Why this public obsession with religion?

Published: October 30, 2010
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The writer is clinical associate professor at University of Maryland School of Medicine, US 
faheem.younus@tribune.com.pk

The writer is clinical associate professor at University of Maryland School of Medicine, US faheem.younus@tribune.com.pk

Lateef Khawaja was a retired man who lived a few houses down the road from us in Lahore. Everyone considered him to be a pious man but there were a few things he would never do: carry prayer beads in public places, compel kids to go to the mosque, or despise the youth for listening to English music. And there was one thing my parents would always do: ask me to request Khawaja sahib to pray for my success before annual exams.

Islam in Pakistan was a private affair back then, not a public obsession. My childhood memories of public display of Islam in Pakistan are limited to a bearded Quran teacher coming to our neighborhood, cricket players prostrating after winning the World Cup and an occasional TV programme answering religious questions.

Somewhere along the past three decades, that private affair became public. During my last visit to Pakistan, I was shocked to note the intensity of this rising public obsession with religion. Instead of having many teachers of the Holy Quran we now had bearded men who were mostly concerned with rituals. Cricket players were not only prostrating after victories but also being photographed while saying congregational prayers on the field. And a plethora of Islamic TV programmes were busy carving a pretty narrow path to salvation.

Things had changed on my street as well. While long beards and burqas were now ubiquitous, no one would even say “salaam” to Lateef Khawaja. I wondered why?

This public obsession with Islam invariably pushes the perpetrator towards hypocrisy and pulls the masses towards conformity. Evidence would suggest that the cricket team prays to Allah in public and preys on cash in private. There is a growing market for Islamic gifts such as handcrafted prayer beads made with semi-precious stones. And the ground under our feet is shrinking fast if we still want to hold our ground against this silent intimidation. Talk-show hosts invite religious leaders and sheepishly preface tough questions with, “you will not beat me if I ask you this, right?”

Pakistan’s public obsession with religion has allowed the mullahs to control the affairs of the state. Individual freedoms of Pakistanis, even those freedoms Islam itself guarantees, are endangered. Lateef Khawaja’s freedoms were the first casualty of the mullah’s grip. He was declared non-Muslim in 1974, barred from saying “salaam” in 1984 and lost his right to vote on a joint electorate in 2002. Being an Ahmadi in Pakistan, he legally cannot display his religious beliefs in public.

What would happen to the freedoms of our children in Pakistan if this public obsession is not confronted, I wonder.  And where will they go to seek prayers when the Lateef Khawajas from every segment of our society are effectively marginalised?

Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2010.

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Reader Comments (88)

  • Sameer
    Oct 30, 2010 - 11:59PM

    What wrong in people sporting beard, wearing hijab or niqab? What wrong in praying congregational prayers on field? Is it haraam or do you want to import French form of secularism in Pakistan in order to ban public display of religion.? You keep talking about how Ahmadi cannot display their belief in public yet you complain about how people are showing religiosity in public. You cannot have both way
    Islam guarantee freedom (which you apparently admire) yet people displaying Islam (which guarantee freedom) in public is wrong. This is an oxymoron statementRecommend

  • Waleed Khan
    Oct 31, 2010 - 12:06AM

    Full agreed with the article . From the Rightist anchor persons – glore to the amount of conspiracies . This religion problem has attained epidemic proportions in Pakistan.

    Religion was and is should be a personal affair.Recommend

  • ayesha
    Oct 31, 2010 - 12:14AM

    Amazing article.

    It was devastating to read the end, but I should have known.

    These days the people with the most power are the ones who make sure they’ve wrapped themselves with facade of religion. They are going to Al-Hudah while committing election fraud, running Islamic schools while raking in the dough and using it to buy off judges after committing property fraud.

    Islam is supposed to be our salvation, but by allowing people to use religion as a cover for their misdeeds, they’re tearing the nation apart. Recommend

  • R. Khan
    Oct 31, 2010 - 12:18AM

    Mullah’s joined hands with Zia ul Haq & destroyed Pakistan! Poor Ahmedis who are much better Muslims & human beings were marginlized by these animals. Religion has become a commodity to market yourself as a pious person. Sad & Pathetic & no end in sight!Recommend

  • Sabiha Alwy
    Oct 31, 2010 - 12:37AM

    I would say a vast majority of Pakistanis can be easily classified as obsessive compulsive, people are driven to perform religious rituals to reduce the distress that accompanies an obsession. Obsessed with the idea that virgins are waiting for them in heaven and some may be experiencing sexual imagery too.
    But then what else to expect from uneducated mullahs who are running the show..Recommend

  • Abdul Majid Qureshi
    Oct 31, 2010 - 12:37AM

    Despite my differences with the kinda broadmindedness the writer is trying to advocate, i really do think that mullaism has really gotten a long way in pakistan. Radicalists portray a very unbalanced picture of relegion and spoil young minds which shud nurture creativity and ideas instead of hate.
    This is but a smaller picture of the entire islamic world crumbling similarly. Eversince a child i have had a habbit of listening to the BBC Radio service at 8pm with my father and in the past 20 years i donot recall any continuous time of peace in the entire islamic world. On the contrary the despicable materialistically portrayed west is working harmoniously and smoothly.There is not a single country today which has muslims but no ranagadism.
    Pakistan which is the so called fortress of islam is plunging into deeper darkness by every passing day. our systems are in a nose dive be it the economic, social, political, justice, or moral. every new sialkot incident is followed by another extreme display of barbarism. the values that held us together as a civilisation seem to be diminishing.
    Being a young person i am confronted with negativity and pessimism all around. and a realistic look at every thing paints but a gloomy picture.
    I do ask the author to propose solutions to the problems he has just identified. and i think its about time we started working towards the uplift of our people.Recommend

  • Cehyr
    Oct 31, 2010 - 12:40AM

    Alhumdulillah…Our muslim children have many “muslim” scholars & aalims to guide dem properly…they DO NOT need to seek ANY guidance/advice frm “Ahmedis”…who themselves are misguided…it’s high tym for ahmedis to STOP pretending as if they are muslims…after denying da Quranic Verse of “Khatam-e-Naboowat”…it’s NOT us who discriminate dem…it’s their OWN actions like da above mentioned hv proved dem “non-muslims”…i jus cant understanding why ppl keep whinning about it…ridiculous!Recommend

  • Abdul Haseeb
    Oct 31, 2010 - 12:55AM

    AoA! I don’t know why people like you keep doing this. Why do you want Ahmadis to be called Muslims. The problem I have with them calling themselves Muslims is that they’ve deformed the face of my religion and call it Islam. Please believe whatever you may but don’t call it something it isn’t. Being a Muslim it is my duty to make sure like every other Muslim that people don’t mix poison in my religion.
    Secondly, why do you assert that religion is a private matter when in case of Islam atleast it is the most public thing which must be practiced by the society as a whole. Why do you think we have congregational prayers five times a day??? I’ll tell you, it is because religion wants to make us a whole not individuals doing some rituals. The message is that you’re strong together and individually you’ll just fall apart.
    I’ve got some Ahmadi friends too, and yes they’re very very nice guys but that doesn’t mean that I should just allow them to temper with my religion. I call it my religion because Allah sent it for my guidance like every other person who calls himself a Muslim.
    And one more thing, Muslims were prosperous in this world when they followed their religion to the letter, atleast the majority did and on the other hand the west was in dark age when they followed the clergy. The west came out of their dark age after they stopped following the church in govt matters and Muslims went down when they stopped following the commands of Allah as a whole.
    We cannot follow the western model when it comes to religion. Actually our solution is completely opposite to theirs.Recommend

  • muhammad rizwan
    Oct 31, 2010 - 1:05AM

    Salman butt prays 5 times a day,makes his wife wear the burqa but has no qualms in selling out his country for dollars.

    This is symptomatic of our public’s current state:perform as many exhibitionist religous rituals as possible( & the paksitani public really does admire performance of rituals) & you can get away with almost any crime you want,as our ppl just say ” bauhat naik admi hai,paanch wakt ka nimazi,hafiz-e-quran hai,beevi ko marta hai to kia hua,uski beevi hi baghair burqay kay ghar se bahar nikalti hai aur aisi aurton k sath aisa hi hona chahye”.Recommend

  • faraz
    Oct 31, 2010 - 1:16AM

    After widespread killings carried out in the name of religion, the new term that has gained popularity these days is “true islam”. All religious sects are mercilessly killing each other, so whichever sects finally gains the upper hand will be the flag bearer of true islam. Untill then, we will have to wait.Recommend

  • Oct 31, 2010 - 1:44AM

    Amazing line: This public obsession with Islam invariably pushes the perpetrator towards hypocrisy and pulls the masses towards conformity.

    Rituals are easy to enforce, and has easy social value to show around. People are impressed with overt displays of religion and careless of deeds and practise. For a clergy (Mullahs) who are going around forbidding this and that, they are doing nothing else but relinquishing human choice from each action. How are we to be held accountable before God if they are going to decide everything to begin with? There is a big difference between playing God on earth and being a repository of religious knowledge. Its seems that the political-Maulvi has been corrupted by power, and we all know what they say about absolute power….Recommend

  • Humanity
    Oct 31, 2010 - 1:48AM

    “Pakistan’s public obsession with religion has allowed the mullahs to control the affairs of the state. Individual freedoms of Pakistanis, even those freedoms Islam itself guarantees, are endangered. Lateef Khawaja’s freedoms were the first casualty of the mullah’s grip. He was declared non-Muslim in 1974, barred from saying “salaam” in 1984 and lost his right to vote on a joint electorate in 2002. Being an Ahmadi in Pakistan, he legally cannot display his religious beliefs in public.
    What would happen to the freedoms of our children in Pakistan if this public obsession is not confronted, I wonder.”

    The idea of Pakistan was the brain child of forward looking, secular, liberal Muslims. The clerics, including JI, were vehemently opposed to the idea and called it naPakistan. Supporters of Pakistan sacrificed every thing and followed the Quaid. Within a year after its birth, the mullah/poli-tics alliance mauled the vision of the founding fathers. In the name of religion, the mullah/politicians managed to enshrine bigotry in the constitution.

    The mammon lovers peddled corruption and bigotry to the masses on the promise of a utopia. The spirit of Islam left for utopia, leaving behind a rotting carcass in the form of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The state-certified Muslims seem to believe their state issued certificate are free-get-into-heaven permits.

    The followers of the Quaid did not make the sacrifices for the hell these self preserving hypocrites have turned the country into. The salvation of this nation lies in making the foundation of the country whole once again. The blood and sacrifice of the people who fought for the creation of Pakistan will only be redeemed when Quaid’s vision is realized. The current constitution must be discarded. The state must be run on the vision of the Quaid which was secular democratic country as he stated in his address of August 11, 1947. Read the speech and think for yourselves, for a change.

    If the foundation of the country is not made whole as was originally envisioned, then it would be safe to conclude that the children of Pakistan have become certified Lemmings. The rodents that follow each other to the cliff for a collective suicide.

    Children of Pakistan, choose to become compassionate, tolerant humans. Let go the embrace of orthodoxy and step out of darkness into light. Islam teaches to move forward towards progress. Islam is the light of love, brotherhood, benevolence, forgiveness and humility. Mullah only teaches you ignorance, arrogance and hatred. Unite to eradicate bigotry and hatred. Let Islam live once again in the hearts and souls of the people. Don’t let it become spirit less statutes and rituals that result in blood and oppression. Godspeed.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Oct 31, 2010 - 1:51AM

    A very heart warming article. I am afraid, with the population growth, corruption, tax evasion and VVVVVVIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPP culture, case of Pakistan is hopeless! We should change the name of our country to Paki-Satan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Oct 31, 2010 - 1:55AM

    One more thing, after the millions of affected from the horrific floods and loss of live stocks, the “pious” people will be sacrificing millions of bakras! (more expensive than ur neighbour, ofcource) Recommend

  • Sweety
    Oct 31, 2010 - 2:59AM

    Seems like some of the comments miss the point.

    Sameer: The line, “This public obsession with Islam invariably pushes the perpetrator towards hypocrisy and pulls the masses towards conformity.” answers your question. Public show of Islam creates a lot of pressure for people. Last I wa sin the market, I saw bearded guys with wooden sticks as think as baseball bats asking the shopkeepers to shut their shops and go to pray!

    Cehyr: I admire your naivete. You call them ‘scholars’ who com eon TV and start classifying people as ‘wajib-ul-qatal’? First it was Ahmadis, then Musharraf, then a film actress, then God knows who else? These scholars have given so much ammunition to the west to demonize Islam.Recommend

  • Sweety
    Oct 31, 2010 - 3:05AM

    Abdul Haseeb: “Being a Muslim it is my duty to make sure like every other Muslim that people don’t mix poison in my religion”. Wow! How do you support this statement? Where in Quran may I find this duty mentioned? How did Muhammad (saw) practice this duty?

    You talk of west. Imagine if 85% Christians in America started displaying this kind of religiosity in public? And started making laws against Muslims?

    I am just as much Muslim as the next person and so are you. Why do we need a seal of approval regarding our ‘muslimness’ from the ‘scholars’ in Pakistan?Recommend

  • Talha
    Oct 31, 2010 - 3:16AM

    Excellent article, the downward spiral of Pakistan is very vivid and can be attributed to this show of religion by immoral people.Recommend

  • Jamal
    Oct 31, 2010 - 3:16AM

    Oh dear. Another confused expat spewing nonsense about Islam. YAWN.Recommend

  • WisdomofQ
    Oct 31, 2010 - 3:22AM

    Very well written article. I’m so amused that some ignorant people feel that they need to ‘protect’ the religion of Allah. Rumor has it, He can take care of Himself.Recommend

  • Oct 31, 2010 - 7:35AM

    There is a proven inverse correlation between IQ and religiosity i.e. there’s direct statistical correlation between superior intelligence and agnosticism. We have done a lot of research on this. Check out our site to learn more. Unless Pakistan drops the ‘Islamic’ prefix to become a powerful ‘Republic of Pakistan’, what else can you expect other than mullahs controlling the state?Recommend

  • Amaar
    Oct 31, 2010 - 8:53AM

    The more ‘Islamic’ we have become the more corrupt and hypocritical we have become. Why? Because of this pseudo-religiosity where we use God’s sacred name for justifying profane acts and for judging the faith of others.Recommend

  • Adeel Ahmed
    Oct 31, 2010 - 10:16AM

    Religion, well Islam, is not a “personal affair” by any means.
    We are ordered by Allah to invite as many people as we can to Islam, do tableegh, pray in congregation, feel for others what you feel for yourself, if one muslim is hurt the whole ummah should feel pain as when one body part is hurt, whole body feels the pain…

    All of these teachings are not so that Islam can be kept a personal affair. Islam is brotherhood, Islam is peace for humanity.

    Now what Islam is NOT. It is NOT a religion to be forced upon anyone, as Quran says Your religion with you, our religion with us. Nor it is a religion that is only a property of bearded who call themselves Islamic teachers, maulvis or whatever, but in fact are possibly the most deluded and hypocritical creatures to have walked this planet.

    Islam is not personal. Islam is to be shared and spread. But Islam is also to be understood and taught not forced upon, neither by judging someone nor otherwise.

    I am of the opinion that religion;Islam should be an integral part of politics, economics, social welfare, justice, etc. NOT a personal affair. HOWEVER, and this is very important. Religion should not be given in the hands of idiots and uneducated, uncouth, uncultured, uncivilised maulvis or the equivalents of red-necks.
    If religion enters politics in Pakistan, we should have scholars, the most educated ones, running such affairs.

    @ R. Khan…
    Ahmedis are not Muslims. Even our parliament, which never decides anything, has passed a resolution that you guys are not muslims. You guys are NON-Muslims, minorities. However, everyone has a right to live in Pakistan, it is for everyone, not just Muslims. So you are welcome to stay. And it the state’s responsibility to safeguard you. Recommend

  • Hina
    Oct 31, 2010 - 10:33AM

    Amazing Article!!!..Bitter Truth Of Our Blinded Nation! Couldn’t Have Said It Better!
    RELIGION ALWAYS HAS BEEN AND ALWAYS SHOULD BE A “VERY PERSONAL AFFAIR”, Why dont Our MUSLIM Fella’s Get that through their Brains.Recommend

  • Oct 31, 2010 - 11:47AM

    you know why the almighty said human being to be ashraf-ul-makhlooqaat? bcz he gave them brains unlike animals.. unfortunately, we least bother about using our brains when dealing with religious matters and just want to rush to the nearest sick mullah who is anything but religious.. Recommend

  • Haris Chaudhry
    Oct 31, 2010 - 11:53AM

    This is so, because we have degenerated as a society and nation over the last 3 decades and in times of hopelessness, masses tend to shelter under the umbrella of religiosity.

    This is also so, because we have never had the courage to fess up to our own misdeeds and dont possess the heart to blame ourselves. Finding a scapegoat is the easiest ‘escape’ route and putting up a wall of overt religiousness seems to be our very last shield.

    This is so, because those muslims that still romanticize with the era of Moghul, Ottoman and early Muslim invaders and wanting to rule the planet again cant fathom why this nation has become butt of jokes globally and has arguably the worst reputation of any nations globally. Showing you prey and carry a religious presence seems to be a reflex action to the miseries being self-bestowed by the same religious mob. Overtly religious but corrupt to the core otherwise.

    This is so, because this pseudo-religious-confused-mob has really lost its identity – It is confused between being a muslim and a human and always prefers to be a devout muslim first (on the outside), a pakistani second and a human third. If you challenged him/ her on any front, you will be labelled as a traitor, agent of raw, mosad, cia, westernised, agnostic etc but feels free to label the whole world as murderers and plunderers of our wealth.

    This is one-hell-uva-confused-person and sadly it is in majority.

    HarisRecommend

  • Maestro96
    Oct 31, 2010 - 12:10PM

    Pakistan is going backward in every sense of the word. Obsession with religion in the negative sense is all pervasive. It is time we got the country back. Recommend

  • Aneela Jameel
    Oct 31, 2010 - 12:12PM

    Well, I always feel that religion is for educated people who can truly understand the true meaning and objective of Islam and who can practice religion peacefully…..

    with just 50% literacy rate ( Pakistan still uses a 22-year-old definition of literacy which defines a literate person as “one who can read a newspaper and write a simple letter”.) the masses in Pakistan are illiterate with every person perceiving religion in his own way.

    so, given that we are a poor nation with more than 60 million illiterate adults, religion is a BIG threat in this region. It is more like a gun in the hands of a kid who doesn’t know how to use it and there is every chance that unknowingly he will pull the trigger and kill someone….now, who to blame the kid or the gun…..
    All I want to say is that religion in uneducated illiterate societies has been and will always be a threat. People will continue to explode themselves in order to go to heavens…..Recommend

  • Oct 31, 2010 - 12:18PM

    What is wrong with the people? This is precisely what the writer meant. Having a public discourse on religion is apparently taboo in this country. Just read the comments that people have posted underneath this article. It is shameful that religious debate has been stifled by people with a narrow minded approach to the world and its affairs. People like Cheyr have allowed the Mullahs to hijack this country in the name of Islam, even though there is nothing remotely Islamic about their actions. Recommend

  • Mansoor Cheema
    Oct 31, 2010 - 1:34PM

    The agenda is evident with the piece of writing above. Abolishing the thin line between “modernism” and “secularism”.We’re smart enough to differentiate between mullahs, wrapping them all in a single cover and creating hatred is injustice.

    RegardsRecommend

  • Sweety
    Oct 31, 2010 - 3:25PM

    Great article. But I cant understand why this Ahmadi issue makes us Pakistanis so uncomfortable? That must be hard.Recommend

  • Armughan
    Oct 31, 2010 - 3:47PM

    We should admonish ourselves not Mullahs for our current situation. We are responsible for the Mullah to be the only knowledgeable person, or at least portray that in public about the religion. If we have knowledge, we would know what is right and what is wrong.

    Too little of Religion or too much of it via wrong channels such as Mullahs has harmed our country in a big way. First we allowed bars and night clubs, then we didn’t even want to wear trousers and shirts. Both ideologies are wrong, Islam is flexible in at least dressing as long as we do not cross the prescribed limit.

    This article, for me is one more of those constant conditioning bits that confuse us about religion and in the end, push us away from it. Mullah is a part of the very plan to push people away from Religion. So bottom line is, known the Deen and there would be no need of a Mullah.

    Afterthought, Ahmadi’s are non Muslims not because of anything else but their own choice of violating the criteria for a Muslim. I think they have their own worship places and no one stops them from practicing their faith. Recommend

  • parvez
    Oct 31, 2010 - 3:49PM

    Excellent article on a popular subject.
    We love to wear our religion on our sleeve as a badge. It makes us feel righteous and works partly towards filling the mental vacuum caused by a degenerating society with pathetic moral values. This is a false sense of superiority.
    The righteous are now bent on making good Muslims out of those who they perceive as not being good Muslims. The comedy or rather tragedy is that this is happening ( made to happen ) in a predominantly Sunni Muslim country. Recommend

  • Mehnaz
    Oct 31, 2010 - 5:50PM

    “This public obsession with Islam invariably pushes the perpetrator towards hypocrisy and pulls the masses towards conformity.”……Well said!
    I, too, remember a time where religion was a private matter and people were much tolerant. One thing really concerning is that a rational debate on islamic issues, pertaining to the times we live in, is hushed down stating that one should not question sharia. I was preached (as a child) that Islam is a religon of tolerance, rationality, and acceptance. Sadly, these are the exact qualities missing amongst us today. Recommend

  • Humanity
    Oct 31, 2010 - 6:38PM

    Wow .. what happened here? The comments seemed to have been pruned, rearranged, and the Like counter tweaked to project a the prevalent tunnel view.

    Is ET a training camp for how to rig the 2013 elections?

    Sorry guys, the controlled free speech is indicative of why the country is where it is today. Media is a huge part of the problem, along side the mullah and the poli-tics.Recommend

  • Mohammad
    Oct 31, 2010 - 7:06PM

    It is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens and have the freedom to belief. What is the standard for declaring someone else non Muslim? It should be up to the person to call himself whatever he wishes and not few stupid mullahs to decide that what other should believe and who is Muslim and who isn’t. Government should call all Muslim sects conference and have them debate openly the criteria to be Muslim.Recommend

  • SadafFayyaz
    Oct 31, 2010 - 7:07PM

    One of the best write ups I have ever read…………Recommend

  • Sweety
    Oct 31, 2010 - 7:22PM

    Again, Adeel Ahmad has an interesting point to make: Please do tabligh…See how tabligh was done by our master prophet Muhammad (saw)…by loving people, forgiving them, educating them, helping them in times of need, leading a simple life. Not by forcing your brand of religion over others.

    And Ahmadis…oh my God. A parliament that is loaded with uneducated, whiskey drinking Mullahs and a country that cannot even agree on the definition of who is a Muslim after days of debate (http://www.thepersecution.org/dl/report_1953.pdf) goes on to define who is a Muslim!!!

    Wow. We are making more kafirs than Muslims.Recommend

  • Angelos
    Oct 31, 2010 - 7:28PM

    1) AHMEDIS are NON-MUSLIMS
    2) Yes, some people have taken the freedom even provided by islam and substituted by their own version of religion
    3) Religion is a private matter, but Islam also tells how state should be run. For this, please study the justice system, punishments for crimes and responsibilities of the leader, etc etc mentioned in Quran and practiced by Holy Prophet PBUHRecommend

  • Jaffakush
    Oct 31, 2010 - 8:04PM

    Another apologetic article on practicing Islam. It is funny when people say moderate Islam, have you heard of moderate mathematician? or moderate MBA? I want to be called Muslim but not practice Islam. It is like you can call me a doctor but I don’t follow things other doctors do.

    The Islam on our streets is thanks to fellow Muslims who call us to Islamic ways. As a youngster I have seen girls mistreated in markets, boys on drugs and alcohol, adultery, corruption, lying, nepotism, pornography, immorality and disobedience to parent and teachers. Does west have an answer to it? Or should I see what the Quran tells and Prophet Muhammad did?Recommend

  • Oct 31, 2010 - 8:06PM

    We like to drag religion in everything, EVERYTHING only to portray ourselves religious, and this abnormal behavior yields hypocrisy. Recommend

  • Tony Khan
    Oct 31, 2010 - 8:24PM

    When temporal authorities venture into God’s realm and judge on spiritual matters, mayhem follows. Pakistan, today is suffering due to these mullahs and some weak politicians. Recommend

  • amtul ahmad
    Oct 31, 2010 - 9:05PM

    Mr Sameer their is nohing wrong in burqa..beard or offering prayerers in public but when you dont practice what you preach it becomes a problem for whole society you are not getting the essence of Dr Younas’s article Pakistan was a Muslim country before Mullahism took control people prayed observed religious rituals and respected each other and it was a more tolerant society please…open your mind supportig a beared and chewing a ball is your pakistan now….in my days I have seen players walking from the wicket even if declared not out by the umpires just because they knew they were out and trust me they showed this Islamic honesty without a beared at that time… Recommend

  • Danish Rashid
    Oct 31, 2010 - 9:14PM

    Ahmedis are non muslims……period!!!Recommend

  • Sweety
    Oct 31, 2010 - 9:43PM

    Reading some of the bigoted comments I am surprised. If this is the level of narrow mindedness of a select group of Engligh newspaper’s readership…imagine the mindset of those who are getting their news from urdu media. Scary. Recommend

  • Talha
    Oct 31, 2010 - 10:38PM

    The Mullah brigade are trying to exert their beliefs onto others, many of their own have extremely weak faith and thus cannot argue or convince others to convert or alter the mindset of others.

    So they go on and poison the minds to keep themselves afloat and some members here have been filled with that hate and radical views.

    Shameful to see this country WE worked for go to waste only because the people who were against it are destroying it now.Recommend

  • atif ca
    Nov 1, 2010 - 12:25AM

    Well said. Now, how do we put religion back in the private domain? How do we stop the government from trying to define who is a muslim and who is not?Recommend

  • Sweety
    Nov 1, 2010 - 4:11AM

    Danish: Your comment sounds like a fatwa. Please don’t play God.Recommend

  • KAT
    Nov 1, 2010 - 8:02AM

    Nations cannot be reformed without the reformation of youth.
    Swords can win territories, but not hearts. Force can bend heads, but not mindsRecommend

  • maham
    Nov 1, 2010 - 8:03AM

    I agree with the writers’ sentiments wholeheartedly.A public display of religion which ultimately leads to hypocrisy…we all know that Allah is aware of deception…so who do these mullahs try to impress with their ritualistic religion?Recommend

  • Sabuhi
    Nov 1, 2010 - 8:37AM

    As a Muslim, we have no right to declare anyone Muslim or Non-Muslim. Religion is a very personal matter and it should be left to God to decide. God has not given any Muslim to declare anyone non-Muslim. If one says that he is a Muslim, it is our duty to believe that. Look what is happening in Pakistan, after 60 years of independence, we are still deciding who is Muslim or not. Please read the address of Mohd Ali Jinnah’s address to Pakistani’s when it was formed. Read the Hadith of Holy Prophet (sw) of Islam and tell me even once where he declared anyone non-muslim. Whatever is happening in Pakistan is a wake up call for us, it is going to a downward spiral.
    I applaud Mr. Younas’s observation. There is nothing wrong in offerring prayers in public but then we should practice what we preach. Look at the neighboring country, India, it has so many believers of differrent religions but they respect each other and live with them peacefull and have gone so far ahead of in all the private and public sectors. And what Pakistan is still involved in declaring and taking the rights of people who call themselves Muslims.
    If an Ahmadie Calls himself Muslim, let him be, let God to be the judge of that not the peopleRecommend

  • M M Malik
    Nov 1, 2010 - 10:52AM

    Islam is God’s religion and only He can judge who is following it truly. We worldly beings have no jurisdiction in this area. All kalima reciters are Muslims as per the teachings of the holy Prophet (saw). Recommend

  • Z
    Nov 1, 2010 - 10:54AM

    From all the comments, the only thing I have observed is the relgious intolerance in people in Pakistan. What I have noticed is, everyone’s self confidence that they are experts on religious matters, I appreciate the liberal thoughts and the narrow minds need to be brightened.

    Some “bright soul” among the plethora of comments stated “it is my duty to stop people from mixing poison in my religion”. I am a muslim aswell, but don’t you think our religion is already poisoned enough that we have 72 sects present. Don’t blame it one Jews or Christians because, if you look back in history it was we muslims who systematically caused the divide. You can give a Shia-Sunni debate on whose fault it was, or you can even give me the story of how that Jew caused a rife between us, I think his name was Abdullah ibn Sabah I am not to sure.

    You say Ahmadi’s are non-muslims, have you read their books or is it kufr to read them? Was it ok when innocent men and women were slaughtered in their worship house? Why don’t you ask the families what they are goin through, because of what our “muslim” brothers did. You won’t because you all are cowards, you can defend Islam from behind a keyboard but in the grand context of things you are far from Islam. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) allowed non-muslims including Jews to practice their religion freely allowed them to go about doing business and doing things as per their normal lives. Did he kill any of them or preach hate against any of them? I don’t think so. Even the caliphs treated them and judged them by their own books. Ahmadi’s as a minority whether we accept them or not have the right to practice their religion, preach it and believe in what they want as, Islam and our albeit flawed constitution allows for it.

    In a country like ours where there is no religous tolerance, let alone shia-sunni even within these sects for example deobandi-barelvi then religion needs to stay a private matter. It should be banned from schools and madrassas should be state run.Recommend

  • Z
    Nov 1, 2010 - 11:05AM

    By praying 5 times a day, in a mechanical fashion you think you will get salvation, but where you look in Islam whether it is Namaz, Roza, Hajj or Zakat. Going through the process mechanically will never get you to salvation, it all depends on your Niyat.

    What are you really doing this practice for? Allah’s happiness or to get your material gains? I was reading an article, on Mr.Edhi and some one actually asked him, why do you have to pick up hindus and chrisitans in your ambulance, I was shell shocked, but this silly soul got a fitting reply “the ambulance is more muslim than you”.

    Fatwas are being passed out like bread, but even bread is becoming expensive. Only scholars who have spent their whole life studying religion can give fatwas.

    Support the mujahideen all you want, but they are killing muslims in mosques who aren’t involved in any infigthing, and I can’t believe people try and prove the Talibans innocence. The torture that went on in Afghanistan and people dieing here is silly and yet people say NO THEY ARE BEING FRAMED.

    Leaving all things aside this is a great article.Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar
    Nov 1, 2010 - 12:24PM

    brilliant article…too bad nothing will change..educated illiterates will keep on harping about how islam is for everyone, not personal, it is a ‘way of life’ and so on and so forth, well ever considered that maybe not everyone considers it to be same ‘way of life’ as your interpretation? guess not and God forbid if someone says something slightly different, he/she is wajib-ul-qatl….

    keep religion embroiled in matters of the state and we will continue our path to utter destruction…we are more than halfway there as is.Recommend

  • Priya
    Nov 1, 2010 - 1:26PM

    I think a person who is a good human being is a good muslim/hindu/christian.If you follow all that is written in your holy book to the T, but hurt people by your words or actions then you will never be a good muslim. I think most pakistanis read too much into their holy book. Why was it written, when was it written, what was the context of it, what was the purpose behind writing the same. If only muslims the world over would think a little about these questions, they will understand their religion better. I am not an expert on Islam but I wish people would understand the real meanings behind the text rather than following rituals blindly. I am a hindu and I say the same for my religion. It does not matter if I pray to God once or five times a day. What matters is I am grateful for all that God has given me and live my life in such a way that I am happy and I make as many people happy as I can along this journey called life. Recommend

  • Amir Rashid
    Nov 1, 2010 - 1:29PM

    @Sweety – You seem to be one of the only people around here with some modicum of sense and understanding.. Well said on EVERYTHING! VERY well said and VERY informed and educated responses. I agree entirely that if this is the mindset of the select few english language readers, we are TRULY in hot soup. Recommend

  • belaal
    Nov 1, 2010 - 1:58PM

    relgion shud nt be duty of state…..if we observe history,islam has been promoted by sufis rather than govments…so be like it….leave the religous affairs at personal levelsRecommend

  • Nov 1, 2010 - 2:59PM

    Very well-written. Love the ending. For once, I’m going to ignore the comments because I want to stick with the good feeling reading this left me with Great job Mr. Younus.Recommend

  • Talha Ahmed
    Nov 1, 2010 - 3:33PM

    I have read almost all the comments. Mashallah there are really dynamic, emotional, intellectual, people around here. BRAVO to you all on this virtual Fish market. I am not here to end the fights, just to give my views:

    Everyone, please do some meditation. Whatever information you have about anything, confirm it and verify it or you may inflict harm on others and your own heart.

    2.Belief in Allah is the KEY. Believe that He is present and watching us. Start believing. Truly Believing. “La ilaha illAllah” –
    If you believe now, then you do as Allah says only for Allah. Read Quran and take action on whatever you find in it, because it is the word of Allah, and in it, there is absolutely no doubt.

    3.Stop talking and start believing. I am not saying that you people are not good enough muslims or anything, I am just saying that we do not have the level of belief that Allah wanted to instill in us, and the level of belief that Sahabah had because of teachings of Holy Prophet. ANd don’t say that it was only because of the Prophet (PBUH), that level of belief is possible through understanding Quran and acting on it.

    Jazakum Allah – May Allah Bless you all

    PS. This message is not a refutal to any of the previous comments. I am not pinpointing anyone or doing personal Attacks. Recommend

  • Raza
    Nov 1, 2010 - 3:42PM

    As you would expect, the writer is being grilled. But i think many readers are missing the point here. The debate is not about whether Ahmedis are Muslim are not. It is about how Mullahism has gripped Pakistan. Their senseless ideology is everywhere — TV, radio, newspapers, offices! Religion should always remain a private business, as pointed out by the author. Recommend

  • M Mustafa
    Nov 1, 2010 - 3:57PM

    Ahmadis are Muslims or not; can in all surety be decided only by God the Almighty.Recommend

  • Faseeha
    Nov 1, 2010 - 4:08PM

    Why have the Ahmadis been declared ‘not Muslims’? Can we lowly humans legislate in spiritual matters? Is this not God’s prerogative? Recommend

  • Erfan Aziz
    Nov 1, 2010 - 4:09PM

    I would like to state some of the situations here and leave up to the reader to form his/her own judgment.

    Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world….right….it means they allow Muslims to preach in their countries….Muslim TV channels are allowed in the USA and UK and other such rich countries where Muslims take pride in preaching.
    Why does no Muslim country allow non-Muslims to preach their religion. Is there any TV channel that speaks Christianity, Jewism or other religions? There are a number of Hindu,Sikh, Christianity even Jew followers in Pakistan, do they have any public life?
    We have seen many processions in favor of Destroying America, Crush India and Bomb Israel etc etc.
    Is there any procession in favor of Peace, Love and good relations within and with other communities living in Pakistan? I would love to know.
    3.There is no example in the world where any country have made laws against Muslims to restrict their entry. Even Vatican city allows Muslims.

    Muslims in Pakistan must have to rethink their public obsession with religiosity. Recommend

  • Nov 1, 2010 - 4:20PM

    Bold and candid. Religion has become an obsession for the masses. And a tool to capitalize on, for the authority. Works pretty well.Recommend

  • M Chaudhry
    Nov 1, 2010 - 4:21PM

    We must separate state and religion.Recommend

  • Nadeem
    Nov 1, 2010 - 5:35PM

    M Mustafa

    Will you ask the same question to ahemdis also? will you ask them what their 2nd calipeh write in his book?Recommend

  • SUB
    Nov 1, 2010 - 6:24PM

    @Jafakush: I agree to the 1st paragraph of what you have saidRecommend

  • SUB
    Nov 1, 2010 - 6:40PM

    Another “Blame it to Mullah” article. ET! Are you up to some thing? Or it is because you are the only English newspaper I’m following these days? “Mullahs” are a product of the same society in which we are living so why blame it on them.

    Only Ahmadis call themselves Muslims otherwise the whole of the Muslim society through out the world has unanimously agreed that they are not Muslim. It is one of the very few things that the “Ulema”/ scholars “Mullahs” commoners etc world wide have unanimously agreed upon

    I strongly condemn any body who thinks of Ahmadis as lesser humans and Pakistanis. They should have equal rights as any other Pakistani national in the country and abroadRecommend

  • Mirza Abeer
    Nov 1, 2010 - 10:20PM

    Being an Ahmadi in Pakistan, he legally cannot display his religious beliefs in public.

    Yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh, I lost all interest when you said that. Ahmadis are not Muslims so I dont see what the hullabaloo is all about. I’m not saying they should be stripped of their rights as that is just plain stupid and wrong but saying they are also Muslim is just the same. Thats like a Christian saying he is a Jew.Recommend

  • KAT
    Nov 2, 2010 - 4:30AM

    After the birth of Pakistan sharia was invoked to play an overarching role to help govern the new nation. This is in contrast to India where there was separation of church and state due to the consensus belief that no theocratic feature of the majority Hindu religion should play a similar role. Look how they have succeeded compared to our 50 years of religious strife.Recommend

  • Nov 2, 2010 - 7:19AM

    The question one should really ask is the power hungry political mullah – a muslim? Recommend

  • Sweety
    Nov 2, 2010 - 9:58AM

    But I remain worried that we have been poisoned to our bones. The masses have fully bought into this Muslim vs. Kafir equation. Short of a major revolution, nothing is going to change.Recommend

  • Maz
    Nov 2, 2010 - 10:28AM

    I have a question does humanity comes first or religion???About Ahmedis why are u all obsessed with them calling them muslims or non muslims?why do you judge people when we have Our Almighty God to judge.Let me clarify this if you are a bad human you cannot become a good muslim,Ahmedi,christian,sikh,hindu and the list goes on…….. First thing to be addressed is education and awareness and be careful of false mullahs who instigate religious tensions.I would like to question all the people who are against Ahmedis are you greater than the Almighty to judge others?are they lesser pakistani if they believe in something different,i find so many educated people talking and thinking like illiterates.Whats wrong in praying in jamat as team,please are we here to promote and show how religious we are or our aim is to show how good are game is?after public display of religion and you still go and lose matches what does that show of us,no use of praying thats what u want to show to the world,I believe religion is anindividual choice and humanity should be the religion of everybody with tolerence and then individual believe in different faith we have.Please open your mind and see how other countries are progressing and where are we sitting with such petty issues.Even Bangladesh who have moved away from us are proving better and more sound than us when they removed religion from there consitution and you can see the progress in that country.Can you say are they any lesser muslims or following Islam than us.Please look into urself before accusing your own brother.Recommend

  • Babruk
    Nov 2, 2010 - 10:54AM

    there should be an “unlike” button to show strong disagreement with some comments.
    I agree with what the author implies. religion is a private matter and should remain so. we have been injected with huge doses of religion and if anyone sees no connection between the violence all over the country and religion than he/she should look harder.Recommend

  • Farhan
    Nov 2, 2010 - 2:33PM

    For Ahmedis, the bigger problem is degrading them of their definite status of beings humans. Being muslims or non-muslims is the second issue, first start giving them the status of humans and Pakistanis.

    Secondly, whether we accept or not we are fast becoming hypocrites. The process may be started 30 years ago, but today we all try to undercover every thing under the garb of religiousity.

    @ article:

    The article is hitting the right nail, which is why some of us are reacting strongly. Please discuss things, this will not threatened our religion but it actually threatens our existance as ‘muslims’ and ‘Pakistanis’.Recommend

  • SUB
    Nov 2, 2010 - 2:51PM

    Another “Blame it to Mullah” article. ET! Are you up to some thing? Or it is because you are the only English newspaper I’m following these days? “Mullahs” are a product of the same society in which we are living so why blame it on them.

    Only Ahmadis call themselves Muslims otherwise the whole of the Muslim society through out the world has unanimously agreed that they are not Muslim. It is one of the very few things that the “Ulema”/ scholars “Mullahs” commoners etc world wide have unanimously agreed upon

    I strongly condemn any body who thinks of Ahmadis as lesser humans and Pakistanis. They should have equal rights as any other Pakistani national in the country and abroadRecommend

  • Jaffakush
    Nov 2, 2010 - 6:36PM

    There is a difference between hypocrisy and someone who is starting to follow Islam. Since Islam is practiced and someone who is part of this world needs to start from someplace calling them hypocrite is not correct.

    There are seventy things to do in Islam, a person needs to start someplace. Even though you are not doing all of the things what you preach, eventually a time will come when one will start doing what he preaches. Changing habits starts from mind first, then your tongue, then actually doing. Calling them hypocrite is a great injustice to them because only Almighty Allah know what is in persons heart and you shouldn’t judge anyone.

    Everyone who preaches even one verse from Quran, please continue to preach, one day everything will be better InshaAllah.Recommend

  • Shabbir Bukhari
    Nov 2, 2010 - 7:12PM

    Ahmidis are Pakistani period.Recommend

  • Sabuhi
    Nov 2, 2010 - 9:03PM

    @Nadeem, I just read your comment about Ahmadies, I am just curious, What exactly their
    Caliph wrote??? Can you please clarify?

    Regarding making the issue of Ahmadie is not fair, cause in Pakistan it is same with Shia, Sunnies, Christian, Hindus and etc.etc.

    Its time to let go of this issue and work on building Pakistan as a PAKISTANI. Recommend

  • Eram Zehra
    Nov 2, 2010 - 10:27PM

    I totally agree with the article. I consider myself to be very close to religion but I totally agree that religion has to be a very private affair. I also think that state and religion should be completely separate, because only a truly secular country can be fair to all its citizens and try to go towards social welfare. Every religion is equally good, but it creates divisions, and makes people fundamentalists. I would say that most people in Pakistan are unfortunately fundamentalists and think that their way is the only right way, which is not true and they need to open their eyes.

    EramRecommend

  • Moise
    Nov 3, 2010 - 6:16AM

    Sorry to dispel myths about Islam being a private religion. Islam has two important domains, the family nucleus and the society. Woman’s major responsibility is family, man major responsibility is society. Nowhere it is written Islam is a private matter. Deeds are judged by Allah as humans cannot see the unseen and we should not judge. When it comes to our lives Allah’s law must be followed.

    You might have heard the term Islam is a complete way of life. That includes private, personal and public life of ours.Recommend

  • Qasim
    Nov 3, 2010 - 11:27AM

    I’d say that we as a nation are not poor but for what fact that makes us poor is our intellectual level and our mind set is to be said to a lowest to lower stoop where we are emerging us to our religion to at Mosque . Recommend

  • JJ
    Nov 3, 2010 - 12:38PM

    I must say that relation between Islam&qadianiat is totally a technical topic & one should not open mouth on this topic until he knows the technicalities of Islam&qadianiat..top schlors of all sects of Islam, from 144muslim countries including imam e kaaba declared them kafir after decades of discussions(since1889) in makkah in 1974, so atleast one should not consider him or her self the authority to declare them Muslim or non muslim on basis of limited technical knowledge&observations!! If u say that no one of them has correct knowledge of Islam then u should not consider ur self an authority to declare them muslim too.
    .
    Dr. Faheem Younus is Sadr Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya (President of the Ahmdiyya Muslim Youth Association ) USA….. He belongs to a jammat that is in minority&is fighting the war of survival worldwide.. So how can u believe that he can show a neutral pic to u ppl in this situation&conditions!
    (Courtesy a friend)Recommend

  • Nov 4, 2010 - 12:12PM

    It is really sad that we discremate qadianies. I have a Qadiani friend whose son grew up in the Air Force envirnment in Pakistan. He went to States for higher studies and did his PHD in computer studies. At the age 31, he is now working in Oracle Co. I met him in States and went to his working place. There was larg globe on which different coloured pins were place.Our countries map had only one pin. I asked him about the pinsHe told me these were showing people working from different countries. “I am the only one from Pakistan and working in research department as a PHD”. “I am proud of my Country.”Recommend

  • Munnaza
    Nov 4, 2010 - 12:34PM

    @JJ
    In spiritual matters ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’ are not counted and sheer force and numbers does not necessarily show the right path.
    Faheem Younus, the author may be the president of the Ahmadi youth association USA, but how does this alters his ability to show the situation in Pakistan. I am sure his position is not a gainful employment and he does hold the office voluntarily. Based on your criteria, no Pakistani author analyst can show a neutral picture of the situation in Pakistan. Recommend

  • muneeb
    Nov 5, 2010 - 8:09AM

    @Mirza Abeer
    Which world do you live in? Where have you seen or heard a Christian call himself/herself a Jew or vice versa. Religion is something a person follows to live his/her life and prepare for the hereafter. Why in the name of sanity would anyone want to be called something that he/she isn’t?Recommend

  • Nov 6, 2010 - 8:17PM

    the obsession with Islam is not sacred neither holy; it as a mere confection of political manipulations and a justification for our society’s ill-doings. if Islam was such a part and parcel of our society, how do you explain 80% homes having domestic violence and 4 out of every 7 children in our country being victims of child abuse?
    our religious beliefs are the last remaining shards of an identity that was never ours to begin with. people in sub-continent were never religous and they never will be. its time to throw theocracy out of the window!Recommend

  • fahmeed
    Nov 7, 2010 - 8:50PM

    moiz i wonder if u got your stats rite , 4 out of every 7 children loll seriously ?? because a 14 year old boy having an intimate relation with his girlfriend aint a sexual abuse in my dictionary ( about which i don’t know why i am having this feeling that you and other liberal people commenting here would have the opinion that its not our problem , as its their personal matter and a person has the rite to do what ever he wants) i can bet that the percentage increase in child abuse is far far less as compared to the increase in these GF BF intimate relationships . i tried googling the fact but could not solve the 4 out of 7 mystery, unless u did a survey of your own..
    and the identity of which you are talking about, is it the one where akbar badhshah has hundreds of concubines and tries to create a religion of his own ??? you think by belonging to an area where people such as akbar ruled , defines OUR identity ?? then what about islam , and what about the identity which it tries to bless us all with ??

    i don’t believe you people , ahmadi’s are not muslims , they don’t qualify for any definition which you can find for the word muslim. just recite the very first kalimah if you have any doubts about it. Recommend

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