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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

How do you know if I am an extremist or a moderate?

Asma Razaq |

A few days back, I met my friends in the canteen of my university, where I post-graduated from, in Islamabad. During gossips, one of my friends asked me, “What do you think about the murder of former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer by his security guard? Was it justifiable or just an act of inhumanity and extremism?” That sensitive question was totally unexpected as all of us were just sharing our job experiences and professional careers.

Mr. Taseer was shot by his security guard Mumtaz Qadri in broad daylight in Islamabad, maintaining that the former had blasphemed, as he sought to reform the blasphemy laws. Qadri was convicted and then hanged last year.

“It was insanely inhuman”, I was loud. My friend, Anjum, who asked me this question, at once started looking straight into my eyes. “You sure?” He asked with a suddenly changed tone. “What if someone utters something impious concerning our God or the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)? Shouldn’t we take any immediate action against him so that he could be punished hard for what he did?”

Read more: Of blasphemy laws & woman protection bill: law of unintended consequences!

I was speechless to some extent, but then after rebuilding my confidence, I said, “No one should be allowed to decide what is right and what is wrong and punish others as per his discretion. Could you present even a single verse of the Holy Quran or any example from the Hadith which shows that the convicted of blasphemy should be sentenced to death?”

There are three schools of thoughts in our country: one religiously extremist, second moderate, and the third one is extremely liberal.

The reaction of my friends sitting at the table for tea and light snacks was unbelievable. Their faces had turned red with anger. Two of them, while yelling at me, said, “You are gradually getting away from your religion and its values. You are trying to behave as if you are a liberal Muslim, but the reality is that you have completely forgotten your religious values, emotions, and ethics”.

This behavior of my friends was unexpected. All of them were highly educated. But without thinking even for a single moment, they just expressed what was in their hearts. This was both ridiculous and ironic.

Read more: Pakistan’s National Assembly passes resolution condemning blasphemous content: Difficult Questions Arise?

After going through all what happened during our get-together, I reached a conclusion.

The General Mindsets in Our Society

There are three schools of thoughts in our country: one religiously extremist, second moderate, and the third one is extremely liberal. What I did, put me in the third category, while the behavior of my friends fits them into first. There was no one on the table from the second category.

We are either religiously or liberally extremist, but no one dares to be from the second category that could bring a positive, revolutionary thought in the mindsets of our society.

If we want a reform in self-obtained laws, we are convicted of blasphemy. If we want the courts to decide what is right or wrong about the persons convicted of blasphemy, we are deemed far away from our religion and its values.

This conflict would go on till the emergence of a moderate mindset in society.

Asma Razaq is a broadcast journalist. She has worked with Samma TV & Business Recorder and just completed her 18 month long Atlas Fellowship Program, under which worked as Communication Officer with “Universities Allied for Essential Medicine” (UAEM) in the United States. This article first appeared in The Nation and is being republished with the permission of the author.