‘Among the Believers’*


Poor Hamid Mir is finally tired of hosting the corrupt Pakistani politicians in his talk-show, Capital Talk. In an innovative bid, Mir invited some bright Pakistani youngsters in his show tonight on Geo TV, a brainchild of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to guard the ‘ideology of Pakistan’ as well as the unfounded ‘two-nation theory’. Extremely bright Pakistanis had been picked up for the show from Islamabad as well as rest of the four administrative provinces. The question posed to the participants was: What is Pakistan’s biggest problem?

I was shocked to hear the replies from these bright minds of Pakistan, whom we justifiably consider as the future of Pakistan. I thought many of them would describe lack of rule of law, better health and educational facilities, democracy, employment, equal opportunities for social and economic progress for all citizens of the state.

But, most of these well-groomed minds contended that the absence of ‘Islamic system’ was the biggest problem of Pakistan. Had Pakistan become a theocratic state in 1947, argued a young lady with her face covered, the concept of a real ‘welfare state’ would have materialized long ago. There was consensus among the participants that Islamic system could only pull Pakistan out of its existing multiple crises.

These kids are not to be blamed for the views they still entertain in their minds. As school kids, we were also subjected to this thought that Islam is the only antidote to the problems of Pakistan simply because it is a ‘complete code of life’. I don’t know how many times my teachers tried unrewardingly to inculcate this view in my mind that being a Muslim I was the most appropriate man to monitor the right and wrong actions of the people around me. The most recurrent as well as irritating justification given to us in our school days for this proposed ‘moral policing’ of the world was this couplet by Iqbal, a communal poet who lived from 1877 to 1938.

Sabak phir parh sadaqat ka, adaalat ka, shuja at ka
Liya jaey ka tujh say kaam dunya ki imaamat ka

In addition, I was told no matter what wrongs I would commit, at the end of the day I will go to paradise. This was reminiscent of what Perveen Shakir (1952-1994) had once said:

Wo jahan bi gaya lota tho meray hi pass aya
Bus yei bath thi achi meray her jai ki
Even as I kid, I kept wondering how come I was given such an uncontestable privilege. The answer was simply because I am a Muslim. I am pure. I am superior to the others. My a…

Islam is a peaceful religion, yet we, the Muslims have to, ironically, fight till the day when everyone in the world becomes a Muslim. I wonder if this utopian ‘welfare Islamic state’ ever existed in the human history. What is the standing of the State of Madina in the history of the mankind? Was the best thing that could ever happen to the world? When you look at the State of Madina in isolation vis-à-vis rest of the world then it will inevitably appear to you as the best state ever formed in the world history. This thought is, however, contestable.

If Islamic system is what the Pakistani youths await, I wonder which contemporary model has inspired them the most. Is there a single model of a welfare Islamic state in today’s world? I would love to hear from rest of the friends about the issue.

Why do we think that the war against Islamic extremism could be won so easily in the midst of Pakistani brilliant minds ambitious to introduce Islamic system, Islamic Banking, Islamic law, Islamic literature, Islamic nationalism, Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic journalism and Islamic swimming suits in the ‘land of the pure’? I wonder how many Bin Ladans we will try to eliminate. The young Pakistanis today, as Geo TV showed tonight, are all set to make a dream come true which bin Ladan and his cronies many not see materialize in their life time.


* The title of this post, ‘Among the Believers’ was derived from VS Naipaul’s book with the same title.

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