June 23, 2010

Our Existential Concept

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine today. I asked him whether he agreed with the statement of a Mr. Riaz Peerzada of the PML – Q who has come to the fore for proclaiming that suicides aren’t a big deal and most certainly not worth wasting the rulers’ conscience over because the time of birth and death is pre-determined by Allah. I also asked my friend whether he agreed to the fact that the rulers are indeed guilty of murder when people commit suicide. His answers and his logic have forced me to think along parallel lines including our concept of existentialism.

According to him, the time of birth and death is indeed pre-determined by Allah, but he also says that the rulers are indeed responsible for the woes of the depressed and the hungry and the poor. When I pressed him even further, he claimed that the only out of this impasse for us is to embrace the “true Islam”, and also hope that the other 50+ Islamic countries follow suit and implement the true Islam in letter and spirit. This led me to ask him my trademark question: which Islam is right and who is going to decide it? As an example, I was about to tell about him what I’d recently seen on Youtube regarding Shiites, that he decided that he’d heard enough, and I was trying to manipulate him into some kind of false debate. And that is precisely when I wondered, if this man clamoring for implementation of Islam everywhere cannot listen to me for two minutes let alone answer me, how are we going to reconcile the 1.4 billion Muslims in the world?

The existential component of us Pakistanis derives from two aspects: 1) Islam, and 2) more Islam. When Sana Saleem said that she was against the ban on Facebook, she was labeled as a Semitic loving, ISI-RAW-Mossad-CIA funded Jew agent working against the interests of Islam and Pakistan. We derived our conclusions before we’d even given that poor woman a chance to explain herself. So in just one day, the human rights activist beloved to all went from being a kind human being to a crazy lunatic. This is the kind of collective mentality prevalent all over Pakistan despite the fact that reality and logic desperately try to make their presence felt. Today’s youth is as directionless as ever; entertainment outlets daren’t be built because they’re un-islamic. The government rubs shoulders with convicted murderers and terrorists. The Chief Minister of Punjab appeals to them to leave him and his province alone. Possibly Mr. Sharif forgot that his “Province” is as much a part of Pakistan as are the other provinces. But coming back to the debate, we Pakistanis identify ourselves as being Muslims and that’s it. This has led to the creation of an identity crisis amongst us that has reached dire proportions. Couple that to the fact that we have stereotyped Islam is every possible way that one can think of.

Islam is used to justify war, terror and murder. It is used to justify the rulers’ inability to deal with the masses’ problems, it is used to justify kidnap, ransom, smuggling and what not. It seems as if Islam isn’t even a religion anymore; it is simply a tool to be utilized under dire straits. To put it bluntly, Islam has been made expendable.

Most of you might not agree with me, but then again we all agree to disagree. We are indeed at a bleak juncture; our crossroads do not even meet now. We have created extremists out of innocent people; we have forced neutral people to take sides. We have distorted Islam and we have made it a mission to seclude as many sane people as we can because we have deemed their actions to be un-islamic. Sana Saleem is one such example. Let us all pray and hope that once again, happy days will return to the Motherland and common sense will readily prevail. Engaging each other in debate is a must if we are to thrash out any kind of rational solution from out of this sense-numbing madness.