Since the birth of our beloved country in 1947, our nation has been confused about the role of religion in the affairs of the state. This confusion is mainly because of religious parties coming into politics and taking a hard, hawkish stand. Ironically, many religious scholars were against Jinnah and the Pakistan movement. Most of the basic principles of Islam like equality, justice and others were not the main focus of the so-called religious scholars; rather they emphasised the jihad factor, without educating the people about the fact that jihad has a boundary, rules and regulations.
The US invasion of Afghanistan gave a chance to many of the maulanas and muftis to come to the frontline and play with the religious sentiments of the people, provoking them to take up arms and fight a ‘jihad’ in Afghanistan. The ‘torchbearers’ of Islam used the loudspeakers in the mosques to hypnotise the masses and tell them that their religious duty is to leave their homes and wage a war against the US forces in Afghanistan.
Young boys and girls studying in the madrassas (seminaries) were very vulnerable to these religious scholars who actually manipulated them and used them for the ‘glory’ of Islam. One of these religious scholars is Maulana Abdul Aziz, a very famous name in Islamabad. He was the head of the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa. In 2006 and 2007, the maulana actually took physical steps with the help of his young ‘religious force’ and violated the law of the state by raiding various neighbourhoods, beating police personnel and trying to implement Islam (peace) through violent means. Last month, this maulana sahib was nominated the Taliban’s committee member by his like-minded friends in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). I am calling the TTP the maulana’s friends because, in my opinion, there is no difference between the maulana and the TTP since both of them want to implement sharia through the use of force. But has peace ever been implemented or can it ever be implemented through the use of force? These days, maulana sahib appears on various talk shows and talks about the implementation of sharia. I would like to ask a few questions of the maulana.
You have been advocating the enforcement of sharia and have your sympathies with the TTP, a main reason they have chosen you as their representative. Do you think that the activities of the TTP are according to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, as they have killed thousands through violent means, cutting the throats of soldiers and civilians? You blame the constitution and the government all the time but do you not think it is your religious and moral duty to condemn the TTP?
Maulana sahib you might be defining the sharia in a different way and the religious scholars from the other sects might define it in a different way; how then can we decide whose brand of sharia is right?
Can we survive in the international arena by breaking relations with the US or the west and by having a rigid and violent stance towards them? Also, would your brand of sharia be able to take care of the changing geo-political and strategic environment of the world and can we uphold our national interests?
The grand mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, has given a fatwa that Muslims living in non-Muslims countries can participate in the business of alcohol and that women and men have equal rights in Islam. He said that a woman can become the president or a prime minister of a Muslim state. Do you approve of this?
What is your take on women working in offices and should they be allowed to become doctors and lawyers? Please do keep in mind the current financial and economic conditions of millions of families and of the country.
Do you think it was fair to actually make a female force in the Lal Masjid, using your thrilling speeches? Do you not think that young people should have focused on their education, playing a vital role in the growth of society, rather than taking the violent approach?
Do you think today’s Pakistani society can bear any violent extremist religious speeches against the government or the ills in society? In Pakistan, where the education rate is so low, what if one young person listens to your religiously enthusiastic speech and turns into a suicide bomber? Would you not be responsible for that act? Moreover, what if he is the only bread-earner of his family?
Maulana sahib, with due respect, this nation is very passionate about religion, and people do follow you. Fiery religious speeches will only act as a catalyst in increasing the unrest in society. In the current situation, you are taking the side of those who have killed thousands of innocent people, many of them are children and women, and then you appear on a television channel and try to spread terror by saying that the TTP have women bombers. Islam is a religion of peace — in the Quran, our Allah, in 112 chapters, is introduced as a God of peace and mercy. If you actually want that the injustices in society should be taken care of, you have two legal options. First, you can take part in the elections, come into power and implement the laws you want or, secondly, you can spread the true colour of Islam in society, which is peace, brotherhood and acceptance. It is only through peaceful means that peace can be spread — violence will only breed violence.
You could have raised your students in such a way that they become models of peace, with moral and ethical values, but you took the violent path to spread peace. Maulana sahib, if you cannot stand by the major segment of society you should not stand against us.
The writer is a research associate at the Regional Peace Institute