The Mock-Threat of Secularism
By Mariam Goraya
08 November 2012
Owing to the imaginary threat of secularism, Islamists shriek a false siren of "Islam in danger", whereas the fact remains that within Pakistan secular voices are only limited to online activism
Of all the accusations and tags, the lethal one is being a secularist. A good one for hurling offenses, more of a swear word. Don’t call me one; I just like to liberate myself on selective occasions. We're all for listening to punk rock music, drooling at chicks and drinking but that’s about it. In the end we will always call those chicks lose for being available so easily. In the end we will always look around for Halal meat, especially when a fellow believer is with us for God is all forgiving but not the mother of that Deeni chap accompanying me. After all, first few dirty looks on a female passing by are forgiven as mistakes but Halal meat is non-negotiable, for its going to run in the clean blue blood eventually. We like to sit on the fence to have a look at the other side every once in a while but that doesn’t deter us from our faith, how superficial it maybe, at least it should not be in doldrums of secularism. We know God's angel will let us in just by asking four questions on the final day, so let us just stick to memorizing those answers by heart. The Islamic injunctions in the constitution are not enough, but good enough for us to claim half of the neighbourhood as heretics. It's not our job to evaluate history or to learn lessons. We simply change the history as we don’t want tender minds to keep on guessing what actually Mr. Jinnah wanted.
So why despite such obvious differences and the never-ending rift between Hanfis vs Jafris, Deobandis vs Ismailies, and Mailiki vs Shaafi (and the list would go on), we are still insistent upon beating the same drum? We still love to utter the same old mantra like dumb parrots.
There can be several explanations for our refusal to give up a false status quo. Although not sure what came first –peer pressure or the religion, socially we have evolved a culture that brings in enormous peer pressure. This trend in turns allows everyone to poke his or her nose into someone else's business. While refusing to blink the eye, strangers can shamelessly tell you to cover-up properly to the auntie next door giving uncalled for opinions as her exclusive right on your personal choices. As a result; everything here is considered a public property with religion on the top of the list. Just like hockey we have our very own national 'poke' application and that is our personal beliefs. Therefore, our constitution giving utmost importance to implementation of Islamic injunctions, regardless of their application, is just a manifestation of this national hobby. Not to mention that we still don’t consider it a valid constitution. We have right to claim moral superiority, to claim territories and to claim lives under the pretext of ideologies we follow, how unconstitutional or unethical it maybe.
While refusing to accept that Jinnah was simply practicing politics of religious fundamentalism, each and every one of us is still clinging on our personalized definitions of Jinnah's Pakistan. A significant number is always ready to dismiss lives lost as Shaheeds [martyrs], gone for greater good and yet millions are in the making to sacrifice for the divine purpose. Whenever challenged, we swiftly utter Iqbal's verses with fathom and conviction. "juda ho deen sey siasat to reh jati hay chengazi", but wilfully forget that Changez was not alone. There was someone of his comparison called, Mehmud Shah Ghaznavi. Talking of history, the Indian subcontinent was never a land of one big monolithic community and wanting it to be one is utterly illogical. Perhaps that is why, only Ashoka and Akbar are referred as Great kings as they essentially left it to the masses to believe in divinity in whatever form they want. The fact that Muslims are not a monolithic community further substantiates the argument that wanting Pakistan to be an exclusively Islamic state and expecting that all of us would eventually follow one religion is a failing argument in itself.
Owing to the imaginary threat of secularism, Islamists shriek a false siren of "Islam in danger", whereas the fact remains that within Pakistan secular voices are only limited to online activism and they have little or no influence in the public domain. It is also important to note in the case of Pakistan that secularism has so far miserably failed to pose any threat to the Islamists, politically or socially. For the love of failed ideologies, the idiotic fights for Ummah that we've been fighting for is never against secularists but co-religionists belonging to a different sect. The tussle has never been about whether or not to keep beards; instead it has always been about determining the correct length and shape of a beard.
But we as a nation are obsessed with religion to an extent that even for cutting nails and chewing food we need an unlettered Alim to tell us if we should start chewing from right side first. Through constitutional means or otherwise, so far we have been successful in exhibiting only one common factor as a nation and that is; mass ignorance. No wonder asking for a secular state sounds synonymous to flying pigs in Pakistan!
Mariam Goraya is an annoying liberal Fascist and a feminist whiner and has special interest in political satire, feminism, Indo-Pak history. She is studying Masters in Environmental Science in University of Cologne.