Second opinion: What is Muslim extremism?
Most of the time we don’t even know what extremism is. If you tell a Pakistani that what Maulana Manzur Ahmad Chinioti does in the guise of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat with the rest of the big clerics in Pakistan, with approval from the rest of the nation, is extremism, he won’t believe it. What the entire nation does to the non-Muslims under Blasphemy Law is extremism written into the statute book, but no one thinks it is extremism. One way to remove this extremism is reform but Muslims don’t feel inclined to go in this direction because reform requires a realisation of error. Muslims don’t think they are in error.
According to “Khabrain” (18 December 2003), the Al Azhar University of Egypt had declared that the Bahai community was not Muslim because they did not accept the prophethood of Muhammad PBUH. In fact they were a mixture of different beliefs and were working for the Zionists.
The Bahais are an Iranian problem, but Al Azhar has chosen to pronounce upon it. (What Iran does to the Bahais is like what Pakistan does to its Ahmedis.) This will not lead to peace among the nations that form the Islamic “umma”. There are other minority communities that are Muslims today but will be forced out of the pale of Islam if this kind of thing goes on. Bahais in Pakistan are a good benign community contributing to the welfare of the nation. It would be tragic if the Al Azhar verdict aroused low passions in Pakistan. Already we have the Ahmedi question on which all Pakistanis suffer from a death wish, like Hitler with regard to the Jews. Iran in its heyday of revolution had suggested to Pakistan that it too declare its Bahais non-Muslims, but mercifully Pakistan ignored the request. (Allama Iqbal in his doctoral thesis on Persian metaphysics rated the Bahais high and took a Bahai-Babi poetess Quratul Ain Tahira into the sphere of Jupiter in his “Javidnama” together with Mirza Ghalib and Hallaj.) The fondness on the part of Al Azhar to declare communities this or that will not help. Pakistan is in deep crisis because of the demand on the part of extremists to declare the Shia community non-Muslim.
According to “Jang” (22 December 2003), Zikri leader Abdul Ghani was driving through Defence in Karachi when two men on bikes stopped him and put a bullet through his dead. He was dead on arrival at the hospital after which the Zikri community in the city came out on the roads and protested.
The Zikri community of Balochistan has been under pressure. Their distinct sufi customs, instead of arousing interest in the diversity of faith, have aroused sectarian passions in Pakistan. Deep down however the passion is not divine but quite mundane. The Zikris don’t vote for the religious parties for obvious reasons and support the secular Baloch parties. Those who agitated for the apostatisation of the Zikris were assuming that this way separate electorates would prevent them from becoming a crucial vote bank in Balochistan politics, proving once again that religion is often used to gain political ends. People who think that separate electorates are an Islamic injunction (together with late Imam Khomeini) will never concede that it is an extremist measure.
Quoted in “Khabrain” (23 December 2003) adviser to Punjab chief minister Rana Muhammad Ijaz said that Muslims were wallowing in backwardness (jahalat) and that good Muslims should now start wearing pants. He said Muslim dress was not liked by anyone in the world and when he went out of the country he always wore pants. He said the mullahs of Islam had given nothing to the world because all the great inventions had come from the Christian world. While announcing that the government would celebrate Christmas officially he said that the maulavis were pulling at one another’s beard. In answer the “maulavis” said that Rana Ijaz was seeking to endear himself to the non-Muslims and thus threatening the country with sectarianism. They said only an illiterate person could think of wearing the Western dress. They said scientific inventions had come from the Islamic scientists in the past. They accused Rana Ijaz of having gone mad.
Rana Ijaz is not far wrong, given the present state of mind of the Muslims. But the likes of Rana Ijaz have never prospered. The first person who began concentrating on the flaws of the believing Muslim was Sir Syed but he was apostatised by most Muslims and survived only because he had British protection. Allama Iqbal also survived because of that but his heresy was less assertive. The principle is: unless you get to know what is wrong with you, you can’t reform yourself. Muslims don’t believe that they are wrong. They rather think that they are being wronged.
Writing in “Khabrain” (24 December 2003) Munir Ahmad Munir recounted that one Haji Muhammad Yusuf of Tablighi Jamaat traded in cloth and boasted that he would work without the curse of bank interest (riba) after which Allah will increase his profits. Members of Tablighi Jamaat and widows invested with him and he gave them returns of up to twenty-four percent. But after his business had taken off the Haji disappeared with Rs 10 crore of his investors and was not to be found again.
The “riba”-less banking has not prospered. Islamic banking is dependent on divine subterfuge. The haji sahib in the case simply leaned on the faith of the common man and was right as a crook to do that. It is possible that he believed in the beginning in the “barakaat” (Islamic Banks have names like “Barakah”) but when he saw that there were none he simply became a crook. The reason is lack of reinterpretation of “fiqh”, not Islam. *
©Copyright 2004, The Daily Times (Pakistan). All rights reserved.
Following is the URL to the original story. The site may have removed or archived this story. URL: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_23-1-2004_pg3_6