Tag Archives: liberal

Contestations of Ijtihad: The Need For Debate

A.A Khalid has sent this exclusive piece for PTH. We are truly encouraged by the fact that there are so many rational Pakistanis who want to rescue their religion from the clutches of bigots and extremists. We would like more and more people to join this debate and develop a discourse which sadly is missing since the days of Allama Iqbal. Raza Rumi

In liberal circles of religious scholarship there is a contention that ‘’ijtihad’’ is the epistemic tool which will solve all our grapples and puzzles of establishing a suitable religiosity for our time.

Ijtihad is elevated from its formal place as a mere tool of legal reasoning restricted in the classical tradition to books of law, to that of an intellectual principle and a citadel of a rational religiosity. Ijtihad is indeed forms part of the rationalist tradition of Islam and as such is the natural ally for reformists and liberals in the Muslim World. But ijtihad, which means intellectual exertion and in a technical sense juridical adjudication, to solve legal problems which have no precedent in the normative texts or in the jurists’ corpus is not naturally an epistemic tool for liberals.

Ijtihad can also be illiberal and can also be disastrous; one can argue the totally unprecedented phenomenon of violent extremism instigated by demagogues and ideologues is indeed ijtihad gone tragically wrong. If ijtihad is taken to mean that all Muslims can interpret their faith as they wish in accordance to what they see as new soicio-political circumstances and new contexts then we must be cautious. After all conservatives and radicals can forward absolutely shocking and regressive opinions as ijtihad as much as a liberal can forward progressive and enlightened opinions as ijtihad. We need to avoid this epistemic anarchism and try and elaborate sensible parameters. Though the determination of these parameters in terms of dealing violent extremism will be easy as violent extremism and radicalism clearly are beyond the pale and their actions clash with the fundamentals of Islam, the real issue is betweeen conservatives and liberals/reformists. Issues such as Islamic law, politics, ethics, morality and epistemology will be where trying to agree on a set of sensible parameters will be difficult. Continue reading

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Religious Liberalism – Our Greatest Hope?

A.A Khalid has sent us his exclusive post for PTH. It is quite gratifying to note that PTH is becoming a hub for many of us who want things to improve without using the violent means and indiscriminate jihadist agenda. Raza Rumi

Is religious liberalism an oxymoron, or is it something long established? More to the point is there something known as Islamic Liberalism, or Liberal Islam? Surprisingly, there is indeed something, a discourse known as Liberal Islam. And contrary to popular perception it is not a contradiction in terms. Charles Kurzman a Professor in Sociology who deals with Islamic movements asserts there is a tradition with specifically Islamic context known as Liberal Islam (pdf file) . What’s more Liberal Islam is not monolithic it has multiple schools and traditions each with a different approach and (pdf file) different methodology. Each tradition within the Liberal school faces different challenges and has differing prospects. If such a tradition exists how is it that within the Pakistani discourses it is eerily absent, with instead conservatives and political Islamists dominating the interpretive discourse of Islam. It should be noted ‘’Liberal Islam’’ is known under many rubrics from Islamic Modernism, Islamic Reformism, Reflexive Revivalism to movements professing Ijtihad, Islaha, Ihya and Tajdid.

The situation in Pakistan is a paradox. Its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a secularist in the sense he sought an institutional division between mosque and state, the clergy and the government and to a greater extent religion did not have such an effect in his personal life. His political ideals are liberal a vision of a pluralistic society where the citizens of the State would be equal in rights and responsibilities. Towards the end of his life Jinnah attempted a synthesis, coining terms such as ‘’Islamic democracy’’, ‘’Islamic social justice’’ Jinnah tried to weld his liberal politics and ideals with religious faith. Muhammad Iqbal on the other hand was not a politician per se but a thinker and intellectual, hence his ideas are always going to attain a greater sophistication. Though Iqbal too can be seen as an Islamic humanist, a critical humanist, critical of both European ideas and traditions and the Muslim traditions, Iqbal focused on the free will of all human beings, an original and unique position among Muslim intellectuals and scholars. Iqbal’s focus on self development and his synthesis of philosophy, theology, mysticism and law which he tries to achieve in his Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, where he puts many traditions both from Islam and Europe in critical conversation is till this day and probably for some time to come an inspiration to religious reformists and liberals. Continue reading

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Smokers’ Corner: Beards: a trim history

By Nadeem F. Paracha
Sunday, 04 Oct, 2009 (Courtesy Dawn)—Illustration by Abro
 
 
In his biography, Mirror to the Blind, Abdul Sattar Edhi complains how he detests being called a ‘maulana’.
‘Mine was never a religious beard,’ he says. ‘It was always a revolutionary beard,’ he explains – perhaps inspired by Karl Marx, whom Edhi identifies as an inspiration during his youth. In the book he is quoted as saying that hardly any man in Pakistan used to have a beard in the 1950s. Continue reading

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Pakistan Fashion Week Defies Terrorists

kfw2009Pakistanis will not give up.  Pakistanis will not surrender.  This was the message that came from Pakistan’s resilient fashion industry which is putting itself at stake by coming out full force for the country.   Karachi Fashion Week is bigger, better and sexier this year.

Pakistani Fashion Week Begins With Models Exposing Their Navels

KARACHI – Bare shoulders, exposed navels and a lot of skin show ruled the ramp at the Pakistan fashion week that begun here Wednesday defying the Taliban’s preference for the burqa. Continue reading

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Love and Sex at LUMS 1: The Secret Love Life of LUMS Students

From Dawn Blogs

The campus of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) is famous for being a bubble environment where risqué fashion trends are explored and high-school soap operas come to life in the midst of hijab-clad women and the bearded folk from LUMS Religious Society. To an outsider visiting LUMS, or possibly visiting Pakistan for the first time, this campus might seem at first encounter like the ideal multicultural environment akin to an ancient city-state where all live in harmony with tolerance. Continue reading

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Right wing backlash against Pak Tea House

Kashifiat has posted an open letter addressed to me. I usually don’t answer such letters but this particular ‘letter’ has to be responded to because if you don’t respond to distorted and mala fide accusations, they come to be accepted as the truth. The superficial reason is that our whiz-writer YLH has used unparliamentary language while commenting but the reasons are far deeper – they have to do with the way we envision Pakistan in light of Quaid – Mr. Jinnah’s ideals and agenda for Pakistan and that we mince no words when exploitation and injustice occur anywhere.We have taken note of the commenting here and fixed the comments on a particular post and hope to have a stricter policy in future. However, we reiterate that we oppose the extremist ideologies which are eating Pakistan from within like termite.  What Kashif and his friends say is their right and we respect that.  Furthermore, I do not blame the young men and women of our age – they have been indoctrinated by the pernicious text-books, Zia’s ideology and the infiltration of Jamaat-i-Islami and jihadis into every nook and corner of Pakistan. This is why PTH, as a voice of reason, faces the dual challenge of tackling the right wing and handling the global stereotyping of Pakistan as a jihadi haven. Not an easy challenge by any account — Raza Rumi

Dear Kashif

I have been constrained to respond to your open letter that not only brings into question my responsibility as the founder-editor of Pak Tea House (PTH) but also distorts what this e-zine stands for.
There is absolutely no article on PakTeaHouse that represents an Ahmadi or any other sectarian view per se. I personally condemn sectarianism of any kind, and my writings testify to that.  Your charge of PTH as a pro-Ahmaddiyat portal is absolutely false unless you feel that speaking of Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as an inclusive, liberal and secular state is an Ahmadi point of view, in which case  you might as well declare the Quaid-e-Azam an Ahmadi as well.  If PTH authors have spoken about the injustice against Ahmadis for their faith,  and there is considerable injustice against Ahmadis whether you admit it or not.  We have posted many many more articles about the discrimination against Christians.  Does that make us a Christian website as well?  We’ve posted innumerable articles on Pakistani Hindus and their contributions to Pakistani society ?  Do we become a Hindu website? Don’t you think there should be a limit to accusations? Continue reading

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Jinnah’s New Republic

This extraordinary article is both revealing and farsighted.  Unlike the generally unfavorable press the creation of Pakistan was subjected to by the American and Western Media in 1947 through clever work of pro-Congress and pro-India publicists,   this article went beyond the little cherished myths that were repeated again and again.  The article also is revealing in how much the left was involved in public life in those early days of Pakistan.   This is a must read for every Pakistani and student of Pakistan’s History. -YLH

By Andrew Roth (writing in the US Weekly The Nation Datelined December 13, 1947)

ITS creator and governor general, M. A. Jinnah, has described Pakistan as “the biggest Moslem state… and the fifth biggest sovereign state in the world.” Though the second point might be disputed, Pakistan is unquestionably worthy of attention, for it is situated just where the Anglo-American and Soviet orbits touch in the strategic Central Asian theater.

  Continue reading

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