Monday, June 14, 2010

Are we an unjust people?

Are we an unjust people?
Friday June 4, 2010\06\04\story_4-6-2010_pg3_3

Are we an unjust people? —Dr Mahjabeen Islam

Our heroes are not Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Jinnah. We are a nation adrift. We idolise looters and plunderers, we follow the morally corrupt, and we are roused to frenzy by the hypocritical voices of hate, garbed in beards and turbans, hijabs and niqabs

It is like the pot, read Pakistanis, calling the kettle, read Israelis, black. Over 100 Ahmedis were massacred while praying and the protest from the Pakistani nation was individual, muted, minimal, and quickly forgotten. Just a few days later, Israel kills 20 activists in the Freedom Flotilla and Pakistanis were aflame in cities across the nation, pelting stones at police, burning cars and property. Protestors in Karachi included fully veiled women with children facing water cannons and police batons. Is there something wrong with this picture, or is it just me?

I wondered why the news anchors kept calling the Ahmedi mosque a “house of worship”, got a clue, researched it and realised with utter disgust that calling an Ahmedi a Muslim and their houses of worship ‘mosques’ would indict the journalist under Pakistan’s ludicrous Blasphemy Law. The patron saint of legislating Ahmedis as non-Muslim was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, all for glaring, personal political motive. Saudi Arabia aided and abetted this then, and its Wahabi/Salafi philosophy of hate continues it. Bhutto’s move for political expediency occurred in 1974 and if it was heresy that the ultra-right was afraid of, it was successful in incriminating Pakistan in the state-sponsored homicide of its own people.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may have taken responsibility for the massacre, but there is no shortage of hate-mongers in Pakistan. Muslims and Pakistanis protest when they are profiled in the west. When mosques are targeted, we go on overdrive with screams of “this is a hate crime”. But at home we give august reception to flakes like Amir Liaquat Hussain who whips up thousands of 21-year-olds, in a single sitting, to rise and kill those that are wajibul qatl (the ones that must rightfully be killed). Within two days of one such tirade, an Ahmedi doctor who served a large segment of an underprivileged population was mercilessly murdered, and his killers escaped with impunity. After another hate speech, an Ahmedi physician couple was brutally murdered. And yes guess again, the killers were not brought to justice.

Our nation’s ethos is moulded by two glorious men: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In this anti-Ahmedi vendetta, we must wonder what they would think. Would the mercy and fine sense of justice of the most perfect of all men, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), condone the murder of even one Ahmedi? Would the pluralism and principles of Jinnah turn a blind eye to the horrifying massacre of Ahmedis while they knelt to God?

But our heroes are not Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Jinnah. We are a nation adrift. We idolise looters and plunderers, we follow the morally corrupt, and we are roused to frenzy by the hypocritical voices of hate, garbed in beards and turbans, hijabs and niqabs.

Any number of Palestinians can be killed and no one cares; one Israeli or in this case 20 Turks die and there is global protest. Similarly, Pakistanis kill 100 praying Ahmedis and no one cares, but when Israel kills 20 activists, Pakistanis are infuriated. So you are expendable if you are a Palestinian or an Ahmedi, and Pakistanis can kill one another, no problem, Israel cannot. The ‘halal for me to drink, haram for you to drink’ premise.

The art of political expediency must be learned from Pakistani politicians, in the vein of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Officials and leaders of major political parties took quite some time to decide how best to appear mealy-mouthed in condemning the attacks. And Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Qazi Hussain Ahmad might as well have been dead themselves or in bliss, who knows. Shahbaz Sharif took the cake: in worried, soft mumblings, he referred to the victims as “woh jo mar gaye hain”. Even if he could not dare, terrified as he appeared of committing political suicide, call the victims shaheed, could he not have had the basic decency to have referred to them in a more polite manner such as jaan bahaq perhaps? You see these are the stars that lead the nation. And the Sharif brothers were long-term guests of the Saudi nation. Blood is expendable; favours must not be forgotten.

While there is an active and violent anti-Ahmedi movement, it is vital for the Pakistani nation to understand that those that believe in the Day of Judgement and “God’s justice is finer than the weight of an atom” (Quran 99:7), that ours is a complicit silence. Turning a blind eye and a deaf ear, just because the neighbourhood imam has brainwashed us to hate Ahmedis, is making us culpable of a major sin under “amar bil maroof wa nahin anal munkar” (promote the good and forbid the evil, Quran 31: 17). Regardless of the evil myopia of the ultra-right, each sane, adult Muslim will be called to account for this disconnect: murder and condoning it is a major sin and ostracising and killing those that deny Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) being the last prophet is not a pillar of faith.

Pakistan as a nation must face that it stands in complicit silence and tacit agreement with all that brutalise its minorities. The greatest loss of self-respect is when one falls in one’s own estimation. Pakistanis hate each other, harbour fanatics, kill their brothers and condone murder.

The civilian population should be disarmed immediately. Perhaps with the rising food, petrol and gas prices, there can be a food-for-weapons programme. Hate-mongering and spreading discord among people should be prosecuted in the court system in an effective and exemplary manner, with punishment that makes the collective hair of the nation stand on end.

The PPP must redeem its founder and have the moral courage to reverse the legislation that classified Ahmedis as non-Muslims. Anyone that recites the kalma is classified as a Muslim, the rest is between them and God. No Muslim is in a position to classify another as non-Muslim.

The vile scourge of terrorism will not end until each and every citizen plays his/her part. We must first believe that it is wrong to take a life, that jihad is first against one’s nafs (base instincts) and the other only in self-defence and never against unarmed non-combatants.

Mahjabeen Islam is a columnist, physician and addictionist with a practice in Toledo Ohio. She can be reached at