1958-59, Islamia College Peshawar, the topic for Urdu debate
was, “Juda ho Din Siasat se to reh jati hai Changezi”. (The separation of
religion from politics results in tyranny). No prequalification was necessary.
Religion was not the forbidden domain open only to the Madrassa worthy.
The British had recently left Pakistan. Pakistan was still more liberal than
suggested by the draft Constitution presented by Liaqat Ali Khan. The legacies
of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Maulvi Chiragh Ali and justice Amir Ali still lingered
in the intellectual corridors. Religious philosophy and theosophy stood
distinctly apart from theology. That allowed the mere college students to debate
the issues like religion and politics without scorn from the religion owners.
Rituals according to many renown religious scholars, including Maulana Moudodi
are the outward images of Islam, ‘the body’. ‘The soul’ appears in the value
system enshrined in the Quranic codeof human and social relationspracticed by
the Prophet (PBUH) to perfectionleaving behind the best model for us to adopt.
That is Din. It cannot be separated from any activity in life. Theology is
personal. Din is universal.
Every conscious Muslim is historically wedded to some basic assertions in
religion. The foremost is the doctrine, ‘There is no God but God, and Muhammad
is His Prophet’. The first part is an unparalleled source of strength and
steadfastness among the true believers. During his trying umpteen years in
prison, Nelson Mandela whenever on the verge took inspiration from Imam
Hussain’s patience and fortitude to stand fast for his just cause.
The second part of the doctrine is the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) demanding
his absolute obedience.All other assertions seem to emanatefrom Muhammad (PBUH)
as the focal point. The reverence for his (PBUH) progeny, consorts and
companions, Hadiths and Sunnah are bound in one enormous package of sheer
devotion to him (PBUH). Unflinching love for the Prophet (PBUH) is our common
denominator regardless of sect or intra-sect antagonism. Slight aspersions on
his (PBUH) person could evoke extreme emotions including violence. That is what
IK has been trying to tell the non-Muslimworld.
The Righteous Successors of the Prophet (PBUH) painstakingly discharged both
their temporal and pontifical obligations. As the monarchs slowly drifted away
from their public religious commitments, the pious and the learned filled the
vacuum. This prompted the unintended emergence of clergy in Islam.
TheUmmayeds ruled ruthlessly. They felt no need for the clerical support. The
Abbasids deliberately used the Ulema to legitimize their rule in the face of
Fatimide concern. Theulema obligedobsequiously.
Thus, themost consequential contribution of the clergy in politicscame asa
lavish application of the Quranic ‘Verse of Obedience’, (4:59), whereasanyone
with the brute power to rule was the Uli al-Amr and entitled to the same
exclusive obedience that was due to God and His Prophet (PBUH). This blanket
sanction gave the Muslim rulersthe Divine right to demand unconditional
obedience from their subjects as done by the medieval European monarchs,
ushering an era of unending slaveryfor the Muslims.As deadly was the
clergy’sinvention of sects, mutual hate and divisionsin open defiance of the
very concept of Muslim brotherhood ordained in the Quran.
During theentire period of Muslim rule, religion had never played any worthwhile
part in politics. Undue emphasis onfervent indulgence in rituals, called Islam,
helped build a beautiful façade without substance. The clergy relished its
leading role in ritualistic glamor. The monarchsenjoyed absolute powerat
theinsignificant cost of placating a compliant clergy. Famous names like Nizam
ul Mulk and Ghazali wedded to ‘Predeterminism’ did frame some high-sounding
governess principles for ‘the kings’ but had no mechanism to offer to either
ensure justice or accountability.The dynastic rule had no taste for such
delicacies. The clergy supported rulers, dead and alive. It never dared vie for
power. It was only after the demise of fantasy Caliphate of Ottoman Empire that
the thinkers and the Ulema began to search for a truly Islamic State.
In the 20th century the hardline conservative Muslim scholars, mostly of Wahabi
beliefs, unlike their mentors, Ibn e Tamiya or Ibn Abdul Wahab, aggressively
sought political power to implement their concept of an Islamic State.Syed Qutab,
Allama Moudodi, Muhammad Asad and Shiite Khomeiniproposed more or less identical
dispensations based on Sharia. At the same time themodernists of
AligarhSchooland Dr. Ali Shariati forwarded their own perceptions that saw
traditions more in metaphorical rather than literate light.
Syed Qutab was hanged. Maulana Moudodi’s JI is gripped with a severe leadership
drought. JUI (F) is a victim of its leader’s unscrupulous politicking. Elsewhere
also the extremists are losing ground. The Ikhwan of Saudi Arabia were
completely wiped out by King Saud. Bangladesh is weary of the extreme
right.Extremism was forced out of Algiers and Egypt. It is bound to meet the
same fate in Africa and Iran.
Pakistan provides blooming meadows for the religious mediocrity to flourish. The
ability to create chaos is Islamists’ shared strength. The latest is TLP (Tehrike
e Labaik Pakistan) which claims to be the sole custodian of the honor of the
Holy Prophet (PBUH). That claim is not only ludicrous;it constitutes a naked
insult to the loyalty of rest of the Muslim Ummah. The reasons provided to the
enemy for abuse are of our own creation. The sensually obsessed mindset of the
pre-Islamic Bedouindeliberately implicatedprominent Muslims in the web of
fanciful notions. When Brigadier Hamid Saeed Akhtar (retd) published his
research paper on the age of Mother of the believers Hadrat Ayesha, his own Ale
Hadith community vehementlycondemned him.
The predispositionof the religious to resort to violence on the smallest pretext
creates chaos at home and aggravates Islamophobia abroad.This propensity to act
a state within the state must be firmly eradicated whatever the cost.Pakistan’s
political landscape, already oversaturated has no space left to accommodate a
(Major General (retd) Askari Raza Malik has authored a book‘Pakistan in Search
of a Messiah’)