Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

Working towards a progressive Islamic Pakistan

Posted @ PakTea

Religion has never been a part of state in Pakistan, in fact only been abused to serve political motives since her inception. Despairingly, dilemma of Pakistani intellectuals is that in a peripheral discourse of Jinnah as a secular or Islamist, even the meaning of a sovereign dominion has been lost, let alone Islamic Pakistan.

Sadly, both the seculars and the Islamists use the same obsolete version of Islam to justify their claims. A liberated, democratic, just, economically effectual Pakistan is consistent with what Jinnah envisioned as well as Islamic principals.

The expeditiously changing global socio-political environment after a failed WOT resulting in altering socio-religious dynamics globally, now makes the narrative of Zia and textbook indoctrination as sole radicalization agent irrelevant. It does not explain post-WOT sudden surge in Islam globally, rapid Islamization even radicalization of the west and rising racism. Thus making the secular doctrine, inconsistent with the “timeline”, getting groundless and unconvincing every passing day. Opportunist mullah, still to-date is getting leverage and excuses, cashing on the developments around, living on a vacuum created by failed state policies and lack of interest from intellectuals to feed the on growing demand vis-à-vis religious interpretations. It follows that; religion neither should be abandoned using clergy as an excuse, nor be left exclusively in cult domain.

Pragmatically, viability of an Islamic state consistent with the 21st century should now be the objective. Say, it is not rocket science to interpret that future belongs to interest-free banking (not the pseudo Shariah banking being offered). Recessions, debts, global financial crisis paves the way for a revised system. However, imperative is this serious discourse must not be left for inept mullahs, instead skilled banking professionals should carve a way forming a roadmap, gradually altering the system. Certainly, somewhere in the Europe steps will be taken now for similar reforms (e.g. debates over ethical banking, full reserve banking perhaps a precursor).

Likewise, primary objective of a fair judicial mechanism in any civilized society is to ensure justice provision for the weak and minority (might being always right manages). Apart from the Medina treaty, there are innumerable examples throughout the Islamic history of minorities particularly Jews being well protected and flourishing in an Islamic set-up. Moreover, I am unable to grasp, in a state where majority is not getting justice, and the law of the jungle prevails, how could minorities ever be protected?

Ostensibly, merely discarding Iqbal as an Indian poet is a disservice to his enlightening prose pieces. Taking him as a philosopher would reveal his religious reconstruction as a powerful tool, which portrays a picture of Islam that is neither left nor right, but perfectly coherent with 21st century. Like for Caliphate, Iqbal’s panislamic concept is not precisely what mullahs have portrayed. In his own words (prose):

“Equipped with penetrative thought and fresh experience the world of Islam should courageously proceed to the work of reconstruction before them”

 “For the present every Muslim nation must sink into her own deeper self; temporarily focus her vision on herself alone, until all are strong and powerful to form a living family of republics. A true and living unity, according to the nationalists thinkers, is not so easy as to be achieved by a merely symbolical overlordship”

“It seems to me that God is slowly bringing home to us the truth that Islam is neither Nationalism or Imperialism but a League of Nations which recognizes artificial boundaries and racial distinctions for facility of reference only, and not for restricting the social horizons of its members”

I perceive this impression of caliphate somewhat similar to a UN body or say EU or a proactive OIC.

Unlike mullahs “Ameer-ul-momineen” monarchic dogma, he advocates caliphate to be a Republican type of government with power shared by one assembly, and not overruled by one person. Albeit, supremacy lies with God.

“Should the caliphate be vested in a single person? Turkey’s Ijtehad is that according to the spirit of Islam the caliphate or imamate cane be vested in a body of persons, or an elected assembly. The religious doctors of Islam in Egypt and India, so far as I know, have not yet expressed themselves on this point. Personally, I believe the Turkish view is perfectly sound. It is hardly necessary to argue this point. The republican form of government is not only thoroughly consistent with the spirit of Islam, but has also become a necessity in view of the new forces that are set free in the world of Islam.”

Devising the concept of “Spiritual Democracy” as the ultimate aim of Islam, he advocates vision and spiritual enterprise as fundamental leadership credential-“Two hundred thickheads altogether cannot yield what a single visionary can”. And as Paulo Coelho rightly tweets, “Spirituality is not all about meditation and prayer, you have to act it!” Following this, if vision, integrity, and honesty be made the criterion to choose leadership instead of lingo-provincial based sectarianism, ultimately a spirited, progressive democratic state consistent with Islam will be instituted.

The future belongs to invigorated or reconstructed Islam, nor is secular, neither theocracy an option. Kamal’s constitutionally secular Turkey is propitiously and serenely transforming into Erdogan’s modern Islamic Turkey, having civil supremacy, and leading Europe in economic growth. Why can’t we do this?


“Enlightened Moderation” is the foundation of Islam

While pursuing my quest to dig up the truth, I comprehend; we can equitably consider ourselves liberal and liberated, modern and enlightened. I ll tell you how. Precisely, the foundation of Islam is “enlightened moderation”; not Mushi,s much loved enlightened moderation! I wish someone should have taught him Iqbal!


Allama Iqbal,s reasoning of religious reconstruction, supplemented by his contemporary, progressive & forward-looking approach is enlightened moderation in its concrete wisdom to me. Iqbal perfectly eradicates qualms of the Islamophobes & outline design to moderate radicalization. We do not have to look like barbarians, promote outdated punishments, & hence create islamophobes, neither do we have to claim to be secular in an attempt to project a modern outlook coherent with 21st century.

The main purpose of the Quran is to awaken in man the higher consciousness of his manifold relations with God and the universe “he goes …and the individual achieves a free personality, not by releasing himself from the fetters of the law, but by discovering the ultimate source of the law within the depths of his own consciousness.

Iqbals, enlightened moderation, unlike Musharaf,s could give us precise guidance and can bridge gap between extremists and liberals. It is a solution to religious sectarianism and can unite us on one platform regarding religious orientation. We appreciate him as a thinker, mystic and a mentor. But where are the principals he advocated being practiced? Irony is that, he was never understood & followed till to date, hence confusion over religion persists.

To begin with, “Eternal principal”- that is Toheed & spirituality, is the essence of enlightened moderation and the keystone to religious enterprise. Spirituality by no means mean taweez, dhumal, amil baba-the mehboob qudmoon mein type!pasand ke shadi mintoon mein! Frankly, in our society today we are more accustomed with the negative aspects of spirituality than the positive influence. Thanks to our Gaddi-nashhens and fake fakeers for distorting the impression of spirituality & thanks to mullas for overlooking it altogether. People especially from villages, though many educated ones as well who have faith in mysticism go in search of babas & fakirs, and end up with fake fakirs, turning them into superstitious and apprehensive beings.
In reality, spirituality is probity, morality, honor, and character molding to man’s ideal nature. It is meditation, purification and surrendering oneself to one Allah. It is about reviving and utilizing man’s hidden powers of khudi. As Paulo coehlo tweets “Spirituality is not all about meditation & praying, you have to act it!” To whom is it more significant today than us? The ultimate solution to the turmoil around.

” Islam demands loyalty to God, not to thrones. and since god is the ultimate spiritual basis of all life, loyalty to God virtually amounts to man,s loyalty to his own ideal nature –says Iqbal

Nonetheless, Iqbal,s vision is not even  traditional Sufism , in fact he rejects ascetic Sufism calling it medieval mysticism. He blames “total “other-worldliness” as obscuring one,s vision as regard islam as a social polity” one reason for arrest in evolution of islam in last few centuries. Imperative point here is that, his idea is rather of a dynamic Sufism. His Sufi is worldly wise, more practical & pragmatic. Concisely, he is a hermit at night and a knight in the day!!

It is the lot of man to share in the deeper aspirations of the universe around him and to shape his own destiny as well as that of the universe, now by adjusting himself to its forces, now by putting the whole of his energy to mould its forces to his own ends and purposes. And in this process of progressive change God becomes a co-worker with him, provided man takes the initiative.

if he does not take the initiative, if he does not evolve the inner richness of his being, if he ceases to feel the inward push of advancing life, then the spirit within him hardens into stone and he is reduced to the level of dead matter.

In order to groom ourselves into enlightened religious beings, first credentials “eternal principal” & Khudi is utterly important. We should possess intuit of innovation & creativity. We should have grasp of religious knowledge as well as should be well versed in worldly matters. All rounders-it seems!

Posted @ PakistanFirst

“Is religion possible?”

This was a question raised by Allama Muhammad Iqbal almost a century ago & he himself than gave a clear and precise answer & presented with clear-cut guidelines to make it possible in the modern world.

Iqbal perfectly eradicates qualms of the Islamophobes & outline design to moderate radicalization. Seculars, liberals & wannabe/ pretentious liberals (another class I have noticed!), extremists &fundamentalists should leave their stubbornness and settle somewhere in the middle. Why can’t we settle for a Modern, Moderate, non-theocratic, Islamic Republic?

“Quran embodies an essentially dynamic outlook on life” he goes. “Quran considers it necessary to unite religion and state, ethics and politics in a single revelation much in the same way as Plato does in his Republic.”

We don’t need to be secular to have a modern outlook coherent with 21st century. Neither do we have to adopt radical approach, follow unsuited, inconsistent & irreconcilable laws, in order to prove faithful, practicing Muslims. Iqbal has a way out of it!

Iqbal has deep inspiration from the Turkish religio-political thought process. His Turkish inspiration is not limited to Rumi but he’s also moved by their religious reconstruction course and their willingness to move to fresh religious interpretations.  To date we can specifically see that Turkey is one Muslim state which is nominally secular, but practically Islamic!

I perceive, he advocates drastic changes in the existing Islamic schools of thought as he defies & criticizes older laws & revives the concept of Ijtehad & Ijma with a view to rebuild the laws of shariah in the light of modern thought and experience. As he says, “Equipped with penetrative thought and fresh experience the world of Islam should courageously proceed to the work of reconstruction before them”. I am sure this is the Pakistan he meant, when he gave the idea of a separate Muslim ideological, ideal state. “Conservatism is as bad in religion as in any other department of human activity” he goes.

Imperative point here is, Ijtehad must only be done by “khudi” indoctrinated; enlightened scholars & intellectuals open to innovation. Frankly, such individuals are scanty in the world today. (Imp: Along with other credentials, khudi essentially includes surrender to one God & ultimate love for his Prophet(PBUH).Islam cant get away without Muhammad(PBUH), it seems, I m sorry!!)

Iqbal,s panislamic concept is not precisely what mullahs have portrayed for years. Iqbal understands the veracity & politics around. His concept is simple & pragmatic. He sensed that Muslim countries are too week to be combined together to build a caliphate. Instead, as step-1, they should up-grade themselves independently. His impression of caliphate is that of “league of nations” i.e., somewhat similar to a UN body or say EU of our times. In his own words, “For the present every Muslim nation must sink into her own deeper self; temporarily focus her vision on herself alone, until all are strong and powerful to form a living family of republics”

“It seems to me that God is slowly bringing home to us the truth that Islam is neither Nationalism or Imperialism but a League of Nations which recognizes artificial boundaries and racial distinctions for facility of reference only, and not for restricting the social horizons of its members”

Unlike mullahs “ameer-ul-momineen” monarchic dogma, he advocates caliphate to be a Republican type of government with power shared by one assembly, and not overruled by one person. Albeit, Supremacy lies with God.

His concept of democracy is a “Spiritual Democracy”. “As two hundred thick brains altogether cannot yield what a single visionary can”. He advocates spiritual enterprise as a fundamental leadership credential. Like Paulo Coelho rightly tweets, “Spirituality is not all about meditation & prayer, you have to act it!”. Following Iqbal, if we make nobility, integrity & honesty the criteria to choose our leaders instead of lingo-provincial based sectarianism, we can readily get out of this political turmoil for good and can have provident & farsighted men as leaders.

Nonetheless, all this sounds very idealistic & dreamy. But, than what else do you want a separate state for? And, at least we have been given an objective to accomplish, a challenge to encounter & an impossible to achieve.

This is peanuts, compared to what is encoded in his message. Pakistani intelligentsia, having degrees from the best uni,s all around the globe should  build their self-esteem and come out of Islamophobia.  They should understand the real spirit of Islam & for that understand Iqbal to counter extremist thought process. If we aren’t doing it, who will?

However individual responsibility aside, but more than that it is the responsibility of the state to understand & dispense the right message & provide healthy, ambulant & yielding religious environment. And, if the government is not doing it, than change the govt!! And, If we aren’t doing it, who will!!

Posted @ Pakistanfirst

Pak spectator

Is profanity agreed on?

As Facebook, Utube & websites remain blocked in Pakistan, cynicism keeps pouring in. However, I for the first time agree with the steps taken by the Government on this issue, as advised by the High Court. I also see the whole chronicle as backfiring of an unresolved issue.

While browsing through the net, I came across few sane, insightful and intelligent responses from various un-biased and non-resident non-Muslims. I was pleased to see the understanding & depth of some of the readers.

Dean Nelson writes in his article in The Telegraph I‘ll tell u y Pakistan blocked Facebook & Youtube

The court’s decision has been widely criticized, but it is an understandable one in a country where the overwhelming majority of people are deeply religious and passionate in defending the dignity of their Prophet. It wasn’t so long ago Britain had a concept of blasphemy and people cared enough to protest against unflattering depictions of Jesus – I’m old enough to remember the release of Monty Python’s The Life of Brian and the reaction it caused among Christians.
The Life of Brian, of course, at least, was funny. It was a story of mistaken identity rather than an attempt to demean a prophet and insult his followers. The “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” site, on the other hand, features childish and gratuitously offensive pictures of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog with a detonated bomb as a turban.

It’s easy to see why Pakistan’s judges thought it easier to shut down Facebook than face widespread chaos and violence by upholding “freedom of expression” of anti-Muslim bigots.

I have an acquaintance who drew Mohammed for this Facebook thing, but I will not. I am a Jew and I follow Hillel’s famous quotation, “that which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” Would I want a Muslim to make insulting cartoons of my religious leaders? No. Do I like my beliefs being mocked? No. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should–   Shannon W. comments in Christian Society Monitor.

“Always stand up to the bullies on the playground ” says Anonymous.

Jesus, the Bible and the Koran are important parts of the Islam religion, and faithful Muslims have high regard for them and treat them with respect. It is forbidden – and considered very disrespectful – to create or distribute any image of Mohammed. To create patently disrespectful images is an intentional slap in the face to all Muslims. It is not funny. It is more than a question of free speech. It is a question of mutual respect – which must exist if we hope to ever achieve world peace – comments MS Wakonda

“Everything concerning religion is not conservative & outdated as is being considered” – says me!!

I agree, we may not be good Muslims and yes, there are other ways to express love for the Prophet, but respect & association with the prophet is the Step1- vital and central. Had it been something related to one particular sect, I would have least bothered. But Muhammad is symbolic to all Muslims – an emblem of Islam. I consider it lowest degree of insensitivity not to condemn the issue. In fact, I believe, this is the lone subject where mullahs & liberals & seculars etc, could all be together on.

Nonetheless, we should also pass a resolution to turn ourselves into better, practical Muslims – Just, trustworthy and tolerant. We muslims must adopt the real spirit of Islam. Develop magnanimity & selflessness. Being mute & numb over the issue, however, would depict inconsiderateness on our part. It’s about defending your religious belief & not just regarding one page of FB.

Argument is, it is maligning the image of Pakistan abroad & the issue has gained undue publicity. I guess, to what extent do we have to compromise on our honor & dignity to create a soft and enlightened image abroad? Or do we need justice, education, science & tech and research for that purpose. Not to forget, a non-corrupt government.

If protests over blasphemy are smearing the image of Pakistan and has acquired uncalled-for media hype, than let it be. In an ignorant society like ours, people refrain from reporting rape & molestation for the very same reason. Do you consider this attitude of the society healthy?

Most important, so much for the freedom of speech, I would like to discus the issue in comparison with the laws against anti-semiticism. How are they not violating mankind’s freedom of expression? Why they are justified, but protesting against offensive caricatures of a highly regarded religious mentor is not? Free expression, is it? Mind you, speaking against holocaust & even displaying Nazi symbols is a crime & not mere an offense.

 I fully respect & support such laws, not that I m scared of !! But because I understand the sensitivity of the issue & I don’t accept dishonorable, hurtful, racist and disrespectful attitudes especially towards such delicate matters in the name of freedom of expression. I am against mockery, prejudiced and hatred speech of any kind, which is personal & sensitive to any religion, belief & community. But than, I expect to be respected back regarding my religion beliefs too. However, those of you, who want unrestrained free speech kindly, dare say something against the above mentioned laws!! I would like a decent, constructive discussion on this.

Here are few of the legislations against hatred concerning Jews. Google, for more details. In at least ten European countries denial of genocide is prohibited. And the new US bill extends it to the whole world. Remember, it’s a crime now in the whole world.

In Spain, The denial of the existence of genocide is a criminal offense which carries a sentence of between one and two years.

French Law sets stiffer punishments for offenses against an anti-Semitic or racist background. According to the French Penal Code, the display of Nazi symbols is a criminal offense.

In 1989, the Brazilian Senate passed a law prohibiting the manufacture, trade and distribution of swastikas (Nazi symbols). Anyone who breaks that law is liable to serve a prison term from between two and five years.

In Denmark, In general terms, presentation in public, use or wearing of Nazi symbols is not prohibited, except in cases in which the use of Nazi symbols is with the aim of offending a specific group, then the use of these symbols in prohibited.

Viola! United Nations, in 1992, declared that anti-Semitism must be recognized as a danger that must be fought against by legal mean. The UN should make such a declaration concerning similar issues other faiths are confronting.

 In Britain. So far there is a draft proposal that’s has yet to be passed into law by the British Parliament. The Holocaust Denial Bill. According to this proposal, denial of the Holocaust, orally or in writing, would be declared an offense. Of note is the fact that the original draft proposal referred solely to the extermination of the Jewish People by the Nazis, but the revised proposal also included the definition of similar crimes as crimes against humanity.

This is rather a fundamental milestone and a good gesture on part of British. It proves Britian,s stance on equality & justice for minorities. I hope the new British government endorses the revised version of the bill and can be role model for the rest of the world including the muslim governments.

Most imperative and somewhat controversial is the US Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, applicable to the whole world. Yes, that now includes us as well! In 2004, the United States House of Representatives and Senate approved a comprehensive proposal giving the State Department the authority  to see for outbreaks of anti-Semitism and racism in the world.  

 According to the law, the State Department will have to produce an annual report on anti-Semitism around the world and design strategies to counter them.It includes acts of physical violence against Jews, their property, cemeteries and places of worship abroad, as well as local governments’ responses to them and take note of instances of anti-Jewish propaganda and governments’ readiness to promote unbiased school curricula.

Well; I support the US bill. But, with a hope that in the long run, this legislation should be extended to other religions, including Muslims and should be enforced similar to the anti-Semitic protection laws. Doing so will also help fight extremism, I am certain of that. Since these guys will now not have the excuse of being treated with inequality and injustice. International community including the UN & the US must play their role wholeheartedly. Initiating, enticing & than supporting blasphemic content only flares up fundamentalism. This gives extremists an excuse to verify their ideologies.

The crucial point to note here is, what mullahs have been protesting violently in recent years because of the disorganized Islamic world, has already been turned into legislation in a civilized manner, either by lobbying or by parliaments in the developed world.
 However, irony is that, over the last few days, Pakistani educated elite have drained their energies proving that the ban was un-called for. I believe, instead they should channelize their energies in a constructive and organized manner to promote the issue at international newspapers and blogs and ask over for a permanent solution to the issue i.e. legislation similar to Global Anti-semiticism Awareness Bill for Muslims and other religions. I feel, over the years, we Pakistanis have lost respect for ourselves and have fallen into an inferiority complex.

Nevertheless, possibility of Pakistani government taking advantage of the situation cannot be ruled out. Even if they have wicked motives, believe me, they r lousy enough to keep bringing more grave issues and the circus will carry on. Give them a short break!  For a change, go out and chill with your family. The daddy judge on the bench might also be dying to spend some quality time with his FB addicted children!

FB,Wiki,Utube blocked over blasphemy

PTA has blocked youtube & Wikipedia as well after Facebook and Foreign office has recorded protest over blasphemy offense at international level. I personally agree with the facebook ban & protests all over Pakistan against “Draw Muhammad Day”, however, I think blocking Blackberry & now youtube is a bit extreme.

Nonetheless, International media must play their role with responsibility, especially while dealing with such delicate and sensitive issues. If the world is talking about promoting inter-faith harmony, than the world must realize now how sensitive Muslims are when it comes to Prophet Muhammad(PBUH). Not understanding their sentiments will only amplify clash between civilizations. Especially when people among them prevented publishing of Jesus caricatures considering it will hurt emotions of many. There should not be double-standards in the name of “freedom of speech”.

Ideally & per FB rules, the group should have been deleted by the FB admin themselves long ago, just like they do with other offensive and violent stuff. FB is a world renowned website, much trusted & appreciated. So whether it was some other minor site as well,it doesnt matter. Not doing so itself shows violation of their own rules & regulations and double-standards, and I guess it is sane and humane that it should be protested in someways. Remember how a 20K Zaid Hamid page was brought down by them considering it offensive!! It would have been, but likewise the world knows how offensive caricatures are for Muslims.

There is varied response. Some consider it exaggerated & emotional reponse.Some people are objecting even FB ban, stating that it has only spilled the dirt which was previously limited to one page. I disagree with that. As a general rule, I consider it cowardice & immoral to hide or cover up any offense or wrongdoing.

If you do not condemn an offense, you will eventually become sensitized & empathic. Pakistanis have already done that looking at the worsening state of affairs over decades & ill response of the public. This objection against cartoon at least indicates we still have some gairat left. It is good to see all united on 1 platform irrespective of sectarian differences. 

I totally agree with the fact that muslims must first develop themselves into the character Muhammad preached. I am a strong believer & promoter that the change should b from within. I condemn people camouflaging themselves with beards, and tasbeehs. But, the fact is muslims have an inborn association & love with the Prophet which even the least practicing ones cannot negate. Hence, emotions play and such reaction to blashemic content naturally happen. 

 I m pleased to see their r Pakistanis who can understand the depth of the issue. As Atiqa Odho, puts in on her twitter account “20th May Fb ban is a symbolic gesture to support our religious belief. Kindly stand up for what is offensive to us”

Pakistanis are already missing FB, apparent from the rolling texts & online discussions. I do sympathize with all the farmers of Farmville though. Hope their farms survive the 10 day ban!!

Compiled from my comments on twitter & blogs. 


“Conservatism is as bad in religion as in any other department of human activity.It destroys the ego,s creative freedom and closes up the paths of fresh spiritual enterprise. This is the main reason why our medieval mystic techniques can no longer produce original discoveries of ancient truth”   – by Allama Muhammad Iqbal in “Reconstruction of religious thoughts in Islam”.

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