[We are pleased to present here two pieces by way of reflection on the state of the Muslims in India and Pakistan. These two pieces together constitute an acute and critical reflection on the general crisis of the community: in one instance, as a consequence of the emergence of a clergy in a religion that prided itself on its ‘unmediated’ relation between the believer and the Creator; in the other instance as a result of the social and political discrimination directed at it by ‘secular’ governments in India. Ekram Khawar’s is a voice of internal critique – as ruthless about its own leaders as it is of the supposed secular dispensation of Independent India.]
By Ekram Khawar
There is an eerie silence after Pakistan army’s operation in the Lal Masjid premises; a silence dour and dark, in all immanence. It is got to be since the message, however, delayed is loud and clear, a warning to the zealots not to mess around with the state and not to impose their notion of Islam on others, and with such disdain.
But, in all fairness, it must be said that it was coming to this all along and only the blissfully innocent, if any still left in an otherwise cynical age, would have been surprised by the turn of events. The discerning ones could see it coming all along; in fact, as early as 1949, Chowdhary Mohammad Ali Rudawlwi, not a rabid “secularist” of today’s crusading mould, but a devout Sunni Muslim (married to a Shia woman), a perfectly honourable and practicing, believing Muslim and a “Haji” to boot, while writing to his friend in Pakistan, in 1949, cautioned that the ever increasing influence of the “mullahs” did not bode well for Pakistan. Perhaps, the malaise lay somewhere else; probably in the very ideology and genesis of Pakistan, whether Jinnah intended it or not and irrespective of whether the great visionary poet Iqbal would have approved it or not. In fact there are enough materials on record to suggest that both the poet and the Qaid would have disapproved of the events as they unfolded and determined the broad contours of both the Pakistani establishment and its ruling mindset. I tend to believe that, as far as Pakistan was concerned, the seeds of its “kharabi” were inherently built-in in its creation, to borrow a word from Ghalib. No wonder the votaries christened the new state as “Pakistan” – land of the pure, implicitly in the back drop of an impure world. And almost logically, the mullahs, much to the detriment of the new nation increasingly occupied the centre stage, of course aided and abetted in their efforts at nation building as a necessary justification and as a counter poise to the presence of a predominantly Hindu India masquerading as a secular state. And so a proxy war of jihad, always underlined the onward march of the competitive existence of both the newly liberated states, compounded with a vengeance apparently on an apple of discord called Kashmir.
It must be reiterated, that it would be pertinently wrong, both factually and historically to put the whole blame on the mullahism of the state of Pakistan, for the Indian brand of deeply entrenched anti “mlechha”, communal, fascist mind set also dominated the scene. And it was no accident that, every significant Indian development, whether scientific or military had a decidedly Hindu, revivalist nomenclature, taking us all back to the glorious pristine dates of the “Aryabhat” or “Mahabharata” or some such thing; matched step by step, word for word, context by context, al a ‘Arjun’, ‘Garud’, ‘Prithvi’ by ‘Shaheen’, ‘Ghouri’ etc. ad nauseam!
But the real bane of Pakistan, as of the whole Muslim world, was and still remains the very presence of the disease called the “Mullah”, produced in abundance and with almost factory like precision, in bountiful measures, much to the detriment of the “Ummah” in whose name this cancerous body thrives and perpetuates itself. Muslims have rightly boasted about the non clerical structure of Islam, where centuries after Buddhism, there was no provision of a chosen, officiating clan of clergy to mediate between man and God. But the bitter irony to this day remains, that the Muslim clergy, as of now, is more pernicious in its effect and influence than any thing else. In fact, harsh as it may sound, it would not be inappropriate to say, both contextually as well as historically that the Mullahs and the “Madarssahs” are truly the Chenghezian/Halakuan visitations, macabre and grisly in all their details, in the life of Islam. One can safely aver that, after the initial trials and tribulations of the prophet, the greatest trials imposed on the Muslim world was and still remains the hateful, venomous onslaught of the crusading Roman Church, followed by the destructive onslaught of the Chenghezian army. And almost as much pernicious in influence, if not more, was the consequent emergence of a siege mentality in the Muslim world, a conservative, inward looking, fortifying spirit paving the way for the gradual distortion of Islam that was.
The armies of Halagu Khan finally went back, having burned the libraries, broken the free wheeling outgoing, liberal enquiring spirit of Islam to be followed by a defensive, conservative mind set of the Ottoman empire where the first religious seminaries, i.e. the madarssahs were founded and encouraged by the state. And thus a very strange and primitive, closed mind set increasingly set in. Bernard Lewis, with much gusto, informs us that, the mullahs kept on discussing whether it was Islamic or not to visit the out side world at a time when the first routes of Muslim forces started in Europe. And that deafening discourse continues to this day, in all its myriad and grotesque forms; a discourse centering around the prescribed length of pajamas while offering prayer, Islamic sanctity or otherwise of vaccine drops, about purdah, about family planning, co education, modes of talaq, alimony, about raped daughters-in-law metamorphosing instantly into wives and the like, ad nauseam. The list is obnoxiously long, and not even worthy of being put in print. But that lamentably is the preserve of the Mullah, his unquestioned domain which he zealously guards and dispatches any body who dares to differ to the dark recess of hell.
It is a sad realization but its there for anybody to see. And so complete is the vice like grip of the Mullah on things Islamic that it has almost put Islam on its head and no other religious community to the extent I am aware, has relinquished and surrendered its mind and intellect so completely to the clergy as the Muslims; where anything and everything under the sun, perforce, is being decided not by the Book, nor the word of God, nor by the act of the prophet himself but by the wanton half wit of an uneducated, boorishly primitive bunch of jokers masquerading as wise , pious men of Allah. And what sort of Allah, in the final analysis! Not the one who is a Rahman and a Rahim and in whose encominium and praise, every Surah of Quran begins, not the “Rabbul Aalemeen” but an Allah as “Qahhar” and as “Jabbar”, as the Mullah himself, strict, watchful, stern, dour and unforgiving, retributive and as hard hearted as the mullah himself. Islam, no wonder, remains in the Book and the Muslims in their graves. And what survives in the name of Islam, is what the Mullah would want it to be.