Tag Archives: Liberalism

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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Calling A Spade A Spade

VIEW: Parliamentary theocracy —Yasser Latif Hamdani

The 18th Amendment reintroduces the requirement for the prime minister of the country to be a Muslim. Pakistan’s slide down the slippery pole of religiosity is quite clear

Frederick Douglass — the
great 18th century American statesman and abolitionist — once described democracy as a way to take turns. He was a one-man resistance to the tyranny of the majority and its confusion about democracy. It did not occur, however, to the framers of the 18th Amendment that this was also the principle on which Pakistan was founded, i.e. a permanent majority shall not, by sheer force of numbers, dominate and oppress a permanent minority.
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Understanding Islamic Revival In Its Proper Context

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

 My secular comrades and friends will probably disagree with me or maybe not, and it is nothing less than sacrilege for a self proclaimed secularist like myself to say so,   but the core values of any civilization are drawn from the dominant religio-cultural system.   There are contributory factors from other minority strains but ultimately the way society is organized is around the religio-cultural system the majority of its adherents follow.   So for example,  the Western civilization- as we know it today- has for evolved out of a Judaeo-Christian cultural norms and as it is secularized, it is enriched by other cultural strains but it remains manifestly a product of Judaeo-Christian evolution.  It certainly has strong heritage in Hellenistic past but that itself is expressed through established Christian traditions (for example Christmas which is an adopted Hellenistic holiday),  much like Islam adopted a lot of pre-Islamic Arabian heritage as its own.   Continue reading

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Fashionistas Not Revolutionaries

Lahore Fashion Week has brought Pakistan Fashion Debate back in international media.  

The first piece is from  CNN:

Lahore, Pakistan (CNN) — Bare backs, plunging necklines and high-cut hems. Western media recently reported that the bold statements made by Pakistan’s fashionistas at Lahore Fashion Week demonstrated how designers were rejecting conservative dress in the South Asian nation.

But the country’s top designers and models say that last week’s four-day fashion extravaganza wasn’t about defying extremism.

“I won’t go as far as to say that this was defiance of anything,” designer Kamiar Rokni told CNN backstage after his collection was shown. “That’s what the Western world sees because that’s what is news. But we’re making fashion news.”

Karachi may have stolen Lahore’s thunder by launching the country’s first fashion week last November but Lahore is considered Pakistan’s cultural capital and is home to the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design. It meant that Lahore Fashion Week became a sort of homecoming for many of the country’s premier designers who started in the city.

“It’s an extremely important, momentous show, not just for myself, but for everybody,” said Rokni, “because the Pakistan Fashion Design Council has been at it for five years and we’ve finally had our first fashion week.”

Vazeena Ahmed, who at age 37 is one of Pakistan’s oldest and most sought after models, said Pakistan had “trained designers now. Before there were just bored housewives with nothing else to do.” Continue reading

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NRO Debate Continues …

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Duniya ki tareekh gawah hai,  adl bina jamhoor na hoga  

History bears witness,  there shall be no republic (democracy) without justice

-From Aitzaz Ahsan’s Poem “Kal, Aaj Aur Kal” – the anthem of Pakistan’s Lawyers’ Movement.  

“I am for the Law.  We wish for a republic of laws.”   John Adams- one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

 “The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.”   Mahomed Ali Jinnah- our Quaid-e-Azam.

The decision on NRO was a historic one.   Based on the short order, however, a reasonable apprehension exists that by invoking articles 62-f and 227,  the Court has effectively brought into play dormant Islam-inspired clauses which shall further strengthen rightwing in Pakistan.   This apprehension is obviously not without merit.   Articles 4, 8 and 25 – 8 and 25 being fundamental rights which according to constitutional theory are supreme-  were much stronger clauses and the court did well to invoke these but this is where the court should have stopped.  Ofcourse this is entirely a conjecture without the detailed judgment.   That said the important thing is that the NRO has been reversed and it has strengthened democracy whether nay-sayers accept it or not.  The people need to see that the system works and punishes crooks no matter how powerful they are.  And there is no doubt that the Supreme Court should also take to task those holy cows that have run amok in the country but that will also happen in good time.   Continue reading

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Chandra Muzaffar on Islamic Reform & Liberation Theology

Chandra Muzaffar is Malaysia’s best-known public intellectual. He has written widely on questions related to Islam, inter-faith relations and liberation theology, issues that he discusses in this interview with Yoginder Sikand.
Q: Much of your writing focuses on a critique of capitalism and consumerism, or what you very aptly term as ‘moneytheism’, which you contrast with the monotheism of Islam. How do you see Muslim scholars dealing with these issues?
A: Unfortunately, what is in some circles called ‘Islamic Economics’ has not sufficiently critiqued capitalism and the consumerist ethos. In fact, many of those associated with the ‘Islamic Economics’ project have simply tried to apply a so-called ‘Islamic’ gloss on capitalism. If at all those associated with the ‘Islamic Economics’ project critique consumerism, which is such a deeply-rooted phenomenon globally, including in predominantly Muslim countries, it is only at a very general level, in the form of statements to the effect that it is incompatible with Islam, or appeals for balance, restraint and moderation. But this does not go along with any rigorous analysis of economic structures that generate consumerism in the first place. I don’t know of any well-known writers associated with the ‘Islamic Economics’ project who have done this in a sufficient manner. Rather, their focus tends to be more on the technical aspects, such as the ban on interest, interest-free banking and discussions about disallowing the production of things considered to be haraam. Continue reading

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Love And Sex At LUMS 3: Happy Offending

From THE LUMS DAILY STUDENT

In the past month that I have been at LUMS, I have come across a whole lot of crazy, as well as new stuff. From building a house, to PDC food, from tiny hostel rooms, to washing my own clothes in non-functional washing machines, from over loaded Zambeel to ever flooding campus mail, BUT, what I hadn’t come across yet, and hadn’t even thought of in the most outlandish of my fantasies was about ‘to love or not to love.’ Continue reading

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