By Nazia Nazar
12 April, 2011
Despite extremists’ attacks on several shrines of sufi saints, the influx of people to shrine in Pakistan has seen no decrease so far. The reason is simple. The faith of a shrine visitor is as strong as the conviction of a suicide bomber who blasts to teach ‘deviants’ a lesson for their ‘heretic’ activities. After all, conviction eliminates fear and makes one stronger. If you kill others to spread your dogma, many would be ready to die to practice their faith as well. So, what do the extremists gain by spilling blood of innocent people?
They might be under the illusion that they are winning the war but in reality they are the losers in this world and hereafter.
There is a need to understand that calling each other ‘kafir’ and punishing for heresy is not an Islamic concept which cannot be corroborated from Shariah and early Islamic history. Islam accords much importance to the virtue of tolerance. Regarding the issue of faith, Islam ordains ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ (2:256). And the best attitude in this regard should be of ‘for you your religion and for me mine’ (109:6). It also prescribes that ‘Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better’ (16:125). Obviously, it is education which stimulates our wisdom; therefore Islam ordains every man and woman to get education in any circumstances. But unfortunately, extremists are inclined to aggression than to education. They dislike the idea of toiling in the way of intellectual Jihad and find it convenient to kill those who disagree. Perhaps killing a soul who disagrees with you is much easier than to convince him to a specific point. So what is the point in receiving education, reading hundreds of books and carrying out extensive research?
For them, it might be a futile idea to become a learned scholar and win the argument with intellectual reasoning. The easiest way for them is to blast themselves in the crowd of ‘deviants’ and secure the company of Hoor in Jannah. The psyche of an extremist seems to work on the same line. This is what I gauged while randomly chatting with a so-called jihadi-minded individual on internet. What could be elicited from his conversation is that all the fanatics pass through a particular kind of conditioning which leaves far reaching effects on their minds. They are provided with a shortcut to enter the paradise forever. So, leading a long virtuous life does not seem to be an enchanting idea for them. Instead, what entices them is to enter jannah within a very short span of time. What could be quicker and result-oriented than to committing a suicide attack killing hundreds of ‘infidels’.
Arguably, ignorance might be a blessing but half knowledge could be perilous. A suicide bomber is instilled with half and specific kind of religious knowledge. He is shown one side of the picture while the other one remains hidden from him till his last breath. They are raised in an atmosphere where questioning and meditation are not allowed, which according to them leads to ‘heresy’. An extremist always avoids argument with his opponent, partly due to lack of knowledge and also because he is trained just to listen. In fact, fundamentalists are raised as a dumb and deaf creature. Moreover, religious education is imparted to them with twisted meaning of Quran. Their Muftis are quick to pick up selective verses of jihad but don’t heed to those which clarify the real meaning. Likewise, wherever they get no support for their ideology from Quran they stick to a weak hadith.
In fact, the fundamentalists tend to glamorize the concept of Jihad and convince the teens that in killing of others lies the secret of their eternal life. Their rallying cry inspires and musters up like-minded individuals around them. In this way, they find the way to justify their brutality by presenting Islam as a dogma of intolerance, hatred and bloodshed, which is otherwise contrary to reality. Interestingly, the vision of those misguided souls is no more different than the policy of United States ie ‘either you are with us or against us.’ So, whosoever dares to disagree with them is dubbed as an infidel and killing him becomes a virtue and not sin. Hence, half knowledge and wrong perception of Islam leads them to a superficial approach of religion. For instance, they tend to highlight the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Madina when he had taken part in many wars; however they brush aside the fact that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never fought a single war for aggression or expansionism, but in self-defence.
History bears testimony to the fact that he fought back those enemies who had breached peace treaties and attacked the Muslims first. They should also take into consideration the very important fact that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was made the target of worst kind of persecution in Makkah for years but he set the example of extreme tolerance the world could ever witness. Notwithstanding, the extremists’ agenda is totally contrary to the real message of Islam. They are trained to blast themselves among civilians, disregarding the fact that Islam forbids attack on civilians and non-combatants like women, children and elderly persons. The fact of the matter is that their ideology stems from extremism, intolerance, bloodshed, hatred, chaos, disintegration and sectarianism which have no place in Islam.
Obviously, such a misanthropic ideology can not win the hearts and minds of people, but could convince a few misguided souls. Hence, the so-called Jihadis need to improve their intellect than to follow blindly the path of transgressors. Before stirring aggression and chaos in the name of Islam they must ponder over for a moment that the very first revealed word of Quran was ‘to read’ and not ‘to fight’. Likewise, the need is to understand that all religions brought by the prophets exhorted love for humanity, and were meant to rescue humanity and not to eliminate it. The need of the hour is that Ulema-i-Haq – right thinking ulemas – interpret Quran in the light of inventions, and put up a joint struggle to frustrate the designs of misguided elements who have brought ignominy to Muslims and to the fair name of Islam in the world. Moreover, to make Pakistan a civilized and tolerant society, it is incumbent upon us to reject extremists and fundamentalists categorically without ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.