By Gulmina Bilal Ahmad
These are drastic times as each one of the moderate, educated elements, especially of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, are being killed. Drastic times call for drastic measures. One drastic measure should be to stop passing the buck and addressing the core problem, not just its appendices. The core issue is the ideology that unites the whole conservative Right
The numbers are shrinking and the circle is tightening. ‘They’ have added another notch in their belts. Dr Muhammad Farooq, a professional psychiatrist and religious scholar, was martyred in his clinic last week as he took a break for lunch. Extremely articulate in English, Urdu and Pashto, he was a man that one could engage in a conversation on literally any topic related to medicine and religion. Always available and eager to address questions that interested him, Farooq was a man who was a harbinger of change.
Farooq spoke about moderation long before it became fashionable or politically correct. During debates for the repeal of the draconian Hudood Ordinances, Farooq wrote and spoke, using arguments from the Quran that lent weight to the activism against the ordinances. When the then provincial government of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal came up with their own interpretation of the Taliban-Wahabiist inspired Hasba Bill, it was Farooq who took pains to point out that, in the Islamic context, this is unnecessary. The fact that Farooq had remained a member of the Jamaat-i-Islami, but had an independent perspective was not well received by the conservative Right.
For us chattering classes, Farooq was a godsend as he helped us understand and equip ourselves with the language and arguments in the light of religion. Lately, he was involved in the Sabawon project of rehabilitation of potential suicide bomber children of Swat. He would passionately talk about his work there, underlining the importance of ‘correcting’ the children’s religious knowledge as well as behavioral skills. According to the late scholar, the Swati children who were being trained to be potential suicide bombers were taught that there are six pillars of Islam rather than five, of which armed struggle against an ‘infidel’ was as important and obligatory on every Muslim as salaat. Dr Farooq was thus, in a sense, debriefing children at the Sabawon project, which did not go down well with the Taliban. It is no wonder that he was on their hit list and was constantly receiving threats for a number of years.
Farooq did not have any guards, etc. His only self-installed security feature was that no one knew in the morning which of the two cars he would drive out in. Living in a small place like Mardan and given the adversaries’ infrastructure and links, this was not much of a deterrent, but this was all the middle class Islamic scholar could do. The threat became a reality last week when he sat down for lunch and was shot five times in the chest by the Taliban disguised as patients at his clinic.
The Taliban have a well-publicised list of people they want to take out. This list includes government officials, columnists, academics, religious scholars and members of the development sector. The means and tools of each on the list might be different, but all have one thing in common: they are adamant that the Taliban will not gain further ground. Gradually, the Taliban are not only gaining ground, they are ticking each one of the lists as they add to the notches in their suicide belts.
These are drastic times as each one of the moderate, educated elements, especially of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, are being killed. Drastic times call for drastic measures. One drastic measure should be to stop passing the buck and addressing the core problem, not just its appendices. The Taliban and al Qaeda are the appendices. The core issue is the ideology that unites the whole conservative Right, which includes militant and non-militant organisations, networks and parties. The sharing of Wahabiist values is what unites al Qaeda, the Taliban, Jamat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and Tehreek-i-Insaaf. This is the reason why in DG Khan Jamaat-ud-Dawa is working together with the Jamaat-i-Islami in providing relief. This is the reason why on the floor of the house, a member of the PML-N, Shakil Rohail Asghar, snubs Marvi Memon when she implored that Aafia should not be called the ‘daughter of the nation’, as the allegations against her are not clear. Shakil Rohail Asghar of the PML-N declared: “Do not undermine the dignity of the nation. Aafia Siddiqi will be sitting in this house in your place after some time.” The question that begs to be answered: is the PML-N going to be awarding a party ticket to her?
The Wahabis are the followers of Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahab. Wahab argued that Muslims who engage in acts of shirk must be killed. He interpreted a proclaimed precedent set by the first ‘Rightly Guided’ Caliph Abu Bakr. Wahab claimed that Abu Bakr fought and killed many so-called hypocrites, despite the fact that they practised the five pillars of Islam. Arguing that his followers were justified in killing their Muslim opponents, he contended that the Ottoman Turks, their allies and the ‘hypocritical Muslims’ were infidels, deserving of the worst death. He would cite a precedent in which Abu Bakr allegedly burnt the so-called hypocrites to death. Wahab used this alleged precedent to argue that Wahhabis were justified in torturing and killing their opponents. This is the same precedent that the militant groups cite to justify killings of Muslims. However, what is little known is that, according to Islamic scholars, this precedent is not supported by history. Many classic Muslims scholars such as Khaled Abou El Fadl in Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law declared that the report of Abu Bakr using fire against Muslim opponents was invented and reported by highly suspect individuals.
In fact, classic Islamic scholars have argued that declaring a Muslim to be an infidel is a grave sin in Islam and, according to Abou El Fadl, “even Ibn Taymiyya, the jurist Abd-al-Wahhab was so fond of, prohibited the practice of takfir, i.e. labelling Muslims to be infidels and there are almost 52 traditions attributed to the Prophet [PBUH] on the sin of takfir.”
The core issue is to highlight the loopholes in an ideology that is being propagated incorrectly at such devastating cost that we are losing people like Dr Muhammad Farooq.
The writer is an Islamabad-based consultant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Daily Times, Pakistan