Khawaja Akbar |
The outbreak of violent protests, after the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted Aasiya Noreen in the blasphemy case, is another example of cultural decay, the absence of the rule of law, but above all – religious ignorance. The assassination of the former Governor of Punjab; The gruesome slaughter of Mashal Khan; The murder of Qandeel Baloch and the attempt on the life of former minister Ahsan Iqbal are acts that are against the letter and spirit of Islam.
Islam’s message to the Indian subcontinent, centuries ago, was propagated using the principle of ‘Taqlid’ (Imitation without reason). Since no local translations of the Quran existed at the time and few understood the Arabic language, the general populous accepted the principle of Taqlid and blindly followed the teachings of religious clerics. Unfortunately, this trend continues till today despite the availability of the text of the Quran in several languages and is the root cause fueling the ignorance that in-part has led to heinous crimes committed by Right-Wing fanatics.
A review of the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), clearly stipulates the conduct that is expected of Muslims. In Surah-e-Al-Anam (6:68), Muslims receive a clear injunction with regards to speech that might be considered profane:
“Now, whenever thou meet such as indulge in (blasphemous) talk about Our messages, turn thy back upon them until they begin to talk of other things and if Satan should ever cause thee to forget (thyself), remain not, after recollection, in the company of such evildoing folk”.
In Surah-e-Al-Nisa (4:140), Believers receive the below instruction:
“And, indeed, He has enjoined upon you in this divine writ that whenever you hear people deny the truth of God’s messages and mock at them, you shall avoid their company until they begin to talk of other things – or else, verily, you will become like them. Behold together with those who deny the truth God will gather in hell the hypocrites.”
In Surah-e-Al-Baqarah (2:109), we are told:
“Out of their selfish envy, many among the followers of earlier revelation would like to bring you back to denying the truth after you have attained to faith – (even) after the truth has become clear unto them. None the less, forgive and forbear, until God shall make manifest His will: behold, God has the power to will anything.”
In Surah-e-TaHa (20:130), again Allah commands men of faith to be patient:
“Hence, bear with patience whatever they (who deny the truth) may say, and extol they Sustainer’s limitless glory and praise him before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and extol his glory, too, during some of the hours of the night as well as during the hours of the day, so that thou might attain to happiness.”
In Surah-e-Al-Ahzab (33:48), God says:
“and defer not to (the likes and dislikes) of the deniers of the truth and hypocrites, and disregard their hurtful talk, and place thy trust in God: for none is as worthy of trust as God.”
Lastly, In Surah-e-Al-Aaraf (7:199), We are told:
“Make due allowance for man’s nature, and enjoin the doing of what is right; and leave alone all those who choose to remain ignorant.” The above is not an exhaustive list of verses from the Quran, stipulating non-violence when confronted with irreligious talk but it makes clear, without any doubt, the behaviour a believer must adopt.
In addition to the verses of the Quran, that have no rival, we find in the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) an example in complete harmony with the above teachings. Once Aisha, the beloved wife of the Prophet (PBUH), inquired if the Prophet (PBUH) had ever encountered a day tougher than the day of the battle of Uhud. In reply, the Prophet (pbuh) referred to the day of Aqaba (the incident at Taif), where according to several accounts the Prophet (PBUH) was drenched in blood after being attacked by the townsfolk. However, even at that moment when the Prophet (PBUH) was exiled from his home in Mecca and attacked in the nearby town of Taif, his response was the following prayer:
“No! But I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah alone, and will worship None besides Him”.
Yet despite the above teachings, somehow the community of believers in Pakistan time and again exemplify a despicable and deplorable character that has nothing to do with the ‘Message of the Quran’ and God’s most beloved Messenger. This includes not just the murderers who engage in such vile actions but also those who remain silent.
It was exactly 500 years ago that Martin Luther’s ‘Ninety-five theses’ against the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church, marked the beginning of the Reformation. Luther’s biggest achievement was to use the printing press (Johannes Gutenberg) to disseminate the teachings of the Bible – unfiltered and uncorrupted – to the masses. In the process, destroying the power of the Catholic Church as the sole interpreters of the word of God.
It is baffling to see that today in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, we hold our self-proclaimed religious experts in higher esteem than 16th century Europe, where people needed the clergy for the expiration of sins. In Islam, the clergy holds no sacerdotal authority and a Muslim can communicate directly with God, yet we remain slaves to these ‘Mullahs’ who have received no special sanction, from the God we worship.
Therefore, contrary to popular opinion that calls on the clergy in Pakistan to condemn such heinous crimes, we must bypass the clergy by spreading the teachings of the Quran directly to the masses in their own language and rejecting concepts such as ‘Taqlid’ that defeat the essence of Islam – a religion for ‘people who think’. Only then, can we hope to bring an end to the dichotomy that we see in the theology of Islam and the practice of ignorant believers?