Religious fanaticism- mindsets need to be changed
Muhammad Majid Bashir
My name is ‘Muhammad’ Majid Bashir, My friends used to call me Muhammad when I was studying abroad. I liked to be called Muhammad because It’s the name of my Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). They used to ask many things about the Prophet (PBUH). The most beautiful part of my reply has always been that he had provided a safer place to minorities in the state of Medina, the first state where Islam was implemented as a code and system of governance.
When the Prophet (PBUH) laid foundation of this State of Islam in Medina and explained the statutes for the state, a lot of non-Muslims (minorities) preferred to live in Medina owing to their trust on the good governance introduced by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that ensured protection to their property, honour and lives in the Muslim state. The Prophet (PBUH) had actually given the concept of custodianship (look after and well being part) of minorities in the Muslim State with paramount consideration and constitutional protection. If we trace history, we find that the Prophet (PBUH) had built a society free from any discrimination based on caste, race, color, creed and religion. The very foundations of the Muslim society were laid on the principles of mutual respect of faith and religion and harmony among all citizens of state.
While looking at the Land of the Pure ‘Pakistan’, the world’s second biggest Muslim country (180 million people), despite being claims of a Muslim society, we are far from the model of a Muslim state created by the Holy Prophet. We are divided as we are not even Muslims of the same belief. Many of us would like to die for Islam but we do not follow the teaching of Islam as taught us by our Prophet. A typical brand of ‘Muslims’ kills other Muslims and destroys mosques, and yet tells that they are doing this to promote Islam and those who kill fellow Muslims will go to heaven. What is this? Is this really for the glory of Islam or they are playing in the hands of terrorists.
Unfortunately, when Muslims are not safe at the hands of other Muslims in the country, how can we expect that religious minorities would be safe as had been in the state of Medina. You can be killed or attacked by any of religious extremist if you do not conform to their brand of ‘Shariah’, the minorities are more vulnerable as any fake case of blasphemy of even a charge of it can take you to hell.
The assassinations of Governor Salman Taseer and federal minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti are glaring examples of extremists’ this particular thought that all those who would not conform to their ideology would be killed. Very unfortunate part of this saga is a meek response of people and authorities and deliberate efforts to create confusion on these murder cases.
Article 36 of our Constitution reads:
‘’The state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in federal and provincial services’’
But this constitutional clause, teachings of the Holy Prophet and cause of humanity all go to deaf ears of the extremist who are bent upon damaging minorities even at the cost of the teachings of Islam. In this situation, who is going to protect religious minorities in Pakistan, the state, government, law enforcement agencies including police or who else? It is for sure, all of them have so far been failed to protect them and will be failing to do so in future as well. Security provided to Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti could not protect them.
We as a nation should think where are we heading? We have to do a soul searching and single out the mindset that prompts or instigates some misguided or falsely trained extremist youth to kill those in the name of Islam, which actually has nothing to do with Islam. We have to concentrate very seriously on this mindset that prompts some misguided extremists for killing of Christians, members of any other religious minority or in some case the fellow Muslims on ‘their narrow mindedly’ defined charge of blasphemy. Blasphemy is condemned every where and in all religions of the world. But the question is who will define blasphemy, an individual or the State? The state should define it and no individual has the right to kill people in the name of blasphemy.
If we look at blasphemy in a broader spectrum, we find that every one has one’s own meaning of blasphemy. The Christians are religiously under an obligation to the prophet hood of the Jesus Christ as their prophet. Obviously they follow the path of the Jesus Christ and His teaching. The Jews believe in Hazrat Mosa (AS)’s prophet hood and follow their teachings. The Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is their Prophet and they practice the Shriah preached by the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
But in Pakistan when a Christian follows his faith, we immediately put the stigma of blasphemy and consider him/her worth killing. Islam and all religions of the world teach respect and love to each other. We cannot kill each other on the bases of this difference of faith and believe. We have to show tolerance. We cannot kill a non-Muslim simply on this.
Every religion has condemned blasphemy. Therefore in all civilized societies every possible measure is being taken to stop this heinous act but in Pakistan situation is deteriorating day by day, available laws are sufficient but we have to teach and train our people as how to respect humanity and diversity to give space to our non-Muslim citizens in mainstream life.
Legislation alone cannot work. In a civilized society legislation has always been an outcome of good values, good virtues and good practices of the society. But unfortunately, we lack these good values and deeds, though we have laws in place. That is why laws alone have failed to deliver. We need to back legal process with imparting education to the people so that they develop and strengthen good values and deeds based on morality, ethics and feelings of brotherhood. We have to teach our people the values of Islam towards non-Muslim. If we don’t give priority to this issue then history will never mention our names in the list of those who love the creation of God.
(The writer is senior partner in ABS & Co, a Professor of Law and a former Judge. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )