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Politics Of Intolerance To Blame For The Rise In Sectarian And Communal Violence: Pakistan’s Islamic Scholars Introspect


By New Age Islam News Desk

New Delhi: 27 Nov 2012

More than religion, politics was responsible for the rise in sectarian and communal violence in Pakistan.   Scholars and intellectuals of Pakistan expressed this view while participating in a programme titled Talking Point on the BBC on the occasion of Muharram. They urged the nation to shun politics in matter of faith and try to learn to live peacefully with other sects and religions.

Pakistani scholars were unanimous in their observation that instead of doing away with sects and groups, it would be more important to make efforts to do away with the interference of politics in the matters of faith and people should learn to live peacefully with other religious groups. The participants in the discussion included: eminent historian and researcher Dr Mubarak Ali and Islamic scholars Javed Ahmad Ghamdi and Muntazar Abbas Naqvi. Mr Ghamdi lamented that as a nation, Pakistanis did not play their role. Unfortunately Pakistani intellectuals, journalists and politicians showed an escapist attitude towards the origin and factors promoting sectarianism, communalism and terrorism.

Ban Sectarianism, not sects

Mr Ghamdi was of the opinion that all the affairs should not be considered to be merely a result of sectarian differences as probably politics played a greater role than religion in these issues. He argued that no sect or Islamic group preaches death for those who do not subscribe to or agree with their beliefs. Therefore, religion should not be held responsible for the murder and bloodshed unleashed in the name of faith.

On the role of religious groups or organizations in preventing communal riots, Mr Ghamdi said: “We have not shown our faith in non-political struggle to solve our problems.  We politicize even educational projects and want to exploit the religious unity for political ends. In short, we have decided to use every issue for political purposes.”  He also blamed the political structure of Pakistan for promoting Shia-Sunni conflict.

Ideological Opposition need not lead to confrontation

Mr Javed Ghamdi said that Pakistan was restructured on religious lines.  This is evident from the resolution passed in 1949 which proclaimed that the laws in Pakistan would be based on Islamic principles. Gradually religion was made a part of the Pakistani state with the constitutions of 1956, 1962 and 1973. The state was given a religious shape. He further said that when a particular religion is made the basis of a state, the minorities are excluded from it and when minorities are excluded from the state, the state becomes weak and that’s what has happened with Pakistan. He, therefore, felt that until state is reshaped on secular lines, preventing communal and religious extremism will be very difficult.

However, Dr Mubarak Ali was of the view that foreign funds were responsible for the promotion of fundamentalism, communalism and for the targeting of a particular sect in Pakistan to a great extent. He felt that all this was being done in a planned way.

Scholars have not time to lose

Muntazar Abbas Naqvi said that we should find out the root causes of all the problems facing the nation and the Muslim Ummah and our intellectuals and scholars should do the job without losing further time. He also said that it would be better if Pakistanis shun the gun culture and learn to listen to the view of the others and speak logically. We should learn to live with the differences and abstain from issuing fatwas of kufr to our own people. God has not bestowed us with this right.

Mr Ghamdi suggested that there was no need to root out the sects because as long as people tend to think and ponder, they will differ in their opinions and differences in opinions and beliefs will lead to sects and groups. Instead of trying to annihilate sects or groups, people should learn to respect them and live with them.

Upsurge in sectarian and communal violence in Pakistan

Pakistan has seen an upsurge in sectarian and communal violence in recent years especially after the introduction of blasphemy clauses in the blasphemy laws during the 1980s. As a result, more and more cases of religious persecution of the minority sects came to light. Later, the emergence of Taliban and other Wahhabi extremist groups in Pakistan completely damaged the secular fabric of the nation. Political leaders chose to ignore the dangerous trend for their short-sighted plans and petty political interests. The mullahs made the situation worse by playing the politics of takfir (declaring Muslims of other sect as Kafir, unbeliever, polytheists, and infidel).

In the light of the current situation, the introspection by Pakistan’s leading intellectuals and scholars on Talking Point carries weight and gives some hope that the nation as a whole will sit back and ponder over how their nation could be saved from the monster of religious extremism, terrorism and sectarianism.