Delusions of being Islamic

By: Humayun Gauhar

So long as we keep blaming others for our woes, so long we will not realise that the fault is ours for allowing others to take advantage of us. Pakistan pompously professes to be an Islamic Republic but doesn’t know what that means. Which Islam? The Islam of God or one of the 72 versions of the cleric? That is our core problem from which all other problems arise. We don’t know who we are and why we are. This leads to an erosion of self-confidence and self-esteem (except in rhetoric), the lack of which make us in thrall of alien ideologies and their political, economic and social constructs.

This poem on the Holy Quran written some 35 years ago by the ninth President of India, Dr Pandit Shanker Dayal Sharma, says it beautifully. It’s very good because it’s very true. I have translated it myself.

Amal ki kitab thi.

Dua ki kitab bana dia

It was a command for action.

You turned it into a book of prayer.

Samajhne ki kitab thi.

Parhne ki kitab bana dia.

It was a Book to understand.

You read it without understanding.

Zindaon ka dastoor tha.

Murdon ka manshoor bana dia.

It was a code for the living.

You turned it into a manifesto of the dead.

Jo ilm ki kitab thi.

Usay la ilmon ke hath thama dia.

That which was a book of knowledge;

You abdicated to the ignoramus.

Taskheer-e-kayenaat ka dars denay aayi thi.

Sirf madrason ka nisaab bana dia.

It came to give knowledge of Creation.

You abandoned it to the madrassah.

Murda qaumon ko zinda karne aayi thi.

Murdon ko bakhshwane per laga dia.

It came to give life to dead nations.

You used it for seeking mercy for the dead.

Aye Musalmano ye tum nay kia kiya?

O’ Muslims! What have you done?

Please don’t take kneejerk offence. Righteous rage before thinking is a hallmark of the ignoramus. Don’t focus on who says something but on what he says.

Look at the Muslim condition. They remain on the lowest rung of the ladder. The Jews, numbering less than the people who live in Karachi, are on the top rung. Why? Because they educated themselves, used their minds, recognised and understood the real levers of power, bought stakes in them and became the most powerful people in the world. The Muslims, on the other hand, remain mired in ignorance, waiting for divine deliverance without bothering to lift a finger, fooling only themselves by wallowing in their undoubtedly glorious past, deluded in their present illusions. They live on homilies and humbug.

The total GDP of all 57 Muslim majority countries put together is less than the GDP of California. The turnover of some top multi-nationals is more. Muslims have the highest illiteracy rate in the world, the lowest educational levels, lower still in subjects that matter like science, the highest birth rate, the highest female and child mortality rates, not a single world class school, university or hospital, no state institutions worth a dime, no nothing. All we have is a bomb and one good friend that some ‘heavenly’ Muslims regard as ‘godless’. If they only knew their religion properly, they would be shocked to realise that China is closer to the ideal Islamic state than any Muslim country is.

Muslims were enjoined to become the “central community” that others could emulate – ummatun wusuta. Instead, we’ve become a model of what not to emulate. Of 57 Muslim majority states, only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran call themselves ‘Islamic’. That’s a big claim, so big that it makes one’s heart quake. However, it’s most incumbent upon Pakistan to deliver for it claims; it was made in the name of Islam in order to create that model Islamic state that God wanted. To what extent has Pakistan discharged that responsibility? Zero.

Riba is usury and exploitation of all and any sort. It is rampant. When they call usury by another name, it doesn’t change its exploitative and un-Islamic nature. Calling riba ‘interest’ is the mark of hypocrisy. Calling it ‘mark up’ is the mark of the devil.

There is no such thing as ‘interest’ distinct from usury. It is only a slight of tongue, a play of words devised by the rapacious. Pakistan’s is an economy based on usury upon usury, something that has brought the western economic system to the brink.

Our banks charge inordinate amounts in usury on the ignorant excuse that it will lower inflation when it actually raises it. We pay inordinate amounts in usury for our unconscionable debt addiction to live an illusory life of luxury having collateralising our sovereignty and our soul. Living beyond one’s means is stupidity in the extreme. It is defiance of the Divine. We belong to Dr Faustus. Luckily, Dr Faustus is terminally ill with a disease called usury.

Pakistan has all but lost its sovereignty. You know what that means for a state that calls itself Islamic? All sovereignty belongs to the Almighty. He has conditionally devolved some of it on humanity because He has appointed man his khalifa or vicegerent – a sovereign’s administrative deputy – since humankind is His greatest creation (ashraful makhlooqat). Thus what we have trashed is the sovereignty God devolved on us. Great going!

Pakistan has all but lost its nationhood. You know what that means? The best translation of the Arabic world ummah that I have seen is ‘nation’ – nation of believers in One God within which is the Muslim Ummah. That is the first pillar of Islam – Tauheed – belief in One God. So by losing our Pakistani nationhood, are we perhaps not in danger of losing our place in the ummah as a whole? Big talk comes easy for it comes cheap – “Pakistan is an Islamic Republic” – but it’s very difficult to live up to. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Certainly don’t bite if you have no intention of chewing. Most certainly don’t bite if you don’t even know how to chew, not if you have borrowed dentures for which you are paying usury.

Like apes we mimic our master’s systems. God tells us to ‘choose’ from amongst ourselves and from amongst the best. ‘Choose’ implies democracy. Our British system ensures that we choose from amongst the worst. Our parliament-cum-legislature is not only supposed to be an advisory body but also a law-making one.

Yet it comprises people who know little about jurisprudence, Islamic or Anglo-Saxon. The adjudicature includes lawyers many of whom are on a rampage of illegality. Judges are more concerned with matters facetious than with issues requiring immediate justice. We have no institutions with expert jurists to make laws. When law, advice, governance are missing it means Amr bil ma’roof wan nahi ‘an al munkar – those who command good and forbid evil – are missing.

Sorry, my dear compatriots, we are no Islamic state.

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