Muslim first or Pakistani first?

Published: September 17, 2011
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The writer is a director at the South Asia Free Media Association, Lahore
khaled.ahmed@tribune.com.pk

The writer is a director at the South Asia Free Media Association, Lahore khaled.ahmed@tribune.com.pk

Renowned Islamic orator Zakir Naik was on a TV channel talking to British Pakistanis about their identity. (I heard his entry into the UK has recently been banned.) He said, why get embarrassed when the Brits ask you: are you a Muslim first or British first? His solution to the dilemma concealed in this question was: ask a counter-question, “Are you a human being first or a Briton first?”

Naik said: turn the tables, let the Briton be embarrassed. When asked this question, he will have to say he is a human being first. The situation created by this confusion will spare the Pakistani Briton the dilemma of a clash between his religious identity and his national one. But what Naik said pertained to an issue that raises its head in Pakistan too.

Are we Muslims, Pakistani first or Muslim first? The answer today is Muslims. I once conducted a TV debate in 2006 with an audience, and those who said they were Muslim first, won by a 90 per cent count. Pakistan is an Islamic state and all of us are Muslims; therefore, it is easy to say that we are Muslims first and then Pakistani. The Pakistan Movement should also support this thesis because we claim that Muslims had become a nation before they demanded a state.

But the nation-state poses a problem. What if I ask a Christian Pakistani the same question? The truth is all of them say, they are Pakistani first. Why do they do this? Why are the non-Muslims insisting on being Pakistanis first? The answer is that they want to be treated equally with other Pakistanis. If they emphasised their Christian identity and put it before their Pakistani one, they might be treated unequally.

The nation-state in Europe favours multiple identities and demands that all identities be treated equally. And for that, all those who live in the UK must call themselves Britons first. The question arises: why only should the Muslims as a minority insist that they are Muslims first? It is clear that unlike the Christian minority in Pakistan, they, as a Muslim minority, want to stand apart. What is hidden behind this gesture is a refusal to integrate. And the trick is that they know that the UK will treat them equally under law, even if they don’t integrate.

This is not so in Pakistan. The nation state wanted to gloss over secondary or tertiary identities to create unity. In Pakistan, the first problem that arose was linked to regional identities: Sindhi, Punjabi, Bengali, Baloch, Pakhtun, etc. The state wanted them to be only Pakistanis and said so. When it did not work, it abolished the provinces. Now as far as religious identities are concerned, Pakistan is overwhelmingly Muslim, and most of us don’t care if non-Muslims are treated unequally. If we were like the Brits, we would have said we are Pakistanis first.

The nation-state is no utopia but it is better than any other kind of states. Its nationalism can embrace all the people living in it and all of them can be given the name of the state. Because of inherent racism, the nation-state in Europe has legitimised multiculturalism as a way of national life. (Multiculturalism there is declining now because of problems of integration faced by immigrants.) Zakir Naik must also tell Muslim Brits how to tackle the consequences of non-integration.

In Pakistan, the non-Muslim instinctively wants to integrate as a Pakistani; in the UK the Muslim minority wants to stand apart. There, the majority wants to be British first on the principle of equality; here, the minority non-Muslim is appealing for equality as a Pakistani. The conclusion is simple: the majority community in Pakistan doesn’t much care if the non-Muslims are treated unequally.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (105)

  • Kishwar Kumar
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:17PM

    Nice article sir… hats off to you…

    Recommend

  • Kareem Khan
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:19PM

    I am a human first, my name is my individual identity. All other things (muslim,pakistani,british) are secondary. The last time I remember, Religion (Islam in specific here) was meant to be used as positive tool for humanity. Taking that into consideration, religion should be a private spiritual matter (no matter how religiously conservative one might be socially), it shouldn’t meddle with one’s identity which should be more embracing and open. There is no harm in Islam if one declares oneself to be something else first. In essence, Islam does not mandate one to have his/her religion stamped on the forehead and be reactionary. Great Article ! Completely agree with the writer.

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  • True Believer
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:33PM

    I remember watching one of his sermons – Dr. Zee was asked about the “All religions being equal” concept which the Indian state claims to profess / preach and his response was something like – ‘how can a glass of water and a glass of urine be equal’.

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  • DG
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:37PM

    I do not know whether it is Muslims from Pakistan or Muslims from specific few countries but my observation is that Muslims from Pakistan are most vocal about ther rights as minorities in other countries but are bent upon to deny the same in their own country.

    They hate US but love to go there and get their funding. They settle in countries which are predominantly christian but hate christians.

    There are whole lot of contradictions in their character, which shows that they still do not know where they belong politically, culturally and socially. Recommend

  • Farrukh
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:48PM

    Very right sir! cent per cent conquered…. the twin-dillema of Pakistani muslims that they have dual standards couple with self aprobation, when it comes upon them, they used to take support from the religion because its a sensitive issue to discuss. In fact they themselves know nothing about Islam or its teachings. For them, its very easy to comment upon the religion and the creeds of others, they pass the judgement at the spur of the moment when you raise questions. Could somebody realise them that they aren’t the authority to talk about someone’s beliefs or the religion.

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  • Priya
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:59PM

    Very well written, I have a lot of Muslim friends but have noticed that they feel strongly about –

    Living in past glory, they have a rich history but they seem to be living in the past not wanting to move ahead to the present/future.

    A sense of victim hood. I have been discriminated against in my country for a number of reasons and have seen others being discriminated against. But no other community feels they are being victimized as much as Muslims (not saying that has not happened but sometimes I felt they read too much into it)

    This constant struggle between religion and state. I don’t see the dichotomy that Muslims see.

    I think Muslims worry too much about God, I believe God can take care of him/herself as well as us.

    Religion is a personal issue, we all have different opinions about it, but point Pakistan on the map and only someone who does not know geography will say it is US/Australia.

    Since we all cannot agree on a common definition of God we cannot stay together basis that i.e. religion.

    We can only stay together basis nation cause no one can argue about where your country starts and where it ends on a map (barring some border disputes).

    The faster Muslims realize this, the better it will be for them and all of us.

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  • Mir Agha
    Sep 17, 2011 - 11:12PM

    I have no problem if Pakistani Christians think of themselves as Christian first. Being a good Christian or Hindu can only mean a good thing for society at large. Who is Pakistan (or any other nation-state) to dictate identities to communities, be they muslims, christians, or hindus. Nation-states are present-day constructs, religous identities were here before and they’ll be here after.Recommend

  • Salma
    Sep 17, 2011 - 11:21PM

    Well said. I hope and pray that we as Pakistanis take notice. I agree with you…the majority community in Pakistan doesn’t much care if the non-Muslims are treated unequally.

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  • Parvez
    Sep 17, 2011 - 11:58PM

    Beautifully written. Showing us the mirror is of no use, our eyes are shut.

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  • Ashok
    Sep 17, 2011 - 11:59PM

    Dear Mr. Ahmed,

    Please see this video of the ‘Renowned’ orator you speak of:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMAZR8YIhxI

    I found it to be very revealing of his mindset. Thankfully, you did not address him as a ‘scholar’. He is more or less a charlatan and should not be taken by seriously by those who possess intellectual minds like yourself.

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  • ahmed
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:02AM

    muslim first

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  • Sep 18, 2011 - 12:03AM

    excellent article – sharing this

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  • optimist
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:13AM

    I am a male, Muslim & Pakistani at the same time.
    /
    Take any one thing away and you are talking about a different person!!!!!

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  • Dev
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:21AM

    I don’t understand why people write these kind of article. Total trash. Everyone proud of his/her nationality and religion. However we should respect others as well. Writers think that they are doing kind of favor to their religion. These people have global access to influence the world, but how many are actually using this power to create harmony. These kind of article trapped the already confused person and distorted his/her thought process. Kindly come out of this war of nationality and religion in the present era of multicultural society and globalization.

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  • optimist
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:53AM

    @ Ashok

    There is no coersion in religion, according to Quran.
    /
    As far death penalty, that was necessity at that time because there was no army and ordinary person changing religion and propagating meant a soldier joining the opposite party (treason)!
    /
    Now we have armies separate from society and wars territorial (instead of about religion), there is no need for that. You can change your if you like!

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  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:00AM

    My religion teaches me the basic essence of respecting humanity. I consider myself a Muslim first, and consider my identity as a Pakistani to be a platform to reach out to the world.

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  • MS - Mariya
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:00AM

    Great article! Pakistan is facing crisis because majority population thinks that they just need to be Muslims FULL STOP! Sad bit is that they are failing miserably to be good Muslims.

    I don’t think there should be a debate..I am a Pakistani who is following the religion Islam.

    Religion is a personal matter..Its between me and my Allah. Only Allah has the right to question if I am a Muslim(true) or not. The fact that majority Muslims feel the need to say it loud that they are Muslims first shows guilt. Guilt of abandoning the true version of Islam.

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  • Infidel Humanist
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:14AM

    The problem is the need to see oneself as different and therefore somehow better than a person of some other group. Unless this Us vs. Them mentality is abandoned, people will continue to view the others as kafirs, enemies, etc. Unfortunately, evolution has ingrained this tribalism in our genes, and certain philosophies (religious fundamentalism, for example) emphasize and exploit these instincts.

    In the case of certain interpretations Islam, there is too much emphasis and focus on those parts that stress differences between Muslims and others, and not enough emphasis on those that preach love and brotherhood and equality. I guess this transition will come about in due time.

    Set Theory in mathematics, talks about subsets and disjoint sets. If different groups (e.g., Muslim vs. Christian) are to be thought of as disjoint sets, then it is important to realize that they still belong to (i.e., are subsets of) the larger superset of humanity. And one needs to learn to balance this subset identity with the superset identity. This may sound obvious and cliched, but a lot of people only pay lip service to this, rather than actually believe in it and practice it.

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  • oemplaloepma
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:17AM

    defnitly muslim first!!!!!!!!

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  • Nishaa
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:24AM

    This is most of the absurd claims I have ever come across in a while , ‘ the majority community in Pakistan doesn’t much care if the non-Muslims are treated unequally’, for one I am a Muslim and carely a great deal for the treatment of non-muslims, not only because Islam has emphasized on the rights of minorities ( non-muslims) living within the premises of an Islamic state but also because calling yourself a Muslim is not synonymous to having a beard, blowing bombs and not looking beyond cloaking women, seriously please stop this stereotyping we have enough misinterpretations of our faith as it is.

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  • Nishaa
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:25AM

    This is one of the most of the absurd claims I have ever come across in a while , ‘ the majority community in Pakistan doesn’t much care if the non-Muslims are treated unequally’, for one I am a Muslim and carely a great deal for the treatment of non-muslims, not only because Islam has emphasized on the rights of minorities ( non-muslims) living within the premises of an Islamic state but also because calling yourself a Muslim is not synonymous to having a beard, blowing bombs and not looking beyond cloaking women, seriously please stop this stereotyping we have enough misinterpretations of our faith as it is.

    Recommend

  • faraz
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:30AM

    I think we don’t want to admit that we are Pakistanis first, or perhaps don’t realize the contradictions. For example, when Pakistanis support Afghan Taliban, they offer religious arguments, but ignore the fact that anti-Taliban Afghans that constitute 55 percent of Afghanistan are also Muslims. The real reason behind this affinity with Taliban is that they are our proxies. And those who love Taliban have equal love for China which suppresses Muslims in Xinxiang and has one of the harshest anti-religious laws in the world. You won’t find JI, PTI, religious leaders, televangelists or religious scholars talking of the plight of Muslims in China, mainly because China is considered as a friend of Pakistan.

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  • Aadersh
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:39AM

    Both at the same time…& being a Muslim Pakistani I do care about my other minority countrymates…I feel for them & care about their rights…

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  • saman
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:30AM

    Well described! The point is that for any person it is necessary to have himself identified, especially when he visits other countries and for this the country comes first, as source of identification. Religion: Well, religion is a thing which has no boundaries and a person at any airport of any country is not asked for showing his religious identity. There at airport, he or she has to show passport, which shows his identity As far as being a citizen of any country, a person would, therefore, be recognized as a citizen of a particular country and this question that whether, nationality comes first or religion, becomes totally, irrelevant. Almost all the countries are facing the problem of “demographic changes” taking place.These demographic changes are based on ethnicity and religion and the countries, especially the European countries will have to embrace the people from other countries, specially from poor countries, for one reason or the other, thus it is imperative for both the “parties”, i.e, the people of recipient countries and the immigrants, respectively, will have to embrace each other. The greater responsibility lies on the shoulders of the Immigrants to whole heartedly integrate themselves with the customs / way of life of that country, of course it does not mean to give up their OWN way of life,,, without unnecessary, friction. The recipients must also to receive the Aliens with respect and give them opportunities to assimilate in their society.The demographic changes have taken place in many European countries and most of the host countries and the Immigrants have learnt to co exist…The identities will always be made through, Country and not through Religion. The world is heading towards UNIFICATION OF THE WORLD, therefore, even the COUNTRIES will soon, become a non entity. Religion,ethnicity and others irritants like these, will, as I see, become Non Issues and GLOBALISM will encircle, us all. No passports,no visas and no countries. It is a matter of few decades! Till than, try to learn more about COEXISTENCE. The next home of the Mankind, far in the galaxy, in any of the planet, will also require, the humans of different origins to ensure the EXISTENCE OF THE HUMAN RACE THROUGH, COEXISTENCE.

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  • Sep 18, 2011 - 2:36AM

    “and most of us don’t care if non-Muslims are treated unequally…”

    Passing sweeping comments about a religion or a group of people without performing good research in order to create sensationalism is yellow journalism. Being a director at the South Asia Free Media Association, you should have been more careful before writing this article.

    How did you conclude that most of us don’t care if non-Muslims are treated unequally? Biased.

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  • Sep 18, 2011 - 2:38AM

    I am a male, Muslim & Pakistani at the same time.
    and yeah Long Live Zakir Naik .. The most knowledged scholar ..

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  • faridi
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:42AM

    i am a SUNNI MUSLIM pakistani.

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  • Ahmed Malik
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:49AM

    Huuman First, Pakistani and Muslim Both Second Simultaneously.

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  • nobody
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:50AM

    sweet manipulation!

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  • Sep 18, 2011 - 2:52AM

    Hear hear! I do not usually read your columns. But this one is really worth reading for all “Pakistanis”.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:53AM

    If your country is not first (no matter what religion or country you belong to) then you are in odds with Islam as its teachings profess to be faithful to your country unless you are forbidden to pray.
    “the majority community in Pakistan doesn’t much care if the non-Muslims are treated unequally.” Please ask Dr. Zakir isn’t a minority human in Pakistan!

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  • Noreen
    Sep 18, 2011 - 3:37AM

    The average Pakistani knows nothing about empathy. For, it does not know education. The core difference is of educated and non-educated.

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  • N
    Sep 18, 2011 - 4:05AM

    Zakir naik, Hamid Gul, Zaid Hamid – truth turns into fiction and viceversa. They are jokers in a circus that has turned into a horror movie.

    Why is it that we expect to emigrate to Europe, USA etc. but not integrate with the local society – yet demand equality, get it but still reject it?

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  • nobody
    Sep 18, 2011 - 4:44AM

    Pakistan is by no means an Islamic state, If u want to judge an Islamic state, than judge the Islamic state of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) time and tell me one account when a non-Muslim was treated unfairly.

    A typical nation state is a piece of land whose population comprises the nation taking religion out of the equation.

    In our case, If you take religion out of the equation then its only fair for all the regional groups to start asking for provinces but if you don’t then you have something that holds them together. So, in order to see a holistic Pakistan it is a given that we put Islam first because there is nothingelse more common among the majority.

    Whats left is a small group of population comprising of non-muslims who have their due rights in an Islamic state and they can live in harmony with the Muslims.

    So the question being asked here is the same..do we want to make Pakistan an Islamic state or a typical nation state that treats all citizens equally regardless of the religion ?

    And between the lines the solution that the writer has provided is the latter one.

    But the Britons have chosen their way of life and we have our own code of life that has already been tested in the past and has given birth to one of the greatest civilizations in the history of our kind.

    What amazes me even more is the accusation that Zakir Naik creates confusion is the audience’s mind in order to win arguments when he himself has created a blend of islam, nationalism, the pakistani state and the the european state in order to create a well crafted net.
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  • MD
    Sep 18, 2011 - 5:29AM

    @Ashok,
    Thanks buddy for providing the link exposing this so called “scholar” Mullah Naik, it is a shame that he is an Indian Muslim. But, that is not all, I have seen even more outrageous video clips of this same guy on the You Tube. If you go further you will find even “greater” Mullhas propagating “truer” and more “pious” Islam. One such gem of Mullah clips I found on You Tube was about “Kaddu shareef”(pumpkin), I could translate Kaddu, but, I don’t know how to translate “shareef”, with all my little knowledge of English and a bit of Urdu, my literal translation of the above couple of words is “Lord Pumpkin”. Well, you might be wondering as to what nonsense I am talking about.
    Let me explain, I watched a video clip on YT where a Mullah was explaining to his interviewers/audiences about Prophet Mohammad’s love for pumpkins and then he narrated an event in the Islamic history, where a pious Islamic commander draws his sword and puts it at the neck of his officer, who refuses to eat a pumpkin curry! Khabardaar, the commander says, how dare you refuse to eat the pumpkin curry and how blasphemous of you to call it just a pumpkin!! It is a “Kaddu Shareef” you idiot!!
    I am wise man now, whenever, my wife cooks a pumpkin, I eat the “Kaddu shareef” with utmost respect!!

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  • Amna
    Sep 18, 2011 - 5:39AM

    I wouldnt have a problem with a Christian saying they are Christian first. Why would that be an issue. Wrong is still wrong and right is still right, so I would expect all Pakistanis regardless of religion to stand with Pakistan on what is right. Now if they feel closer to their religion…why not? Doesn’t mean they automatically support any craziness from a foreign “Christian” power….so whats the issue. Stop making issues out of non-issues…their is nothing wrong with loving you religion and holding more importance for that instead of you country.

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  • narayana murthy
    Sep 18, 2011 - 6:40AM

    The hierarchy is very simple. A little common sense will teach you this –

    1) I – I would fight with my father/brother/son to protect MY primary interests.

    2) MY FAMILY – I would fight with my Hindu/Indian neighbors to protect the interests of my family.

    3) MY VILLAGE/COMMUNITY – I would fight with another community/village to protect the interests of my village/community.

    4) MY STATE/ETHNICITY.

    5) MY COUNTRY/RELIGION

    6) MY WORLD – I would fight Martians to protect this Earth.

    To forcibly change this order and put one’s country/religion first will simply confuses a person and leads to chaos, as we see in Pakistan everyday.

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  • Dr.joe
    Sep 18, 2011 - 7:01AM

    Due to huge demand India now started providing long term visas (which enables them to get citizenship) to christians from pakistan too, (earlier it was only for hindus & buddists).

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  • AH Mughal
    Sep 18, 2011 - 7:15AM

    This article just reminded me of a book of Mr. Mubarak Haider titled “Tehzeebi Nargasiat”. Whatever Mr. Ahmed has told has been explained in detail in that book. I’ll urge all of you folks to read that book. Its a masterpiece as it explains the mind set of a common Muslim and how Arabs who call them Arabs first and then Muslims, influence people of other nationalities to call themselves as Muslim first and consider their nationality on second grade.

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  • maawan
    Sep 18, 2011 - 8:14AM

    I ask u a simple and easy question. when u were born, the very first thing u were told in ur ear, was the greatness of Allah or National Anthem.

    Being Muslims first does not allow u to violate the law of the land where u live. It does not allow u to discriminate or humiliate the minorities. What if u say Pakistani first while staying as expat in a foreign land? They will throw u out as a spy. But if u say Muslim first and prove urself a good Muslim they will give u more respect.

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  • Mirza
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:10AM

    If the religion were this important then there would have been only a few countries named Muslim, Christians, Hindus, Jews, etc. In addition, the tiny gulf states of UAE are all Muslims, Arabs with the same culture, but still each of the six sheikhdoms is different. A Pakistani baby learns to speak the local language first and only after several years knows about Islam. If Islam was so important and first, then where is East Pakistan?
    I agree with some that Pakistanis love to hate the West but take their money. We try to become Arabs who actually treat us worse than dirt & never give us basic rights let alone equality. Most Pakistani Canadians/Americans live here on govt aid, especially their old parents. None of them question where the money is coming from? Tax money is coming from interest based banking, insurance companies, night clubs, liquors, pig farms, etc. But when these people get it, it becomes kosher for them.

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  • Arifq
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:32AM

    Khalid Sahib, next time ask your audience the following:

    Are you

    Sindhi first or Pakistani?
    Baluchi first or Pakistani?
    Punjabi first or Pakistani?
    Pukhtoon first or Pakistani?
    Sunni first or Muslim?
    Shia first or Muslim?

    90pct ratio is guaranteed to drop.

    Another thought provoking article, many thanks

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  • Emaan
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:48AM

    There is no harm to disect both and Sir Khaled Ahmed this question shouldn’t be asked because ethnicity comes before the religion. I think there is a need for people to understand the difference between nation and state. All above who wrote that they are muslim first emphasizing the role of muslim nation as a whole and doesn’t know the difference between. Definitely one who knows the distinction is a Pakistani first. We are identified by the geography and within that geography/boundaries we are practicing our religion. As religion is a personal matter of every human being and so is responsible for his/her deeds, no one else should be bothering.

    Non-muslims are treated unequally, here the author doesnt intend to point anyone of you indiviually, nor you people are so indispensable. That’s in general! There are hundreds of cases but here I will broadly discuss, search the following topics and please have the counter analysis as well for objective analysis, Consttitutional position of minorities in Pakistan, Need to improve the blasphemy law, Voting rights of the non-muslims in Pakistan since Zia (root cause of all the evils today, we have!), Legal and personal freedom of the non-muslims, Ministry of religious affairs dont treat them equally; “The National Commission for Justice and Peace, using official budget figures for expenditures in 1998, calculated that the Government actually spent $17 (PRs 850) on each Muslim and only $3.20 (PRs 16) on each religious minority citizen per month”

    http://www.speroforum.com/a/56466/Pakistan-Christians-and-Hindus-appeal-to-UN-over-forced-conversion-to-Islam
    http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/pakistan/18035/
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A36108-2002May17&notFound=true
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6367773.stm

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  • Imad
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:54AM

    I’d prefer calling myself a Pakistani first as I believe that religion is my personal issue and no one has got anything to do with it so it should in no way be considered as my primary identity…

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  • AH Mughal
    Sep 18, 2011 - 10:33AM

    @Abdul Basit Khawaja:
    Article is not biased Sir. In fact it is against the subconscious bias which is engrossed in our minds regarding being Muslims.

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  • aa@b.com
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:11AM

    To infer that a Christain says he is a Pakistani first for equal rights may be short-sighted and self-appeasing of this Muslim author.

    I am a Hindu from a Hindu majority India, and I would always answer that I am an Indian before a Hindu. It has nothing to do with my rights, and I am no less religious.

    Unless one puts his/her nation first, the problems of identities and sub-identities will continue to cause problems in a nation. The current problems in your country aren’t caused by the minority 10%, but by Muslims only who continue to put their religion or even region first, before their nation.

    Therefore, encourage to put the nation before the religion, and you would be United.

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  • Zohaib
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:26AM

    97% of Pakistan’s population are Muslims and we Muslims make the majority in all areas of Pakistan, so theres no point asking Muslim first or Pakistani first. Almost all Pakistanis are Muslims, and when we enter our graves one of the first questions we will have to answer is what Religion we belong to, not what Nationality we belong to. For the afterlife, being Muslim will benefit us and not being Pakistani. Life is short, and it will benefit Pakistan if we follow Islam and become good Muslims.

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  • let there be peace
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:26AM

    *He said, why get embarrassed when the Brits ask you: are you a Muslim first or British first? His solution to the dilemma concealed in this question was: ask a counter-question, “Are you a human being first or a Briton first?*

    **So, Mr Zakir Naik the great is telling us you can be either a Muslim or a Human Being?**Recommend

  • Feroz
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:06PM

    If I believe I am in no way superior to any of HIS other creations I will also not be able to believe that my character is better, my country is better, my Religion is better or my house is better than anyone else. This will help in ripping out the mask of superiority and the need to reassure myself that all my negative actions will be overlooked or condoned. Once we have accepted this basic reality there will be no need to take refuge in imaginary dress codes or convert our devotion to God into ritualism – no need to beg for acceptance from any group or ideology.

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  • usman
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:09PM

    @Maawan: “I ask u a simple and easy question. when u were born, the very first thing u were told in ur ear, was the greatness of Allah or National Anthem.”*

    ever heard about “bildunsgroman”

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  • Rehan Saeed
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:25PM

    The logic of any religion can be understood by its follower only. Its easy to criticize religion and equally hard to walk upon. Being Muslim first should not be distinguished from being a human being and a Pakistani, as both are result of being Muslim theme.

    Islam is a religion of nature and following its principals make us a good human being and on the other hand, Pakistan was resulted on a two nation theory and it was a state where Muslims of the country can lead their lives with full liberty and faith.

    Can we stop things relating with Islam…. As Islam has been worked out to greater implications by God’s most talented men on the earth.

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  • Syed Ali Jawad Shah
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:38PM

    Its very simple and clear, I am a Muslim, than comes any other thing. Whatever be the role I have to play in this life, at core I am a Muslim, and all my activities revolve around the teachings and preachings of religion. I am a Muslim by choice. My identity lies with my religion and I am proud of it. I believe in peace and harmony and that’s the manifesto of Islam. Live and let others live is the core doctrine of my religion. Isn’t it beautiful, logical and very natural??? I strongly condemn those who are hurting the others by their crude behaviour and using the name of Islam. I honestly believe that they are not one of us, because a true Muslim cannot hurt anybody at all, as he knows and have faith in the religious instructions, that he is accountable for all the deeds he’ll do in this temporal world, and the highest rewards will be for the righteous deeds, and for the sinful ones – a dark pit. No one can deny this fact at any cost. Life of virtue, do good and have good is what a religions tells us, why do we then feel uncomfortable to attach the religious identity with ourselves or why do we feel shame or complexed in bringing the religion first????

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  • antony
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:51PM

    @zohaib,
    “after life ,being a muslim benefit muslims ” is it ? . Christians who follow jesus think similar way that the way jesus has taught them if they live they enter jannat” ask hindus there is again a dharma concept which they believe to reach the paramathma (divine soul).. Now think what Allah would do when a good hindu,good muslim,good christian who have followed their religion piously all their lives reach Allah as all humans are his creations according your belief ..Do you think Allah would select only muslim soul?

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  • Hello
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:03PM

    What a weird question…

    Its like asking a woman if she is a daughter first or a mother first. She can hold both relationships in esteem without having to choose between the two.

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  • malik
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:34PM

    Agreed. This country has been scared to death of multiculturalism and obsessed with unity that did not exist. So today it is more than ever divided and looking at the barrel.

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  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:34PM

    I am a Muslim first, because my Holy Book, the Noble Quran clearly states that even before the creation of mankind all human souls had pledged to Allah to worship Him alone.

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  • Roflcopter
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:07PM

    Muslim first for sure

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  • Straight_Talk
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:41PM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani: So you are not a Pakistani first. That is ok. Your statement implies you believe in the Two Nation Theory.

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  • observer
    Sep 18, 2011 - 3:01PM

    @Abdul Basit Khwaja @Nishaa

    How did you conclude that most of us don’t care if non-Muslims are treated unequally? Biased.

    If most Pakistanis do want ‘equal treatment’ for the non-muslims,

    How come the Constitution of Pakistan bars the non-muslims from holding the posts of President and PM of Pakistan.

    And how come Christians are barred from converting people of majority community?

    And why are Hindus deprived of a basic civic procedures such as registration of their marriages.

    Proof enough.

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  • White Russian
    Sep 18, 2011 - 3:21PM

    I wonder how would Dr Naik answer a similar question: are you human or muslim first?.
    A religious hypocrite would then turn around the argument just to avoid humanism. I do not know why humanism is considered such a dreadful thing by religious people.

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  • Straight_Talk
    Sep 18, 2011 - 3:21PM

    @Nishaa: And what exactly are those rights of the non-muslims ? Can you plz throw some light on that. Are they treated equally ? What was Jizya all about ? What about the blasphemy law in modern Pakistan ? What about non-muslims eating out in the day during Ramzan in an Islamic country ? Fundamentally speaking how can a state that was formed only for the muslims through the call of Direct Action be ok with non-muslims in that land. May be you are a tolerant person, then you would be a complete rarity.

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  • Romm
    Sep 18, 2011 - 3:39PM

    I am proud Pakistani nothing else.Recommend

  • Adeel759
    Sep 18, 2011 - 4:24PM

    From all the varieties of human identities,the most easily disposable identity is “religion”, yet people take it so fanatically. For example, no one can deny that you are human if you are human, no one can deny if you are black, white or brown, no one can deny that you are male/female if you are so(though science is tempering with it), no one can deny that you are American or Ugandan if you were born there. But, you, yourself can in instant deny that you are no longer Hindu or Muslim and revert back to your original religion whenever you feel like. So, which should be the most important, you decide.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Sep 18, 2011 - 5:53PM

    In 1947 when countries devided in two pieces why peoples killed each other in the name
    of reliegen they were all indians proudelly is not it????????

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  • narayana murthy
    Sep 18, 2011 - 6:47PM

    And yes its always been easy for me to accept that I am a salaud.

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  • Cosmo
    Sep 18, 2011 - 7:02PM

    @narayana murthy:
    ha what an Irony, i would probably go in exact opposite order !!

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  • hania iqbal
    Sep 18, 2011 - 7:19PM

    Saying I am a Muslim first doesn’t just imply in words. It implies in essence. Being a muslim means you represent the religion of all times, the true religion. I believe this question of being a Muslim first or a Pakistani wouldn’t arise AT ALL if our state was being run on the principles laid down by the scared religion. Our identity would then be one.

    Also, the threat that the minorities face today would vanish since Islam spreads peace and equality to the highest degree.Recommend

  • Imran
    Sep 18, 2011 - 8:04PM

    Pakistani first…

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  • Honorliving
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:07PM

    I am a human first and Muslim/christians/Hindu later. So, maybe first we need to start treating others as human. Is it that difficult? It seems that in Pakistan, for majority of us, it is… very very difficult.

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  • observer
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:10PM

    @Ali Tanoli
    In 1947 when countries devided in two pieces why peoples killed each other in the name
    of reliegen they were all indians proudelly is not it????????
    And in 1971 all of them were Muslims, were they not???????????
    And in Iran-Iraq war again, were they not?????????????
    And the hundreds of bodies in gunny bags on the streets of Karachi. all muslims and citizens of an Islamic Republic, are they not?????????
    So, your point is?????????Recommend

  • tanya
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:11PM

    Khaled Sb, I once had a similar conversation with my Bengali roommate in college. She told me that her country could never have remained a part of Pakistan only because “we are Bengali first, and then Muslim, we could never let go of this and just be ‘Muslim’ first (the said criteria to be a ‘Pakistani’); Jinnah tried to take this away from us, so it was inevitable that we became a separate Bengali nation.”
    What do you think? Does she speak for majority of the Bengali intelligentsia?
    Thanks

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  • not impressed
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:15PM

    @faridi:
    yeah, great going man, add a few more sub-divisions to that… Try ‘Male. Sunni. Muslim. Urdu speaking. IBA alum. etc”

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  • Sep 18, 2011 - 10:20PM

    @Aadersh: Well said brother I am a proud Indian Sikh and i dont see any conflict between my nationality and my religion .

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  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:08PM

    @Straight_Talk:

    Yes, I am a firm advocate of the Two-Nation Theory.

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  • Naveen Khan
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:25PM
  • Salman
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:31PM

    Muslim first!

    If we be good muslim we will care for humanity and people around us!

    There is no excuse for minority oppression (or any oppression) in Pakistan and we need to fix it. We can only do that by being good Muslims!

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  • munir kakar
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:33PM

    I think all our our predicament stems from political islam. Islam as a religion has never been a bone of contention among muslims, But when religion transcends its boundaries and crosses over to political domains it brings about all sort of socio-political disputes. The establishment began asking such unnecessary questions during Zia regime to legitimize his unconstitutional rule. Let Pakistan remain a nation state which it actually is. Had it not been the case then Jinnah would have raised the demand of and slogan for a caliphate. Religion is a means to salvation in hereafter. Solving complex social, economic and political issues is beyond the pale of religion. Iran and Saudi Arabia can afford this luxury simply because of abundant oil riches. The repressive Taliban rule in Afghanistan should be an eye opener for all who are craving for exploitation of religion for seeking power.

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  • Adil
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:42PM

    It’s interesting to note that the Cabinet of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah included people from diverse backgrounds…..This very fact tells us what our priorities are suppose to be as a Pakistani if we really want welfare for our nation.

    Plus to call yourself a Muslim first,this first,that first or blah,blah,blah….cann’t be a tough question to answer if you really check what The Holy Quran says. Almighty Allah sent Human Being(I am saying HUMAN BEING not Muslim,Hindu,Christian or so) as his Khalifa on earth and gave him the authority to either follow teachings of the Almighty or go astray.

    I would like to share something very interesting. Shaykh Muhammad Abduh(1849-1905) was an Egyptian jurist, religious scholar and liberal reformer, regarded as the founder of Islamic Modernism.He once said that “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.”So, here one could understand what the teachings of The Holy Quran and The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) are all about.

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  • Ranjit
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:43PM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani:
    I am a Hindu first because the 1st and oldest religion of Mankind (before countries and Abrahamic religions came about) was Hindu

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Sep 19, 2011 - 12:27AM

    Women rights and Reliegens are two global phonamonon.
    @Ranjit
    Any thing with Ism are not reliegen.

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  • observer
    Sep 19, 2011 - 9:48AM

    @Hania Iqbal

    if our state was being run on the principles laid down by the scared religion. Our identity would then be one.

    You do not get the issue, do you?
    In your formulation the Muslim and Pakistani identity would become one and the Muslim Pakistani then will be able to say he is Muslim first or Pakistani first and mean the same thing.

    The question is what happens to the Christaian, Hindu, Ahmadi Pakistani? How does he respond?

    Or will you make sure there are none of them to be inconvenienced by such questions?

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  • Dr. Who!
    Sep 19, 2011 - 10:07AM

    How about “Human First?”
    I know; it is asking too much!!

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  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 19, 2011 - 11:03AM

    @Ranjit:
    Islam literally means submission to the will of Allah and it started when the first human being, Hazrat Adam A.S. was sent to earth. And so I consider myself a Muslim first.

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  • ajay
    Sep 19, 2011 - 11:32AM

    Once you adores “Secularism”, you will realize money is most important thing in life. This is the only thing Politicians, rich/middle class and multinationals always dreams of. This is the one which makes a big difference between High-class and common man. One big secret which is always hidden in great talks of religion and secularism, one important factor behind all decisions (agree or not) . To have a good house, at least one Car and a good life style. Everyone just wants this. Talking about secularism is an old thing. This is HARD and WORKING truth. Believe me it is GREAT and MOST VALUABE and brings great difference in your life. I am sure this solves all your confusion.

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  • Farhan
    Sep 19, 2011 - 1:23PM

    I am Pakistani first. Religion is my private matter. Excellently written. Period.

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  • Deb
    Sep 19, 2011 - 2:15PM

    A large segment of Muslim population in non Muslim countries think they are Muslim first and their respective national identity (e.g.Australian,Canadian,Indian etc.) is secondery.
    Why it should be different in Pakistan?
    It is a country carved out for the Muslims.

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  • rajiv
    Sep 19, 2011 - 2:56PM

    @DG: being the keepers and protectors of a religion means more equal than others.

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  • Asad
    Sep 19, 2011 - 3:20PM

    Great Naik Sahib…I become your even bigger fan now! I am a muslim first. and if I truly consider myself to be a muslim first, then it means that I will be a nice human being, a good Pakistani (or British), a caring son, brother, father, husband, friend, colleague neighbour, etc…because Islam teaches me all that…if I truly follow Islam (and not just use Islam’s name for my socio political motives).

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  • Straight Fire
    Sep 19, 2011 - 4:26PM

    Pakistan or No-Pakistan … Islam will live ..
    Long live Islam, long live Muslim

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Sep 19, 2011 - 6:24PM

    @ Observer
    Nice shot man you dont understand my message meaning if nationalism is more power than reliegen then why muslim hindus and sikhs killed each other after centuries of living
    together and same things happend some other part of world too for example serbs killed
    albanians in bosnia and croasian too even they were christians and if you saying muslims
    fought each other so what about so called WW1 and WW2 Europeans wars and what about jews bieng killed by christians in Europe and what about Hindus Mahrajas wars
    and what about untouchable also get killed and considered worst than animals and treated
    worst than cows is not it shamfully?????????

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  • Sep 19, 2011 - 7:13PM

    @DG:
    An excellent observation

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  • Lobster
    Sep 19, 2011 - 8:30PM

    Why it has to be first? Can’t one be both at same time?

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  • Sep 19, 2011 - 9:01PM

    @Ali Tanoli: You forgot that in the 8yr war between Iran &Iraq muslims killed muslims defending their respective nations.

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  • Komrade Kamprad
    Sep 19, 2011 - 9:17PM

    @True Believer:
    And you assume and elevated Naik’s pedestrian illogic,
    to the epitome of pious utterance?
    It is this incredible lack of incredulity,
    that has made Muslims and Islam the laughing stock of the world!

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  • ak
    Sep 19, 2011 - 10:24PM

    confused leaders, confused writers
    confused nation.
    islam failed to stop bifurcation of pakistan

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  • Cynical
    Sep 19, 2011 - 11:07PM

    @VINOD

    Also note that there is complete silence on @DG’s observation.
    Truth hurts.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Sep 20, 2011 - 1:10AM

    @ D G,
    Telling some wrong polices of america is not hate and if it is hate what about getting oil
    from muslims but still hate muslims making lines for visa its not in pakistan only this is
    every devolepong country peoples does and more indians and chinese are in all over world
    than pakistanis are just telling about pakistan is become a fashion these days. open your
    eyes and look around too.

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  • nobody
    Sep 20, 2011 - 4:10AM

    @DG:
    have u ever wondered why Muslims are calling for their rights all around the world..its because most of the western countries call themselves secular and hold the slogan of equal rights for all regardless of religion..but its a fat fact now that any individual with a Muslim name or a Muslim attire is treated with discrimination…secondly there is not one single Islamic state present in today’s world and Pakistan does not even come close..
    minorities have their due rights in Islam and at the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) even non-Muslims used to come to him to get their matters resolved…and also there is not one single account from his era when a non-Muslim was treated unfairly
    the ordinary Muslim hates America because of its policies and the genocide of Muslims all around the world but they go there to earn a better living.. that’s not a flaw in character but rather a means for survival..but i’m not saying that we’re free from fault..far from it.. i admit that we have a lot of flaws but people like yourself are waking us up..and God-willing you will soon see the revival ..:)

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  • islooboy
    Sep 20, 2011 - 1:37PM

    @observer:
    i asked a hindu in rahimyarkhan he said we will marry like our forefatheres did we dont need this registration or whatever and you muslims can have divorce it is not allowed in hindu dharm

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  • islooboy
    Sep 20, 2011 - 1:40PM

    the secular mummy daddies type strike againRecommend

  • Dee Cee
    Sep 20, 2011 - 2:28PM

    @nobody: Simple then, do you support the idea that Secular States should treat Muslim minorities as the Muslim states treat their minorities? If secular states are hypocritcal in their claims of equality, do you think that they should have a state religion, like Chritianity, and should ban Muslims from preaching in UK, Europe, or USA? Should they expel people like Anjem Chaudhry from UK who preaches Islam there? Should they put death penalty of anybody trying to convert to Islam? Should they charge jiziya-like extra tax from Muslims and exempt them from military service? I am sure you will protest this as injustice. YOu do it in your own country to other minorities, that is ok, but the same thing anybody else does to you, that suddenly becomes injustice?

    Please note that I am not Islam or any religion. Just that biting the hand that feeds you in a secular welfare state is great hypocrisy.

    And enough of the half-truths about the ban on Burqa in France. They have banned “ALL” religious symbols, including the cross.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Sep 20, 2011 - 6:06PM

    @ Dee Cee
    If they banned all the symble of reliegons then what kind of freedom is that and what about
    jews cap and sikh turban and also Nuns scarve is it ban too this totaly hypocracy man
    only north african muslims are the target no body else and it make me sick.
    peoples see minor thing against islam they start making a big slogan but on them if the
    crocodile went through that does not matter.

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  • Ali
    Sep 27, 2011 - 9:50PM

    i appreciate Dr zakir naik’s perfect wisdom for giving a good work around for this problem .

    If a person is not muslim first , then he is NOT a muslim.
    coz this question will also be asked in your grave!
    wake up u moderates
    either you are with the infidels
    or with muslims
    there is no middle ground.Recommend

  • Sep 28, 2011 - 8:57AM

    @Ali: I hope the Chinese read that.

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  • Pradip
    Oct 12, 2011 - 10:38PM

    we should understand first that before evolution of human there was no god or god theory. actually the god is the creation of the human mind. the other creatures have no god. then the picture is clear. Human being is first.

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