By Elf Habib
October 06, 2012
An equally crucial strategy to impress the Prophet’s (pbuh) message for the primacy of peace upon the detractors is to ensure an enviable dignity to any move meant to disseminate his message
The paroxysm of passions to preserve the honour and reverence of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and to stem even the slightest perceived nuances against his persona or the message as manifested in the streets of Pakistan on Friday, September 21, unfortunately unleashed a weird, wild and wanton fury for destroying life and the perilously plummeting production and commercial output. The morbid outburst of pillage and a rampage with disregard for human life as perpetrated by several hordes of irate protesters repeatedly pouncing and pounding upon haplessly outnumbered and ill-equipped security cordons, shattered the very tenets, teachings and exemplar of the exalted apostle for whose love the protests were avowedly initiated. About two dozen persons were reported to have lost their lives while some from the over 200 victims wounded in the assaults could also succumb to their injuries. A whopping Rs. 76-100 billion loss is said to have occurred as all business was shut down on that day. A further Rs 60 billion similarly had melted as property was frenetically scorched and vandalised by some rioters. These estimates evidently are quite elementary as far heftier figures including the claims for compensation from various concerns that the government is bound to defray are yet to follow and would perhaps never be revealed to the taxpayers. All this ostensibly erupted out of an immense love and ardour imbibed to spur the surge for the sublime spiritual and seraphic emanations surpassing terrestrial glories. Love and passion even in their ordinary mundane forms are sometimes known to become blind, driving the bewitched to brace fires and storms, spurning all sanity and impediments and sacrifice their total self and possessions. Passions for higher ideals could be even more maddening and overpowering.
Yet a more heroic way is to turn such pain, rage and impulses into a dignified poise and propriety of disciplined tolerance or rendering them into the lasting ambience of excellence and creativity emanating in the arts like poetry, fiction, monuments of architecture and milestones of marvellously innovative inventions and discoveries that revolutionised human thought, conduct and life. Several enviably instructive instances of restraint and tolerance even at the most provocative activities like the insolent lady who often threw the litter and dirt from her house on the Prophet ((PBUH)), and accommodating the rather outrageous demands made by the Makkans right at the juncture when they were hopelessly besieged, are writ large in the life of the blessed Prophet ((PBUH)). A peaceful protest emulating his immaculate forbearance would have preferably proceeded as sombre columns reciting his praise and marching along a part of the designated promenades, permitting the pedestrian and vehicular traffic to flow uninterrupted. Or perhaps they could have assembled in some less obtrusive expanse, vented their rage, repugnance and rhetoric, and detailed some delegates to deliver their demands to the desired quarters. Such scenarios actually are not so farfetched even when viewed in the context of some Muslim countries like Indonesia or Malaysia. In the former, a crowd stayed at a discreetly maintained distance from the US embassy, handed out their protest notes and dispersed with dignity. Indonesia, it may be remembered, houses the largest Muslim population and has weathered the worst vortices of vengeance, vendetta, strife and carnage by extremist cadres. Malaysia has similarly matured and morphed out of the divisive ethnic and extremist imbroglio.
Moving to a still more mature construct, the impact of actually ignoring the remote little known perpetrators’ revoltingly rash ploy to gain prominence by rousing the sentiments of some volatile cadres certainly seems more potent. The movie saga would have certainly sunk into oblivion and remained restricted to some narrow insignificant impetuous confines persecuted, purportedly by some morbidly extremist yet anonymous Egyptian Salafi segments, which in their vengeance, further fuelled it to flaunt their anti-American tirade. Its spinoff, even for them, was quite abysmal as their move actually amplified Morsi’s mileage in his rapport with the Americans. The payoff for Pakistan’s firebrands has been equally dismal, exposing their capacity to mobilise merely 45,000 protesters across the entire country. Demands like drafting rules against such sacrilege seem equally futile in pragmatic dispassionate analysis. The west has endured excruciatingly agonising incriminations and inquisitions in enforcing the church codes and commands and would certainly never return to religious edicts, especially when secularism and atheism have been steadily soaring in their ranks. The US constitution explicitly prohibits any legislation sanctifying religious stipulations. Even if some regulations are enacted in some countries, there would still be some dissidents. The radical militants among us, for instance, routinely flout the regulations to respect the institutions and ethos of the minorities. We, unfortunately, would have to learn to adjust and alter our attitudes and accept diversity, decent debate, dialogue and criticism.
A nation’s clout in such cases can undoubtedly be buoyed by its industrial and economic excellence. For this the holy apostle’s exhortations for exploration and creativity would have to be translated into a real race against the reigning world giants in arts, science, engineering, manufacturing, trade, commerce and care for the less endowed nations. This would certainly impart an entirely new lustre to the effulgence, glory and aura of their messenger. An equally crucial strategy to impress the Prophet’s ((pbuh))message for the primacy of peace upon the detractors is to ensure an enviable grace and dignity to any move or mission meant to disseminate his message. The violence that plagued these protests, unfortunately, was symptomatic of our warped vision, will, weakness and failure to focus, find and flush out a handful of radical militants and saboteurs among us. The organisers of the protests as well as the intelligence agencies and security forces failed to foresee and forestall the tragic course. Government claims to have known “where the standardised sticks were shaped and stored”, but no steps to impound them were taken. The trained elite security cordons to counter and control the reckless rioters were not activated. The ambivalence and ambiguities at a larger level have similarly spawned the terrorist sanctuaries on our soil and stained our image. The recent insolent innuendos that emerged as the failure of the Muslims to counter the fascist fantasies and adventurism of some factions in their fraternity was somehow uncannily ascribed to the image and persona of their Prophet ((PBUH)). The axis and arteries of the terror tearing world peace and pluralist polities, for instance, are mostly traced to its nurseries on our soil. A real recourse to refurbish the apostle’s aura as an ultimate beacon and paragon of peace and public weal thus would be to weed out these sanctuaries at the earliest and mend the militant mindset and machinations riling the world against us.
Elf Habib is an academic and freelance columnist.