Pakistan Ulema Council has appealed to the ulemas of all the major schools of thought in the country to make this Ramazan special by creating awareness among the people in Pakistan on issues related to human lives, dignity and respect. Usually we spend Ramazan trying to create a spiritual bound with Allah, but rarely do we invest time and effort in minimizing gaps between people on issues that could be avoided only if we learn the basic truth that the way to Allah goes through His people. I have appealed to the ulemas to dedicate the four Friday sermons to discuss these important topics: rights of women; importance of dialogue to promote interfaith and intersect harmony; rights of Allah and people; the difference between Jihad and terrorism. These issues are becoming more important since the society is fast moving backward in dispensing human values. It is amazing that instead of progressing in Islam we are moving into backwaters. It is time, we find out the reasons of this decadence, but unless we talk things out, discuss them, debate them, weigh our present situation against the one we have had previously when we were considered enlightened, this knot will remain tangled.
Women in Pakistan are passing through one of their worst times, indeed. Had we ever imagined Pakistanis becoming as ruthless as to kill and burn their daughters alive only because they choose to marry boys of their own liking? If a girl elopes with a boy, the responsibility of it also falls on the parents who make choices so limited for the poor girl that she is left with no other option but to make a way for her own self. Never did we hear a woman killed in a cold blood by her own parents and siblings inside the court. Lately we have had, five years old girl raped; we have seen a girl raped and hanged to death and we have found acid thrown on them. There is a long list of atrocities happening against women in this Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and no one is able to stop them. The least politicians and the law makers do is pass condolences. It is rather a shame that the bill against the domestic violence against women could not be passed because of the interference and negative intervention of the Islamic parties in the National Assembly. One the one hand we profess love for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and are ready to kill or be killed on the drop of a hat if anything adversarial is said against him. Does love has only one interpretation i.e. shedding blood. One cannot think Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) feeling happy seeing this state of affairs fallen on Muslims? He spent his life in bringing people together; his warring attitude was reserved for those who would display open hatred against Muslims by conniving conspiracies to decimate Islam. Otherwise Muslims or non-Muslims his blessings and love was for everyone. That the followers of such a benevolent Prophet would kill their own daughters is jarring. If a Muslim misses one command of Prophet Muhammad he is considered committing one sin. And it is the instructions of the Prophet Muhammad to the parents of a daughter to acquire about her likes and dislikes and seek her permission about the boy they plan to marry her with. The idea of seeking permission inherently covers the logic of accepting refusal by the girl and agreeing to marry her off if she has liking for someone else. If Islam had wanted girls to behave like clay, then why had it given her the right to make choices; choices are made by rational beings and rationally means sensibility, calculation, weighing options and above all making decisions.
I request to the ulemas of Pakistan to start reforming the nation anew. We are once again into the dark eras?
Another issue that is of equal importance and from which emanates all our problems is the failure to understand rights of Allah and the rights of human beings. We are keen to oblige Allah with prayers, fasts, hajj and annual zakat. But we are not keen to understand the purpose behind these obligations. These compulsory acts prepare us to become good human beings. And whether one likes it or not, humanity is achieved through the refinement of the soul by making constant, sacrifices, forgiveness and forgetting the follies of others and by adjusting to difficult circumstances. The road to hell could be paved with good intention but to heaven it is strewn with hard choices and difficult decisions. Once we understand what it is to serve people could we become harsh to our women. Impossible. Therefore I insist upon my fellow ulemas to first make our people good human beings. What is the fun of being a Muslim if our acts are worst then of a Kafir (non-believer)? Etymologically Kafir (non-believer) in Arabic means a large mound of mud resistant to light. A Kafir is therefore someone who is in total darkness. Quran emulates Islam with light. So can a Muslim who is walking in light behave like someone surrounded with darkness. That is why Prophet Muhammad has said that Iman (belief) and Kufr (disbelief) cannot live in same heart. Time to ponder.
We have shed enough blood in the name of Islam. Isn’t it painful to even utter such a thing: Shedding blood in the name of Islam? The waste that we have made of human lives by indulging into sectarian and religious violence reflects a deeper pathology. Jihad one of the most beautiful concept of Islam has been smeared by aligning it with terrorism. The fact is that we Muslims have done it all either by selling short or by thinking through Islam according to our narrow interpretation of it. We are the culprits for making Islam a religion considered the bottom of all that ails the world today. Unfortunately Pakistan is one of the worst countries in world in granting freedom of religion. Similarly the country is considered the hub of terrorism, a net exporter of it.
Lets us use the opportunity given by Ramzan and start the process of revamping, resurrecting and redefining the meaning of Islam.
If we fail now, we will never recover.
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