Saturday, September 22, 2012
VIEW : Exploitation of Islam — I — Professor Farakh A Khan
We have ‘defenders of Islam’ who carry out ethnic cleansing. Taking over mosques by different sects is a lucrative step
I have no hard scientific data but I feel religion in Pakistan is the largest corporation. People donate to build new mosques, madrassas, maintenance of thousands of shrines and mosques. People also donate to Islamic social welfare organisations and to various shades of Islamic organisations including jihadis. The people of Pakistan give freely to the needy in the form of zakat for their health and education. Many people operate free langar (free meals) for the poor. The religious leaders have no role to play in improving moral, social, tolerance and ethical values of our society.
Religious groups are into education for earning money. Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Tanzeemul Madaris (Barelvi), Wafaqul Madaris Board (Deobandi) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa are all running English medium schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The JI is also running a medical and dental college in Peshawar. All these organisations have separate religious schools.
At the same time, Islam is exploited in many ways. During Ramazan, TV advertisements focus on the Islamic aspects of their products. The sellers of jewellery also advertised the name of Allah on their bracelets. The ghee (cooking oil) ads show its flavour during Iftari and the soft drinks do the same. Many religious parties own TV channels. Can we allow religious TV channels of any other faith?
Every year, moon sighting only at the end of the Ramazan month is a painful pantomime. Old folks, with poor eyesight with thick glasses and a telescope, try to see the new moon. Use of glasses and a telescope could be the ancient Islamic teaching. Sighting of the moon is a scientific event and has to be taken out of the hands of a religious committee. We also have the classical example of kidney transplantation in Pakistan. This became a hot religious issue starting in 1986. There was a strong sentiment among the ulema that it was un-Islamic. When some cleric had a kidney failure patient in the family, he went and got a fatwa in support of kidney transplantation. However, resistance continued for more than a decade with obscure illogical arguments from the learned religious leaders. The issue was settled when most Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia declared that transplantation was not against Islamic teachings.
We also have criminal elements using Islam. We have been told of big names posing as defenders of Islam and gatekeepers of paradise who are or were on the regular payroll of the agencies or even foreign governments. We also have people who indulge in extortion, kidnappings and target killings claiming to be defending Islam. We have ‘defenders of Islam’ who carry out ethnic cleansing. Taking over mosques by different sects is a lucrative step. We also have pirs and gadinasheens (spiritual leaders) of various shrines across Pakistan making huge earnings. Finally, some suicide bombers claiming to be motivated by ‘Islamic teachings’ killed many innocent people.
We are experiencing sectarian killing in the name of Islam. To some degree, sectarian strife was present in British India but then we did not have AK 47s or better transport. Islamisation efforts by General Zia destabilised Pakistan. During Zia’s time, Deobandi and Barelvi were at each other’s throat, regularly killing one another. We also have the Tehreek-e-Taliban that has discarded democracy and the constitution as the devil’s implants, wants Shariah in Pakistan and has chosen the path of violence on all Pakistanis to attain its goal. They nearly succeeded in Swat before being routed by the army. The Taliban have now moved to Karachi, targeting people who are against them. The Taliban are also reported to be indulging in kidnappings and bank heists to sustain them. They are being sustained by financial support from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Sectarian killings are now out of control in the Middle East and have become a major destabilising factor in the area.
The extremists, to a degree, have made the media subservient through threats of violence. The media dare not produce any programme criticising these extremists/radicals of our society. These organisations, some banned in Pakistan, freely collect funds in Pakistan and have expensive training centres functioning. This has led to speculation that they have the support of the agencies, which the latter deny. There are allegations that the attackers on Mehran Naval Base, Karachi, and the Kamra Air Base had inside help.
The attack on minorities, Christians, Hindus and Qadianis by people motivated by a strange kind of Islam, is more disturbing. Misuse of the Blasphemy law (Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code) to terrorise and grab the land of the minorities happens often. Any change in this law can motivate ordinary peace-loving people to kill. We lost one governor when he suggested changes in the law. The killer had widespread support from religious leaders. Blasphemy shows strange kinds of aggressive behaviour in normally passive people and they are ready to kill or to be killed. Most of the victims are non-Muslims. Perhaps, this is a shortcut to paradise.
(To be continued)
The writer is a freelance writer