THINKING ALOUD: ‘An archaic incongruity’? — Razi Azmi
Posted by ssbg on June 16, 2006
|Thursday, June 15, 2006|
From: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk The Daily Times of Pakistan
Whenever a terrorist outrage occurs in any Muslim country and the victims are ordinary Muslims, we are told that Muslims must never kill Muslims. Even fatwas are issued to that effect. The unspoken and unwritten subtext seems to suggest that it is acceptable for Muslims to kill non-Muslims, provided there is a pretext
In their nearly 400-page Report of the Court of Inquiry into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953, popularly known as the Munir Report, two eminently learned Pakistani judges, Chief Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice MR Kayani had concluded, after 117 sittings, perusing 3,600 pages of written statements and sifting through 2,700 pages of evidence over eight months:
“Nothing but a bold reorientation of Islam to separate the vital from the lifeless can preserve it as a world idea and convert the Musalman into a citizen of the present and the future world from the archaic incongruity that he is today.”
Has anything changed since this bold statement was made by the justices over half a century ago?
Seventeen Canadian Muslims, five of whom are teenagers, were arrested earlier this month in Toronto for conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in the very country which not only hosted and nurtured them but is also considered a model of multiculturalism and tolerance. Indeed, the province of Ontario recently came close to allowing Muslims to be governed by their own Sharia courts instead of secular civil courts.
At least six of those arrested regularly attended the same mosque in a middle-class Toronto suburb. The oldest, Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, is said to be an active member of the mosque who frequently led prayers and made fiery speeches.
In England, another bastion of multiculturism with a massive and thriving Muslim presence, less than a year after 9/11 Al Qaeda sympathisers were openly selling a video at Birmingham’s Central Mosque after the busy Friday prayers showing the chilling “last will and testament” of one of the September 11 hijackers. Duly impressed, a couple of years later four British Muslims carried out suicide-attacks on London transport killing 52 fellow-Britons and injuring hundreds.
When Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed in Iraq a week ago, Pakistani parliamentarians belonging to Islamist parties demanded that the National Assembly hold a condolence meeting. The country’s Urdu newspapers are referring to Zarqawi as a martyr for Islam (shaheed). There have been demonstrations in the Palestinian territories hailing him as a hero.
Arabic Islamist chat rooms claim that Zarqawi is in heaven. One wrote: “Oh God, make heaven celebrate his arrival there.” “Oh Allah, reunite us with Abu Musab al Zarqawi in the great paradise alongside Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him],” wrote another. “Farewell, oh hero,” said an unsigned poem. “We hope to meet you in … a paradise filled with rivers and sweetness /And beautiful virgins that beckon to us in a unique voice.”
The subject of these fulsome tributes was a man whose barbarity knew no bounds. Zarqawi’s achievements included the “horribly grotesque” beheading of the Jewish-American businessman Nick Berg, in May 2004, publicised in his promotional video titled Sheikh Abu Musab Zarqawi Slaughters an American Infidel.
In another video released by Zarqawi, to quote Paul McGeogh, an award-winning Australian journalist critical of the American occupation of Iraq, “the world was forced to hold its breath as two Americans and a British hostage pleaded for their lives, before Zarqawi himself, according to CIA analysis of the web footage, callously cut the throats of the struggling Americans. Then he roughly decapitated them, holding the heads up for the cameras — and, with a nonchalant twist of the knife, gouged out one of the victim’s eyes.”
A week later, another video showed the British, 62-year-old Kenneth Bigley, “shackled and kneeling in a cage” pleading for his life, but in vain.
The very people who openly or secretly admire Zarqawi will, at the appropriate forums, cite the Quranic verse to the effect that the killing of even one innocent person is tantamount to the killing of all mankind and to emphasise that Islam literally means peace. Those who will not allow any differences of opinion or interpretation even within the Muslim community convene and attend what are called inter-faith dialogues with followers of other faiths, some of whom they regard as errant or misguided and others as evil and sinful.
Muslim clerics freely refer to Muslims leaders who incur their displeasure as taghout (infidels) or Kafir and to followers of all sects other than their own as heretical (bid’ah). Sh’ias are now fair game in Pakistan and the target of a merciless terror campaign in Iraq. In a letter, Zarqawi, the chief of Al Qaeda in Iraq, referred to the Shi’as with his characteristic bluntness: “They are the insurmountable obstacle, the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion and the penetrating venom … they are the enemy … the bone in [our] throats.”
Such is the Salafist doctrine which is gaining popularity among Muslims. Besides rejecting any genuine attempt at understanding, accommodation, coexistence and ijtehad, Salafism bars all joyous pursuits and entertainment (including most games, films and music.
In the heartland of Islam, namely, Saudi Arabia, women can neither vote nor drive, and alleged criminals routinely have their hands, feet and heads chopped off in public squares; in Iran, the Ayatollahs will not allow women to watch men playing soccer; and in Taliban-dominated lands (which includes Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan), alleged criminals have been stoned to death. Here, even fully veiled women cannot leave their homes without being chaperoned by a mehram (close male relative).
In Algeria in the 1990s, Salafists carried out a campaign of slitting the throats of anyone they could catch who was accused of supporting the government, including women and children.
Whenever a terrorist outrage occurs in any Muslim country and the victims are ordinary Muslims, we are told that Muslims must never kill Muslims. Even fatwas are issued to that effect. The unspoken and unwritten subtext seems to suggest that it is acceptable for Muslims to kill non-Muslims, provided there is a pretext.
Many Muslims will go to any lengths to migrate to the West, but, to the Salafists, the West is the evil enemy. The American-educated leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Syed Qutb, stated that “truth and falsehood cannot coexist on earth … the liberating struggle of jihad does not cease until all religion belongs to God”.
If that is militant, extremist Islam, determined to conquer or destroy all who follow another creed or beg to differ, other varieties are a hodgepodge of obscurantism, ignorance, mythology and mob mentality.
A quiz programme on a mainstream TV network recently asked the contestants to identify the saint (one out of three mentioned) who for 40 years after his death would shake hands with anybody who visited his grave and greeted him. Whatever that means!
Pakistani Muslims are unable to celebrate Eid ul Fitr on the same day because of differences on the issue of sighting the moon strictly in accordance with tradition.
Hundreds of people, including Muslims, have been jailed, in some cases killed, for alleged blasphemy in the last two decades. In one such case about a year ago, the accused included five children, aged between nine and 13. In 2002, one Zahid of Chak Jhumra, a mentally ill person, was stoned to death for blasphemy by a mob instigated by a maulvi after being set free by a court.
Rapists have escaped prosecution for lack of “eye-witnesses” as required by traditional Muslim law. But many victims, including a blind woman who became pregnant as a consequence of being raped, have been convicted of adultery or fornication.
I wonder what the venerable Justices Munir and Kayani would have said about the present state of the ummah. An incongruity wrapped in absurdity?
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org