By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
05 February 2016
In Pakistan, a boy of fifteen recently chopped his own hand on being harassed by the priest for he (the boy) mistakenly believed that he had “Blasphemed” against God and His prophet!
What followed was even more bizarre. Not only the villagers but many “righteous people” in the nation believed that the boy did something noble and heroic as to punish himself for such an error. There was a continuous arrival of visitors to pay homage to the young man.
The depth of ignorance of this nation as a whole was demonstrated once before, with respect to another individual’s heinous act considered meritorious.
The murder of Punjab Provincial Governor Salman Taseer by his bodyguard, a young bearded Policeman Mumtaz Hussein Qadri was hailed as a hero and dubbed as “ghazi”. He was showered with flowers by a crowd of people including lawyers and leaders.
The murder was committed by the religious zealot because governor had criticised his country’s Blasphemy law as a ‘black law’ which was being used against a Christian women who allegedly had blasphemed and was charged for it under this law.
This issue was hotly debated in the country and the Muslim world. The issue raised here is not the pros and cons of the law itself but the educational system and standard of the nation as a whole which appears to be dysfunctional and below par, having devastating consequences for the whole nation.
The villagers and the rural folks generally have no knowledge-based educational avenues left for them in their areas. Their young ones therefore are sent to religious schools, the so-called madrasas which are mushrooming and thriving in the darkness created.
But the sight of the lawyers demonstrating in their traditional western-style legal robes can only be described as shameful and contradicting the knowledge they should have acquired through legal institutions on the one hand and the absent Quranic knowledge on the other which prompted them to lend their support to a self confessed murderer.
It is commonly understood that in the Western and British legal system—which is in practice in Pakistan-- a lawyer is a person versed in the laws of the country so as to apply those laws in the best interest of upholding the law and the clients. Their personal beliefs, religious or otherwise are personal and are not to influence the case.
In Britain the common law on blasphemy is said to be abolished as recently as 2008. The last time this law was applied in UK was sometime back in seventeenth century. So it seems the law makers in Pakistan are still flogging a dead horse.
The religious followers’ knowledge seems to be acquired from hearsay. As the nation is mainly of Sunni factions, as the name Sunni suggests to mean--جو سُن سُن کر مُسلمان ہوے. It must be so, and so the chopped hand becomes another religious symbol.
Based on general observation and listening to sermons, it is the Apocrypha which is quoted from the pulpits profusely, but hardly ever the original Book Quran. And even that is recited in Arabic; an holy icon, which nobody in the congregation understands, including the priest.
Even if their knowledge was based on history alone, the learned lawyers would know that the Messenger Muhammad was vilified, persecuted, called a madman, dirt tipped on his head, threatened and even driven out of his hometown Makkah (the city of Peace for him?) for propagating his message. When eventually he came back a decade later and subjugated the city, as the head of a State, he did not punish a single person for the ecclesiastical offences committed against God and him as Prophet; for it is up to God to do so (Quran, 14-13).
On that basis alone it is a “black law” as the governor had correctly said but lost his life at the hands of his body guard, who committed the worldly crime of murder and of dereliction of his stated duties to protect his ward; but acted in accordance to his religious ignorant belief.
One does not have to be a brain surgeon to conclude that in the absence of basic educational service that a State is obliged to provide; all other ills spawn and the decay well and truly sets in, for the maggots religious and corrupt to thrive. When that happens, all the other institutions are equally infested. Therefore it is gross neglect and crime on the part of the State!
The police, post, financial, health and trade services etcetera are the primary institutions that the citizens of the country are exposed to on daily basis. In healthy soundly based community where these institutions function honestly for its benefit, the citizens feel protected and relaxed and so the country progresses on the right course.
To give an example- The Urdu readers on this page may be familiar with the monthly magazine “Sautul Haq”. It is a lucky dip for overseas subscribers to receive it in time, if at all. The editor-publisher thought of a solution to the problem. He had the cover-wrap printed with this inscription, sometimes it worked:
چور صاحب آداب، براۓ کرم یہ لفافہ چوری نہ کریں، اس کے لۓ کسی نے ادایگی کی ہے۔ وہ شکایت کرے گا تو مجھے دوسرا بھیجنا پڑے گا۔ ۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔آپ ہمت کریں پتہ دیں میں آپ کو مفت رسالہ ارسال کروںگا ۔ میں نے آپ کو چور صاحب کہا ہے تعجب نہ کریں ھم ہر چور کو صاحب کہتے ھیں۔ فرہادَ !
Farhad is requesting the postman to give him his address so that Farhad would post the magazine free of charge to him. He also put the thief at ease by saying that the thief should not be surprised to be called Sir (Saheb) “as we call all thieves Sir”! Other citizens would have many such tales to tell that make their lives a misery on daily basis.
Pakistan is not singled out as unique in respect of such decayed nation. Generally this in degrees is the situation with many third world countries of the world, particularly the poor ones. However in many of these countries Education is still given priority, perhaps second only to Defense expenses; yet another scourge of poor and war torn countries!
Knowledge based Education would help eliminate this scourge to some extent, if the system imparts the right and universal values; one may hope. As it is taunted in another advance country that, ‘guns don’t kill, men who use it kill’. Sounds logical enough.
It is knowledge based education that infuses the basic universal human values to distinguish between right and wrong for themselves and their country that ensure progress and advancement of the nation. It is the State’s universal responsibility and obligation—a duty to firmly establish such a system and not let it slip in private-neo-colonialists, vested interests- religionists and commercial hands- profiteers to brainwash the people.
If this is let happen by the rulers under some political strategy then the result is obviously that the nation’s young are left limbless that is, invalid and the nation brainless that is, lobotomized, instead of:
اگر جواں ہوں میری قوم کے جسُور و غیور
قلندری مری کچھ کم سکندری سے نہیں ۔ اقبال
If the young of my nation are fearless and proud—my undaunted-ness is no less than that of Alexander-Iqbal
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
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