Why secularism would work?

(My thoughts after reading this article on why “A Secular Pakistan is Closer to Islam”: http://t.co/TMPSx7R ) Good article!

Twelve years ago I remember examining the map of the world and wondering why Pakistan was only on good terms with China. After all, Pakistan was an Islamic Republic, and the nearby countries of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were all Muslim majority countries, or so my Atlas told me. My eight year old self had learned grandiose ideas about a united Muslim ummah in school, in  Islamiat lessons and Punjab textboard Urdu books.

Of course, while eight year olds are usually taught about the golden age of the khalifat in standard curricula, nobody really tells them about how Islam is not monolithic (72 sects, any one?), how Pakistan has a sizeable non-Muslim minority, how history is complicated, how Pakistan interfered in Afghanistan’s affairs and created a monster, or what caused the separation of East Pakistan and why superficial “Muslim-hood” can’t be a binding force.

Sadly there is an innate focus on “the other” in our society, and this might be the reason why the concept of a secular Pakistan is distasteful to a lot of Pakistanis. The idea of an “islamic republic” is like an analgesic for the political conscience of most Pakistanis. Regardless of the impracticalities and what happens when you merge the Church and State, the mass population is content with childish dreams of their own states.

The fact that each and everyone of us may have completely different ideas on the role of religion in the state, escapes most. Instead of focusing on the common ground of most religions, on ethics, on principles of honesty, truth, and justice, the political debate is tainted by talks of Sharia or no Sharia. Secularism would work in Pakistan because every one would be granted the basic right of freedom of religion; and why should this be objectionable to you?You will get your right, and so would another? To put it crudely, why should it concern you how others lead their own lives? Why should everyone act like a moral police, tiny regiments of the saudi muttaween? Shouldn’t the focus be on your own moral righteousness, not everyone else’s? Sadly the culture of “doosra kiya ker raha hai” pervades all things in the Land of the Pure.

While there remains a political focus on a reactionary dream of Pakistan and a denial about the country’s actions, how can the nation move forward?

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7 thoughts on “Why secularism would work?

  1. Maha I feel so embarrassed of not learning sooner that you write blogs but I would just like to congratulate you for the effort and hope that you continue

  2. I agree with most of the things in your article maha. I agree with the interfering nature of people and that Islam be restricted to how a woman dresses, does she cover her head, does she have make-up on or has she got a hair-cut. This attitude will not make us go forward.

    I believe that you want to propagate the secularism already present in Islam itself? Justice, equality, income circulation, non-corruption. Such characteristics of our religion have been adopted by the western societies and we have indulged ourselves in the Shia-Sunni-Qadiyaani-woman-burqa debate.

    But at the same time, Islam is a state religion. The conquests of Hazrat Umar in his period of Khilafat were done on the basis of spreading the Islamic “state” system. I agree that his muslim-force was much more creditable than what we have today; quality wise worse but quantity wise excellent. But if you suggest to completely go haywire (like Iran before the revolution) in terms of modesty then I guess that won’t be possible. Think about the middle-class and lower middle class. Religion is always more prevalent and practiced in these areas. And they are the vote-bank.

    And as I will iterate, the people voted in favor of the Muslim league because they wanted an Islamic state. Pure secularism would mean to plunge the people’s minds into a revolt. That’s not what we want.

    If there has to be a middle path adopted then yes, sideline the main conflicting areas which hurt the people. Injustice and deprivation of human rights. That can be the goal but the vision has to be an ideal Islamic state.

    1. I’m glad you agree with me about the crux of the matter…

      I’m in favor of a system which values humans, and yes “justice, equality, income circulation, non-corruption”, but actual justice, not some fascist interpretation of the concept :). Exactly, debates that detract from real problems and issues, “Shia-Sunni-Qadiyaani-woman-burqa debate”.

      Valid point about religion and social classes, but I feel that everyone, regardless of social standing appreciates an honest leader, someone who delivers. I think true principles of religion should be valued above a mere title of religion (or religious titles for that matter).. True you’re right, originally a lot of the population did vote for Muslim League.. I’m just opposed to imposing your own beliefs on everyone else..

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