Redemption

(Askari Raza Malik, )

An immensely rich government contractor, envy of the town, was one day horrified to discover that he no longer remembered his daily prayers. He was advised that going through only the motions might also be acceptable. He tried doing that, suffered a stroke, was paralyzed and remained bed ridden for the rest of his life. The narrator gravely concluded. God had refused to accept his prayers whatever the form. Perhaps he was beyond redemption.

In the Muslim tradition there is no scope for absolution or any type of ecclesiastical reprieve in this world. The Muslims have instead daily prayers, an opportunity to directly make a confession before God and ask for His forgiveness. For the communication to be meaningful, the pious suggest a variety of ways. According to Qudratullah Shahab, while saying prayers either imagine yourself in the house of God or His Prophet (PBUH) and know the meaning of every word that you utter. Some suggest that apart from that, a believer must find exclusive time and place to speak with God, converse with Him, open his heart to Him and sincerely ask for His forgiveness. This experience can also be astoundingly rewarding.

God is absolute Mercy. He promises forgiveness ‘again and again’ if His creation turns towards Him in repentance. “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place”. (Bible, Revelation 2:4.5) But an uncanny protocol goes with it. The timing, as always is crucial. The hope for recovery in the 59th minuet of the game becomes minimal. Last resolve must leave enough time to make amends and recover.

It is considered necessary for everyone to occasionally take a break, pause and reflect on one’s moral and social obligations. But this honest introspection is absolutely incumbent upon people who ‘loose and bind’. In the past it largely meant the rulers with the state power and the ulema with the clout of the pulpit. The field now is infinite and players numerous. Rulers and those vying for power, media, (print and electronic) with its vast variety of features and accessibility, social media in its ever-increasing innovative forms, intellectuals, opinion-makers, the judiciary, bureaucracy and the military. They could be motivated, obsessed or purchased, all in their individual and collective capacity can ‘loose or bind’, manage perceptions, get away with murder like the Model Town tragedy and freely indulge in fifth generation warfare against own national purpose. Nationalism is an out of fashion emotion; challenging institutions is considered an exceptional scholarly audacity and promoting enemy narrative a show of intellectual ascendency on the broader humanitarian canvass like “Aman ki Asha”. Some are busy cutting the proverbial branch that houses their own abode and much more. The religious are another distraction. The use of religious card has assumed menacing proportions allowing mediocre thought to confuse serious national discourse.

Awareness of the imperceptible marks the difference between human beings and animals. Acts of omission are forgivable. Planned evil amounts to open defiance, tempting the might of the Almighty. Those ‘who loose and bind’ should be able to tell the difference between the Godly and the satanic, provided the conscience is not stifled and the ego is not allowed to grow bigger than life itself. It is their religious and social duty to intervene and correct the course. They will be answerable for their conduct on the day of reckoning. Also, it is the continued diffidence of the good that allows the evil to flourish and calamities to strike.

Pakistan is going through another crucial period in its life. A make-or-break situation. Those who ‘loose and bind’ need serious brainstorming. It is easy to support the formidable forces of the status quo, submit to the prevailing elite culture, partake of what the ‘system’ has to offer and wait for the utter moral degradation and ultimate humiliation. Or pick up the gauntlet, willingly offer all the sacrifice necessary, discharge duty to God and His people and be worthy of earning God’s pleasure in this world and the Hereafter. The second choice is hard, but highly gratifying in both the worlds.

It is highly improbable that he will repent and ask for God’s mercy who is used to maintaining his private properties at government expense, the prince who thrives on the revenues of his revenue department, the judge who volunteers to work on a holiday to provide relief to a culprit wanted by the law enforcement, or the court that lies in waiting to pounce on its victim in the middle of the night. Try and read the writing on the wall. Let us not be misled by the officials’ (lackeys’) estimates of crowd strength of a few thousand. It would be like the proverbial pigeon closing its eyes on seeing the cat. The end might only leave remorse in its wake.

The accused challenges the investigators to produce the proof as all the crooks know that it is almost impossible to prove a white-colored crime. Many cannot the accumulation of their wealth and yet claim respectability. Without professional assistance ‘Accountability Bureau’ could achieve precious little. The wicked went laughing.

IK is a saint in the making, thanks to the untiring efforts of his adversaries. If he won, he would be hero, if he lost, he would be a martyr. Those who ‘loose and bind’ must decide whether we want freedom and accompanied hardships or give in to greed or threats for temporary comfort. We are running against time. Repentance might still mean redemption.

The story of the contractor is one example, that of the Pharoah is another. He at last did announce his belief in the ‘God of Moses and Aron’ but it was too late, the waves were already upon him.

This is the time for us to act before we have to see the act of God.

(Major General ® Askari Raza Malik is author of “Pakistan in Search of a Messiah”)
 

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