Archive | March, 2014

A New Dimension of Ignorance and Hypocrisy

11 Mar

To say there is a lot going on in Pakistan right now would be the understatement of the year. The chaos manifests a horrifying reality we can no longer deny: we are fast becoming one of the most intolerant nations in the world. Initially, we could stand up and say that a handful of extremists were trying to hijack our institutions and religion but that we wouldn’t let them succeed. Unfortunately, we cannot stand so tall and make these claims anymore – the fact is that we have let them hijack everything, from our belief system to our system of governance. Within already existing divisions, we are creating and furthering additional divides. Under Article 230(1)(c) of the Constitution of Pakistan, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) is to, “make recommendations as to the measures for bringing existing laws into conformity with the Injunctions of Islam and the stages by which such measures should be brought into effect.” Two of the most recent and controversial recommendations have been with regard to the impermissibility of DNA evidence in cases where rape has allegedly occurred, and the inherent right of Muslim men in Pakistan to freely practice polygamy. Having previously written on the DNA evidence issue (, this piece will turn towards the issue of polygamy.

It is worth mentioning that this scribe does not claim to have quality knowledge or understanding of Islam or any other religion for that matter. However, having read the Quran (both in Arabic and English), I have learnt that it is impossible to have a single interpretation of the religion, let alone accept the imposition of a narrow-minded interpretation (as endorsed by the CII). Readers are encouraged to read the holy Quran as it is meant to be read: as an organic whole, rather than picking and choosing specific parts to favour their pre-conceived notions about what Islam is and what it purports to achieve. Having said that, it is important to bear in mind that this piece neither makes any attempt to provide an authority on Islam (or any other religion) nor does it endorse a particular interpretation of Islam (or any other religion).

The following is often half-quoted and taken out of context:

“And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].” [Qur’an 4:3]

The words that struck me most while reading Surat An-Nisa were not those frequently misquoted by the Mullahs sitting on the CII panel but were the three words, “marry only one.” Injustice is considered a sin in Islam (as is widely accepted) and this extract (again, it should be read with regard to the entire content of the holy Quran) re-emphasizes this tradition. It is clear: a man cannot marry more than one woman unless he cannot treat them justly. In Pakistan, being a woman is a challenge, to say the least. What the CII doesn’t realize is that, in passing their ignorant commentary, they are making the lives of an extremely oppressed section of society increasingly intolerable. With women being the victims of heinous acid attacks, school and bus bombings and their daily struggle to be treated as equal citizens (when that is their basic human right guaranteed under not only our Constitution but international law), the CII is adding insult to injury in passing such ludicrous comments.

As if the ignorance wasn’t insanely overwhelming on its own, we’re also moving towards a whole new dimension of hypocrisy. Maulana Abdul Aziz recently stated that the situation in Pakistan will continue to get worse until and unless the Constitution of the Islamic Republic is framed according to the Quran and Sunnah. Since I’m blissfully unaware of Aziz’ educational or religious qualifications, I’m just going to go ahead and ask: does this sort of framing that he is aggressively pushing for endorse using child shields and hiding under burqas to avoid the consequences of his very clearly illegal actions engaged in at the Lal Masjid? What blatant hypocrisy are we accepting as a societal standard by negotiating with these self-righteous ‘clerics?’ When they engage in terrorism that is apparently Jihad, for which they have a bigoted justification, but what is the justification for chopping off Pakistani soldiers’ heads? What is the ‘Islamic’ reasoning behind blowing up educational institutions? Why do we feel the need to sit down and talk to those people so far on the extreme that they cannot even recognize their own hypocrisy? And why do we feel the need to have a rigid interpretation of religion imposed on us? There is no room for negotiations and there is no more room for religious manipulation and exploitation – we’ve already suffered irreversible losses. Is it not time for some serious introspection and re-evaluation of our priorities as a society? Just a primary step in the right direction would be to oppose the decision of the CII and express condemnation of it on however many forums we can utilize.