By Mehboob Qadir
March 08, 2014
Why does a call to Sharia today scare people instead of comfort them? Why was enforcement of Sharia allowed to fail again and again in Muslim countries like Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Indonesia and Afghanistan?
There is so much talk of this, that and other by sages and saints full of wisdom and knowledge, sitting in their seminar rooms and seats of learning. However, one has always come out with a heavier heart and a mind more occupied than before. Most have been lucid and logical in their discourses but much more remains to be answered. Bitter controversies, massive contradictions and nagging queries lurk unanswered in the deep recesses of the mind. Unaddressed, they are a potentially dangerous residue. To stir them could be divisive but to ignore them could be more devastating as it tends to choke rationality and sensibility. I beg of you to tell me God.
We are told you gave Pakistan to the Muslims of India, or a part of them, divided in two parts thousands of kilometres apart, which seemed like an impossibility right from the start. It neither made geographical nor political sense. It raised hopes across the Muslim world and then promptly tossed the nascent ideological country into a cauldron to melt, and on to a rollercoaster to fall apart. The country went into a nosedive, broke up in 1971 and is facing existential threats now. Its people have been brutalised and demonised. It is an unwelcome neighbour. Is this how you strip what you give or was it your design to reduce a whole people? The mullah tells us it is ordained but I do not believe it.
We brought it upon ourselves by our own callousness, caprice, poor vision and outright selfishness but should we be punished like this? Should you choose to go ahead with it, it is not going to be us alone — our entire neighbourhood will explode into mayhem and utter anarchy. What about the cries, prayers and pain suffered by millions upon millions of innocent people who will be mauled down in the gigantic upheavals? This cannot be your design. You may destroy the wicked but there are plenty of decent folks around; what about them? I have read and heard about horrendous human suffering during the partition but the huge tragedy of Bangladesh I have witnessed and agonised over ever since. There were a very large number of men, women, elderly and children who were ensnared involuntarily in the crushing vise of war. Was the country created only for those who found themselves within its geographical boundaries? What about those who stayed behind and are rather embarrassingly confronted when asked, “Where do you belong?” Which of those on either side of the great divide owe what to whom? Why do we live with a perennial sense of foreboding? Why does our loss appear so huge and irreparable?
There is often a horrible discrimination among human beings on the basis of creed, connections and cast. Religion is a solace of the soul so why should it be used in your name to kill, quarantine, defile or deprive those who believe in you differently? What gives them the right to doctor or reorder others beliefs? To believe and to practice is an extremely personal matter, then why does the priest, the pundit and the mullah make it their business to dictate, interfere and overrule? They push a follower to the frontiers of sanitised loneliness. That spoils the sweet melody of a silent, private communion with you into a soulless and bland ritual.
To believe and practice is everyone’s fundamental right. It is never meant to create friction and fear in fellow men. Muslims regard themselves as the last and the best of the people of revelation upon whom your word was directly revealed. They take pride in a code of life called Sharia. Why does a call to Sharia today scare people instead of comfort them? Why was enforcement of Sharia allowed to fail again and again in Muslim countries like Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Indonesia and Afghanistan? Could it have been because of the incompetence of the men who were trying to impose it rather than the code itself? What is being practiced in Saudi Arabia and Iran is not Sharia but religious fascism. Sharia rule does not have to succeed by repression; it has to proceed by the willing acceptance of the Muslim masses. Why is it that its most enthusiastic proponents fall far short of the minimum demands of compassion, common sense and empathy? Most of them, invariably, suffer from an acute lack of political and civic ability so essential in international relations. Those who have some idea shun it as abhorrent. If that is the model, how does a Muslim state run its relations with other states with such a repellent posture? Does a Muslim state have to stand alone, and can it?
Which Sharia is it that allows the Taliban to butcher their prisoners like goats and then play football with their severed heads, blow to pieces men, women and children without missing a heartbeat? They destroy mosques, schools, hospitals, grid stations and bridges, pull out dead men from their graves and hang them in the village squares, blast the tombs of saints, the last piece of spiritual comfort of the simple Muslim, without remorse. In one case, it was reported they shot a group of children at point blank range during Friday prayer just because they were looking for a particular child to kill and were not sure who he was. This was besides the indiscriminate slaughter of the praying faithful. They have a compulsive revulsion towards girls whose schools and future are demolished, lashed publically and shot in the head without any compunction. And then they insist everybody must follow their brand of savage belief. Is this the Islam that you directed or do they have a different prophet and another God?
Entire populations have been bombed, gassed, shot, exiled, burnt with acid or torched because they were of a different belief, nationality, skin colour or were simply defeated. East Timor, Congo, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Thailand and many other countries are dotted with mass graves and symbols of brutality. Is a different belief, an alien nationality or a darker skin tone a capital crime? What scale and standard of justice sanctions this kind of homicide? Such destruction is black hatred but there is also a method in this madness. In Bosnia, while they carried out mass executions, there had been surgical destruction of the Muslim homes of the neighbours since generations. How does one believe in the intrinsic goodness of fellow human beings? Where does one go to nest from there? Why should the wretches of the earth be invaded by disease, hunger, wars, dearth, illiteracy and pillage? Have they not had enough? Why must the weak and the vulnerable always be aggressed against?
Woman is the ultimate and most perfect repository to perpetuate mankind. Hers is an act of creation that guarantees hope and allows continued appreciation of divinity. Then why is it that the whimsical male has been given such evil power over her, letting the supreme act of continuation of mankind hang by a thread? Why is it that woman, an irreplaceable pivot of your universal architecture, is sold as a slave, regarded with disdain, considered half as equal, killed for dubious honour and vulgarised beyond imagination? Is this how a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother should be treated? Or is it a part of your inexplicable grand scheme and to what end? Tell me God!