Category Archives: Religion

Meet Nadir Khan, the Cobbler from Bajaur

by Aasem Bakhshi

Nadir Khan, the cobbler from Bajaur who sits at the corner of my street, carries the kind of iconic baggage usually associated with cobblers from Sufi folklore and mystic literature. His character inspires me, his sensibilities vex me and his paradoxes keep me engaged with mine.


Being well aware of each second he lives, Nadir Khan spends a quarter of the year with his family in village, another quarter busy earning on a footpath in this metropolis, and another in the way of Allah, as he finds it to be. My self proclaimed wisdom and religious pragmatism is forced to zilch in front of his embodied response to time. Continue reading

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Filed under musings, Pakistan, Religion, Society

A Soldier’s Soliloquy: Can a Person Refuse to Fight?

by Aasem Bakhshi

…if called upon by the government to do so. Thomas Hobbes would concede this right with some limitations and John Locke would probably deny. And even though Lockean tradition is superior in terms of social contract theory, I tend to take refuge behind Hobbes, considering the Leviathan I am subjected to in my part of the world. But I am still not sure how to tackle this question, which albeit still at some distance, is moving towards me while staring ceaselessly on my face.

While the angst is becoming unbearable and the masochist within me is yet again alive after so many years, I ramble inveterately in search of judgment. Continue reading

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Filed under musings, Philosophy, Religion, war

Is it easy to fill the God shaped hole at the center of our souls?

By Aasem Bakhshi

Contrary to common Muslim perception, Islamic tradition does not hold a unanimous conception of God; furthermore, being able to believe in an omnipotent, perpetually creative and law giving Deity demands clarity of conception, which is intellectually laborious and demands extraordinary dedication.

The foremost act in religion is the acknowledgment of Him. The perfection of acknowledging Him is believing in Him; the perfection of believing in Him is acknowledging His oneness; the perfection of acknowledging His oneness is pledging loyalty to Him and the perfection of pledging loyalty to Him is denying attributes pertaining to Him, because of the qualities of His creation that could be attributed to humans. Everyone of them is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute. Thus whoever assigns attributes to Allah recognizes His like, and who recognizes His like regards Him as dual, and who regards Him as dual recognizes parts of Him, and who recognizes parts of Him has mistaken Him. Continue reading

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Filed under Islam, Philosophy, Religion

A Tale of Two Classes

This article was originally published in Dawn. It makes a very interesting read and makes some extremely incisive points.

By Muhammad Waseem

In Pakistan, two dominant classes compete with each other for influence and privilege. One is the middle class, which provides the catchment area for the civil bureaucracy, technocrats, the military’s officer cadre and the business community. The other can be called, for lack of a better term, the political class that includes political entrepreneurs of various kinds at various levels, led by the landed and tribal elite. Continue reading

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Filed under Army, civil service, Democracy, Identity, Religion, Society

Eid: the annual circus of the Royyat

Usman Ahmad

As another Eid draws near so too does the annual circus of the Royyat-e-Halal Committee roll into town. Tonight, all over the country eager eyes will turn towards their television sets awaiting the verdict of whether the moon has been sighted or not. Every year it seems this bit of plain observation requires more erudition and scholarly discussion than the finer aspects of particle physics. Debate will rage, storms in teacups will brew, fatwas and counter fatwas will be made and eventually some genius will seek to quell the firestorm by blaming it all on the Ahmadis.   As always FATA will declare Eid a day early, the afore-mentioned committee will ooh and ahh late into the night before eventually deciding either that the moon has been sighted after all – sending housewives in the country into a manic frenzy over the next day’s preparations – or tell a downcast nation to retire to their beds and submit to one more day of fasting without taking into consideration that having been kept up so late – these poor souls might have a little problem waking up for Sehri.
What I don’t get and what irks me the most is how tiresome and unnecessary the whole charade is. Surely when the rest of the Muslim world have decided to using bona fide scientific methods to pre-determine when their Eid will be – it would not be too unwise for Pakistan to do the same. But alas these days wisdom and Pakistan seem to have about as distant a relationship as the Swiss have with minarets.
So let the posturing begin. Tomorrow we may be rejoicing and receiving nice plump envelopes of Eidi (I wish) or maintaining the discipline, restraint and obedience fasting so invariably demands of us. Either way, I for one, wish I could have found out a little bit sooner.

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Filed under Pakistan, Regulatory Affairs, Religion

Religious Right in Their Own Words; Apostasy Punishment, Jihad and the Role of Non Muslims in the Land of Infidels

 Part 3

By Adnan Syed

This series revisits one of the pivotal events of the early Pakistani history; the riots by the religious right wing parties to get Ahmadis declared as non-Muslims, and the subsequent Munir-Kiyani inquiry commission report into the causes behind the riots. The report went on to interview the religious leaders of the newly formed state of Pakistan regarding their motives and their ideas of Pakistan as a pure Islamic state. As the interviews revealed the incongruous replies of various leaders, they also showed vague but chilling ideas that the right wing parties harboured to turn the newly formed Muslim nation into a politically Islam dominated theocratic nation. The interviews reveal the role of democracy, non Muslims, Jihad and punishments like apostasy that would be practiced in an ideal Islamic state.

 (AZW)

 

UNANIMITY ON PUNISHMENT FOR APOSTASY

While no simple or unanimous definition for a Muslim was given by all the ulamas, they were clearly unanimous about the punishment for apostasy in an Islamic state. The punishment for apostasy was unequivocally, death.

With this doctrine, the religious leaders were clearly referring the then foreign minister Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan. If Chaudhry Zafrullah had not inherited his present (Ahmadi) beliefs, but had voluntarily elected to become an Ahmadi, he ought to be put to death.

However, while the punishment for apostasy was unanimous, the ulamas could not agree on who exactly is an apostate. Remember various criteria that was narrated by various leaders on who constitutes a Muslim? Now the same uneasy differences were making it hard for the leaders to decide who ought to be put to death.

Maulana Shafi Deobandi said that if he were the head of state of an Islamic Government, he would “exclude those who have pronounced Deobandis as kafirs from the pale of Islam and inflict on them the death penalty if they come within the definition of murtadd, namely, if they have changed and not inherited their religious views”.

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Filed under Constitution, Democracy, History, Identity, India, Islam, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, minorities, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Religion

Religious Right in Their Own Words; the Concept of an Islamic State

Part 1

By Adnan Syed

This two part series revisits one of the pivotal events of the early Pakistani history; the riots by the religious right wing parties to get Ahmadis declared as non-Muslims, and the subsequent Munir-Kiyani inquiry commission report into the causes behind the riots. The report went on to interview the religious leaders of the newly formed state of Pakistan regarding their motives and their ideas of Pakistan as a pure Islamic state. As the interviews revealed the incongruous replies of various leaders, they also showed  vague but chilling ideas that the right wing parties harboured to turn the newly formed Muslim nation into a political- Islam-dominated theocratic nation. The interviews reveal the role of democracy, non Muslims, Jihad and punishments like apostasy that would be practiced in an ideal Islamic state.

The interviews are as relevant today as they were 56 years ago. If anything, they foreshadowed the violence that would engulf Pakistan as the state gradually ceded to the demands of the Islamic right wing parties. Religious parties kept incessant pressure on the newly formed state to take a turn towards Islamism. At the same time the pressure was on to the governments to kick the Ahmadis out of the fold of Islam by a state decree. It was not until 1974, that another bout of religious agitation got Prime Minister Bhutto to accede to their demands and get Ahmadis declared non-Muslims. If anything, Pakistan has paid dearly for ignoring its founding father who spoke unequivocally that the newly formed state would not be theocratic, and that everyone is free to practice their religion as an equal Pakistani first and foremost.

(AZW)

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Filed under Constitution, Democracy, Islam, Islamism, Jinnah, Judiciary, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Religion