Nuclear Physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy: “Has the Islamic State ever been a Historical Reality?”
11-12 October International Conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London
Courtesy: SecularConference.Com + Youtube
Nuclear Physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy: “Has the Islamic State ever been a Historical Reality?”
11-12 October International Conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London
Courtesy: SecularConference.Com + Youtube
The new Rajkumar Hirani-directed Bollywood movie PK starring Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma has divided opinions in India. ‘#BanPK’ trended on Twitter, there were protests all over India and religious groups burnt posters of the movie at processions but the movie is in course to be the highest grossing Indian film of all time.
India’s silent majority is letting its position on the issue known by supporting the movie. There are no mass protests in support of the movie but the positive reviews online and thousands of people taking to social media to praise it shows India is ready to have the ‘religion’ debate.
There was outcry from religious groups, and threats of mob violence but the courts and the government must be admired for not bowing down under the pressure of these mobs. The Supreme Court passed a verdict simply saying,
“Don’t watch the film, if you don’t like it.”
It is not as if the religious groups are not as strong in India as in Pakistan, it is just that their state is stronger than ours. In a country with the writ of law, mobs cannot act with complete impunity. The Supreme Court judges who passed this judgment were not afraid they would be shot in their chambers after passing the judgment. Having worked in the legal fraternity in Pakistan, I can testify that some judges in Pakistan are afraid to pass judgments based on their feelings and reason in cases which may involve religion.
By Akif Khan
In Pakistan, liberals are often accused of working on the Western agendas and being covert agents of “enemies” of Pakistan. They are also thought to be the ones who malign Pakistan’s image by cherry-picking few mishaps in the country. Let us explore the basis of these accusations and why these liberal “fascists” cry for secularism and liberalism and are opposed to Islamic system (aka Khilafat) in the country.
First of all there is this national narcissistic attitude and national state of denial. The incoherent syllabus, media and jingoist protectors of the “ideological boundaries” reinforce this state of narcissism and delusion. We need to realize that there are issues here and we have to address them. The first stage is – to identify these problems, the second is speaking up, third creating awareness and the last stage is where we will be able to move towards finding solutions.
Many Pakistani Pushtuns find themselves in a spot of bother when some political commentators and analysts define extremist organisations like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as an extension and expression of Pushtun nationalism.
Though religion has always played a central role in the make-up of Pushtun identity, Pushtun nationalism (especially in the 20th century) was always a more secular and left-leaning phenomenon. It still is.
This nationalism’s modern manifestation was founded on the thoughts and actions of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan) and expressed through such left-wing parties as National Awami Party (NAP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and the Awami National Party (ANP).
However, for nearly three decades now, or ever since the beginning of the US/Pakistan/Saudi-backed ‘jihad’ against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pushtun identity (at least in popular imagination) has been gradually mutating into becoming to mean something that is akin to being aggressive, fanatical and entirely religious.
Yet, till 2008 the county’s Pushtuns were enthusiastically voting for secular Pushtun nationalist parties like the ANP, and till even this day, there are a number of Pushtuns who are openly canvasing to eradicate not only religious violence and extremism from the Pushtun-dominated province of Khyber-Puskhtunkhwa (KPK), but also busy working towards debunking the belief that Pushtuns are by nature fanatical, driven by revenge and radically ‘Islamist’ in orientation.
Such Pushtuns point out the unique Pushtun-centric secularism of men like Bacha Khan and how left-wing parties like NAP were once KPK’s most popular exponents of electoral politics.
They blame the Pakistani ‘establishment’ for corrupting the notion of Pushtun nationalism by radicalising large portions of the Pushtuns through radical religious indoctrination and the Saudi ‘Petro Dollar.’
The idea was to neutralise Pushtun nationalism that had been the leading player in NAP, a party that also included Baloch and Sindhi nationalists, and was suspiciously eyed (by the establishment) to have had separatist and anti-Pakistan sentiments.
In the last decade or so – especially ever since extremist violence gripped the country, and with the KPK and the tribal areas that surround the province becoming the epicentre of this violence – various Pushtun parties, groups and individuals have been aggressively using political, social and cultural platforms to challenge the perception that religious extremism found in certain Pushtun-dominated militant outfits have anything to do with Pushtun culture or nationalism.
But so far it has been an uphill task and unfortunately the word Pushtun continues to trigger images of bushy, violent fanatics exploding themselves up in markets and mosques or beheading ‘infidels’ in the hills and mountains of KPK and the tribal areas.
– Shahrukh Khan exposes Indian secularism
Bollywood king Shahrukh Khan has exposed so-called secular face of world largest democracy: India, expressing his agony he is facing for being born as a Muslim.
SRK wrote an article titled Being a Khan for Outlook Turning Points magazine.
Khan said in the article many politicians asked him to go back to his native homeland: Pakistan, after 9/11 incident.
“I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India”.
“There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation (Pakistan) rather than my own country – this even though I am an Indian, whose father fought for the freedom of India. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave and return what they refer to my ‘original’ homeland.”
“I gave my son and daughter names that could pass for generic (pan-India and pan-religious) ones – Aryan and Suhana,” Shahrukh Khan said.
“The Khan has been bequeathed by me so they can’t really escape it.
Khan said that he pronounced names of his children with his epiglottis when asked by Muslims and throw the Aryan as evidence of their race when non-Muslims enquired. “I imagine this will prevent my offspring from receiving unwarranted eviction orders or random fatwas in the future,” said Khan.
Khan said that he was pressed to make the film “My Name is Khan” to prove a point after being repeatedly detained in US airports because of his last name.
He said he was grilled at the airport for hours about his last name when he was going to promote the film in America for the first time.
By Khaled Ahmed
Origin of our national mindset
The Army is composed of Punjabis up to 80 percent. Even the Navy, which should normally absorb coastal populations, is composed almost exclusively of Punjabis.
The ‘vitality’ and ‘dynamism’ of the middle class in Pakistan are channeled into ideological aspirations that negate the modern state
The economist says the middle class anywhere in the world is a factor of dynamic growth: a growing middle class means the country will post good growth rates. But for the non-economist, no two middle classes may be alike. In Pakistan, the middle class is conservative, just like India’s; but unlike India, it is ideological, anti-American and pro-Taliban.
The Indian Constitution informs the attitude of the Indian middle class, which is tolerant of secularism. In Pakistan, the Constitution inclines the middle class to desire sharia and consequently prefer the ‘harder’ sharia of al Qaeda to state ideology. It is the sentinel of the unchanging character of the medieval state presented as a utopia by state ideology.
Citizens for Democracy (CFD) invites you to join in the Candle light vigil to mark the first anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti, former Federal Minister for Minorities. Mr. Bhatti, who was assassinated on March 2, 2011 in Islamabad, was a member of Federal Assembly of Pakistan and an outspoken critic of misuse of Blasphemy Laws introduced by a military dictator, Zia ul Haq.
The candle light vigil will held on March 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm in front of Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim/ Jehangir Kothari Parade, opposite Park Towers, Clifton, Karachi, Sindh. Please join us, invite friends and help spread the word.
Citizens For Democracy (CFD)- citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com
HOUSTON, TX, USA. Sindhi-Americans gathered in Houston on Saturday, January 28, 2012 to commemorate the 108th birthday of Mr. G. M. Syed, a national leader of Sindh who waged a nonviolent struggle against religious fundamentalism and for freedom.
Sindh is home to the ancient Indus Valley civilization and is now a province in Pakistan. A vibrant Sindhi-American community numbering in the tens of thousands lives in various U.S. cities. More than 30 million Sindhis live in Sindh today. Sindhis are supportive of democracy and secularism and have been marginalized by security establishment and its fundo ideology.
Ms. Patricia Lykos, District Attorney of the Harris County of Texas, was the Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker of the evening. Other prominent speakers include Mr Albert Chang, Director of Regional Office of the US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Mr. Iqbal Detho, a human rights scholar affiliated with the University of Minnesota, Mr. Mohammed Khan Buriro, a human rights lawyer from Sindh, Mr Umed Ali Laghari, Sr. Vice Chairperson of the World Sindhi Congress, and Mansoor Samo of the G M Syed Memorial Committee and Several community leaders spoke at the event. An estimated 250 delegates from different parts of Texas, USA came to attend this event.
POETRY – IBRAHIM MUNSHI
ISTANBUL — A former Turkish military chief suspected of leading an Internet campaign to stir revolt was jailed Friday in a sweeping investigation of alleged conspiracies to topple a civilian government that has stripped the armed forces of political clout.
Gen. Ilker Basbug, 68, was the most senior officer to face trial in the anti-terror probes that began years ago, netting hundreds of suspects, many of them retired and active-duty military officers. The government casts the inquiries as a triumph for the rule of law and democracy, but suspicions of score-settling, long imprisonments without verdicts and other lapses have tainted the legal process.
The investigations serve as a pivotal test for Turkey’s ability to put its own house in order even as it seeks a higher profile in a turbulent region where the Turkish brand of electoral politics and Islam-inspired government is viewed by some as worthy of emulation.
Perhaps most notable about Basbug’s arrest was the muted public response in a country where civilian leaders were once beholden to the generals, and any hint of conflict stirred fears of a coup. The power balance shifted in the past decade as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan undermined the premise that the military brass were the untouchable guardians of secularism, as enshrined in the constitution. …
Read more » The Washington Post
by Farooq Sulehria
“Secularism is not about lifestyle, it is about ideology and thought. Some of the most liberal souls in South Asia have practiced the worst kind of fundamentalist politics, using their positions to sow the seeds of conservative thought,” says Seema Mustafa. A leading Indian journalist, peace activist and public intellectual, Seema Mustafa also contributes for Viewpoint. In an interview, she discusses different aspects of secularism in the Muslim world. Read on:
Why has secularism not taken root in the Muslim world? If Islam and secularism are incompatible?
Islam and secularism are totally compatible, as is any religion practiced in its true sense. Syria, Libya and Iraq earlier did try to develop as secular states keeping religion out of politics. Last month I was in Syria and in a long conversation, the Grand Mufti in Damascus made it very clear that there was no room for religion in politics, that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood were unacceptable so long as they insisted on mixing the two, and that the secular character of the Syrian state would not be compromised. …
Read more » ViewPoint
By Javed Qazi
Hardly a day of the great murder of the history of Sindh passed by, that 72 years back, Sindhi Sufi mystic singer, Bhaghat Kanwar Ram, was killed near Shikarpur, that we always remember him on his anniversary day, 1st Nov. We have got a blow due to another shock that three Hindu doctors have been killed by the Bhayo Tribe in Shikarpur. Prima Facie it is due to the fact that recently the persons of this tribe had kidnapped a Sindhi Hindu girl and wanted to convert her religion to escape from the crime of kidnapping. The Sindhi Hindu community, who was in majority in the area prior partition of India, is still living by about 50000 houses, in Shikarpur. They couldn’t let this happen and they got the girl back from the Bhayo tribe. In the tribal context it was shameful for Bhayos that the most weak community, forced Bhayos and got the girl back. In a ray of revenge on very Eid day, just to send a loud and clear message to the Sindhi Hindu community, three Hindu doctors in Shikarpur were killed while they were performing their routine professional work in their respective clinics.
This is same Shikarpur where the great leader of Sindh, Shaheed Allah Bux Soomro was murdered on same grounds, almost 68 years back. Shikarpur was Hub of trade and commerce, which even Karl Marx has acknowledged on his notes on India as colony of British Empire. Prior partition it was either Karachi or Shikarpur which had colleges and best education institutions and hospitals that even Hyderabad and Sukkur was far behind it. Shaheed Allah Bakhsh Soomro was the first premier of Sindh, who was against the formation of Pakistan, was from Shikarpur city. This was due to the fact that communal groups of Manzil Masjid Gah were spread. The symbol of religious harmony, Bhaghat Kanwar the great mystic singer was murdered at that time. Allah Bux soomro another symbol of religious harmony and secularism was murdered at that time.
– Different perspective – The Baloch and Sindhis certainly believe that Pakistan should be more than an Islamic monoculture
By Raza Ahmed
Pervez Hoodbhoy is a familiar name among critics who see Pakistani society in the context of extremism and terrorism. A distinctively fierce critic of nuclear weapons and technology, Hoodbhoy is a professor of nuclear and high energy physics at the Department of Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He has delivered lectures at US and European research centres and universities. In addition to his BS, MS, and PhD degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he has received Baker Award for Electronics and Abdus Salam Prize for Mathematics.
He was awarded UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize in 2003 on science. The same year, he was invited to the Pugwash Council. He has also received the Joseph A. Burton Award from the American Physical Society.
His book, Islam and Science — Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality, has been translated into seven languages. Understandably, Hoodbhoy is one of the most sought-after commentator on nuclear and related issues today. Recently, TNS sat with Pervez Hoodbhoy and focused on various aspects of Pakistani state, society, and regional affairs. Excerpts follow. The News on Sunday: What, in your opinion, is the root cause of religious extremism-terrorism in Pakistan?
Pervez Hoodbhoy: It came from Pakistan’s foreign policy in the early 1980s. The US and Pakistan, with Saudi funding, created the deadly jihadist machinery after the USSR invaded Afghanistan. For over a decade, they armed, financed, and trained the mujahideen. Once the USSR withdrew and disintegrated, the infrastructure should have been disbanded. But then Pakistani generals, like Mirza Aslam Beg, decided to use jihadists to conquer Kashmir and establish strategic depth in Afghanistan. Those mujahideen, “assets” as they were called, are now slaughtering our soldiers and officers whenever and wherever they can.
TNS: Has Pakistan been misdirected because no political or intellectual input seems to have gone into policy making?
PH: Civilian and military governments are to be blamed for today’s catastrophic situation. Although he denies it now, let us remember that Nawaz Sharif was thick with Musharraf on Kargil and had accompanied him to visit the troops there. Our insistence on Kashmir being the number one problem is the cause of many of our sorrows. We did not realise that the well-being of Pakistan, and addressing the grievances of Balochistan and Sindh, is more important than liberating Kashmir from Indian occupation. …
Read more → The News
via → Secular Pakistan
Finally. Crystal clear. Someone finally said it – what the whole world, except Washington and Tel Aviv, knows in its collective heart; the recognition of a Palestinian state is “not an option but an obligation”.
It did wonders that the man who said it was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Cairo, at the Arab League, in front of all Arab foreign ministers and with virtually the whole Arab world glued to satellite networks scrutinizing his every word.
The current Erdogan Arab Spring tour – as it was billed by the Turkish press – comprising Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, has already rocketed him to the status of a geopolitical cross between U2’s Bono and Barcelona’s superstar Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.
Erdogan received a rock/soccer star welcome at Cairo’s airport – complete with “Hero Erdogan” banners brandished by the Muslim Brotherhood. He even addressed the crowd in Arabic (from “Greetings to the Egyptian youth and people, how are you?” to “Peace be upon you”).
Erdogan repeatedly stressed, “Egypt and Turkey are hand-in-hand.” But it’s the subtext that is even more incendiary. While Israel’s former good friends Egypt and Turkey are now hand-in-hand, Israel is left isolated facing a wall. There could not be a more earth-shattering development in the Levant – unheard of since the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978.
A model campaigner
Erdogan’s tour is a realpolitik master class. He’s positioning Turkey as the forefront supporter of the Palestinian cause. He’s also positioning Turkey at the core of the Arab Spring – as a supporter and as an inspirational model, even though there have been no full-fledged revolutions so far. He’s emphasizing solid Turkish-Arab unity – for instance planning a strategic cooperation council between Egypt and Turkey.
Plus the whole thing makes good business sense. Erdogan’s caravan includes six ministers and nearly 200 Turkish businessmen – bent on investing heavily all across northern Africa. In Egypt, they may not match the billions of dollars already committed by the House of Saud to the military junta led by Air Marshall Mohammed Tantawi. But in 2010, Turkish trade with the Middle East and North Africa was already at $30 billion, representing 27% of Turkish exports. Over 250 Turkish companies have already invested $1.5 billion in Egypt.
Crucially, Erdogan told Egyptian TV channel Dream, “Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt.” Erdogan was subtly referring to Turkey’s secular constitution; and at the same time he was very careful to remind Egyptians that secularism is compatible with Islam.
The current Turkish model is enormously popular among the Egyptian street, featuring a moderate Islamic party (the Justice and Development Party – AKP) in power; a secular constitution; the military – albeit strong – back in the barracks; and an ongoing economic boom (Turkey was the world’s fastest growing economy in the first half of 2001). 
This model is not exactly what the regressive House of Saud wants. They would prefer a heavily Islamist government controlled by the most conservative factions of the Muslim Brotherhood. Worse; as far as Libya is concerned, the House of Saud would love to have a friendly emirate, or at least a government peppered with Islamic fundamentalists.
Erdogan also stressed that the “aggressiveness” of Israel “threatens the future of the Israeli people”. That’s music for the Arab street. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Erdogan in Cairo – and confirmed he’ll go ahead with Palestine’s bid to be fully recognized as a state by the United Nations Security Council later this month. ….
Read more → Asia Times
– Ahmed Rashid, Author and Journalist
With the recent assassination of Salman Taseer, governor of the province of Punjab, one of the strongest voices for democracy and secularism in the Pakistan People’s Party has been silenced. The government is in crisis, and the economy has been in freefall since the International Monetary Fund halted its loans to the country last year. Ahmed Rashid warns that the situation in Pakistan is potentially worse than in neighboring Afghanistan. This unrest comes at a crucial time when the United States is seeking increased cooperation with Islamabad on the war in Afghanistan and combating terrorism. What is the future of Pakistan’s partnership with the United States, and what will be Pakistan’s role in defining regional order before NATO pulls out of Afghanistan in 2014? …
Read more : The Chicago Council
Not only did Ghaffar Khan not seek political high office for himself, he also remained highly critical of his party and family members when they either did not live up to his high standards when in power or had sought such power through compromising on core principles …
Read more : Daily Times
Images aired earlier this month where lawyers and other citizens in Pakistan were seen garlanding and felicitating the murderer of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer might have made those involved look tasteless and crude, but their acts were far from shocking. All his faults aside, Taseer had stood up for a Christian woman who had been accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death by a district and sessions (lower) court. He was killed because he had referred to the blasphemy statutes as ‘black laws’ which are abused at will, and had called for reform. As such, Taseer was killed because he had stood up, albeit in a roundabout way, for secularism and basic humanity.
Secularism is an incredibly dirty word in the mainstream narrative of Pakistan. Over time, malevolent forces of obscurantism, bolstered by the deep state, have worked tirelessly towards transforming the connotations of the word in the national consciousness, until it came to represent, falsely of course, the absolute negation of spirituality. …
Read more : Kafila
Bangladesh will mark its 40th year of independence in 2011. The celebrations have already begun, and will continue until next December. The TV channels are already playing patriotic tunes. One such tune is Shona shona shona. The song says the land, mati, of Bangladesh is better than gold, and under this land sleeps many heroes: Rafiq, Shafiq, Barkat, Titu Mir and Isa Khan.
Who are these heroes? Rafiq, Shafiq and Barkat were killed by the Pakistani authorities during the language uprising of 1952 — a milestone moment in Bangladesh’s nationalism. Titu Mir defied the East India Company and organised a peasant revolt in the 19th century. Isa Khan was a Bengali chieftain who resisted the Mughals in the 16th century. …
Read more : Kafila
by Declan Walsh in Lahore
Liberals have long been a minority force in Pakistan, reviled for importing ‘western’ ideas and culture; now they are virtually an endangered species.
There was silence in the ancient city of Lahore yesterday as Salman Taseer, a pugnacious son of the soil who made his name by speaking out, was lowered into an early grave. …
Read more : Guardian.co.uk
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To read BBC urdu column, click here
… the past, present and future of a country born in an orgy of bloodshed and unravelling in a macabre bloodlust for death. “The only way to treat this cancer is to join the rest of the civilized world, including India and Bangladesh, to embrace secularism & the complete separation of the Mosque and the State. Otherwise, prepare for the funeral of the country.
To read full interview : Criticalppp
Huston : On Saturday, January 15th, 2011, the World Sindhi Congress and G M Syed Memorial Committee is hosting a gathering in Houston, TX to commemorate the 107th birthday of Saeen G. M. Syed, a leader who waged a nonviolent struggle against Islamic fundamentalism and strove toward the emancipation of Sindh. It is our pleasure to invite you to this event. Your participation would let Sindhis know that people around the world support their struggle for human rights, democracy and secularism.
For the last Seven years we have been arranging similar community events in Houston. In year 2005 Honorable Rick Perry, Governor State of Texas sent special greetings on this occasion. In his message, the Governor said:
Sindhi-Americans continue to play an important role in promoting peace, democracy, and human rights. By putting thought into action, you have reinforced the importance of being civic minded, committed citizens, and I wish you continued success.
Bill White, Mayor of Houston, proclaimed the January 16th, 2005 and January 21, 2006 as “G M Syed Day(s) for the City of Houston.” The program in Houston will be held at BBQ Tonite Restaurant, 4617 Beechnut St, Houston, TX, USA,
Sindh – Karachi : Bangladesh’s government has decided to confer Bangladesh National Award to Sindh nationalist leader late G. M. Sayed, late Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizinjo from Balochistan, [the poet of Sindhi language, Late Sheikh Ayaz from Sindh, who strongly opposed the military operation and as a president of Sukkur Bar Association he passed a resolution against the brutal military operation and genocide of Bangalis due to it he put behind the bars. During his imprisonment (May 1971 to January 1972) in Sukkur Jail, he wrote his “Jail Diary”. He had also behind the bars from 1965 to 1968 due to his revolutionary poetry in military dictator Ayoub Khan era . In later years it becomes a piece of Sindhi revolutionary literature.], Baadshah Khan, Abdus Samad Achakzai, Khair Bakhsh Marri, Ahmad Saleem, Tahira Muzhar, Zafar Malik and Air Marshal (R) Asghar Khan are among the 40 Pakistanis who were chosen for the award.
G. M. Sayed was the first leader in west Pakistan who had dare to strongly condemned and opposed the genocide of Bangladeshis in 1970 by Pakistani security forces during darkest times of dictatorship. The authoritarian authorities of that time decided to give punishment to G. M. Sayed, therefore, they put G. M. Sayed under house arrest and his house was declared a sub-jail. He had been detained without trial until his death. He was declared “Prisoner of Conscience” by Amnesty International.
G.M. Syed mainly advocated for non-violence, democracy, secularism (Separation of religion from the state), national self-determination, unity among all south Asian nations and states, social and economic equality for all. Long live the struggle of Saeen G. M. Syed for the religious harmony, unity among all south Asian nations and states towards universal peace.
Now Bangladesh selected G.M. Sayed and several other individuals from various countries to award them with its highest civilian decoration.
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For more details : Examiner.com
The language of discussion is urdu/ Hindi.
“YOU MAY BELONG TO ANY RELIGION OR CASTE OR CREED THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BUSINESS OF THE STATE.” – JINNAH
By Mazhar Khan Jadoon
First published in The News on Sunday, August 29, 2010
The News on Sunday: How do you view secularism as having evolved in the particular case of India where the kings did not run their empires on the clergy’s instructions but according to political exigencies?
Mubarak Ali: Secularism has been in evolution since medieval times and if you go back to the ancient Ashoka period in India, you will find the ruling pattern to be entirely secular. It was a requirement for all the empires in India, including the Mughal Empire, to be secular and tolerant towards different religions under their rule. Ghauris, Mughals, Durranis and all other emperors had to opt for a secular approach to keep their vast dynasties intact. Clergy was not allowed to interfere in state matters and all the decisions were taken according to practical political exigencies. Allauddin Khilji was one of the great rulers of India who did tremendous welfare work for his people. Once he asked the Qazi whether his acts were according to Shariah or not. The Qazi said no. Khilji told Qazi, “I am illiterate and I don’t know whether my acts are according to Shariah or not, but what I am sure of is that I work for the betterment of my people.”
TNS: Does secularism have any place in Muslim history?
MA: Yes. Almost all the rulers in Muslim history applied the model of secularism during their rule. During the Abbasid period, ulema were not allowed to interfere in the political affairs of state and the caliph was not allowed to meddle in religious affairs. The Abbasid came to power with the help of Iranians who wanted the caliph to remain secular while the clergy at that time wanted the caliph to adhere to Islamic laws and impose Shariah. The conflict was resolved with the signing of a pact regarding state and religion being separate. Great historian Ziauddin Burney, in his book Fatwa-e-Jahandari, also emphasises that state and religion should be kept separate.
… On Monday, during the ongoing hearings on challenges to certain parts of the 18th Amendment, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry posed the question: “Should we accept if tomorrow parliament declares secularism, and not Islam, as the state polity?” That the question was asked in a rhetorical way was relatively clear: several judges indicated that such a move was even beyond contemplation. That is a troubling position.
Leave aside the remote possibility of secularism being constitutionally approved as the governing ethos of the Pakistani state. The question is really, should the Supreme Court appropriate for itself the responsibility of determining under what system the Pakistani people want to live, as expressed by their elected representatives? …
To read full article >> Dawn Editorial
Secularism Debate: A fallacious binary – by Saqlain Imam
The word secularism seems to be the most contentious one in the Pakistani political culture. Anything that is anti-religion or non-religious is dubbed secular; it is understood as a Western concept with no direct connection with Islam; for example, some people might find some Christian or Judaic values or practices secular. The word is used in its smallest possible definition to the widest and wildest interpretations. But in all kinds of debates, one thing is common — anti-secular groups use religion to justify non-democratic disposition of the state.
Although when we normally talk about secularism, it means governance that should stand separately from religion or religious beliefs, in the context of the Pakistani state, and indeed Pakistani society, the concept of secularism is widely, and perhaps deliberately, misconstrued.
It must be clearly understood right from the very beginning that religion, or in this case Islam, is not the only source to justify non-democratic governance. It depends on the peculiar circumstances of a nation and which forces are trying to use religion or secularism to support its non-democratic concepts of governance. Among Muslim states for instance, Turkey’s army uses secularism to support its non-democratic role, so did Pakistan’s Army in the 1960s. Currently, the Algerian government and Palestinian Authority are using secularism to strengthen their non-democratic role in their own systems of governance.
In Pakistan’s case, the dominant argument for the non-democratic actors to influence the country’s politics and governance is religion. This is not a suitable place to go into the details of how religion’s narration replaced the secular narration in Pakistani politics, or whether there was ever a secular narration at all in the history of the people of South Asia. But the fact is that currently seculars are supporting democratic forces, while the religious forces are bent upon undermining the democratic disposition of the state, constitution and society.
Take the role of Pakistan Army; it is now known as a ‘Jihadi’ institution, its official motto is “Jihad Fi Sabil Lillah” (Jihad for the cause of Allah). Pakistan’s Supreme Court’s recent verdict on the NRO amply and loudly speaks that it wants to re-write the constitution where democracy should be subordinate to the injunctions of Quran and Sunnah. Few people have realised that it’s a step to advance General Zia-ul-Haq’s doctrine in a much bolder manner. General Zia made the “amended” Objective Resolution an operational part of the constitution through undemocratic means. ….
Read more >> criticalppp
By A. G. Noorani
THERE is an aspect to L.K. Advani’s comments on Jinnah at Karachi which has been overlooked. A month or so earlier, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the rabid Jamaat-e-Islami leader of Pakistan, had denounced Jinnah’s famous presidential speech to Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. Advani’s praise and quotation from the speech has boosted the morale of Pakistan’s secularists who always cited it.
The speech has been quoted in bits and pieces; never analysed as a whole. Nor for that matter the entire and considerable corpus of Jinnah’s record from 1906 to 1948. There is no single complete series of his Collected Works. One such effort ended in 1931. Historians in India, Pakistan and abroad propound fanciful theories from their own standpoints; never mind the record. The speech was neither an act of contrition or repentance nor a reflection of two Jinnahs. He had unwisely used the poisonous two-nation theory to promote under the slogan of Pakistan, his real objective – a power-sharing accord. Gandhi, Nehru and Patel sabotaged the Cabinet Mission’s Plan of May 16, 1946, for United India which was done in complicity with Stafford Cripps (vide “Cripps and India’s Partition”, Frontline, August 2, 2002).
OPINION – Jinnah’s speech was a crie de coeur. He had not changed his outlook. In 1919 he gave evidence before the Joint Select Committee of the British Parliament on the Government of India Bill. His answers to questions by one of its members, Major Ormsby-Gore, bear recalling today.