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.

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.

The “delusional” Pakistani Media and the “scared” elite

In the aftermath of the inhuman murder of ex-minister of minorities Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, the reaction/analysis of numerous media anchors, defense analysts and the political elite was very baffling and chary. It was shocking to see that those who have the responsibility to inform the country, educate them about their surroundings and happenings, are misleading the entire nation. They are trying to ‘clear’ the name of the terrorist group called Tehreek-e-Taliban, by claiming ‘international conspiracy’ is behind this ghastly murder.

They defend their perspective by claiming the fact that ‘no Muslim can throw pamphlets with Holy scriptures written on it, on the ground‘. With all due respect, does Taliban do anything ‘Muslim’? Does the Taliban have any respect for Islam and Islamic values? They conspire against the state, eradicate innocent people, damage state / civilian properties, is there ANYTHING Islamic about that? If you claim to be the ‘free media’ savior of the nation, whistle-blower of crime and corruption, why aren’t you free to criticize the Taliban and condemn them?

The only reason I can take from this behavior is that everyone, even the media and the government is scared of the Taliban or avoiding their name on purpose. Why? Because they are either scared, or have political interests associated with these incendiary organizations. Some time ago, I heard on the news that one of the famous media figure had relations with some Taliban militants, he was recorded on live call with someone. Back then, it came as a shock to me and I couldn’t believe it. Today I am forced to think otherwise.

If (lets say hypothetically) it is a ‘foreign conspiracy‘ or work of ‘international agents‘, then why isn’t there any reaction from the religious section yet? The Sunni Tehreek has given a call of strike, not because of the murder, but to protest against the price hike! Seems like a murder of a parliamentarian is normal to them, as they have their own issues to protest for.

They are overlooking the fact that Mr. Bhatti, a while ago, told the government and the media that he has received threats from militants, regarding his stance on the controversial blasphemy law. The intelligence agencies have warned Ms. Sherry Rehman, that she ‘might be‘ the next target. Is that an international conspiracy too? Is she getting calls from India or America? All these factors conclude that the culprit is indeed these extremist, ignorant, militant groups, who are not only ruining the reputation of Pakistan but hurting the cause of Islam too. So stop defending them, stop getting scared and delusional IF you claim to be free. Because if the media and information sources are delusional and political elite is scared, God knows what will become of the nation.

What “Mullah” want

Yesterday’s tragic incident, is nothing but a slap to the face of the nation. It wasn’t just a murder of a man, it was a murder of moral values given to us by Islam. It is not just the funeral of Shahbaz Bhatti, it is the funeral of Islamic principles, torn apart by the nation which claims to be the caretaker of this great religion. Every human, irrespective of their religion (except for many in Pakistan) has condemned this gruesome act of brutality. However, yet again, the clergy is quiet, none has come forward and condemned this heinous crime. Why? Because the killing machine called ‘Tehreek-e-Taaliban Pakistan” claims this murder in the name of the infamous, controversial blasphemy law.

I know, it came as a shock to me too. Not that the clergy failed condemn this act, but the fact that the atrocious Taliban are actually standing up for “rule of law”? There is a catch to this, they ONLY want to defend the blasphemy clauses while they are happy to break every other law in this country. All of a sudden, constitution is very important to them. Where is the mullah now? Are you happy ‘maulvi sahab’? Isn’t this what you really want? What else do we need to prove that this law is nothing but shame and misery towards Pakistan and the nation.

It is time to repeal this law once and for all, it has already claimed lives of many innocent people and have brought misery to others. Those who speak for it cannot bring forth a single piece of evidence neither from Holy Scriptures, nor from history. The facts they put forward are distorted and disgraceful, which have been proven over and over again. Yet the nation is unable to see through their disguise of ‘Holy men’, what deceiving and hypocritical beings they are.

Even if this incident doesn’t open our nation’s eyes, then I am afraid no Messiah is going to come for them. Pakistanis should understand the fact that these self-proclaimed religious scholars and these extremists, jihadist, ignorant and blood thirsty butchers (call them Al-Qaeda or Taliban) are one and the same. They have already hijacked our peaceful religion Islam and are using our beliefs against us, they want to rule the nation with fear and ignorance, that is what the Mullah want.

The worst creatures

atrocious

The deadly blasphemy law claims another victim

Our Minister for minorities Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated today in Islamabad. Another victim goes down to the deadly blasphemy laws. Interestingly, there are reports of pamphlets seen by the crime scene which were ‘allegedly’ distributed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or ‘Al-Qaeda’, claiming who ever fiddles with the blasphemy law will be punished.

It made me wonder, since when does ‘Al-Qaeda’ and the TTP care about the constitution? Even if they do, does our constitution have this one article only? It is amazing to note that these law breakers stand for something in the constitution too. Goes to show what kind of people ‘defend’ the blasphemy laws.

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