NationalVOLUME 15 ISSUE # 21

Muslim by name

One has always been of the opinion substantiated with circumstantial evidence that we are Muslim by name. Whilst we claim to be Muslim by large, we are more in love with the idea of Islam than actually following it in letter and spirit at every level.

Were we really Muslim at heart – then why is it our political history has been a binary constant between dictatorship and sham democracy? Because whilst some aspects of the two systems can be aligned with the Islamic framework (collective wisdom reflecting a Majlis-e-Shoora in a parliamentary system and unity of command in a dictatorship thus replacing Ameer-ul-Momineen), it doesn’t exactly offer us the models of Khilafat or Imamat that our religion advises us to adopt. With the end of Prophehood on Muhammad (peace be upon him), Imamat was reduced to religion alone both in Shia and Sunni domains and these days is limited to offering of congregational prayers– and affairs of the State were left to kingship – which in modern times is the rule of “strong-men” i.e. either dictatorships or populism amid sham democracies. With massive commercialization of religion and politics – one ought to ask – can anyone in their right mind find any similarities between the dictators and political leaders that have been sold to the nation under various rhetoric compared to the companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him) or even the various Imams of Muslim nations?

Were we really an Islamic nation – then why is it that 2 million of children remain out of school? Why is it that only the capitals of all provinces have seen development works at the cost of rural areas? Why is it that the bureaucracy gets all the grades, cadres, privileges and the politicians get away with all the kickbacks, commissions, media projections, mega scandals – and the mafias face little or no-accountability whatsoever – yet the children, students, women remain marginalized sections of our society at large? There wouldn’t be a march for women rights or restoration of student unions had the system delivered!

Were we really an Islamic nation – then why is it that our foreign policy is being made behind closed doors? Why is it that our politicians want peace with India? The national security apparatus would disagree but one even genuinely feels our external security threat matrix is distorted – it’s not India in the last many years that has hurt us as much as the two battles that were fought in Afghanistan – by Russia and the US– so shouldn’t our defence policy have been primarily focused on marginalizing so-called superpowers and keeping them at bay? Now you’d snap back that is exactly why Zia used the American support coupled with the Afghan Jihadis to bring the Russians down, but let one remind it that by doing so, not only did we disturb the global power order, but created our very next enemies i.e a USA-unleashed and the TTP, and to defend ourselves against the former as well as India alongside economic cooperation is the primary reason we bend over to please others.

When the Quran clearly states that bounty, goodness and dominion lie in the Hand of Allah – then why on earth we have been bending over backwards to please other nations in any and every way we can – fight their wars, and seeking their aid and assistance be it in terms of military equipment, financial debt-driven instruments, multilateral or bilateral cooperation, treaties, defence ties, intelligence sharing, security arrangements, seeking internal and external legitimacy. This cooperation framework was found active in all governments we have had – be it political or military.

One could argue that we have been fighting them in silent and benign ways. However, Islam does not allow proxy wars – and the wisdom behind it is that there are virtually no rules of engagement, and sooner or later – they come back to haunt you and that is exactly what we witnessed in our case. Those that we created sought to destroy us, like the TTP inspired by the Taliban of Afghanistan, and all the fighters that had joined the Kashmiri struggle. But one should ask the international community one thing: We call back those that had joined the Kashmir cause and they start operating inside Pakistan, and how does India respond to it? By ripping up Kashmir of its special status and enforcing a lockdown that still continues along with over a thousand violations of the LOC each year? Weren’t things more “stable” with the fighters present in IOK?

Were we really an Islamic state, then how can we call the entire India our enemy – don’t 220m Muslims live there? Did our declaration of independence also end our ties of brotherhood? But a better example to quote would be what we did to Bangladesh. They were Muslim and Pakistani. We could have parted ways peacefully easily – who is to blame when we didn’t?

Were we really an Islamic state, then why is it that we continue to battle Allah and His Messenger as our entire economy (the power sector, the government be it federal or provincial, the entire corporate sector) seems to be funded by debt-driven instruments? Lately, even the PTI went in for hot money by increasing central interest rates. And bank giants that form a vital portion of our foreign reserves are never touched – because not only are they used to reschedule the external borrowing through internal borrowing to sustain the operations of the government but they also finance our major industries, especially sugar, power and textile sectors. That is why all politicians who have stakes in them, no matter on how many loans they defaulted, were eventually forgiven, no matter how many fake benami accounts emerge, be it of Zardari or TTs of Shahbaz Sharif, we never touch these “debt-financing” banks because our national lifeline depends on them – but definitely we can afford a fight with Allah and His Messenger on account of interest-based loans, right? Wrong! The economy always has, is and will never make it out of the ventilator as long as it and the government which is running it are financed by interest-based-debt!

Moving on but stuck in the present – it makes one wonder- we have dodged almost every Divine Order in the Quran in the name of political collective wisdom coupled with diplomacy, disobeyed the Quran for decades for our own desires and vested interests, and martyred many Sunnahs of beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in our daily lives through innovations, and rebelled against the letter and spirit of Islam citing excuses “this is the 21st century.” We got to align ourselves with modern times but why do the major functionaries of the state still carry a major footprint of the British Raj? Is it our constitutional commitment to follow in their footsteps despite 71 years of independence? Our work system, salary and pension system, railway system, canal system, legal system, labour laws, penal and criminal code, bureaucratic and state procedures still remind one of the ways things were done in the times of East India Company. Why has jurisprudence and “Ijhtehad” failed to ignite a constructive debate in this area and see it through to the end? Nobody is against policies and SOPs that remain valid to this date but isn’t it high time we reevaluated the same in the light of Islam best suited to our national, provincial needs – in line with our cultural traditions?