Religion is a historically recognized source of education. It drives the society towards moral and reformative life by adding perspective, and addressing the purpose of life. Religion programs basic human faculties, molds our manners, and teaches us the necessary values to live in a peaceful society.
No religion promotes intolerance, inequality, extremism and fundamentalism. In fact, religious harmony is commonly found amongst almost all religions.
The word ‘Islam’ means ‘peace’ and the religion serves the message of harmony and betterment for the entire world. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, Islam has been occupied by religious extremists for decades, and so it has been labelled as a religion of terror.
Extremist fundamentalism in Pakistan has distorted the true face of Islam, an inherently peaceful religion. These fundamentalists are using Islam as a tool to accomplish their violent ideologies by manipulating the sacred text and the accompanying interpretation. The ideology they preach is farfetched when compared to the real teachings of Islam.
In reality, Islam is a religion that encourages its followers to be useful for humanity, and lead the rest of the world towards a better tomorrow with personal examples. Islam is a code of conduct that educates mankind, while ensuring that everyone feels safe and secure.
Misuse of Blasphemy Law
In Pakistan, a Quranic term “Khatam-i-Nabuwat” is commonly used. Literally, this term means ‘The seal of all the prophets’. But in today’s Pakistan, unfortunately, the term is deliberately employed to obtain soft religious mileage for self-projection and sociopolitical or economic benefits. The incorrect use of this term has horrifying results when this term is used by mobs, and chanted as a slogan to trigger people’s religious sentiments. The incorrect use of this term has often led to a manipulated understanding of the blasphemy laws.
Today, state-supported religious extremism and the misuse of blasphemy laws has become a common practice — and more often than not, a religious leader, is involved. The misapplication of blasphemy laws and its overarching use against non-Muslims creates heightened insecurity among religious minorities in Pakistan.
Every year, September 7th is celebrated as the “Day of Khatm-i-Nabuwat” and 12 Rabi-ul-Awal as the Day of the Birth of the Holy Prophet (SAW). However, we are in such an extreme state of religious and social decay that we don’t deserve to celebrate these occasions. Fundamentalists and religious groups use these days for religious hegemony and to exploit the actual teachings of the Islam. In the gatherings and rallies, religious leaders openly criticize Ahmadis and instigate their followers against this small community. This is despite the harmony and peace that the life and person of the Holy Prophet (SAW) taught us.
Blasphemy laws are used almost exclusively against non-Muslims to deal with personal grievances and enmities. The nation’s current state of mind is confused: they dislike the non-Muslims in Pakistan but most of the population would not hesitate to settle in non-Muslim countries.
Historically, Pakistan has always been a Muslim majority state but it was not created or designed as an Islamic state. After Partition, religious groups high-jacked the sociopolitical system of the Republic of Pakistan and modified the very texture of the state to create space for themselves.
In Pakistan, minorities only make up about 7 per cent of the population. Given the amount of discrimination they face; you would think they make up a larger population.
The places of worship for Hindus, Christians and particularly Ahmadis are not secure, this is in direct contradiction with the teachings of the Holy Prophet (SAW). The religion column in official documents, officially discriminates against non-Muslims, without paying regard to their abilities and talent.
Pakistan has faced much terrorism in recent times; unfortunately, often religious leaders are found to be masterminds behind terrorist activities. Their ideas behind so-called jihad and jihadists are damaging our society. Banned Islamist organizations are involved in the bloodshed of innocent people. Every sect in Pakistan wants to implement a rule of law based on their personal beliefs, with zero tolerance for others. Instead of wanting to offer prayers with each other, some religious leaders can’t stand each other. This is a result of interpreting the teachings of Islam according to their personal objectives.
Another overlooked and associated problem is that across the country there are around 26,000 registered and 10,000 unregistered madrasas — these house more than 3 million students. According to reports, in the last 10 years around 500 cases of sexual abuse have been reported against religious clerics, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of unreported cases since child molestation is a common practice in these religious schools.
Deteriorating Rule of Law
No society can be a prosperous without justice, but in Pakistan justice is just an illusion. This legal system has been high jacked by the elite class. For the ordinary Pakistani getting justice is difficult, costly, and inaccessible. More than 2,100,000 legal cases are pending, out of which Supreme Court’s has to look at 52,000. Bribery and crimes are rampant. Furthermore, black marketing, profiteering and food adulteration is on the rise. Medicines and further edible items of daily use are not pure. Pakistan is standing on the 130th position out of 139 countries in rule of law.
Politicians and ruling elite are involved in looting the state assets. In general, the nation is divided by various education systems, social and economic classes, and sociopolitical ideologies. Political classes are using so-call democracy as a tool to exploit the nation. Politicians and religious leaders failed to train the nation socially, politically and religiously, but they were successful in dividing the population politically and religiously.
The business of issuing fatwas (edicts) against opponents is a common route for revenge. Nobody has the right to declare someone Kafir [non-believer] and announce an obligatory killing, but in Pakistan this happens.
Pakistanis have become accustomed to communal hate, discrimination against minorities, and intolerance. In short, they don’t practice Islam and yet they are ever ready to raise slogans to ‘protect’ Islam. Extremists in the society want to impose their version of Islam on others, even without practicing it themselves.
The way out is to lead with personal examples and demonstrate Islam through deeds and actions. This can be achieved by firming up the brotherhood, and practicing tolerance and honesty. The Pakistani nation has suffered enough. We can be prosperous if we give respect to each other and work together.