Time to unmask the fanatics

“Because of the mullah, the true religion has sunk lower than irreligiousness,
For the mullah instead of guiding the Muslims, is busy branding the people as ‘kafir’ [infidel].
To us dew appears as the ocean,
But to the mullah the ocean seems but dew.
He does not catch the spirit of the teachings of the Holy Prophet [PBUH],
His firmament being starless is dark,
His shortsightedness, pettiness, and pedantry
Serve but to disrupt the community.
The religion of the kafir consists of planning for jihad,
The religion of the mullah is creating trouble in the name of God.” — Allama Iqbal.

Religion is a private matter; you and I are entitled to have differences in our religious ideologies. If one disagrees with the other’s view, he can argue it but it should be done in a peaceful manner. Contrary to this, the ‘custodians’ of Islam – the mullahs – have another way of dealing with those who oppose their set of beliefs. They issue fatwas against people with opposing views and declare them ‘kafirs’. These fanatics have hijacked Islam and under a religious cloak are pursuing their political agendas. These theologists have distorted the meaning of Islam and politicised it to the extent that many around the globe have forgotten about the true message of Islam and are blindly following the political schisms created by these mullahs in the name of religion. These are the same religious ‘scholars’ who could not even agree on the definition of a Muslim when they were questioned by Justice M. Munir and Justice M. R. Kayani in the court of inquiry into the Punjab disturbances of 1953. The inquiry was launched after the campaign against the Ahmadis was initiated by the then Jamaat-e-Islami chief Maulana Maudoodi.

The Munir Commission Report (Lahore, 1954) states: “Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulema, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental? If we attempt our own definition, as each learned divine has, and that definition differs from all others, we all leave Islam’s fold. If we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulema, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim, but kafirs according to everyone else’s definition.” The report elaborated on the point by explaining that the Deobandis would label the Barelvis as kafirs if they are empowered and vice versa, and the same would happen among the other sects. The point of the report was that if left to such religious ‘scholars’, the country would become an open battlefield. Therefore, it was suggested that Pakistan remain a democratic, secular state and steer clear of the theological path.

Unfortunately, this suggestion was not heeded and, consequently, the exact opposite happened. Pakistan became hostage to the mullahs and is now paying a heavy price. Our politicians played into the hands of these fanatics for expedient political reasons and overlooked the diminishing returns from such an unwise overture.

The journey of politicising Islam began with the Objectives Resolution. Jinnah envisioned a secular Pakistan, but Liaquat Ali Khan made the mistake of adopting the Objectives Resolution in 1949 that stated, “Sovereignty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.” This stipulation gave the mullahs the chance they were looking for, a chance to flash their religious card and put fear in the heart of the ignorant masses. After moving the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly, Liaquat Ali Khan said, “As I have just said, the people are the real recipients of power. This naturally eliminates any danger of the establishment of a theocracy.” Although he believed in the power of the people and aimed for a secular, democratic rule, yet by bringing the name of religion into the Objectives Resolution, he gave an edge to the mullahs who later claimed it as their licence to impose the Shariah. And so began the rise of the fanatics.

Even a liberal ruler like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto tried to appease the religious extremists by declaring the Ahmadis non-Muslims. And what to say of Mr. Mard-e-Momin, Mard-e-Haq Ziaul Haq! It was Zia who brought the extremists to the forefront in the political arena, while crushing those who held liberal or moderate Islamic viewpoints. The end result of Zia’s imprudence was a steep rise in extremism, sectarianism and the so-called jihad in Pakistan. Thanks to Zia, Pakistan’s destiny is held hostage at gunpoint by these fanatics. The religio-political factions had become so strong during Zia’s time that even after his demise, they continue to remain in politics. Nawaz Sharif always favoured them the same way as his mentor Ziaul Haq, while Benazir Bhutto was always careful not to offend them, lest they create trouble for her. Even the “enlightened” and “moderate” General Musharraf could not break this tradition. Instead, he cheerfully embraced the Maulanas and the Qazis to sail his ship.

The public is quite unaware of the fact that these custodians of Islam who trumpet the slogan: “Pakistan ka matlab kya, La-Illaha-Ilallah”, were in fact against the creation of Pakistan. All major religious groups and parties, including the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind and the Jamaat-e-Islami, stoutly opposed the Pakistan Movement due to its leadership being secular. The only exception was Ghulam Ahmad Parvez’s Tulu-e-Islam. Yet today these religious parties talk about an ‘Islamic’ Republic of Pakistan where Shariah rule should be imposed. They forget that our founder’s vision was tolerant and secular. He would never have wanted a sectarian, extremist Pakistan. And he would certainly not have approved of the fanatics manipulating the political system of Pakistan. Religion is a powerful tool that can be used to wield control of the public. These religious leaders do not want to teach the public any religion, all they want to do is control the public through religion.

All they have done is lead the masses astray from the right path by propagating their own version of Islam, which is dogmatic. It is not the message of real Islam, neither is it the message of the Prophet (PBUH) or the Quran. It is the message of a mullah’s religion, which in the words of Iqbal is: “Deen-e-mullah fi sabeelillah fasaad” (The religion of the mullah is creating trouble in the name of God). The only way to fight this ‘fasaad’ is by unmasking these fanatics and their real agenda.

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