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The War Within Islam ( 8 Jul 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Religious Freedom is not Just a Muslim’s Right


By Dur-e-Aden

7, Jul 2012

Sir Zafarullah Khan in “Islam and Human Rights” proved that all the rights incorporated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights that were actually granted by Islam to its followers 1400 years ago.

The shameful irony is that this scholar- politician, who in fact tried to convince the world that Islam and Human Rights are totally compatible with each other even in the 21st century, was ‘Disowned’ by his own country. Also his books and writings were banned from publication and distribution in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Forget about the hardcopy of the book, even the PDF copy of the book is banned by PTA. In another incident in the city of Bahawalpur, a man accused of defiling the Holy Quran was burnt alive by a mob while hundreds of people kept silently looking on without raising their voice against this injustice. Not to mention, the police was unsuccessful in protecting the accused, who in reality was not even mentally stable!

Do we know what happens after death? Then why is it that we are so obsessed with being answerable to God, not only for our actions but for others as well? I agree with following a path of righteousness, after all we all want God to reward us for our deeds. However in Pakistan today, this does not seem to be the case, since nobody looks at themselves rather point fingers at others.

Now even if we don’t agree with others, killing them or banishing them for the supposed “blasphemy” wouldn’t change anything. If Muslims want others to see what we believe in then they should be given the right to question. And if you are firm then no criticism should threaten your faith. In fact you should be able to argue with them logically.

What’s the point of having followers who simply accept your faith out of fear and force, instead of actually understanding it? This will only increase the number of hypocrites in your community. “Belief is a matter of conscience which cannot be compelled.”

Furthermore, f you don’t have freedom to profess your religion, there is no chance of having any meaningful interfaith dialogue and hence you cannot call others to understand Islam. It is because people will always be scared to say anything that will “hurt the sentiments of Muslims” as either they will be sent to jail or their religious books and publications would be banned.

Not to mention the heights of hypocrisy that comes from the fact that if the rights of Muslims are nipped in the West, the emotions of the whole nation are stirred because Pakistan is the only Muslim country that is responsible for the honor of the entire Ummah. Yet the very same people squirm like earth worms when minorities in their own country ask for similar rights.

Islam is statistically fastest growing religion in the world today especially in the countries with freedom of religion and a look at its history shows that in the absence of policies that curtailed freedom of religion or expression, Islam didn’t suffer from any great threats or mass conversions of its adherents towards other religions.

Syed Barakat Ahmed observes that “In case study of Bengal, there was no conversions among the Muslims under two centuries of British rule. North Africa under French rule and Indonesia under the Dutch crown present the same picture.” Given this picture, one should really ponder who really is going to suffer if the discriminating laws and policies are abolished, Islam or Muslim egos?

However, people in Pakistan would leave God’s job of judgment to Him alone and if you disagree with someone’s beliefs, argue with logic and rationality as opposed to simply banning their expressions, religious or otherwise. Closing your eyes won’t make the reality go away and the reality is that there can be different ways to seek the same God, the reality that we most commonly referred to as a “fitna.”

Dur-e-Aden is a Political Science student currently studying in Canada.