Pakistan has a 95 percent strong Muslim population, with the same religion of Islam and the same revealed book, the Quran. Despite the same religion and the same holy book, there are many sects. These sects interpret Islam and the holy book in their own, different ways to their followers. What Pakistan has developed into is the religious landscape of pre-14th century England, when the religious class of the Roman Catholic Church, under the Pope, dominated the lives of the people. Even a king could not remarry or divorce his wife without the consent of the Pope. The masses were barred from getting an education and so they could neither read nor understand the Bible. The high illiteracy rate of the poor people was exploited by the religious class, which would extort money from them by lying about Biblical commands.
In the 14th century, the Bible’s translation into English by an Oxford teacher, John Wyclif, opened the eyes of the people on how the so-called religious men had deceived them in the name of religion. His translation revolutionised society by shaking distorted religious dominance and attracting people towards getting an education. He was given the title of the ‘Morning Star’ of the Reformation, which paved the way for 16th century Renaissance in England. The Renaissance was a literary and cultural movement. This started in Italy in the 15th century when some Muslim scholars, armed with Greek, Latin and French rich literature books, took refuge in Italy. The books were by Plato, Aristotle, Homer and many other great figures. The Renaissance proved the last knell for religious dominance as science progressed and the power of reasoning was utilized by every individual.
The way innocent polio workers on minimum daily wages are killed, Shia pilgrims are slaughtered, devotees are beheaded inside Karachi shrines and the security forces are bombed, there is a need for a person like John Wyclif and a movement like the Renaissance to educate the masses about the real philosophy of Islam and the culture of the country.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 25-year-old PPP chairman and the pioneer of the Sindh Festival, rightly said on his January 21, 2014 speech to the nation: “The Sindh Festival will be a ray of hope in the darkness of terrorism. This is the biggest weapon against insurgency. If we have to survive, we should be firmly attached to our roots, otherwise the flood of terrorism will sweep away our identity.” Our roots are our culture and our religion. Our culture of Sindh is 5,000 years old, the origin of which is in Mohenjodaro (the mound of the dead). History has revealed that the people of Mesopotamia, now known as Iraq, had trade relations with the people of Mohenjodaro and they carried along with themselves the seals of Sindh. Our culture has had elements of hospitability, tolerance, bravery and peace for many centuries. Sindh is known in the world as the land of peace and saints. History is witness that the people of Sindh are very brave and have always fought for their land’s safety. Hoshu Sheedi sacrificed his life fighting against the British army in 1843. He lived up to his pledge: ‘Marsoon marsoon Sindh na deson’ (I would die but not give up Sindh). Sain G M Syed first piloted successfully the Pakistan Resolution through the Sindh Assembly.
Sindh has always taken a lead. The Sindh Festival kicks off from Sindh and aims to educate the masses about its centuries-old culture of peace, tolerance, bravery and the true spirit of the religion of Islam. Bilawal Bhutto candidly speaking has drawn attention towards the key factors why the terror network is intact. He said that the rulers, educational institutions, ulema (clerics) and madrassas (seminaries) did not tell the truth and that a fabricated history was taught in the name of Pakistan Studies and, in the name of Islamic Studies, religion became disfigured.
Superintendent Police CID Chaudhry Aslam was killed in a suicide bombing by a minor madrassa student. The underage child might have been explained Islam in a distorted form. Islam is a religion of peace. The teachings of Islam declare the murder of an innocent human being as akin to the murder of entire humanity. In the battle of Badr, 70 Quraish were captured. Some of them were freed on payment and others on educating uneducated Muslims. Our Prophet (PBUH) said, “Seek education from the cradle to the grave.” The terrorists are against education. They have bombed hundreds of schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The terrorists are against a disease-free country as they have been targeting polio workers. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that 80,000 children are without polio immunisation vaccination in Pakistan.
The PPP chairman’s message in his speech is a synonym for a Renaissance. His words tell as much: “Terrorism, sectarianism and hypocrisy can be eradicated when the people know their reality.” If every Pakistani stops supporting terrorists, their network will remain no more. There is a need to make the masses aware that Islam and the culture of Pakistan have no room for terrorism and insurgency. The 25-year Bilawal Bhutto has learnt the weakness of terrorists, but the over 60 right-wing parties’ leaders still demand talks with the terrorists, which is absurd and out of context. The path Bilawal Bhutto has started treading shows there is great potential for a Renaissance for Pakistani society with the rejection of the terrorists.
The writer is a freelance columnist and lecturer in English Literature. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @maverickir