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Monday, April 12, 2010

Disturbing Trend in Civilization -2

While I write about 2nd phase of article inquiring about disturbing trend in the civilization, I will emphasis on the countries governed by Islamic law. Personally, I don't see liberty, equality and a place for minority in the Islamic Law. This article is more based on the study of Pakistan that resembles us most in culture and traditions.

People who are ignorant to history can perish easily. That's why false notion of history creates a generation believing in conspiracy theories than scientic inquiry about religion. That what is happening to the generation of Muslim countries. And this excessive religious education corrodes the youth minds making them unaware of the worldly affairs. The tendency to see every act through the eye of religion tarnishes the viewpoint and starts the pointless debate to determine ‘true Islam’.

Romanticised version of Islam’s early history is constructed purely on memorised accounts. 'Glorious age of religious faith' is the imaginative concept of extremist. It baffles all rationality and history. Land of pure and one provides no space to diversity. This catalyzes the elimination of minority by extremist element in majority.

Meanwhile, Muslim countries continue to lag behind the rest of the world in almost every measure of human rights, scientific achievement, economic vitality, and standard of living. Take oil out of Arab countries and they would be the most corrupt and failed states. We all know about the reports of human rights violation in the countries governed by Sharia laws.

Tendency of feudal violence and gun culture is more seen in Islamic countries. The chance of fair discussion and democracy seems less feasible. Courts are overburdened with cases, land reforms pending, an Army that doesn't care about civilians and democratic leader chosen are either highly corrupt or elite. So majority of uneducated population has been left with no choice over all.

Propaganda of any religious group of the single correct path is a totalitarian act and that leads to the violent suppression of opposition camp. The competition in opposite camps is no longer a consensus-building exercise, but rather a zero-sum game. There is so much insecurity and mistrust that anyone criticizing with reason is consider as Zionist agent or atheist. The pursuit of only one religious view fuelled with elimination of other views lead by small faction of self righteous religious parties catalyzes the downfall of peaceful Islamic countries into chaos. There is a need to end the violent, psychopathic and totalitarian version of the faith.

There is a difference between getting people to think for themselves and telling them what to think. you can’t force people to acquire an opinion, they have to form their own opinion about issues. As in most conflicts, solutions can only come from within. There is lack of rational education in all Islamic countries governed under Sharia. And there is no distinction between teachings of the Quran and the anachronistic 7th century Arabian tribal customs. The solution to the turmoil gripping Muslim society today may be found in reintroducing ijtihad.

Ijtihad is a technical term of Islamic law that describes the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources, the Qur'an and the Sunnah. It is not practiced in Sunni Islam anymore and notion that the "gates of ijtihad" were "closed" in the 10th century.

The ultimate clash is between the politicised Islam of a radical element which has turned to violence as a means of expressing itself, and the mainstream majority which remains largely silent defending Islam as religion of peace. Muslims as humans and individuals are obviously capable of changing their minds but no the Islamic Mullahs. We need to educate people about human rights, rational thinking and secular society for peaceful co existence.

Let me end the topic with talks of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Dutch intellectual & feminist activist Must Read Interview : Unlike other religions that allowed for criticism, Islam brooks no questioning, Ali said. "In Islam you submit your will to a force outside yourself, to a collective will," she said. Describing the Koran as a book written within a certain cultural context in the 6th century, she said many values are outdated. For instance, she said, in Islam, men and women are not equal, homosexual relations are not tolerated, women found guilty of adultery are required to be stoned to death, and the list of obligations under Islam have led to an environment of bigotry where believers are obliged to distance themselves from non-Muslims...


  1. A nice read.

    But Pakistan is not like India at all. We tend to view it that way... 'coz we link 'dynasty politics' with them too. This is grossly misleading.

    Infact, a lot of changes vis-a-vis Islam has happened in Pak... in the last 2-3 decades. Brought on by a lady... Benazir Bhutto.

    A lot has generally been overlooked by most journalists and writers... and I’m not sure why though... my guess would be plain and simple ignorance (‘Ignorance is bliss’… isn’t it… ???) or more likely, fear. Or... you decide.

    If you study Islamic customs and culture… the way it has been in the last several decades, perhaps even centuries… you’ll be able to guage the magnitude of the contribution of Benazir vis-a-vis Islam as well as Pakistan and other Islamic nations.

  2. A lot has generally been overlooked by most journalists and writers... and I'm not sure why though... my guess would be plain and simple ignorance ('Ignorance is bliss'... isn't it... ???) or more likely, fear.

    There is a trend of clubbing Pakistan with India... or atleast to consider that both these countries are similar. This is farthest from the truth. Pakistan is a deeply divided country: ethnically, sectarian, extreme tribal and feudal culture/customs, military and intelligence domination throughout, there is barely a middle class, education levels are far below that of India, business is in the hands of a few families, domineering presence of US (Pak is kinda the 51st state of US... but treated as a guinea pig), Chinese influence, madrassas, terrorism, drugs, Kalashnikov culture, a broken constitution, minorities and women treated quite horribly.... the list is very long indeed. But the most important point being... it is a theocratic state. An Islamic Republic.

    There has been no dynasty, no 'House of Bhutto'. This name has been with many people... lots of males... and none have been successful, politically. Even the original party symbol was taken away and given to a break away faction (headed by one of her brothers' family). The day her father was overthrown... his PPP started to fragment and collapsed after he was hanged. Most of the senior and mid level leaders left the party, via coersion, incentives, etc. Primarily 'coz they did not want to accept the leadership of a girl/woman... since it hurt their ego as well as culture and religious sentiments. Others went underground, went abroad, or were jailed, some even killed... tortured, etc. Surprisingly, the ordinary workers looked towards her for leadership... and that is how she became the leader of her party.

    Benazir was barely 24... just out of college... and had returned to the country (a little over a week before the coup) to join the diplomatic service after 8 years of studies at Harvard and Oxford respectively. Instead barely 3 days before the coup (1977) she was inducted as an advisor to the PM (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto - her father) on sports and youth affairs. She had been involved and been active in the students unions while at college. She did not have any formal training for a political role... and certainly did not learn politics from her father. Her role models were Joan of Arc and Margaret Thatcher... the later was also a mentor... kind of. She learnt politics and the the art of survival in the snake pit of Pak politics entirely on her own... through trail and error... under the full glare of the media. Even most of her extended family had abandoned them (she and her mother)... and actually joined in the persecution (of them) let loose by the regime. Her 2 brothers escaped abroad... remained in exile... started an organisation called Al-Zulfiqar Organisation... an armed outfit to fight against Zia (the dictator who staged the coup). They had no success... infact her brothers had no training as such in these matters and had gathered all they knew by casually flipping through books. Very soon AZO was known as a terrorist orgn., and was banned in many countries... there were severe internal conflicts in the group.

  3. They were said to have hijacked a plane, killed a passenger and some other political figure too. That was all the 'success' this group gathered. Meanwhile, Benazir remained in Pak and worked to rebuild the PPP. She even did away with a few of her father's policies. This PPP did not support wholesale nationalisation for example. She was jailed, in solitary confinement and under very difficult circumstances. Rats were let loose in her cell, the toilet was blocked, no food, medicines, no visitors, plus horrible stories were floated about her... in the media, and a whispering campaign undertaken for the sole aim of character assassination. Stories like she was having affairs in jail and had undergone several abortions, etc. Plus name calling: prostitute, whore... and what not. Her health suffered... she was nearly deaf in one ear, suffered a kind of paralysis of the facial muscles, migraine, sinus, etc. Several cases were registered against her. She was labelled a security risk and dubbed as an Indian agent. Doctored photographs were distributed along with other objectionable and censored materials. Infact these were air dropped again by her opponents and the intelligence agencies during the earlier elections too.

    If her rise and success is solely attributed to her father's name... then why did Fatima Jinnah not succeed... ??? Afterall, her brother was their 'Father of the Nation'. She did not succeed politically nor could she win the elections... where Ayub Khan defeated her. It was a rigged election and everyone was aware of it. Benazir too faced rigged elections... and a far tougher time both politically as well as personally than her father had ever had to face. Zia's nearly 12 year rule was the most despotic and the darkest ever chapter in that country... and there has been ripple effects elsewhere in the region and beyond.

    She did have a choice... she could have left the country and got into writing articles and books, become a professor/academic (she did have an offer from Oxford among others) or joined one of the many thinktanks (she had offers from quite a few of them, as well) or just enjoyed her life. She chose to do neither. So, after the activities of AZO... she, her party members and supporters were subjected to large scale torture by the state. Thousands perished and disappeared. There were concerted attempts to link her to the AZO activities... whereby she could be executed. They all failed. So, while the PPP and its students union activists heard stories of the high life led by her brothers, their marriages, etc... she was there with them and suffered along with them. This is how the bond grew and their acceptance of her as their leader was complete. This has been one of the main reasons that inspite of several attempts by the regime and hidden hands to divide the PPP - Pak's only national party - they mostly failed in the close to 3 decades she was at the helm. It also explains why her brother failed to make any dent in her popularity... despite claiming that he was the rightful heir... as the male. Her youngest brother had died in '85 due to poisoning... in France.

  4. You may have heard of Nawaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain (he leads an ethnic party in her home province of Sind). Nawaz was built up by the intelligence and the army to counter her in Punjab... while Altaf who was a taxi driver in Canada... was called back... given unlimited money and arms to counter her in Sind, especially in Karachi - the business nerve centre of Pak. Similarly, other parties like the Islamic parties were built up to negate her elsewhere.

    Benazir had several fatwas to her name. Acquired due to her initiation of programmes like the 'Polio Eradication Drive' and 'putting iodine to salt' among others. The Islamic parties campaigned that this was a 'facade' by the Indian-US-Israel troika to make muslims impotent. But she went ahead against all odds and these programmes were hugely successful. Infact, she publicly came out and fed the very first drop of the polio vaccine to her own daughter - her youngest child who was about a year old then. This encouraged others to follow suit. Are you aware that her gender was held responsible for the Pak cricket team's inability to defend the 1996 Cricket World Cup... ??? There was a huge campaign lead by the Islamic parties and other opponents (Nawaz Sharif included)... spearheaded by Imran Khan. Nawaz also arranged huge public demonstrations against her jewish friends... getting his party supporters to carry placards with slogans like "Death to..."

    He and the other islamic parties also demanded that she be jailed and hanged since she gave birth while in office and that it was against the constitution to take maternity leave. Benazir later incorporated the clause. It will certainly make things easier for others who may or can follow in her footsteps. The Islamic parties also issued fatwas against anybody voting for her... during elections. Since according to their version of Islam... a woman cannot rule over a man... since a man is twice that of a woman. They decreed that anyone violating this fatwa will be dealth severely... and his marriage will stand null and void immediately.

    Razia Sultana was the first Islamic woman to sit on the throne of Delhi. However, that was a Sultanate and another era. Razia was not an elected head too. Benazir was. The statement "she was the first woman to head an Islamic state"... glosses over many other aspects of this achievement. Her election... did not happen smoothly. There was a huge debate... and an unprecedented one at that... about the role of women in Islam. Religious leaders, intellectuals, writers, scholars, et al... vigorously deliberated and debated on this. Finally, it came through that there was no restriction on women in Islam... to take on a leadership role like that of a PM. This opened the gates for others... including the ones in Turkey, Bangladesh and Iran. This event set the ball rolling for other events too. Even Saudi Arabia and the other middle east countries had to give more concessions to women, like voting rights, passport, driving license, ministership, etc. I do not think that all these other women combined... would have been able to achieve this feat... without Benazir... so soon. It would have taken several generations more. It is also well known that the Saudi Royal family was not fond of her at all.

    Now... the one's who were accusing her of perpetuating 'dynastic rule' through herself and her son... are pitching for her niece. Amazing, isn't it... ???

    'Legacy' is not a shirt or sweater or coat or shalwar or a raincoat. That whoever wears it will 'inherit the legacy'.

  5. The PPP (Pak peoples party) which is headed by Bilawal/Asif Zardari is essentially a matrilineal line. The significance of her children taking on her name and her widower stating that he too wishes to be buried beside her are immense too... in the Islamic context and not just vis-a-vis Pak and/or south asia. She belonged to the elite and was a Rajput muslim woman (and a descendent of Salahuddin Ayyubi... from her mother's side) who in a deeply tribal, clanish, feudal, class and caste conscious Islamic society married a man outside her caste. One who belonged to a 'lesser tribe', is a so-called 'lower-caste'/'low-born' and was her 'social inferior'.

    'Zardari' means 'people with wealth' but they were originally 'camel herders'.

    She retained her own name (father's name) post marriage... and chose to be buried in her own family graveyard (that of her parents and forefathers) and not that of her husband's. All these actions have far more significance... from the Islamic context... but is usually glossed over.

    Now, PPP is the only national part with roots in all the provinces of Pak. With a disciplined cadre base. Her father formed his PPP in 1967... she rebuilt the party after 1979. Throughout its existence, the army and the intelligence agencies there... along with the 'establishment forces' have been tradionally opposed to this party. 'coz of their liberal agenda, it is a left of centre party, all segments of society including minorities are well represented in this party. Now, there have been numerous attempts to break the party... by these hidden forces. In India, none of our political parties face such a scenario or situation.

  6. What happens if the head is cut off from the body... ??? The importance of the PPP is akin to this... when it comes to Pak. I would say that her 'will' was a masterstroke'... for which the 'dark forces' were not prepared. Hence the numerous attempts to link dynasty, handing it down like a furniture, family business and much else made the rounds in the media... both at home and abroad. Plus doctored pics/videos of the new Chairman. Even, attempts to hold up her brother's family as the rightful heir... since it was the male lineage (calling them as "real Bhuttos). Patriarchy at its best!

    Surprisingly, her party supporters, cadres and people in general (a majority of them that is) accepted her decision.

    The significance of her nominating her widower to lead the party... is also immense... in the Islamic context. She did not nominate her son... btw. Her widower now is also the President... the highest job in that country. He comes from a caste that is dubbed as "not having the right to rule".

    No wonder he has, is and will be ridiculed. Much of the derision of Zardari comes from the fact... he derives his power from a larger than life woman and not any macho landlord, general, hereditary saint (Pir), etc.

  7. The establishment had always asked the PPP to operate... minus her. Why was that... ??? She was not allowed to contest the 2002 elections... the reason given out was... she was not a 'graduate'. This... inspite of both Harvard and Oxford attesting her claims to the contrary. She was a very distinguished student at both these universities. The courts in Pak refused to accept those claims. Even a huge section of the foreign media dubbed her as a 'non-graduate'... ??? Why... ???

    It is said that she did not do away with the 'Hudood ordinance' promulgated by Zia... which is a set of extremely discriminatory laws against women. Now, this law/ordiance was promulgated to stop her and her mother to carry on their political activities in Pak. To prevent them from leading the party, to prevent them from testifying, etc. The saudis had helped Zia frame these laws. Agreed, she could not do away with this law... since she lacked the majority required to do so. But, didn't her ascension to the position/office of the PM negate these laws.. ??? Isn't examples more powerful than mere laws... ??? How many laws are implimented... whether in letter and spirit or not... in that country... ??? It is also said that 'she did not do anything for women'. Really... ??? Inspite of not being a card caring feminist... she has done what no-one had been able to do for almost 2 millenniums.

    Her life has been unique and so has been her contributions and achievements. She was a woman who truely lived up to her name. An extraordinary and fascinating woman... the like of whom the world will never see. Not for a very, very long time indeed.

  8. Roshmi Madam, I was not prepared for such a detailed reply from anyone on the blog. I don't have words to thank you for giving me detailed account of Pak History. It is a quite pro Benazir oriented one... I will read more in this issue and write back. You sounded like Francois Gautier in an opening gesture who in a personal correspondence with me advice me not to confuse Indian identity with south asian one. Nice read about Daughter of the East !!!

  9. “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.” So Thank Goodness I am a Pantheist!!
    After reading the history of Pakistan ( !!! )when you have time, then try to get some input on Pantheism I am sure you will like it!

  10. Anubhava, Thanks for visiting here. I have heavy task of completing so much reading. Currently Reading Wki and DAWN newspaper for Pakistan history. Pantheism, never heard od such ism. But have read Thoureau and Taoism. Hence, just want more time...

  11. Hey! I am not pro or anti anyone... esp since I do not belong to that country :)

    My earlier comments should not be construed as a testimony to Zardari either. Whether he is good/bad/ugly... only time will tell. Let history judge him. I have just highlighted certain aspects of Benazir's actions and their consequences/repercussions/ripple effects... vis-a-vis Pak society in general and Islam in particular.

  12. I wonder why all these and more have been 'overlooked' and 'ignored' by a majority of the press/media and by the 'renowned' columnists/analysts/experts/writers/commentators... etc... led by the British and American ones.

    As someone with a keen interest in literature/current affairs/political science... etc, I have done quite a bit of reading. And still do. Plus I do remember a lot of incidents/events from the last couple of decades which others may not.

    Pak is certainly and truly a 'fascinating' country. The more you read about it... the more you'll realise what I meant :)

  13. I have already mentioned... that Benazir was not allowed to contest the 2002 elections… the reason given out was… she was not a graduate. This… inspite of both Harvard and Oxford attesting her claims to the contrary. She was a very distinguished student at both these universities. The courts in Pak and the election commission in Pak refused to accept those claims. Even a huge section of the foreign media dubbed her as a ‘non-graduate’… ??? The domestic media followed suit... almost wholesale. Despite the fact that they never tire of asking while rolling their collective eyes: 'How can she, a graduate of Harvard and Oxford settle for an arranged marriage?' or 'How can a pedigreed woman like her... a Harvard and Oxford grad to boot... agree to marry 'down'/'beneath her?' or better still 'We can't believe she married a guy like that... he lacks sophistication'. Apparently Zardari prefers to use his fingers during meals.

    While Imran Khan who has a third class degree from Oxford, in the same stream… he was her comtemporary there… was allowed to contest. Benazir was a first class (honors) grad.

    'Tarang Tarang' (that is the suspense music... playing in the background)

  14. She has been a controversial figure and will remain so. All figures/characters in history are controversial. There are no shortage of people who disagree or hate her while there are millions who do just the opposite.

    I also remember... when her last govt was dismissed... there were a series of events building up to it.

    Her gender was held responsible for the Pak cricket team's inability to defend the 1996 Cricket World Cup... ??? There was a huge campaign lead by the Islamic parties and other opponents (Nawaz Sharif included)... spearheaded by Imran Khan.

    It was made to appear as if Pak has lost face in front of the entire world and that this was the worst ever humiliation for the country.

    This is the same man who went about claiming that the Pak cricket team lost the 1996 world cup (and could not defend the cup, that is) 'coz the PM of the country was a lady. And that this made Allah angry... wherein he had "punished" the 'land of the pure'... with such a "dishonour". He said several other things and went ballistic. Lead protest marches with strange slogans and banners.

    The western media, led by the British press played it up... and turned him into a royal pathan Prince. A true warrier, etc.

    What is the secret of the huge wealth of the land of the pure's version of Moose Miller... ??? He comes from an ordinary background and couldn't pay the tution fees @ college. He played cricket when the game had plenty of glamour, but very little money. Not many ads too. He failed as a writer, columnist and a commentator.

    P.S. I remember sometime back... there was a show (some 3/4 yrs back, I think), where this chap and another fellow (don't remember his name... he is a politician and smokes the cigar) were taking part. When this chap tried to say something nasty... the other fellow simply said: if we put an inquiry commission into the source of your charity funds, etc... your entire image will go for a toss. Doodh ka doodh aur paani ka paani ho jayega. Or words to that effect.
    This chap never uttered another word after that.
    That says it all. Doesn't it... ???

  15. The 2nd event in the series was "corruption".

    The BBC even ran a programme titled "The Princess and the Playboy". The "playboy" was a reference to her husband".

    You know, there are folks who owned a mere scrap dealing shop (the Sharif brothers) or whose father was a lowly lathi-wielding policewallah, who was dismissed from service (the Chaudhury brothers). But now these folks are rich beyond anyone's imagination. Courtesy dictators, like Ayub Khan, Zia and Musharraf.

    Zia himself was the son of a humble muazzam... one who gave call for prayers @ the mosque.

    The father of the erstwhile proud supermodel of the very exclusive 'Bushshirt'... was dismissed from service (due to financial misconduct) by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

    Benazir interviewed him for some position and was quite disappointed by his analytical skills. Infact, she had very little respect for his 'analytical skills' and had termed him 'deceitful'.

    Those stories never get to the press... esp. the western press. The lady in question came from a very distinguished background.

  16. Have you ever wondered why the other scams never make it to the foreign shores... ??? Why did any of them not receive the 'Swiss medal of Honour'... ??? Inspite of having several zeros following some figure... to their credit. Plus a large number of 'rags to riches' stories walking around on two legs... in front of our very eyes. None of them have made the 'cut'.

    How many cases have gone to the foreign shores and therefore received the 'Swiss Medal of Honour'... ??? From this country/subcontinent/3rd world... ??? What are your thoughts on it... ???

    The foreign media is notorious for getting under the skin of 'inconvenient' politicians/leaders… belonging to the '3rd world'. Why do they not do any write-ups or op-ed pieces on the Guantanamo Bay, the tragedy/human tragedy of the Gulf War/ Iraq War/Afganistan/Africa... ??? Or on the oil-grabbing policy of the sole super power... ??? Europe (barring a few cases in the Eastern Block – the erstwhile Soviet/Communist block) and the US seems to be inhabited by people who are 'saintly' and completely 'doodh se dhule huye'. What kind of DNA are they made of... ???

    Why do the American/NATO forces drop bombs on the hotels where investigative journalists stay... in Iraq... ???

    Yet they never tire of regurgitating the 'Holocaust' for the upteem-trillionth time.

    If you have watched the iconic movie 'Gladiator'... a line stands out. The same line mouthed by Maximus’ African friend... when yet another of Maximus' friend tastes his food, to check for poisoning, etc. This African guy says to Maximus: You have a big name. They will have to kill your name first... before they kill you. Or words to that effect.

  17. The hand of the 'cowboys' and their cronies behind events in Asia especially South Asia is very evident. And their media... rather the western media/reports/polls, etc... are a tool that is used for the purpose.

    Offlate, if you follow events in Iran as well as in the 'land of the pure'... the pattern is evident. It is called the 'colour revolution'.

    The 'struggle cum movement' by the 'Men In Black' in the 'land of the pure' is highly suspicious. It was well orchestrated, since they had to redeem the 'image' of the men-in-black in the eyes of the public and the world. And they succeeded.

    Getting the 3 one chaps out again... would be giving the game away. Right... ??? So, 'puppets in black coat... attached to a string being pulled from behind the curtain' were the best bet. To achieve a certain desired result. They provide the essential 'legal cover' too.

    Well, wasn’t the 'Men in Black' involved in the agitation/movement... way back in '77... ??? Of course they were joined by others too (including the ones who display colourful beards)... back then. We know what the end result was.

    And wasn't the hand of the Jimmy Carter administration found... behind those 'spontaneous and popular' agitations... ???

    Aren't the cowboys trying to do the same in Iran... ??? Not through the 'Men in Black' of course. That would give the game away!

    Ummmm... as they say, "Old wine in new bottle".

    Until recently, I was yet to understand... how could lakhs of people who did not do a day's work, for 2 whole years... manage to maintain their home and hearth really well. Plus all the other expenses incurred while trying to set the world record, for the maximum distance covered on foot... ???

    Then I read... that the Bar associations in the land of the 'cowboys' plus elsewhere had foot the bill. Plus someone with a love for nihari and paya. Plus angels and other mortals.

    So, the puzzle was finally solved :)

  18. Roshmi Madam, I feel dwarf in the front of so much information supplied by you. Can't take everything true even if your knowledge is encyclopediac. I don't have information about Pakistan so really can't discuss on these topics much here. I am not gethering any courage now to complete this series. Feeling a lot of ignorance in my knowledge bank.. So much thanks for updating about our neighbours and sharing your knowledge with us.



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