation.’ The media in this respect was finally let off the hook and the reason was simple. With the arrival of such monsters like FOX-News and SkyNews, things in this respect were turned on their heads when it was the media that began adopting this term for detractors of corporate capitalism and the new millennium’s ‘neo-con’ polices.

In Pakistan it was the military dictatorship of General Musharraf who first used this term. In many of his apologetic speeches he defended his (albeit half-baked) actions against extremist religious organisations by adopting the old 1970s American ultra-conservatives’ mantra of being against both extremes (religious and liberal). However, the irony was that genuine liberalism (that the American conservatives used to call liberal extremism in the US) was almost non-existent in Pakistan.

Right-wing apologists of faith-based extremism now found in abundance in the FOX-News like environment in Pakistan’s electronic media have simply picked up where Musharraf had left: Blame the large-scale presence of both state sponsored and populist, civilian extremism in the country on the handful of vocal liberals by calling them liberal extremists. Of course, intoxicated on the delusion that they have discovered a perfect explanation to defend their sheepish defence of violence-prone extremism, they conveniently forget it is not liberal extremists blowing themselves up in public places or showering rose petals on killers.

by Nadeem F. Paracha

اسلام اور توہین رسالت کا قانون

Some of my friends asked me to write my posts about blasphemy law in urdu language, so I am posting this summarized version of all my posts about blasphemy law in urdu.

(click on the image to enlarge)

Make hay while the sun shines

The sun is shining on the (so called) clerics of Pakistan. Since the infamous murder of the ex-governor of Punjab, it has been a power show for them on the streets of every major Pakistani city. Every major religious group is involved in either protesting or striking. Their claim, stop amendment in the controversial blasphemy law. The government on the other hand has been repeatedly saying that it is not going to amend the law at all, yet the strikes and progressions continue, shutting down markets, schools and colleges in the city.

I fail to understand this, coming from the ones who claim to be religious and tolerant. Not only are they disrupting daily life in those areas, some of the legally banned organizations have joined their progressions and are active again. Shockingly, neither of the (so called) religious leader notice it nor they condemn their participation. Their followers, as always, illiterate and ignorant of their surroundings.

Rally against amendments

courtesy "The News Pakistan"

These (so called) clerics are ripping Islamic values apart by disturbing daily lives of thousands of people living in the city. Many people who live on daily wages are unable to go out for work, children are being deprived of education, yet no one is asking these clerics, are these actions ‘Islamic’? The nation is failing to understand the fact that Islam is being maligned by these (so called) clerics. They are ‘too busy’ expressing their emotions over the ‘intent’ of amendment in blasphemy laws which time and again have been clarified by the government.

Pakistan is already going through a rough period, inflation is rising, employment is drying up, murders are common, robberies are widespread, number of rape cases is increasing but they are non-issues to the clergy, which should be leading the standards of morals in any society. Sadly they are busy making hay while the sun shines.

Again in the end I will quote the same prophecy I quote every time I speak of the (so called) clergy.

The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) told us 1400 year ago:

“There will be a decline in religious faith and nothing would be left of Islam except its name and nothing would be left of the Holy Qura’an except its text. Mosques though full of worshipers will be empty of guidance. The religious scholars will be the worst creation under the canopy of Heaven”.

(Mishkat-ul Masabih, p.88 & Kanaz-ul Ummal, vol.6 p.43).

If this is not that time, then I don’t know what is going to be worst than this.

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