By Brigadier (ret) Simon Samson Sharaf
In an emotional and controversial address to his constituency, the President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari referred to the country as Sindhu Desh. In his fiery and reactive speech, this was perhaps the only silver lining. Deliberately or otherwise, he had touched a very sensitive issue of nationhood.
The politicians of Sindh unlike the Unionists of Punjab have been more Pakistani in many ways than they are accredited. Jinnah, the Syeds, Qazis, Soomros and Bhuttos are but to name a few. Reviewing the annals of history, we are pleasantly reminded that Pakistan was never the realization of one ethnicity, sect or mindset. It was a struggle based on the aspirations of diverse groups and still remains so. Continue reading
A young female student from the Quaid-e-Azam University recently put the rabble-rouser-cum-tv anchor Hamid Mir in his place by telling him and his rhetoric on Kerry Lugar Bill to take a hike. That Hamid Mir is a joke is well known to everyone but it is Hamid Mir’s response that should worry every reasonable Pakistani. Continue reading
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
In 1946, Jinnah met a group of students at Mamdot Villa in Lahore. A chair was brought out for him to sit down but he chose to sit down on the grassy lawn with the students. He began by telling them he had worked hard and made a lot of money and owned houses in Delhi, Bombay, Karachi and was looking for a house in Lahore. Why, he asked, was then he going all over India at an age when he should retire. One of the students opined because he had the love of Islam in his heart. Another said something else. Finally Jinnah answered : In India you can either be an Indian or a Muslim but never an Indian Muslim. This is the rationale for Pakistan. Continue reading
The intellectual debate on Islam in Pakistan has gone through a cycle. While traditional Islam saw pitchforked battles between Barelvis and Deobandis, so did those who rejected traditional Islam. From 1947-1970, Islamic Modernists (or what Fazalurrahman called Aligarh Westernists who had been the intellectual force behind the creation of Pakistan) and as well as rationalists/Quranists such as Allama Pervez were ascendent. From 1970 onwards, with closer ties between Jamaat-e-Islami and the Army in Bangladesh, Maududian revivalists became strong as arbiters of Islamic questions in Pakistan. Now some of that has been reversed. This article below does an extraordinary job in tracing the history of Islam’s intellectual debate in Pakistan. However NFP fails to mention that the very progressive Muslim scholar Ghamidi has also emerged from the Maududian tradition and that just like Hassan Al Banna’s family today is in the frontline of the intellectual movement against Taliban-style Islamism, Maududi’s own family (not the Jamaat-e-Islami which is essentially an Islam0-fascist organization) have also evolved to a more liberal point of view, showing that unlike Traditional Islam where positions are fixed as dogma dictates, the reform movement in Islam, even when it goes sour in the case of Maududi or Syed Qutb, is much less rigid. This has major implications when considered in light of the elections in Iran. I have always felt that even a rigid and fanatical non-reformist non-cleric like Ahmadinejad is better than most palatable cleric from Qom in the long run because the latter is confined by Dogma by training -YLH
By Nadeem Farooq Paracha from Dawn Blogs
In Pakistan even the traditional Muslim practice of reasoning in matters of religion – originally introduced by the 9th century Mutazilites – is at times treated like some kind of an abomination to be feared, discouraged and repressed. It is easy to accuse the proverbial mullah for this. And it is equally easy to blame him for being anti-intellectual and regressive. Continue reading
By Zia Ahmad
“Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity towards metanarratives.”
Most of the cultures around the world have an innate tendency to view themselves at the center of the universe. As with individuals this may be owing to the inability for some to live outside one’s head. The centrist view is enforced by following a given set of codes and traditions that reaffirms the uniqueness and superiority of the given clan, tribe, culture or civilization over others. This view is further informed by a given sense of history that adds significant gravity to the culture’s place in this world – and in some cases even in the one after. This sense of history is communicated, over generations, through an esoteric mix of myths, historical retellings, sacrosanct parchments and possibly just about all that goes into making stories and fables.
In the second half of the twentieth century, certain scholars who helped to flesh out the post modern perspective culturally, the communication of history was seen as a story told on a larger scale for the benefit of a crowd significantly larger than your average theatre going audience. This sort of storytelling was appropriately called Metanarrative or a Grand narrative. Continue reading