“Blown’ In the Wind”
By Hina Hafeezullah Ishaq
Are those whom they murder, with premeditated intent of course, responsible for the atrocities that have befallen the world?
“Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?”
Our national flag no longer appears white and green in my mind’s eye. In a continuous, horrific image, the white and green has patches of red. The blood splattered on my flag belongs not to one community but to entire Pakistan, never given a chance to dry or to be washed. It is the blood of Pakistanis and foreigners killed in our country. It does not discriminate: Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and an entire spectrum of religions, beliefs, castes and creed. It represents the slaying of entire mankind.
Congratulations once again to the custodians of Islam for blowing up a place of Allah’s worship-- for killing People of the Book. But why is not desecration of a church an act of blasphemy? Does not the Quran mandate equal respect of all the Prophets of Allah, making it obligatory on all Muslims, being a pivotal and inseparable part of the tenets of Islam? “Say: We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, from their Lord; We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)” (3:84).
And what can one say of the ‘enlightened’ Maulanas of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII)? After the announcement by Maulana Ashrafi of imposition of the death penalty on the complainant in case of a false charge of blasphemy, Maulana Sherani has declared that there is no need to amend the blasphemy law and the saga of ‘rape and DNA’ is back to square one. One wonders why Pakistanis even require the CII. After all, does not Allah say that He has made the Quran easy and all the verses are open for all to understand? Does not the Quran say that it is best to say ‘salaam’ to those who mock — the ignorant — and leave lest they abuse Allah if engaged in a conversation or debate? And where exactly does the Quran mention Zina (fornication) and rape and mandates the same criteria of proof for both?
In 1990, the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), while adjudicating on blasphemy laws, upheld the death penalty in section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, but required the legislature to apply the blasphemy law to all Prophets and religions, including the death penalty, in light of Surah Al-Imran cited above. The legislature never implemented the FSC suggestion for amendment in the said clause, and probably never will. It is worth mentioning that the Sharif government at the time filed an appeal against the FSC judgement but later withdrew its petition. Is this not a direct negation of the Quran? Does this mean that we do not hold all of Allah’s Prophets on the same pedestal? Does this mean we do ‘distinguish’ between them? If yes, is this not blasphemy?
Pakistan is not the only country in mourning after the Peshawar Church blasts. Kenya is in mourning too. The Westgate Mall in Nairobi came under siege on Saturday, when an estimated 15 militants stormed it, throwing grenades. At least 72 people, including 18 foreigners, are reported dead and scores are missing. The New York Times reported: “The massacre plot was hatched weeks or months ago on Somali soil, by an “external operations arm” of the Shabab, a militant Islamist group based there, according to American security officials. A team of English-speaking foreign fighters was carefully selected, along with the target: Westgate, a gleaming upscale mall popular with expatriates and Nairobi’s rising middle class.” The Somali Islamist group, Al-Shabab, while claiming responsibility, said that the attack had been in retaliation for Kenya having deployed its army in Somalia. Kenya’s foreign minister has suggested that a British woman and “two or three” Americans may have been among the militants who stormed the mall. This claim has set the media abuzz, suggesting that the ‘white widow’ of one of the bombers of the London bombings in July 2005 may have been one of the attackers. Samantha Lewthwaite is believed to have converted to Islam, and in 2007 had said that she had no knowledge of her husband’s activities. She is reported as having left Britain with her children shortly thereafter. What is wrong with this picture? How is it that ‘whites’ are converting to radical Islam? The Lewthwaites are not the first and certainly will not be the last. Is it possible that the hypocrisy of the west and its unjust carnage in sovereign lands are driving its own people to retaliate in this horrific form? Which brand of Islam is being fed to these converts?
Who exactly are these people who have no mercy on innocents? How do they justify the slaying of women and children and innocent human beings under the garb of Islam? Are those whom they murder, with premeditated intent of course, responsible for the atrocities that have befallen the world? Were the innocent People of the Book, attending the Sunday Mass in Peshawar, carrying out the drone attacks? Or could it be that someone does not want peace in Pakistan? Who stands to lose if peace is established? And what kind of logic is followed in releasing militants from jail to facilitate peace? What kind of a Muslim kills pregnant women and small babies and children? Why are these not people excluded from the purview of Islam? Apparently, branding the Ahmedis as non-Muslims never made anyone flinch, so why are these mercenaries not denounced and labelled ‘infidels’ in clear, unambiguous words? Or does the CII actually sympathise with them?
Imran Khan wants the government to open an office to negotiate with the Taliban. While it is true that the US flew several Taliban men in its own aircraft to Qatar, where they have an office, what results have these ‘talks’ yielded? If they had been successful, why are we still being attacked by drones?
And then the icing on the cake is the ignorance that is being shown on children being taught comparative religion. It is apparent that the critics have never read the Quran. I am a practising Muslim — not that I want to advertise it — and I studied ‘religious education’ while in school in London. Learning about other religions promotes the tolerance that the Quran preaches. The Quran teaches acceptance of other religions and forbids a Muslim to engage in a fight with others — even infidels — unless they make the first move. Is not a refusal to be taught what the Quran teaches blasphemy? How can we profess to have faith in other Divine Books and Prophets if we do not even know what they taught and how the Quran affirmed their existence? How can learning about other religions weaken our own faith? If it does, is it possible that we were not a ‘believer’ in the first place?
“The answer my friend is blown’ in the wind. The answer is blown’ in the wind.”
Hina Hafeezullah Ishaq is an advocate of the High Court