By New Age Islam Edit Desk
03 September, 2014
Name of the book: Monthly Sautul Haque (Urdu)
Editor: Hussain Ameer Farhad
Place of publication: Karachi (Pakistan)
Sawtul Haque is an Islamic monthly magazine published from Karachi Pakistan. It’s been in circulation for the last nineteen years. Its editor Hussain Ameer Farhad is a scholar of Islam with a deep understanding of the Quran. Each issue has a couple of articles by him on various subjects ranging from Quran, Hadiths, Islamic jurisprudence etc to his commentary on the contemporary social, political and cultural affairs of Pakistan in a no-holds-barred style. One characteristic feature of the magazine is that it is introspective in nature, unlike other Islamic magazines that always thrive on a supremacist outlook. The magazine also promotes religious tolerance and often picks up incidents of religious violence involving intolerant section of Muslim masses in Pakistan and condemns them fearlessly which other Islamic magazines and even the Urdu newspapers choose to suppress.
The August issue of Sawtul Haque has articles and commentaries which reflect the religious and social outlook of its editor. The reader gets the feel of the magazine at the outset from the editorial. The editorial speaks about the news shown on a local TV news channel showing a policeman beating a man in front of his three minor sons. His ‘crime’ was that, driven by poverty, he had employed his children for begging. The editorial condemns the system that beats a father because he cannot bear the hunger of his children and asks them to beg for alms. The editorial says:
"No one can see his children die of hunger. He is seen selling his children on the streets. The remedy of hunger is not the beating of his father. This does not happen even in the jungles of Africa. What will the world say when they see our TV channels? Why is a man being beaten up? The government is like the parents of the citizens. Do parents beat their children for being hungry?"
The article by Hussain Ameer Farhad titled, ‘Who cares, everything if fine here’ is a running commentary on the sorry state of affairs of his country, Pakistan, where corruption and moral degradation has become the identity of Pakistani society. In the article he compares the vegetable market in a city in China where neatly dressed women sell vegetables on clean and tidy cement platforms with the Sabzi Mandi in Karachi where ‘no gentleman worth his salt could walk amidst the mud, rotten and crushed tomatoes and potatoes under the feet while the strong stink drives people sick.
The article also gives a detailed account of corruption in educational system, in the police department, in the Motor Vehicles Department where the driving license is available for a few rupees and other government departments where corruption is the order of the day.
However, apart from articles on social and political state of affairs in Pakistan, the most important part of the magazine is the sections in which articles on the understanding of the Quran are published. Mr Farhad himself is a scholar of the Quran. Therefore, he presents a non-sectarian and straightforward interpretation of the verses of the Quran. The magazine also publishes articles on Quranic issues that deal with and discuss the injunctions of the Quran in true Islamic spirit devoid of any sectarian or ideological bias.
One of the long articles that has been running in series for months is Aijaz ul Quran (The miracle of the Quran) in which the idea is presented that Quran testifies to its authenticity as revelation of God through its own verses that have proved themselves true through the discoveries and evolution of the world and society. The author of this well researched article is Khwaja Azhar Abbas who regularly contributes such scholarly articles to the magazine.
Another series that has been featuring in it is Rashid Shaaz’s travelogue on his eleven day tour of Istanbul. Istanbul which is known for its mystic culture and traditions has been presented through the eyes of the traveller and makes for an interesting reading. It also presents the beliefs and superstitions of the people of Istanbul regarding the powers and miracles of Sufis and saints.
The most important article in this issue is Mr Farhad’s reply to a reader’s question about a Hadiths narrated by Hadhrat Abu Hurrairah, the famous companion of the Prophet pbuh. The reader asks him about the authenticity or reliability of the Hadiths in which the Prophet pbuh reportedly spoke of rewards for having sexual intercourse on Friday and then bathe and go for Friday prayers.
After explaining the issue, Mr Farhad wonders, "Why didn’t the Sahaba ask the Prophet pbuh how they could conquer the universe discover the treasures hidden in the depths of the Earth or how to treat the parents or how the children should treat their parents or what the relation between a master and his servant should have been and so on? Didn’t anyone ask how to spread the religion of Islam or how to become a true Muslim? All one asked the Prophet pbuh was about women!
He then sarcastically says, ‘The Prophet pbuh had come to the world to spread the true faith and to rid the people who were oppressed for centuries of the yoke of slavery. He had not come to the world to teach the people of Arab how to have sex. Do you think the Arabs did not know how to have sex, something even the animals know?’
This section of Questions and Answers is especially interesting because of the humorous and logical style of the editor.
However, the Sawtul Haque expresses its opposition to Sufism as it believes that Sufism promotes corruption and Shirk as people visit the Mazars and Dargahs to seek favours and help from the dead.
In short, Sawtul Haque is different from regular Islamic magazines of both India and Pakistan that are mouthpieces of one or the other sectarian schools of thoughts and do not have out of box thinking as Sawtul Haque has. It has so far remained free from any sectarian inclination and has interpreted the Quran without any ideological bias and has criticised the Muslims of Pakistan in particular and of the world in general for having intolerant and narrow-minded views about religion and society.
In the August issue, there is also an announcement from the editorial board that says that the magazine might have to be closed after running for 19 years because of the failing health of the editor. The editor has invited interested persons or organisations to take over the responsibility of its publication. The magazine should continue as it is perhaps the only progressive and introspective Islamic magazine in Pakistan where religious intolerance, extremism and sectarian narrow-mindedness is rampant. Sawtul Haque is an oasis of peace in the desert of religious intolerance and extremism that Pakistani society has become.