After this lengthy, but not unnecessary, preliminary observation on the meaning of the word jihad, I will now examine the causes which have led to its present gross misinterpretation, and I shall then quote the passages bearing on the sacred war and on the conditions under which alone it can be waged. This inquiry will not only be of academical interest, but will also perhaps be of some political importance, because it is immediately connected with the question of the Khalifa and of the Imam, as understood by the two great sects, the Sunni and the Shi‘ahs respectively, and by the Sunni sub-sects of Muhammadan subjects. The matter is still veiled in considerable obscurity, in spite, if not in consequence, of the explanations that have been given from interested standpoints. We shall then be able to understand the precise authority of the Sultan of Turkey on the Muhammadan Sunni world, we shall then discover whether and how far the Mahdi was right in opposing Egyptian encroachment and the invasion of the foreigner, and, if he was right, whether this fact has, or can have, the faintest influence on the attitude of Muhammadans under Christian rule, whatever their condition or treatment. I shall show that it has not, and cannot have, the faintest influence on the attitude of Muhammadans under Christian rule, whatever their condition or treatment. I shall show that it has not, and cannot have, such an influence from a religious point of view, and I shall go further and prove that the most suspected class in the Muhammadan community, the so-called Wahabi, is the one that, under all circumstances, is the foremost in deprecating resistance to constituted authority, however obtained and by whomsoever exercised.
With the utter submission of private interests and feelings to a usurper we have no sympathy, as being opposed alike to common-sense and the natural feelings of mankind, but we have no hesitation in asserting that it is impossible for any modern Christian government to commit those acts which would alone give a colour of justification to a jihad by its Muhammadan subjects, even with the prospects of success and the temptations held out by a victorious neighbouring Muhammadan power among the least patient of our Muhammadan fellow-subjects.
An Islamic Confederation, therefore, as suggested in the last number of the Ittila, a Persian newspaper published in Tehran, under the presumed direction of the Government of the Shah, may be an interesting and perhaps even a politically important suggestion. To consider for a moment that a Shi‘ah interpretation of jihad will have an effect on Sunnis, or that a Shi‘ah explanation of jihad is consistent with their religion if it implies an attack on non-Muhammadan governments, especially by their own subjects, who are assumed to be under a tacit treaty of allegiance with it, would be far indeed from truth. We ourselves entirely sympathise with every effort to cement the feeling of brotherhood among the various Muhammadan sects, but we are equally convinced that, in proportion as it rests on a religious basis and as that basis is understood, the result will be the deepening of the loyalty of our Muhammadan fellow-subjects.
Assuming the translation of the Ittila article given by the Globe to be correct, I find nothing in it that is an appeal to passion or prejudice. There is nothing in the passages quoted from the Koran which can be construed as an incitement to rebellion. The hand of God would be over their (the believers’) hands… (48:10); superior worth would belong unto God, His apostle, and the true believers, and the unbelievers would be smitten with vileness and afflicted with poverty, are evidently passages capable of another interpretation than that of waging war with unbelievers. If the religion of the Gospel and of universal brotherhood says that it has not come to bring peace to the world but strife, or if it enjoins “to give Caesar what belongs unto Caesar, and to God what belongs unto God,” it may be inferred that it would be unlawful to give to Caesar what belongs to God, or to say there is peace when there is no peace. No doubt, the Ittila refers to the doctrine of jihad, just as an oppressed Christian community would, in the words of Milton, call on the Deity to avenge His slaughtered “saints”, but from such a reference to the main object of the article there is indeed a great distance; this object is distinctly defined as being that of a defensive alliance. The passage is as follows.
True connotation of jihad “If all Mussulman nations were to form a confederation for the sake of defending themselves against attacks from without, they would acquire power and strength, and be able to overcome all other nations, just as they did in former times. Let all dissension which now separates the different Mussulman nations be put aside; let the nations form a defensive alliance; and, should any power attack any one of the Mussulman nations, let none remain neutral, but let all co-operate in repelling the enemy; let them combine their wealth and property for the support of all - and then no aggressor would have a chance of success. If Prussia had fought single-handed against France, she would have been defeated, and would never have acquired her present glory. Why was she victorious, and how was it that, from being at best only a second-rate Power, she has become one of the great Powers, and how is it that the fame of her mightiness has pervaded all the world? Simply because she had formed a confederation of all the German States. Mussulman states should follow Prussia’s example, and not forget that union gives strength. We wish to see all Islam united in a defensive alliance only; no state should interfere with the internal affairs of any other state, and the confederation should exist only for joint action against an aggressor. Other nations would then not dare to attack, the Mussulman states would be able to protect their liberty, independence, and nationality, and defend their property and country with glory and fame against all aggressors. Now that Islam is not united, protection and defence are impossible, as every state singly is too weak.
Whoever aids in this cause will make himself a glorious reputation in both worlds, and his name will be mentioned in the history of Islam till the end of the world, and never be effaced from the pages of time. Is such a confederation impossible? No, certainly not. We have now shown the result of dissension and that of union, and unless Islam forms a confederation it will neither be safe from attacks from without nor be able to return to its ancient power and its glory of former days. All intelligent men are advocates of a Mussulman confederation, and are of our opinion. It is the duty of every true believer to exert himself to the utmost to attain this end; any neglect would ensure terrible and fatal consequences.”
I consider this appeal to be neither unnatural nor impractical; on the contrary, it is one of the best signs of the times. Already at Lahore, Lucknow, and other places, Sunnis and Shi‘ahs in India are prepared to sink their differences for the common social and political good of their fellow-Muhammadans; nor does this concession imply any disloyalty to Government. It rather implies the growth of a common citizenship cemented by the same allegiance to the same Empress, and as regards the Muhammadan states unconnected with India, it would indeed be well if they formed an alliance for defensive purposes under the aegis of Great Britain, instead of that of Russia, and the former is now prepared to assume that protectorate.
Concept of jihad in the Bible “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it thou wast taken; for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. iii. 19).
The nature of the ground, to the cultivation of which the first man was addressed, is sufficiently indicated in the verses preceding the above quotation, which describes it as “cursed”, and as yielding “thorns also and thistles”, except what great labour might win from an obdurate soil for the sorrowing worker. This labour might be accompanied by prayer, but it was itself a punishment, and it was reserved to Christianity and to modern civilisation to impress that laborare est orare.
In Arabic and in the Muhammadan religion, which it is idle to discuss without knowledge of the sacred language in which it is written, the Biblical passages which we have quoted might be rendered as follows:
“In jihad shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the jihadat”(stony and sterile soil).
As for the remaining part of the quotation, although it is admitted by Muhammadans that we are dust and return unto it, the more common exhortation refers to the breath or living soul which God ‘breathed into the nostrils of man’, whom He formed of dust, or rather clay. We belong to God and unto Him shall we return, is the refrain to numerous verses of the Koran.
As for the mortal coil, the Arab was formed of red clay, which is what the word “Arab” means; and the coasts and bottom of the Red Sea, at the entrance to which he places Eden, and which, according to Professor Haekel and others, now flows over Limuria, the ancient seat of primeval man in his transition from the monkey, who ate the fruits of Paradise where we enjoy cakes, ever attract the notice of the traveller by their red colour. EDOM, or Adam, or Idumea, whence the rugged Mount Sair reddens in the sun from the reflection of the waters, means “red”.
Adam, too, was named and formed from Adama or “red soil”, so that if we are to find our prototype and his lineal descendant, we find him in the Arab, whilst if any language can be “the first” in the present cycle of mankind’s development during the last 6000 years, it is Arabic. The reference to the soil and to the sexual relations of most of the words is, at any rate, suggestive of its early historic origin. Their subsequent application to custom, religion, and other motive powers of mankind, is instructive as the history of the Arabs and that of human thought. But jihad is the one word into whose primary meaning sex does not enter; it is simply that labour which Muhammadan religion has rendered identical with prayer. Nor can we leave this interesting philological inquiry without remarking that, in our opinion, great as are the disciplinary uses of Idio-Germanic studies, the logic and lessons of the Shemitic Branch are unparalleled. We would direct the attention of students of languages to that application of Arabic words with their hundred (in one instance 500) meanings to those groups of associations connected with the life of that people which, once understood, will create grand trunk roads through the jungle of its linguistic wealth, and will establish principles which, sublime in their simplicity and sense, will not only enable us to learn with ease the, by far, most difficult of all developed languages, but will also solve many problems in human history and thought, with special reference to the physiology, ethnology, and psychology of the people of the Arabian Peninsula.
Different meanings of the word jihad We then assert that, like other Arabic roots, jihad has first a concrete and then an applied meaning. This applied meaning varies according to the circumstances of Arabian life and the development of Arabic literature, but never loses its original keynote of exertion against difficulties. Unlike, however, other Arabic words, it is devoid of sexual reference, and it is thus the purest Arabic word in all its concrete, allegorical, and abstract applications, as it is also the noblest duty of a pious Muhammadan.
Jihad, therefore, in the first form of that root, is applied to exertion, and in the third, sixth, and eighth forms to the unsparing exertion in speech or action, or in order to arrive at a correct opinion in spite of difficulties. Thus, an examiner in dealing with a candidate and a physician in treating a patient have tasks before them which tax their power; and so has a petitioner who wishes to extract a favour from an official. The general result of these efforts is that jahad is one who is harassed, fatigued, and grieved, and, above all, when a famine befalls the land and the agriculturists are sorely distressed, both their condition and their efforts are “jahad”. Indeed, if we are told of a people simply that they jahad, it means that they are afflicted with drought and dryness of the earth. No doubt, that, similarly, a soldier’s fatigue party, the wearied wayfarer, and the jaded beast plied beyond its power of marching, all are aptly described as jahad. To deprive milk of its butter, or to churn it, so as to render it pleasant, or to dilute it with water; the desire of food of a hungry being or eating plentifully of it, whether it be human food or pasture, is jihad. In the third form, which adds the notion of causation to that of the original meaning, the object which causes exertion is obviously put into the foreground, and as resistance is greater, so efforts must be increased; therefore, as jihad is really the infinitive of this form, it is equivalent to the Latin fortia pectora opponere adversis rebus. These adverse things are generally objects of disapprobation. As with the Christian, the Mussulman has to wage war with “the world, the flesh, and the devil,” and so jihad is of three kinds, namely, against a visible enemy, against the devil, and against one’s self; and all these three opponents are included in the term jihad, as used in the twenty-second chapter of the Koran, verse twenty-seven. Thus, to fight an enemy under conditions of great difficulty and opposition, the enemy doing the same, is jihad, it being remembered that the earliest enemies with whom Muhammadanism had to fight for its very existence were non-Muhammadans desirous of suppressing a hated religion. It was only natural that when reference was made to a “jihad in the path of God” the word should have come to mean a fight in the cause of religion, and that, finally, when the words “in the path of God” were dropped in ordinary conversation, or writing, it should assume the meaning of a “religious war”, which it has kept to the present day.
Various forms of jihad The other forms of jihad continue the general meaning of the original form as modified by the super-added value of the derived form. Thus, to the labourer it becomes in the fourth form the entering upon land, such as is termed “jihad, a desert, a plain”, or “open, barren country,” whilst in dealing with affairs that form adds “the necessity of prudence, precaution, and sound judgement.” The physical result of this is the old man’s hoariness and the appearance of white hair in the dark beard, but exertions steadfastly prosecuted have the effect of both concrete and abstract difficulties being removed, and, therefore, ajhad means that “the earth, the road, or the truth become open to him who takes trouble,” and finally ajhad means that “the matter in hand becomes within one’s reach.”
We now, passing over the sixth form as being very much the same in meaning as the first, approach the eighth, which has had such an importance in the theological government of the Shi‘ah community in which the mujtahids are the scholastic witnesses, commentators, and guides of the faith, whose words, whether it be at Lahore, at Lucknow, or at Tehran, the faithful of the Shi‘ah sect find it impossible to resist. Indeed, the Shah’s government is an absolute government tempered by the advice or resistance of the Mujtahid-Ijtihad. Mujtahid as a conventional term means “a lawyer exerting the faculty of the mind to the utmost for the purpose of forming a right opinion in a case of law respecting a doubtful and difficult point by means of reasoning and comparison,” and, similarly, ijtihad means “the referring a case proposed to the judge respecting a doubtful and difficult point from the method of analogy to the Koran and the Sunnah.” If ever a Mussulman rising were to become formidable among Shi‘ahs, the influence of the mujtahids would have to be conciliated.
The simple noun, jahd, therefore, obviously means power, ability, labour, effort, a stringent oath, or else the difficulty, affliction, or fatigue with which the above-named qualities have to contend. Physiologically, of course, disease is jahd. The trouble of a large family combined with poverty, or the difficulty of a poor man in paying exorbitant taxes, are all jahd. Applied to land, jihad has already been explained to be the land, in which there is herbage, or level and rugged land, sterile and ungrateful, though it is also applied to land of which the herbage is much eaten by cattle in the form jahid. Mujhid, if referred to a friend, shows that he is a sincere and careful adviser; if applied to oneself, denotes an embarrassed condition, and if to one’s beast, one that is weak by reason of fatigue. The passive participle of jahd similarly refers to the distressed condition of affairs, of disease, of dearth, or drought; but we think we have said enough to prove that none of the meanings in any of the forms necessarily implies the fighting of a man because he is of a different religion, or the opposition to a non-Muhammadan government, and that it even does not go so far as the word crusade, as animating a community in an attempt to oust the unbeliever from foreign land in order to obtain the guardianship of the Holy Sepulchre, or to simply wrest land from the Muhammadans for the glory of a most Christian king.
(Jihad, to summarise the ordinary meanings as given by Arabic lexicographers, is simply as follows:
Jahd — to exert oneself, endure fatigue, to become emaciated from disease, to examine, to extract butter from milk, to wish for food, to live in straitened circumstances.
Jihadat — the hard ground which has no vegetation.
Jihad — war with an enemy.
Ijhad — the increase of white hair, the unfolding of truth, exertion, and (in special applications) to divide and to waste property.)
The Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) perception of holy war
When some people applied to Muhammad for permission to join in a holy war against those who were oppressing Muhammadans, he replied to them, “Your true jihad is in endeavouring to serve your parents.” The Koran, when using the word jihad, seems preferentially to use it for war with sin: Whoever wages jihad in morality We will show him the true way. Elsewhere (25:52), the Koran exhorts us to fight infidels with the “great jihad”, the sword of the spirit and the arguments of the Muhammadan Bible. In the traditions regarding the sayings and doings of the Prophet, a band of holy warriors is returning cheerfully from a victorious war with infidels to the peace of their homes and the tranquil observation of their faith. In passing the Prophet, they exclaim: “We have returned from the small jihad, the war with the aggressors on the Muhammadan faith, to the great jihad, the war with sin.” Christians should similarly, as representatives of the Church of Universal Brotherhood, which yet is called the Church Militant, and which has as often wielded the secular sword as it has that of the spirit, act on the words alike of St John and of the ancient Arabic proverb: “Take what is pure and leave what is impure,” even from religious opponents. Fas est et ab hoste docere, and although we are in a world in which, as another Arab proverb has it, “one attar (originally a seller of the ‘atar or otto — essence of roses) is of little use in an age of corruption,” we may yet hope that some reader may address himself to the important subject of jihad without the preconceptions which have hitherto prevented its investigation.
No compulsion in religion
The principal references in the Koran relating to religious war are found in the following chapters:
No violence is to be used in religious matters, although the popular impression is that this is the very essence of Muhammadanism. The second chapter of the Koran distinctly lays down, Let there be no violence in religion (2:256). This passage was particularly directed to some of Muhammad’s first proselytes, who, having sons who had been brought up in idolatry or Judaism, wished to compel them to embrace Muhammadanism. Indeed, even when the mothers of non-Muhammadan children wanted to take them away from their believing relatives, Muhammad prevented every attempt to retain them. The second chapter similarly says, Surely those who believe (viz. Muhammadans) and those who Judaise, and Christians and Sabaeans, whoever believeth in God, in the last day, and doeth that which is right, they shall have their reward of their Lord (2:62). These words are repeated in the fifth chapter, and, no doubt, several Muhammadan doctors consider it to be the doctrine of their prophet that every man may be saved in his own religion, provided he be sincere and lead a good life. However, under the pressure of the followers of Muhammad, this latitude was curtailed and was explained to mean “if he became a Moslem,” though this explanation is manifestly a faulty one, because if an idolater became a Moslem, he would be equally saved, and so there would be no difference between him and an Ahl-e Kitab (possessor of a sacred book) namely, a Christian or a Jew.
In Acts x. 35, the Apostle Peter similarly states that “in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him,” and yet we do not infer from this that any religion is sufficient to save without faith in Christ. The fact is that there is an essential difference between the chapters delivered at Mecca and those delivered at Medina. In the first case, we have the utterances of one who, as a true prophet, calls people to repentance and to a godly life apart from worldly considerations. In the chapters, however, given at Medina, we necessarily find these worldly considerations paramount, Muhammadanism struggling for its very existence, and being confronted, not only with the necessity of legislation among its own followers, but also with the organisation of war, and with the circumstances that give rise to it or the results that follow from it; so that it is obvious that instructions given to warriors or in a code of legislation must differ from appeals to salvation. It is only in bearing in mind the circumstances under which each particular instruction was given that we can come to a right conclusion as to whether war with infidels, as such, is legitimate or not.
We have no hesitation in stating that an unbiased study of the Muhammadan scriptures will lead one to the conclusion that all those who believe in God and act righteously will be saved. Indeed, the ground is cut off from under the feet of those people who maintain that jihad is intended to propagate the Muhammadan religion by means of the sword. It is, on the country, distinctly laid down in the chapter called The Pilgrimage, that the object of jihad is to protect mosques, churches, synagogues, and monasteries from destruction (22:40), and we have yet to learn the name of the Christian crusader whose object it was to protect mosques or synagogues. Of course, when the Arabs were driven from Spain, to which they had brought their industry and learning, by Ferdinand and Isabella, and were driven into opposition to Christians, the modern meaning of jihad as hostility to Christianity was naturally accentuated. Indeed, jihad is so essentially an effort for the protection of Muhammadanism against assault, that the Muhammadan generals were distinctly commanded not to attack any place in which the Muhammadan call to prayer could be performed or in which a single Muhammadan could live unmolested as a witness to the faith.
Permission to fight against aggression
Fighting for religion is, indeed, encouraged in the second chapter, which was given under circumstances of great provocation, but even in that it is distinctly laid down: And fight for the religion of God against those that fight against you, but transgress not by attacking them first, for God loveth not the transgressors; kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out of that whereof they have dispossessed you, for temptation to idolatry is more grievous than slaughter; yet fight not against them in the holy temple until they attack you therein, and if they attack you, slay them, but if they desist, God is gracious and merciful; fight therefore against them until there be no temptation to idolatry and the religion be God’s, but if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against the ungodly (2:190-193). In other words, fight sin but not the sinner in times of peace. Again, in the third chapter, when the Lord of Hosts is invoked as being more powerful than all the confronting armies of enemies, when the Koreish endeavoured to induce the Muhammadans to return to their old idolatry as they fled in the battle of Ohud, the encouragement to fight given in that chapter has, of course, only special application: How many prophets have encountered foes who had myriad troops, and yet they desponded not in their mind for what had befallen them in fighting for the religion of God, and were not weakened (in their belief), neither behaved themselves in an abject manner … (3:145). God gave them the reward of this world and a glorious reward in the life to come (3:147). And again, We will surely cast a dread into the hearts of the unbelievers (3:150), in allusion to the Koreish repenting that they had not utterly extirpated the Muhammadans, and to their beginning to think of going back to Medina for that purpose, but being prevented by a sudden panic which fell from God.
Again, in the fourth chapter, Fight therefore for the religion of God, and oblige not any one to do what is difficult except thyself. This is in allusion to the Muhammadans refusing to follow their prophet to the lesser expedition of Bedr so that he was obliged to set out with no more than seventy men. In other words, the Prophet only was under the obligation of obeying God’s commands, however difficult. However, excite the faithful to war, perhaps God will restrain the courage of the unbelievers, for God is stronger than they and more able to punish. He who intercedeth between men with a good intercession shall have a portion thereof (4:84-85). And further on, When you are saluted with a salutation, salute the person with a better salutation (4:86). In other words, when the purely Muhammadan salutation of Salam aleikum is given by a Muhammadan, the reply should be the same with the addition, “and the mercy of God and His blessing.” Again, in the eight chapter, All true believers! When you meet the unbelievers marching in great numbers against you, turn not your backs on to them, for whoso shall turn his back on to them in that day, unless he turn aside to fight or retreateth to another party of the faithful, shall draw on himself the indignation of God (8:15-16). The fact was that on the occasion when the injunction was given, Muhammadans could not avoid fighting, and there was, therefore, a necessity for a special strong appeal; but jihad, even when explained as a righteous effort of waging war in self-defence against the grossest outrage on one’s religion, is strictly limited in the passage to which we have already alluded and which we now quote in extenso from the chapter entitled Al Hajj (The Pilgrimage):
Permission is granted unto those who take arms against the unbelievers, because they have been unjustly persecuted by them and have been turned out of their habitations injuriously and for no other reason than because they say: our Lord is God. And if God did not repel the violence of some men by others, verily monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is frequently commemorated, would be utterly demolished (22:39–40).
MYTH OF THE SECULAR WEST K. Ahmed
MA Many of us believe the West is what we see in the movies. They’re “modern”, “open” and “secular.” So, our new generation believes being “religious” is being “backward” and “conservative.” It is true that many in the West have discarded orthodox prudence but the actual number of atheists or non-believers in religion throughout history has always remained very low. A statistical analysis of the population of the US reveals that 40 %of Americans go to some religious services, 67 % believe in hell, 85 % believe in heaven, and 86% believe the Bible is a revealed text.1 The West is here epitomized by the United States of America, merely for the sake of convenience. The majority of the population of the US is composed of Protestant Puritans. The difference between the Catholics and the Protestants is that Catholics preach a religious hierarchy with the Church occupying a position of significance in the ordinary lives of adherents. Less importance is given to scriptural knowledge and text with more emphasis on an established and prescribed form of religion developed through the ages. This leaves little room for research and freethinking in religion and preaches blind adherence to established dogma. The Catholics maintain belief in the miracles of saints and assert the essential role of Virgin Mary’s intermediation in gaining salvation. The Protestant position is opposed to these views and advocates fierce individualism by rejecting prescribed or Church ordained form of religion. Profound significance is given to Scripture with commentaries, saints and intermediaries assuming the background. The favourite maxim of the Protestant Church is “every man his own Bible.” This marks an important change in the religious life of a contemporary Christian; he no longer finds himself under the coercive eyes of the Church and is relatively free in the observance of rituals. With this, room for extended interpretation of scripture has opened. Gradually, the Bible began to be treated as “just another book” and not something restricted to an elite hierarchy of priests. This resulted in the democratization Christianity. The layman gained access to the Gospel and gained more knowledge concerning dogma than the Catholic Church would have allowed him. Furthermore, Protestantism does not bind an obligatory system of ritual. This means that there are fewer occasions of “mass gathering” in the contemporary Christian world in contrast to the daily and weekly obligatory prayers in Islam. Another corollary springing from the “personal religion” doctrine of Protestantism is the dumping of old ideals of morality. For this reason personal lives are no longer governed by ideals advocating prudence. Tolerance in terms of points of view, philosophies and sex has increased. This imparts the impression that religion has been effectively sidelined in the West while the reality is that this temperance is a consequence of Protestantism itself. The contemporary Protestant believes he is personally responsible for his deeds to the Divine and not to a frowning pardoner of the Church, and that Christ has already paid for his sins by being crucified.
Most Americans and many Europeans are Puritans, which is a sect within the Protestant Church. Puritanism advocates the doctrine of pre determination and asserts that God’s Grace (which essential for Salvation) is already determined and certain individuals have been “selected” in this regard. In this context, material growth is taken as a sign of God’s favour and an indication that the financially prosperous individual is “selected” and on his way to Heaven. This accounts for the rise of Capitalism in the Occident. There is a perpetual struggle for monetary ascension among ordinary Americans and this Capitalism is exactly what the American government promotes in the world. Technological advancement can also be traced to this ongoing struggle for financial growth between competing multinational corporations who try to present newer and better products than the rival firm.
The crux of the argument is that the West never abandoned religion; they merely discarded Victorian standards of morality such as abstinence, self-restraint and chastity, and came to regard them as forms of repression. This “emancipation” so to speak, also brought along other developments. The United States of America became the nation with the world’s highest crime, divorce, homosexuality, incest and rape rates. Tim Weiner in the San Jose Mercury News, March the 13th, 1991 cites the Senate Judiciary Committee report depicting “Americans killing, raping and robbing one another at a furious rate, surpassing every other country that keeps crime statistics” with Congressmen of the view that “The United States is the most violent and self-destructive nation on earth.” With the shift in values, family values also changed and with the desertion of traditional moral standards, marriage came to be regarded as a burdensome binding contract. Hence sex outside marriage and its depiction in the media became an integral part of the emancipation. A new phenomenon was cohabitation i.e. couples living together before marriage. This would ensure the pair made the right choice in choosing one another. Contrary to expectations, the hit and trial method lead to a sudden rise in the divorce rate, which increased, from 708,000 in 1970 to 1,175,000 in 1990. During the same period the marriage rates remained virtually static, despite the rise in marriageable- age population. Each year, almost 1 million teenage women in America become pregnant.1 78% of teen pregnancies are unplanned, accounting for about 1/4 of all accidental pregnancies annually. Approximately 40 % of young women become pregnant before they are 20 years old. 2 The number of abortions performed in the U.S in 1999 was 1,365,730.3 The poorer the young woman, the more likely she will become a mother. Today, one of every three children born in the U.S. is illegitimate.4 1 in 5 female children are subjected to incest,5 while 500,000 cases of incest occur per year.6 Every year 3 million teens acquire a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). And the number of persons in the USA with HIV/AIDS is close to one million.7 By 1994, the number of recorded sexual offences in Britain had risen to 32,000. This means that on average, one rape occurs every hour in England. According to official statistics provided by the US Department of Justice, in the USA, 1.3 women are raped every minute. This equates to 78 rapes each hour, 1,872 rapes each day, and 683,280 rapes each year. A study carried out by the National Council for Civil Liberties shows that 38% of men use their power and position at work to rape women. The U.S census reports, 1.3 million women currently have a mental disorder due to rape, entitled Rape Related Post Traumatic Disorder (RR-PTSD). 3.8 million women in USA have previously had RR-PTSD, and roughly 211,000 women will develop RR-PTSD each year. George Bush commenting on the situation in his country asserted in 1999:
During the more than half century of my life, we have seen an unprecedented decay in our American culture, a decay that has eroded the foundations of our collective values and moral standards of conduct. Our sense of personal responsibility has declined dramatically, just as the role and responsibility of the federal government have increased. The changing culture blurred the sharp contrast between right and wrong and created a new standard of conduct: ‘If it feels good, do it.’ And ‘If you've got a problem, blame somebody else’.8 The Answer: Evangelism At a time when nations face crises that threaten the social fabric, the need for a new theory, a new philosophy of lifeemerges. Through the new Weltanschauung the leader(s) guide and steer the nation to prosperity. During the last era the shell-shocked intelligentsia and policy makers of the US desperately felt the need for some regulating order in the society. At this time the Neo-Cons gained ascendancy, bringing with them many charged with Evangelical zeal. The Evangelicals, a dominant group of Protestant Puritans, are devoted in spreading the message of the Bible and winning converts because they are of the conviction that the souls of non-Christians are doomed to eternal damnation. They are convinced of the absolute truth of the Gospel and believe they have been divinely selected for this purpose.
Evangelists believe they have to perform special tasks because they have been Divinely selected for a special purpose in God’s plan for the world. Thus they believe they have a duty to perform in world. Today, there are many Evangelist organizations in the US working on social and political fronts. These organizations raise slogans against homosexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex and a number of other issues. Evangelists have also entered the realm of politics. When the West faced an acute moral crises these Evangelists started to climb the ladder of influence in American social and political life. Frontline1 has traced this gradual rise to power:
A high point for the explosion of evangelical investment in secular politics came when the preacher Pat Robertson ran a failed campaign to become the Republican Party's nominee for President in 1988. The effort created a network that led to the formation of Robertson's Christian Coalition (created with his assistant Ralph Reed, now an adviser to President Bush). In 1994, the Christian Coalition's effort helped the Republican Party win control of Congress - and the party, from then, has become effectively the political arm of the Christian Right. At the national strategy conference of the Coalition that year, Robertson rallied the troops: “The world is going to be ours, but not without a battle, not without bloodshed. We are not coming up against just human beings to beat them in elections. We're going to be coming up against spiritual warfare [against Satanic forces]. And if we're not aware of what we're fighting, we will lose.”
A very prominent Evangelist in international politics today, is the American President. George W. Bush considers himself to be a “born again Christian.” Bush, in his youth, was struggling with business failures and drinking problems. He soon made a life-altering decision in the 1980s after spending a weekend with long-time family friend Billy Graham. In the words of Bush himself “It was the beginning of a new walk where I would recommit my heart to Jesus Christ”. 1
A PBS press release promoting The Jesus Factor, Thursday, April 29th, 2004 presents interesting news concerning the motives of the American leader before he became the President of the nation:
On the day that George W. Bush was sworn into his second term as governor of Texas, friend and advisor Dr. Richard Land recalls Bush making an unexpected pronouncement. “The day he was inaugurated there were several of us who met with him at the governor's mansion,” says Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “And among the things he said to us was, ‘I believe that God wants me to be president.’ ”
Norman Council writing in the Newtopia Magazine2asserts,
George Bush and his administration embody the dual meanings of evangelism ... Mr. Bush, who has let it be known that he himself is a born again Christian, makes no bones about declaring his faith nor about his feeling that God whispers in his ear: “I could not be governor if I did not believe in a divine plan that supersedes all human plans... My faith frees me. Frees me to put the problem of the moment in proper perspective. Frees me to make decisions that others might not like. Frees me to try to do the right thing...”
Council goes on to say:
Though Bush is by no means the only President who has made it clear that he is a Christian, biographer Steven Mansfield says about Bush that “[he is] is among a small number of American presidents to have undergone a profound religious transformation as an adult... he came to the presidency, then, with the zeal of the newly converted.”
The American government has many Evangelists in the military and the White House. In October 2003, the United States news media reported that the new Deputy Undersecretary of Defence Lt. General William Boykin had recounted his exploits in Somalia against Osman Atto a decade ago: “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his (Allah) was an idol.” A few months later, again in uniform, Boykin told another group that the U.S. would win the Global War On Terror “because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian and the enemy is a guy named Satan”.
Boykin is a heroic figure within the U.S. military. A member of the top-secret Delta Force commando unit, and is now in charge of the mission to hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Both Bush and Boykin are evangelical. From his role in the trenches, Boykin has been brought into the policy section to help run GWOT (Global War On Terror) by President George W. Bush. “Why is [Bush] in the White House?” asked Boykin at one of his public events. “The majority of Americans did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this.” In other words, for Boykin, Bush is in the White House to run the crusade against the heathen. Bush’s spiritual advisor at the White House Franklin Graham believes Islam to be “a very evil and wicked religion.” One of the explanations for Bush's religious language is that the people are religious and so they not only tolerate, but expect their leaders to act in a religious manner. Presidents routinely end their talks with the statement “God Bless America”, a slogan that is frequently seen on bumper stickers behind cars. In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower championed and signed a Bill that placed the motto “In God We Trust” on all U.S. currency and in 1956 Congress adopted the phrase as the “national motto”.
For our “modern” intellectuals these figures convey only one message; wake up and the smell the coffee; the world is anything but secular.
“IMAGINED” UNITY AS BINARY OPPOSITION TO REGIONALDIVERSITY
Dr. Tahir Kamran
Chairperson, Department of History “Unity” in most cases, does not essentially come through the multitude of “human wills” coming together on the basis of commonalities such as language, geographical contiguity, economic interests or historical experiences. More often than not, these commonalities are deployments conjured up by the powers that be to notch up their desired goal by striking unity among units that have some similarities and some disparities. The exigencies of time and the stakes of the elite at a given moment determine and decide the similitude or dissonance/incongruity to be cultivated and driven deep into the consciousness of the masses in order to constitute a new social and cultural configuration. In the lines to follow, “unity” is conceptually analyzed as some thing “imagined”; as an instrument by the elite of the society. The elite ensconcing the very core of the society deploy “unity” as a controlling mechanism for those inhabiting the periphery who invariably adhere to divergent cultural and social values. Hence unity as a machination of the elite has also been scrutinized in this narrative. Thus before dilating on unity as a construct shaped up by the elite for the sole purpose of self perpetuation, it seems mandatory that the very notion of “elite” is explicated in the context of political theory before stretching the argument any further.
The term “elite” denotes “the group selected or regarded as the finest, best, most distinguished the most powerful etc.” Elitism as a political discourse can be traced back to Plato. Plato while addressing the question of the plausibility of democracy as a system with a capacity to ensure good government, states “a radical form of natural inequality” as the fait accompli in any social formation. Thus the conception that human beings were “born with souls of gold, silver or bronze,” and were therefore, disposed towards very different stations in life. This legitimized social hierarchy lending justification to class based society with the elite at the helm. Similarly, the classical elitists such as Pareto (1848-1923), Mosca (1857-1941) and Michels (1876-1936), after declaring democracy as “a foolish delusion” pleaded that “political power is always exercised by a privileged minority, an elite.” In his famous book The Ruling Class Mosca underscores the inevitable existence of two classes in every society – a class that rules and a class that is ruled. He also contends that “the resources or attributes that are necessary for rule are always unequally distributed and, further, a cohesive minority will always be able to manipulate and control the masses in a parliamentary democracy.” Alex de Tocqueville's notion of “the tyranny of the majority’”, J S Mill's inference “wisdom cannot be determined by a show of hands” and the Madisonian system which champions a network of checks and balances in order to ward off majoritarian tyranny, all unveil the problems of democracy.
Ever since the dawn of democracy, print capitalism or modes of communicative action have been successfully deployed to influence public opinion in favour of the objectives of the elite. That is how in 19th century Europe, Unifications of Italy (1861) and Germany (1871) were forged by the elite of both countries appropriating “the General Will” notion advanced by Rousseau, thus attaining the "bourgeois nation state". The idea of the nation state came with a shift in the political profile of Europe when the divine right of the monarch was questioned and the elite assumed nationalistic loyalties, bringing the idea of the nation state into dominant discourse.
At the same time, inclusion into the elite was no longer determined by birth or lineage alone. In the 18th century, a large number of bourgeois moved into the coveted ranks of nobility by virtue of the wealth they had accumulated in the post-enlightenment era. What enabled one to secure a spot among the noble was the economic productivity that he accrued. Therefore, any person’s ability to contribute in the material progress of his/her person as well as the society became the criterion the "new" elite had to fulfil. In France, for instance, the revolutionary leadership formed the new elite. Even Marxists could not escape from producing new elite. Old exploiters of the class conflict were replaced by a new breed of exploiters.
In the Subcontinent, nationalism came with colonialism bringing about a fundamental change in the character of the Indian elite. The major chunk of the Indian elite hailed from the urban middle class with western political and intellectual orientation. The new "bourgeois elite" passionately sought for "unity." When this unity was conceived on the basis of religious affinity, common language and similar cultural patterns, with democracy being imposed from above, it created new social and communal fissures in a society that was intrinsically heterogeneous in terms of religion, culture and ethnicity. Thus the efforts to forge unity in order to carve out one nation eventually led to separation. If the Muslim League pursued a separatist agenda, the Indian National Congress too, cannot be exonerated from the blame of pressing Muslims and Harijans (Dalits) hard to join the mainstream organization for the sake of "unity," arguably, at the expense of their independent existence.
Hamza Alvi points Northern India as the place where modern Muslim consciousness emerged as a consequence of the Vernacular Language policy introduced by the British in the 19th century. After the displacement of Persian as the official language, English became an instrument of empowerment. The Aligarh Movement spearheaded the upsurge of Modernist Islam with western rationality as its mainstay. Muslim nationalism started in Muslim-minority provinces of Northern India like UP and Bihar.
The crucial point worth taking notice of is the interface between religious tradition and modernity with the former subduing the latter and consequently making modernity serve the purpose of tradition. That point can be illustrated from the introduction of the printing press in South Asia. Religious texts like Behishti Zawar by Ashraf Ali Thanawi and Fazail-e-Amal by Maulana Zakaria or the multiple versions of Tafasir (Exegesis) were churned out edition after edition, profoundly influencing sensibility formation in Muslim middle class. Interestingly, the Muslim masses literate in modern education, were favourably inclined to the scriptural Islam exemplified in Deo Bandi Islam. Those not agreeing with them in political matters zealously followed them in religious matters.
The conceptual underpinnings of Muslim Nationalism were North India specific i.e. puritanical Islam embedded in the traditions of Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi and Shah Walliullah. The puritanical brand of Islam proliferated at the expense of Sufi ethos; an essential ingredient of the religious traditions of the Subcontinent that had accorded communal and sectarian amiability to South Asian Islam. Political, social and cultural changes wrought about by the advent of colonialism ascribed a new meaning and character to Islam. Consequently, Islam was divested off its inclusionary character assuming thereof, a xenophobic complexion and an aggressive exterior. Deo Bandi Movement and Ahl-e-Hadithas a result, made tremendous progress, emphasizing strict adherence to the fundamentals of Islam.
Deobandi Ulema opposed the creation of Pakistan. From Zia ul Haq's time Deo Bandis have become quite obstreperous actors in agitation-politics; Jamat-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam are the major representatives of that sect in the realm of politics. Deo Bandi Ulema entered politics with the Khilafat Movement in 1919. The religion preached by Punjabi Sufi poets has been obliterated by the consistent propagation of the ritualistic and literalistic version emanated in the region.
During the1970s and 80s, a large number of Pakistanis went to the Middle East for employment. They reaped tremendous pecuniary benefit from their employment abroad and also imbibed a version of Islam peculiar to Arabian social and political circumstances. Those Pakistani expatriates became a very potent agency in the spread of Ahl-e-Hadith/DeoBandi Islam. Hamza Alvi's assertion appears to be spot on when he imputes local bourgeois (Pakistani ruling elite) as mere agents of metropolitan bourgeois ensconced in Washington and London. Deo Bandi Islam was accorded salience by the same Pakistani ruling elite and became a cardinal attribute of Pakistani Nationalism. Hence, Pakistani Nationalism and identity were quite conveniently divested off the indigenous social and cultural ethos and re-inscribed in the light of the cultural tradition whose core lies in North India. It is therefore unique that the conceptual and ideological foundations of our Nationalism are located somewhere else (that “somewhere else” obviously enjoy the status of an enemy country). Punjab is the bearer of the Deo Bandi legacy and the champion of a Nationalism in which its own traditions figure nowhere. So, for “the silenced space” that the Punjab has secured for itself, in the Pakistani epistemic milieu, at least partly Punjab itself is to be blamed. The Punjabi ruling elite pleads for the centralization of the state structure, emphasizing Islam as the most potent unifying force among the federating units.
Urdu holds tremendous importance second only to Islam as the cultural symbol of Pakistani Muslims. It was so potent an agency that it set South Asian Muslims on the separatist course during the last quarter of the 19th century. Urdu attained maturity as a language for common usage and became a vehicle of literary expression through the patronage it secured from the nobility in Hyderabad (Deccan), Lucknow and Delhi respectively.
In 1851 Urdu was accorded the status of a vernacular and became the medium of instruction in the province, thus undermining any prospects for Punjabi to attain any measure of respectability as an empowering instrument for the general populace. Under these circumstances, natives could secure government jobs only if they were fluent in Urdu. English replaced Persian as the administrative and court language and Urdu substituted Punjabi as the language of interpretation. A large number of Punjabi Muslims therefore, accepted Urdu not only as the vernacular but also as their religious and cultural symbol. Muslim Organizations like Anjuman-e-Islamia vociferously supported Urdu in Persian script and lamented the soaring opposition in the province initiated by outsiders with the collusion of influential Hindus. Anjuman-e-Punjab (Anjuman-e-Ishaat-e-Mutalib-e-Mufida-e-Punjab was its full name), an elitist organization conceived ab initio by Dr. Lietner, Principal, Government College Lahore and Col. Holroyd, Director Public Instruction, and ardently supported by Macleod, the Governor of the province. It eventually came into existence on 21st January, 1865, at Sikhsha Sabha Hall Lahore. The promotion of vernaculars and oriental languages like Urdu along with Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit in the province was its prime objective (Salamat 1997:11-2). The Government of the Punjab provided pecuniary support to it on the recommendation of Dr. Leitner. (Kashmiri : 56-57) Urdu literary figures like Muhammad Hussain Azad, Altaf Hussain Hali and Nazir Ahmed worked with the above-mentioned British officers for the promotion of Urdu.
The generalization about Punjab as a political and cultural hegemon vis a vis other provinces and regional entities within the context of Pakistan, has to be contested. Punjab has forsaken the most for the larger interests of Pakistan. Language, culture, history, social values and literary ethos have been put under the subservience of the cultural inflow from main land North India. Hence, Punjab in order to ensure unity among the federating units, has offered the biggest sacrifice that has gone unacknowledged. Without nursing any grudge or ill will for Urdu, it is nonetheless, good to have as many languages as possible because multi-lingualism becomes a source of cultural enrichment and allows for a more tolerant and interactive society to come into being.
DOGMA, FREETHINKING AND EXCLUSIVISM M.S. Ahmed
BA ΙΙ Orientals face the dilemma of choosing either the conservatism preached by religion or the modernity, that they believe is associated with Westernisation. The first task at hand is to prove that religion is not the antithesis of freethinking and does not hinder intellectual growth. The notion will not be refuted citing Quranic verses promoting man to acquire knowledge.
The age that Muslims refer to as the golden era of Islam proceeds roughly from the demise of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) to the destruction of Baghdad. Certain scholars extend the epoch much further up to the time of the Renaissance in Europe. Whichever the case may be, the Renaissance effectively marks the West’s taking over the reigns of intellectual growth from the Muslim world. Before the rebirth of learning in Europe, the Muslims enlightened the world in terms of Astronomy, Medicine, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Philosophy and Mathematics. The only scientists during the age were mullahs with long beards who used to deliver lectures on science and philosophy after conducting the Friday prayers. The mosque was not only the centre of worship but also of learning. Interestingly, the world’s first university is not Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard but Jamia tul Azhar – the grand mosque of Cairo. Jabir Ibn Haiyan, whom the Occident calls Geber, is known as the Father of Chemistry. Al-Khawarizmi, in the words of Phillip Hittin,1influenced mathematical thought to a greater extent than any other medieval writer. He is regarded as the founder of Algebra, The very name Algebra has been derived from his book Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah. Al-Kindi wrote sixteen books on Astronomy, eleven on Arithmetic, thirty two on Geometry, fifty two on Medicine, twenty two on Physics, twelve on Philosophy, nine on Logic, five on Psychology and seven on Music. Known in the West as Alhazen, Ibn al-Haitham made a thorough examination of the passage of light through various media and discovered the laws of refraction. He dealt at length with the theory of various physical phenomena like shadows, eclipses, and the rainbow and speculated on the physical nature of light. He is the first to accurately describe the various parts of the eye and give a scientific explanation of the process of vision. He also attempted to explain binocular vision and gave a correct explanation of the apparent increase in size of the sun and the moon when near the horizon. He contradicted Ptolemy's and Euclid's theory of vision that objects are seen by rays of light emanating from the eyes; according to him the rays originate in the object of vision and not in the eye. Through these extensive researches he is considered the Father of Modern Optics. Ibn I Sina’s Qanun fi al-Tibb, known as the Canon in the West, is an immense encyclopaedia of medicine extending over a million words. In Kitab al-Kulyat fi al-Tibb, Ibn Rushd (known as Averroes in the West), has thrown light on various aspects of medicine, including the diagnoses, cure and prevention of diseases. The West translated the book as Colliget. The Muslim world had literary figures the likes of Ibn i Tufail, the author of Hayy ibn Yaqthan (Alive, Son of Awaken) a philosophical romance and allegorical tale of a man who lives alone on an island and without contact with other human beings, discovers the truth by reasonable thinking and is shocked upon contact with human society because of its dogmatism and other ills. This was in the 12th century. The West required another five hundred years to come up with Gulliver’s Travels. Many of the theological doctrines presented by St. Augustine had already been presented by Muslim scholars. Imam Ash’ari and Imam Abu Hanifa dealt with the perplexing concept of fee will and pre-determinism. Ibn-e-Khaldun is today considered by the West to be the real founder of Sociology rather than August Comte.
The object in presenting this short account is not to highlight the achievements of the Islamic world but to argue that if all of these great philosophers and scientists who provided the basis for scientific development to the world, lived during the time of theocracy, how can religion impede intellectual growth? Many of them were active mullahs and almost all devout, bearded, Muslims. In fact, today most of them would be labelled Fundamentalists. Islamic theocracy is radically different from Papacy; it is not the rule of the Mosque, Mullah or a hierarchy. Nowhere does Islam preach a hierarchy; this is entirely a Catholic concept that Muslims borrowed. The Catholics had a Priest, Bishop, Arch Bishop, Council of Elders and a Pope and so we imitated them to fashion titles like “Mullah”, “Mufti” or “Grand Imam”, which have nothing to do with Islam. These people have usurped authority because the ordinary Muslim has severed his relationship with the Quran, eschews freethinking, avoids carrying out research and so depends entirely upon the Maulvi of his particular sect.
Now, what does Fundamentalism connote? The word Fundamentalist was first mentioned in a book titled The Fundamentals financed by a missionary organization run by Lyman Stewart – one of the founders of Unocal. Stewart and his Evangelist organization believed in a literal, conservative interpretation of the Bible and laid down the fundamentals of being a good Christian. A “good Christian” therefore, had to be a fundamentalist. Some years later a conflict ensued between the conservatives and the liberals. The conservatives were opposed to certain areas in scientific research and wanted greater say in American politics. The liberals started calling them fundamentalists in the propaganda war between the two factions. The liberals emerged victorious but the conservatives were soon to return with the neo-cons. The conflict however, had rendered a negative connotation to the word fundamentalist thus making it part of propaganda vocabulary.
Another point requires due attention. Distinction needs to be marked between established traditional dogma and the fundamentals of a religion. This means that differences may exist between the actual teachings of a religion and the practical manifestation of that religion. For instance, nowhere does the Bible say that the earth is flat, yet this remained a doctrine of the Church for centuries. It would be fallacious to ascribe this error to Christianity and argue that Christianity imposed restraints on freethinking. On the contrary, the established hierarchy of the Catholic Church checked intellectual growth. The Catholic Church did not recognize the right of divorce. This was a severe restraint on human freedom but again Christianity cannot be held responsible. Problems occur when a corrupt mob usurps religious authority. When liberation from the “established” hierarchy of priests took place in the form of the Protestant revolution, the era of enlightenment commenced in Europe.
Now, let us see whether modern man requires religion or not. Many argue that religion imposes bounds on the freedom of the individual. Let us imagine a Freudian society where there is absolutely no restraint on the impulsive behaviour of man and every individual enjoys maximum liberty in matters of gratifying his desires. What would be the result of this unlimited freedom? If one is furious at his neighbour for disturbing him he has the right to murder him at the spot. If his children create a racket they too deserve the same treatment. Sigmund Freud and his associates declare the carnal drive in man to be the essential driving force in the universe and brand all restraints on sex as repression. Hence in our free society every individual must enjoy the right to indulge in the gratification of his physical desires at the cost of his neighbour’s wife, his own siblings, children and anybody who attracts him. Would the social fabric and the family system manage to exist under such circumstances? The inevitable answer is in the negative implying that human beings require a certain regulating order to govern and organize their lives. Religion is this regulating order. Whether religion is actually revealed or not and if any other ethical code of behaviour framed by a certain philosopher is superior to contemporary religious dogmas is not the subject of the present argument. Nor is it required to offer a discourse citing evidence in favour of fideism. It will require another treatise to examine the superiority of Islam over all other man-made or revealed religious systems.
The West witnessed the erosion of the social fabric after discarding the prudence advised by religion in the early 20th century, and has now returned to (Evangelist) Christianity with a new vigour, while Muslims, facing annihilation, have failed to realise this.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT Asmaa Rafi
MA ΙΙ Idon’t have any high ideas to present to The Ravi, nor do I have a philosophical treatise or a paper on politics or culture. However, I mean to share something which I believe is important enough to write about and communicate. A few days ago I was walking with a friend of mine when he tripped over a stone and said “hai ram.” I was astonished at this utterance. To my knowledge he is a Muslim, but doesn’t mention “Allah” much, sticking to “yo”, “hi” and “bye” instead. Last year Lahore started celebrating “holi” using spray paint. And this year our TV channels had an Indian actor introducing his franchise on Independence Day; could things possibly get more ironic? Next year he’ll probably be included in our list of national heroes like Aziz Bhatti, Rashid Minhas and Dr. Khan. What has happened to our generation? Is this what we gained independence for? Either we’ve started taking more interest in Hinduism because we are not satisfied with our religion or we are just too inspired by them. I think it was Sonia Gandhi who once said that India had already defeated Pakistan in the cultural war. While Indian thinkers are employing every means to overwhelm us, our intellectuals are striving hard to welcome and celebrate a complete ideological invasion.
The present generation is more rational in its approach but lacks a belief-system; a philosophy of life. We do participate in welfare activities. We do run campaigns for the poor and the handicapped but most of these campaigns are sponsored by foreign multi national corporations that have their own corporate interests to gain. Moreover, what happens during these events is also something that is, or at least was, completely alien to our culture. Anyone who has ever attended a rock concert knows what happens in secluded corners. Take another instance; the annual Islamic festival of “Eid.” We anticipate the occasion, fast, pray and then finally celebrate by dancing to Indian songs. History books say Muslims of the subcontinent sacrificed their lives because they did not want to recite vand-e-matram. There were riots because Hindus played songs near mosques; today, we do that ourselves. Our conduct is ample proof of the fact that we have forgotten our own values. Pakistanis are fascinated even by their religious terminology. Words like sindhoor, rakhi, mangan sutr and mandir have become part of our vocabulary. We have started adopting their rituals. Our marriage ceremonies resemble theirs. A friend of my brother is named “Saifullah” and is often laughed at because his classmates say he has a queer name with a “maulvi touch.” I’ve seen people replace their real names with “modern” ones like Bobby, Pinky, Sam, Sherry, etc. Making boyfriends and girlfriend and going out on dates is pretty much “in” these days.
I know many readers will respond by saying that the world has changed and we live in a global village where we have to forego our cultural identities and adopt a global culture. Fine, good answer, but if we are changing ourselves by imitating others, are others also changing and adopting some of our values? If we celebrate “holi” have Indians started celebrating “Eid?” If we celebrate “Valentine’s Day” do people in America observe Ramadan? After all, St. Valentine was a catholic priest remembered for his religious services. Do people in Europe observe days for Muslim heroes, for instance do they have an Ibn-e-Khaldun Day or a Tipu Sultan Day in Germany? I don’t think our philosophers and “modern” intellectuals can answer these questions. A cultural exchange is a mutual learning experience, not a one-way flow. We are not globalizing ourselves; we’re on the losing side of a cultural invasion.
The art of lying Khaled Ahmed
Former Editor The Ravi, Political Analyst Note: The views expressed are those of the writer and do not represent the publication.
Editor Lying to us is like water to fish. A free society lies less than a traditional society because it inculcates fewer false values. Individual lies are less lethal than collective lies. A lie is usually harmless when it is an “internal comment”, more to do with feelings than with things outside. All of us lie about our feelings because no one can prove us wrong. Politicians lie through their teeth and know what they are doing. This is because they are leaning on the collective mendacity drilled into the mind of the people through “nation-building”. The villainy of lying derives from the textbook. The politician expels verbal excrement and the public mind is already moulded in the shape of a bidet to receive it as it plops. Nationalism is the tree on which the fruit of lies grows.
The “people-are-wise” lie: All politicians at one time or another will say it, and no one is immune. When this ball of stale air is expelled, the stink is pervasive but we are trained to gulp it without choking. It goes like this. The people of Pakistan are no fools; in fact, they are wiser than the politicians and those pesky professionals that interpret our economic indicators. “You can’t fool the people of Pakistan; whenever they give their verdict it is always the right one”. On evidence, so far the people of Pakistan have chosen stupidly.
The truth is that this lie has no foundation in any verifiable data. Again and again they tend to elect politicians who enrich themselves at the cost of the nation and spread anarchy around. “Mass” wisdom is absent in the repetitive act of welcoming generals to power. It is difficult to see how the people of Pakistan can be called wise or even good. No objective indicators underpin this political lie. The people of Pakistan are not educated. If you compare them with other nations in South Asia they are the least enlightened, if literacy rates stand for anything. As a workforce, they are hardly competent, 60 percent of them being physically unfit. The fact is that the people of Pakistan are at the lowest rung of intelligence – let alone wisdom – in the country and the region.
The “we are spiritual while the West envies us” lie: Our politicians like to travel abroad, preferably on state expense. They say if you want to travel, join the Kashmir Committee because there is no obligation on you there to achieve any results while you visit the fleshpots of the West. The politicians mostly like to tour the UK or the US (The clerics are especially attracted). Details of what they do over there are not unknown, but when they return, they bestow on us the following civilizational insight. The West is devoid of spirituality because it has banished religion from public life. The West is in fact looking to Pakistan to give it the guidance it needs in spiritual enrichment.
The truth is that Pakistani politics mostly runs on the basis of emotion (walwala) and not on the basis of reason (aql). Politicians have fed on the smelly fast-food of propaganda about the state’s spirituality which mostly leads to high levels of corruption. Not acting on the basis of reason is no proof of spirituality, but that is how we deduce our spirituality. So far the politician has no clue about how to act spiritually; neither does the nation. Dipping diagnostically into the non-spirituality of the West can be very enjoyable. There is a carnal relationship between our West-visiting politicians and the lamentable lack of spirituality of the West. They make a great play of sacrificing their purity by frequently visiting profane regions, all for our sake, and, needless to say, at our expense.
The “Imam Husain example” lie: During the ashura every year our politicians have their chance of issuing their “messages” to the nation. This is a rare opportunity to exercise the brain to extract a “lesson” in life. The sacrifice of Imam Husain tragically comes in handy for their current round of mudslinging. Imam Husain died for the sake of a principle (The politician assumes that he is included in this principle-respecting category).
The next thing he does is paste the entire episode of the martyrdom of Husain on to his own plight, which is usually a state of grave risk at the hands of accountability in which details of his past corruption are being laid bare for public consumption. The politician in power is Yazid, of course. His subliminal message is that he is indeed the Imam who has to challenge the power of the unjust opposing politician in power. The real Imam must be greatly offended that a Pakistani politician is equating himself with him. Each year this ritual of spiritual usurpation concerning the family of the Holy Prophet takes place in Pakistan. Great confusion is caused by the hijacking of the Imam’s example in equal measure by the just and the unjust, the last denomination being simply a mathematical value.
The “complete code of life” lie: The politician will never give up this gambit because it emanates from the most unthought-of and unexamined part of our brains. In fact, in an ideological state almost 80 percent of the brain is formed of swathes of “received” but unexamined data. Why shouldn’t the politician skewer us with this argument? While we squirm on the spike of this immaculate squelch, the politician walks away producing obscene sounds from his armpits.
The Quranic phrase has been twisted around to extract the sense of coming to an end of the faith. That which has been made complete should normally come to an end. But that is not the real import. That is not the meaning of how the faith has unfolded in the past centuries. The political use of it is a conversation-stopper. It is sprung on you when you demand reform or an improvement of law. The responsibility that our politician averts through this lie is that of using the brain. As a leader he is supposed to resolve our crises of concept and precept. He is innocent of intellect but he is chary of the endangered species called the intellectual. He flails around for a getaway phrase and grabs this from an air already thick with flying platitudes.
The “Castle of Islam” lie: This lie has been manufactured to raise the status of the prize the politician wants to pluck. Pakistan was not made simply to relocate and rehabilitate the Muslims of South Asia. It was not made reactively only to duck the evil of the cruel majority of Hindus, but to establish a utopia which would stand as a model for the rest of the Islamic world. In the scenario that the politician develops, Pakistan is a kind of ideal that all the other Muslim states are clawing their way towards in a paroxysm of envy.
Why was it inconvenient for Pakistani nationalism to accept a “normal” state in which normal human beings lived normally as in other ordinary states? The truth could be that other claims of “exclusivity” could not be upheld easily. If Pakistan was for the Muslims of India, why didn’t all the Muslims of India come to Pakistan? If Pakistan could not draw in all the Muslims, why was it made in the first place? The early ideologues thought that it was not enough simply to say that Pakistan had come into existence “somehow” and that it would be like any other imperfect state of the world trying to become better through evolution. Pakistan was designed with the teleology of a model state that all the Muslim states would emulate. The need was not of giving some Muslims of India a separate homeland but to provide the entire Islamic world a unique experiment in utopia-building.
The “one Muslim is equal to ten Hindus” lie: This is a post-Mughal sociological fallacy that the politician uses when he wants to purge all residue of rationality in him. The Muslims had to reconcile to the status of a non-ruling minority and this is how they accomplished it. This is the moment of frothing from the mouth in which the already partially dysfunctional mind is switched off. The politician dips deep into the poisoned wells of an India-centric nationalism for this gem. What is invoked is a venue of personal combat in which a rotund jangia-clad Muslim wrestler puts a skeletal Hindu down without much exertion.
The lie goes way back when Muslim invaders vanquished the Hindus in India and forced them to engage in commerce and acquire assets which they had to guard. The possession of assets by Hindus pauperised the Muslim masses but made the Hindus into prosperous cowards. A coward needs brains to survive; a brave man made of pure brawn needs hardly any brains. The Muslim who is equal to ten Hindus is therefore without the faculty of thinking “before the fact”. There is a corollary to this lie, that of the “cunning Hindu”: don’t make a deal with India because the Hindus will deceive you. There is an admission of the simplicity of the warlike Muslim. Other “warlike” races too, like the Sikhs, are proverbially thinkers-after-the-fact. After 1947, and even before 1947, the Hindu coward used his brain to confront the brave Muslim. He secured his assets through flexibility and finesse. The Muslim made his state into a warrior state and soon threatened the entire trading world with disruption. The assets-guarding Hindu finally acquired the military means of defeating the Muslim who was supposed to be equal in strength to ten Hindus.
The “if the Muslims unite” lie or the “umma” myth: Politicians have a “last-resort” argument that is unfailing in its terminal effect. How do we resolve the problems dogging us at the global level? Of course, the politician has hardly any clue about how any problem can be resolved. More likely, he is a part of the problem, and demanding a solution from him is like placing a razor in the hand of a monkey, as they say in Punjabi.
When a politicians leaves all solutions to the moment of unity among the Muslim states he is actually targeting a number of unspoken objectives. He knows that if this union happens, Pakistan will reap the benefit of the treasury of some high per capita income states like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. What will Pakistan offer to the kitty of this unity? Don’t ask, it will be its unlettered masses that grow ten-to-a-minute. Unavoidably, the politician is thinking in terms of war. At the back of his mind, he is thinking of a battlefield in which the shouting rabble is Pakistan and the cascading coffers belong to other Islamic states. The truth however is quite unpalatable. Far from uniting, the Muslim states have a backlog of scores to settle with one another. The first big divide is the Shia versus the Sunni schism which runs across many states. There are internecine territorial squabbles too that are more urgent than the obligation to unite and confront a common enemy (read the West).
The “Muslims are being made to suffer everywhere” lie: Perhaps borrowed from the Jews, the politician today begins his speech with litany of the victim hood of the Muslims. Who is giving this undeserved drubbing to the Muslims? The West in general and the US in particular. Despite the fact that medieval “crusades” have been discredited in the Christian West, he will repeat the “salibi” onslaught every time he is asked to speak on Islam today.
Muslims are no different from other nations in terms of suffering. Apart from the Palestinian issue, other “centres” of Muslim suffering are more complex than meets the Muslim eye. The suffering of the Chechen is a tale of folly only if you care to read how this rather rough and mentally foreshortened nationality turned its face away from the wonderful example of the next-door Tatar Muslims. The Bosnians were saved by the Americans; the Albanians were saved by NATO. There is unsavoury statistic behind this myth of suffering. After the 2003 invasion of Iraq by America, Muslim economies have taken off and reached historically unprecedented levels of prosperity. Iran for example, has increased its oil revenue from $18 billion to $73 billion annually and now wants to make the bomb to use it (not against Israel with which it will achieve mutual deterrence) to dominate the Arabs.
Politicians and their boring lies: All politicians lie. In Pakistan election candidates have to extol Islam. Politicians think they have to keep the lowest denominator in mind and it doesn’t matter if the more canny voters grasp the blatant lying they resort to in their electoral image-building. When the politician fields questions like ‘what book has he has enjoyed most’, and writes ‘the Holy Quran’, most readers feel like puking at the hypocrisy. But all this is fair in elections. You have to present yourself as the perfect man who does everything right according to the ideology of the country.
It must be admitted that in an ideological state lying is more elaborate and deeply ingrained than in democracies. If you are playing on the religious wicket you have to do some divine lying. In India, Lal Krishna Advani of the BJP became Lord Krishna as he did his grotesque rath-yatra, clutching a fake bow with fake arrows. Let us take a look at a survey of 2002 which gives us a glimpse into the layers of mendacity under which our leaders conceal their real selves.
The “I like simple food” lie: In its Elections Special edition, Jang (8th October 2002) published a survey of opinion taken from Imran Khan (Tehreek Insaf), Farooq Leghari (Millat Party), Mian Muhammad Azhar (Quaid League), Allama Tahirul Qadiri (Pakistan Awami Tehreek), Raja Zafarul Haq (Nawaz League), Makhdoom Amin Fahim (PPPP), and Qazi Hussain Ahmad (Jamaat-e-Islami). These were views expressed from their personal lives. Needless to say, all of them said the dress they liked was shalwar-qameez. To the question what kind of food they liked, only Imran Khan was “brave” enough to name dishes other than sada khana listed by Leghari, Azhar and Zafar. Qazi simply ignored the question.
Amin named biryani while people who have visited Tahirul Qadiri know that he prefers roast chicken at all times. His answer was jo paka ho kha leta hun (will eat anything cooked). Imran Khan named fried fish, desi chicken and sajji. This is credible, if we accept that he has got over his passion for dahi-bhalla of yore. Politicians usually eat quite well and quite a lot and especially go crazy in the season of mangoes!
The “my ideal man is Holy Prophet/Allama Iqbal” lie: To the question who is your ideal, any mug in Pakistan will say Prophet Muhammad PBUH. No one can challenge this assertion without being accused of blasphemy. This also gives the high-seriousness that ideology demands at all times. Imran Khan comes up with Allama Iqbal, but Allama’s son Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal says the great poet was apostatised in his lifetime.
Had Imran Khan really been a devotee of Allama Iqbal and read his writings he would not have plumped for him as his ideal in our pious environment. Or he would lose his elections. None of the others significantly chose Allama Iqbal. Does that mean they have read the great poet-philosopher while Imran Khan has not, beyond a few very “ideological” couplets used and abused in Pakistan (often against democracy)? The safe bet for Leghari, Qadiri and Qazi was the Prophet PBUH. Azhar chose the Quaid and Zafar plumped for Iqbal and Quaid both. Amin chose a less ethereal figure, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The “I always read books” lie: To the question what they did with their spare time, Imran, Leghari, Qadiri and Zafar thought they read books while Azhar, Qazi and Amin met friends and family. If our leaders are such good readers one should expect high intellectual achievement from them, but that is not the case. All of them are intellectually average with Qadiri giving evidence of a marginal “liberation” of the mind despite his clerical status.
Next comes the bombshell, putting the politician to his real lie-detector test. What book have you liked best? Four (Imran, Leghari, Qadiri, Qazi) out of seven put down the Holy Quran, equating book to scripture, and passed up the opportunity to name the book that had thrilled them most. Qazi added hadith, tafseer and Maududi’s Tafheemul Quran. Zafar said Islamic books, Azhar history books and Amin, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s Risalo. The subliminal message from Qazi was that he adhered to the world view of the founder of Jamaat Islami, while Amin posted his Sindhi identity once again with an eye to the province’s rural vote bank. No one, it appears, reads for pleasure.
The “The Quaid is my favourite leader” lie: When asked their favourite leader, four (Imran, Azhar, Zafar, Qadiri) immediately plumped for the Quaid, once again a safe bet on the eve of elections. Leghari was silent, Qazi named Maududi and Amin chose Bhutto. Imran put Churchill together with the Quaid. Immediately the choice of Churchill makes one think of the reason. First of all it means he must have followed his extraordinary political career and his great multi-volume histories of the World Wars and the English-speaking Peoples.
One shouldn’t expect Imran Khan to name Ali Abbas Jalalpuri’s volumes in Urdu, especially the one on Allama Iqbal’s ilm-ul-kalam, but one is nonetheless impressed by his interest in Churchill. Qazi’s choice of Maududi will unwittingly widen the various confessional gulfs that already exist within the alliance, the MMA. The general impression, looking at the choices made by the leaders, is that they either don’t look at the world around them or are too scared politically to tell the truth. In that light, Qazi’s choice of Maududi, when the others were choosing the Quaid, is treasonable. After all Maududi had said cruel things about the Quaid.
The “I dislike liars most” lie: One choice, apparently quite unimportant, betrays the real malaise of Pakistan. What kind of person you dislike most? Imran said wicked/hypocrite, Leghari corrupt, Azhar liar, Qadiri hypocrite/embezzler, while Zafar postured piously saying he hated no one. Fahim said the same while Qazi simply ignored the query. There is uniformity in what all citizens of Pakistan hate: hypocrisy. Questionnaires given to film actresses have elicited the same answer. It simply means that hypocrisy is rampant in Pakistan while corruption is merely a consequence of that.
Hypocrisy flourishes where virtue is enforced through ideology. In Pakistan, hypocrisy is easy to put on because the requirement is that of piety; and virtue is another name of public display of religious faith. Three leaders (Leghari, Azhar, Zafar) said “no-one” to the question “who is your favourite singer”, while Imran chose Nusrat/Abida Parveen and Qadri chose Nusrat/Um Kulsum. Qazi chose the great Egyptian reciter of the Quran, Abdul Basit. Amin showed more taste by choosing Mehdi Hassan and Iqbal Bano/Farida Khanum. The dryness of the first three leaders should forewarn the voters.
The “I want women’s rights under Islam” lie: If women are at all alive in this country they should look at what these great leaders said in answer to whether women should be veiled. Everybody said “according to Islamic teaching”, while Qadri was specific, saying hands and face would have to be left open. Only Amin said “liberal”, meaning hopefully that the veil as decreed by the ulema is not needed. Imran’s hiding behind “within Islamic teachings” is a dodgy answer. The truth is that all clerics are agreed on the veil, while in Pakistan the veil has not been enforced by the state. At the most, a fundamentalist general made dopatta compulsory on PTV.
Why should our leaders show a clean pair of heels when it comes to the question of veiling? Why couldn’t Imran Khan be more courageous? Is his courage reserved only for George Bush because that gives him a leg-up? One can’t blame Leghari because his posturing is of a piece with his general dryness. A contradiction comes to the fore when the question “are you interested in history” is asked. Everyone says “very much” while earlier they had muted reference to such great historical works as the world histories of Ibn Khaldun and Toynbee because they had to plump for the Holy Quran as their most favourite book. Only Amin Fahim was modest, saying thori-bohut dilchaspi.
The “I like arranged marriage” lie: The next question was what kind of leaders do you think the people want? Everyone was right in what they said: honest, uncorrupted, “clean”, etc. But, for God’s sake, what will the people do with these endlessly boring individuals who give no evidence of wit? For instance, on the controversial question of “love marriage”, Imran hedged by saying he was for pasand ki shadi, which one hopes means the same thing as love-marriage, and thus saves him from forswearing his love-marriage with that excellent lady, now gone, Jemima.
Leghari leaves the column blank, a clever thing to do because couples marrying for love daily get dragged to jails with courts barely coming to their help. Qazi was marvellous: shadi se pehlay muhabbat ki pingain barhana awara gardi hai. Azhar, alas, abstained while Qadri qualified his acceptance of love marriage with parents being a part of the package deal. One wonders how many votes the leaders will get answering like this? Imran Khan tipped this writer out of his chair answering “no” to the question: did you ever fall in love? How the hell could he marry for love without loving? Of course, Qadri and Qazi loved only the Prophet PBUH, and Amin loved only the masses. Ha, ha!
The “I don’t watch TV” lie: The favourite actor of Imran Khan and Amin Fahim is Dilip Kumar. That will lose some votes but the fact that Dilip is a Muslim under threat from the BJP’s religious fanatics might save the day. Obviously, Leghari leaves the column blank and Zafarul Haq who once tyrannised the population of Pakistan as General Zia’s religious minister, had to say he had no favourite actor. None of the leaders chose a “female” film actor, if you please! When it came to favourite films, the leaders turned out to be perfect bores.
The last good film Imran Khan had seen was Bridge on the River Kawai while Qadri had seen only (courageously) The Message on the life of the Prophet PBUH, which was banned in Pakistan. It should come as a great surprise to the voters that these leaders only rarely watch TV while, as rulers, Pakistani leaders are known to be glued to the TV. In fact, most of them neglect their duties to either watch it or figure personally in this fatal on-screen romance. All of the seven leaders think Allama Iqbal is their favourite poet while only Fahim has the guts to say Faraz. True to character, Leghari leaves the column blank. Will some leader also read the classics like Mir and Ghalib?
The “I want women employed according to Eastern tradition” lie: On the question of employment for women, old Qazi leaves the column blank obviously because he finds the topic distasteful. Zafarul Haq takes his Nawaz League far to the right by adding mashriqi rivayaat kay dayeray main.
Imran Khan says he wants women employed outside the household. This marks his growth as politician away from his first unpleasant born-again phase when he was under the nefarious influence of Murtaza Malik and wrote those threatening articles taxing women to stay at home. He has a better measure of Pakistani society and doesn’t want to lose votes by saying he doesn’t want women to seek employment. When asked to say something “beautiful” none of the seven could come up with anything uncloying and non-platitudinous. What else could you expect?
THE LANGUAGE OF LOYALTY
A journey into Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Koestler's 'Darkness at Noon' Basit Noor Khan
Old Ravian Words are fate! Whatever is expressed orally or through the written word matters in a “nightmare”. They decide the party member’s future (since there are no ‘individuals.’) They decide the stability of the Party.