Pakistani Idiot of the Year 2015: Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani

Source: dawn.com

Source: dawn.com

While this year offered its fair share of forgettable hilarity and brutal sadness here and there, no one could equal the sheer stupidity and evil of Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, the head of the utterly useless, if not malicious, Council for Islamic Ideology of Pakistan.

I wish more people would agree that this organization can only do more harm than good. I know he has already pissed off women’s rights activists. Those in doubt should check their list of major legislative achievements, which should send chills down anyone’s spine, unless you favor locking women away in cages.

However, Maulana Sherani’s shenanigans have been in the news for a long time. So what’s new? The great Maulana with his infinite wisdom of interpreting the Koran and the Sunnah stooped to new depths of misogynistic filth with his suggestions on how women should and should not dress.

During the 200th meeting of the Islamic Council, he graced the world with his generosity by suggesting that it is “not mandatory for women to cover hands and feet,” even though he would consider it preferrable to wear gloves and socks.  Well, thank you, Maulana because women walking around like bandaged Egyptian mummies is the only way to prevenet rape and mischief. Adding these lines actually make you feel physically sick and are the biggest reason for his selection this year.

Later, in an attempt to completly cement gender gap in the Islamic Republic, he recommends completely abolishing co-education and separating educational schools for boys and girls from a very early age. The Council has also declared surrogacy unlawful and unIslamic, so the babies born this way can really go to hell.

Last year, under his leadership, the Council for Islamic Ideology has already declared the laws prohibiting child marriage to be contrary to the Islamic values. In other words, the body is recommending to abolish the laws protecting young children from possible abuse in the name of lawful marriage. They have also ruled out DNA as the primary evidence for rape, and consider an anti-adultery law to be sufficient to protect women from violence and harrassment.

To many, this becomes a matter of what the right interpretation of Islam should be. Apparently these people on the Council make a living doing that. So not sure if any of us can really claim to know more. However, any taxpayer who is not concerned at these clerics getting away with murder should think twice. This institution should be abolished for fiscal, if not humanitarian and democratic, reasons.

This very day as I am writing these words, news just broke that His Worship has involved himself in a scuffle, rather unwisely, with the not-exactly-frail Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, probably the most liberal of Sunni clerics on the council. They were locking horns over the contentious status of the Ahmedis, or as they put it Qadianis, on whether or not to declare them infidels. Not sure how many times do we need to do that though, which was probably the point that Ashrafi was making. But I guess another thing about the Council is that it makes sadism socially acceptable.

A video from within the meeting has been leaked as well. Nevertheless, the smarter Ashrafi resorted to using brain instead of brawn with a timely press conference, not in the opinion of one eye-witness though, for making the point why we should get rid of Sherani as the CII Chairman.

An office that in my opinion should not exist in the first place.

Read about the Pakistani idiot of the last year here.

Discrimination Against Ahmedis: Institutionalizing Hate in the Name of Love

Source: dunyanews.tv

Source: dunyanews.tv

The recent hateful protests by business owners demanding Ahmedi citizens to wear identification publicly have been a real eye-opener to anyone oblivious to intolerance in the Pakistani society. The protest was directed against Punjab police for removing hateful and derogatory signs from a shop warning Ahmedis to refrain from entering.

It is inconceivable to deduct that these people are calling for such measures out of sheer hate for humanity. It is clear that their hateful rhetoric is fueled by religious fervor. For the majority of Muslim citizens, these traders are only playing their due to defend the finality of the Prophethood and are doing so in the name of the love for the Prophet. The only problem is that such love has created a serious civil rights crisis.

For those who are not aware, the government of Pakistan already requires its Muslim citizens to sign a declaration of not being an Ahmedi for the National ID card registration. Furthermore, the Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan is also dedicated to declaring the religious sect or group non-Muslim.

The demand for Ahmedis to wear identification, which has been widely compared to the yellow Juden badge in the Nazi Germany by critics, would take the institutionalization of discrimination against them to the next level. Calls for such apartheid measures should be a great concern for anyone who is worried about the state of freedom and civil liberties in Pakistan. This should also be a great concern to people who claim that an Islamic society offers perfect protection to religious minorities.

Religious freedom can be a funny civil liberty. While there is apparently no hint of doubt that all religions preach peace and love, this unexpected exceptional case warrants enough liberties to one side to infringe on those of others. As a matter of fact, this almost always occurs in overwhelming religious majorities, but hardly truer in any case in modern times than that of the persecution of Ahmedis in Pakistan and apparently there is no social contract to keep such religious freedom in check.

What are you going to do when such a force of public sentiment influences provisions in the law and the Constitution? Some would even argue that improving the law would hardly prove to be of any effect, but there is no doubt that eliminating profiling would make a world of a difference, if not the Second Amendment.

Probably the answer to the question of reforming Islam lies in the belligerence against Ahmedis as well. There is a reason why Sunni Islam has survived over 14 centuries. The school so fiercely and often violently represses any deviation to its orthodoxy. The Sunni clerics ensure to establish a hostile environment for suppressing novel religious ideas, and possibly, with the rise of Khomeini in Iran, the Shiite branch has been establishing its own state orthodoxy as well.

In the case of Pakistan, eliminating the persecution of Ahmedis would probably prove to be even more difficult than reforming the blasphemy law. At least not as long as a fairer social contract is in place. Possibly in a reaction to the Ahmedi movement, local clerics have aggressively established the theological narrative to counter its supposed claims over the last century. While such firmly rooted beliefs insisting on the legal definition of Islam would sound fine as a theological position, the subsequent activism for their excommunication has led to the formulation of such dangerous laws.

Some would argue that the bureaucratic and political elite had surrendered to the theological pressure for discrimination the day they agreed to establish an Islamic Republic. However, it is imperative to remind the people of the problem by pointing out that such theocratic provisions are a serious violation of civil liberties and religious freedom.

Furthermore, the institutional and systematic persecution of Ahmedis is the greatest evidence that minority religious groups are not safe in a Muslim majority society. It also shows that theocracies cannot be trusted to ensure religious freedom to communities not following the state religion. The Pakistani lawmakers have very deliberately formulated the sort of laws that would physically threaten a certain group of Pakistanis and the clerics deem them perfectly according to the Koran and the Sunnah.

The theocratic Apartheid state is only a logical conclusion to such a foundation.

The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.

Humiliating for a Living

Source: Dawn

Source: Dawn

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that human beings, as a species (for the sake of emphasis), take great pleasure in humiliating their fellow beings. Evidence so overwhelming that it hardly needs a demonstation for a proof, as it almost defines our lifestyle.

There is no greater dimension of social life to demonstrate this fact than politics. While there is no culture in the world, from the United States to India, where people would not have bitter resentment for their political rivals to the point of seeing them grovel, but in Pakistan, we have invented new fabulous ways for it which were never heard of before.

The newest innovation in this regard has been the qualification check or “scrutiny” from the election commission’s returning officers receiving the nomination papers based on the Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

While in another country, they would be asking the candidates about their understanding of the law and the constitution, the Pakistani returning officer is interested in everything about the married life of the candidate to his or her knowledge of the religous rituals, funeral rites and of Islam. I wounder if they have asked them about their circumcised penises as well.

Basically, the idea is that these officials are verifying if the morality of the candidates is in line with the religious, traditional and conservative values of the culture. As a matter of fact, the eloquent PML-N MP Ayaz Amir was recently declared disqualified, only later to be declared qualified, on the basis of his column questioning the ideology of Pakistan. So much for freedom of speech.

Source: Dawn

Source: Dawn

But one thing is for sure. These returning officers seem to be biased in favor of religious parties because if these questions are asked to their candidates, they would, or are supposed to have answers memorized like the back of their hands.

But obviously, this piece of news was a great source of entertainment for the Pakistani media, because incidentally a lot of candidates failed to dodge the loaded questions of the returning officers. Questions which ranged from the demand of recital of the funeral prayer to enquiring about the reason for marrying a second time.

Here I am not implying that any such idiocy be banned, which many often conclude when you voice such criticism. But nevertheless, it is an embarrassing state of affairs. Even the Lahore High Court, known for its youtube moralism, was embarrassed and condemned it.

Musarrat Shaheen - Source: journalismpakistan.com

Mussarat Shaheen – Source: journalismpakistan.com

But come on, it did put up a great show. Entertained the nation for a week or two.

For example, the sheer delight of Mussarat Shaheen, a Dera Ismail Khan dancer-actress turned politician candidate who I publicly and shamelessly support by the way (the more women in the parliament, the better for their own good. Besides she kicks Maulana’s ass), reciting Ayat-ul-Kursi or Verse of the Chair or Throne (2:255) from the second chapter of the Koran. (A Koranic mantra usually chanted to ward off evil spirits)

And the ecstasy of watching an older-than-middle-age woman shedding tears on the TV screen for being unable to recall some nonsense from Islamic or Pakistan Studies teachings.

Not long ago, the media came up with a clip which showed Senator Rehman Malik being unable to fluently recite in Arabic, which is by no maens his first language, the Sura-e-Ikhlaas  or the 114th chapter of the Koran, which is certainly a matter to be laughed at.

As if being able to recite the Koranic verses is imperative to qualify you not only for public office, but for public respect. And vice versa.

Source: CNBC Pakistan

Source: CNBC Pakistan

But apparently it is. And despite Rehman Malik’s apologies to the nation for the failure of the parliament to remove Articles 62 and 63 from the constitution, it was his party and none else who laid the foundation for that fanatic madness.

Though I consider his statement about Sadiqs and Ameens pretty heroic and very wise in the end. He said that only people named Sadiq and Ameen are the ones who are Sadiq and Ameen in Pakistan, clarifying the actual status of these Arab adjective-names taken for holy characteristics of the ideal Muslim. A lot of people mock him for his stupidity, but they would not have half the courage to utter this undeniable fact.

Source: International Islamic University Islamabad

Source: International Islamic University Islamabad

This rather reminds me of my days in the International Islamic University Islamabad, where you could not earn the degree without reciting one of the verses from the last 40 chapters of the Koran, whichever asked.

I, despite putting up with this ridiculous regulation, was openly against it. However, my classmates, without any exceptions whatsoever, all of them devout and pious Sunni and Shia Muslims, saw nothing wrong with it. They were pretty cheerful about it actually, making me doubt my motives as I was pretty bad at it.

Of course, what could possibly be more charming than being able to recite the good Word of God at a minute’s notice. Sadly, many a fanatic Muslims destroy and abuse the childhood years of their offspring who guarantee paradise for their seven ancestors through this glorious virtue.

What more could you possibly ask for?

But coming back to the most necessary provision of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and why criticizing which does not amount to treason, I fail to comprehend.

However, these provisions simply send out a message to the Christians, Hinuds, Sikhs, Parsis and other religious minorities of Pakistan that they do not have any business living and flourishing in this country.

Oh wait, I got it wrong. They have their rights as provided by the constitution.

It actually suggests that any one who is non-religious and supports secularism has no business living in this country, let alone take part in the public affairs.

As for the humiliation part, why complain?

That is probably all that our species derives its entertainment from.

Why not make a living out of it?

The Religion of Brutal Murderers

Source: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters/CFR

Well, let’s not restrain and offer respites when something so atrocious occurs in the name of faith and religious fervor that it defies all standards of cruelty, barbarism and inhumanity. Islam has proudly maintained a very consistent record in this regard, at least in the recent years, along with other great faiths of the world, particularly at the heart of its very own Islamic Republic of Pakistan. A state where the most fervent and the truest of Muslims in the whole wide world live.

Fervent Muslims are pretty interesting as far as their keenness in inquiring about others’ faith is concerned. Especially when it concerns their own faith and are yet said to believe in the scripture with the “to each his own” kind of verse, as far as faith is concerned. However, they still seem very much concerned about what people around them seem to believe or not believe in, particularly when it has anything remotely to do with their faith. Poor Ahmedis. They should have chosen connection with some other faith.

An essential part of the Islamic faith, with some schools more enthusiastic about it than others, is to scan their environment for blasphemies and to eliminate the guilty party or at least start babbling about it. While the very act can argued to be potentially intellectual and beneficial from an evolutionary viewpoint, it nevertheless contradicts the high claims of the adherents of this faith of its transcendental code of ethics and humanity, and probably of those who have falsely popularized the misnomer of “Religion of Peace”.

Speaking of that, it is important to clarify here that calling Islam the “Religion of Peace” on the basis of the fact that the Arabic word “Islam” means “Peace” is wrong. It is so because in the context of the religion, the word “Islam” means “Submission”, which could also extend into the functional meaning of oppression. But that’s detail. So why are we talking about the “Religion of Peace” again?

It seems that the Muslims in Pakistan, which apparently are the truest in the world, have no better pastime, apart from oppressing women in the most creative ways, than scanning their immediate and not-so-immediate environment for blasphemies. Another such event occurred in the Chanighot part of the great city of the Princely State of Bahawalpur. A wild, angry and extremely pious mob set a man on fire on a public square on the charges that the person had desecrated the Holy Koran.

Well, there is no point recreating the scene, as you can read the story at this link yourself. Apparently, the pious were not happy, that the man, a malang, a Sufi ascetic holy man who is usually not in control of his senses due to his perpetually intoxicated state of mind, was arrested by the police on the charge of blasphemy. The clerics of the area made inflammatory speeches that enough justice was not done, which inspired the locals to set the police station on fire, as well as the culprit, who was burned alive in a public square, as the police stood there, witnessing the historic and spectacular punishment.

Undoubtedly the punishment for the apparently mentally challenged person, who most probably even would not be aware of what the Koran actually was anymore, could not be more appropriate and fitting. After all, how can anyone dare not respect the truest of all the scriptures. Especially when it is believed by the truest of all the Muslims. The punishment of such a blasphemer should be worse than death. They should be tortured to death, burned at stake.

While you could argue that the miscreants in this case do not represent the vast majority of Muslims, it is better that you save yourself the trouble. I won’t stereotype here but I have pretty systematically and personally found even the most educated of Muslims acting in the same spirit and principle as the violent and blood-thristy mob in Bahawalpur more or less did, whenever it comes to blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad or the desecration of the Koran. Even though there is no body to account for the way Muslims sometimes treat the Koran themselves, but let’s not enter the realm of raising doubts about the doubtless faithfuls.

The greatest evidence of that came right after the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer in the January of 2011, when right winger extremists, particularly Barelvi Sunnis, who claim to be a peaceful sect, and even lawyers, the defenders of the bigoted constitution of Pakistan, were dancing in jubilation and showering praises and rose petals on the criminal murder Malik Mumtaz Qadri, which they proudly deem the “Ghazi” or the “surviving hero”. This is evidence enough of what this religion has become in Pakistan, if it ever was not like this once.

However, apologists would say that the act of this tiny mob in Bahawalpur or that of a fanatically fervent security guard should not be blamed on the entire Muslim community and the great faith of Islam. While that is true that the entire community must not be blamed for these “remote” acts, but there is no doubt about the fact that the community is not fulfilling its duties to discourage such events, which actually occur on regular basis. Thankfully, we always conveniently forget cases like Aasia Bibi. What is worse, such brutalities and discriminating murder have been institutionalized by the Pakistani state in the blasphemy law.

This is where these actions exit the domain of mobs and individuals and enter the supervision of the mosque, the state, the law and the clerics and the religion of Islam itself. This is where all the possible defense of the faith of Islam is destroyed in my books. Certainly such a faith deserves no respect or immunity from criticism at all. Also saying that there is nothing in the Koran that even alludes to the punishment for blasphemy is a meaningless argument because the Hadith-abiding Sunnis of Pakistan, who believe in murdering for blasphemy as an article of faith, don’t give any weight to it.

However, if there is any trace of humanity left in this gang of brutal and heartless murderers, then they should at least condemn the most painful torture and the most horrific murder of a man who was not even in his senses or for a crime that he probably didn’t even commit, or even if he did, did not commit it consciously. I think the elated founders of the religion or of the belief that death should be the penalty for blasphemy themselves might have exercised caution in this case, if I may wishfully assume that.

A lot of people in the West criticizing Islam are accused of “Islamophobia”, and while the prejudice against Muslims do exist, there is no doubt that there is a lot of reasonable criticism on Islam which Muslims conveniently dodge in the name of religious freedom. Unfortunately, there are quite a few parts of their faith which leave the realm of religious freedom and fall under the definition of crime and human rights violation. That is where religious freedom ends, sadly for them.

Therefore, it is the duty of progressive, educated and pragmatic Muslims to take a stand and start criticizing Islam in order to make the necessary and required improvements that it needs. It is so because any non-Muslim will be conveniently labelled an Islamophobe, just like anyone criticizing Israeli atrocities is conveniently labelled an Antisemitic. Therefore, people who really want the world to respect Islam and count it as a peaceful and non-violent religion, must have to take the initiative to bringing about the necessary changes.

I am usually not too eager to quote secular Pakistani journalist Nadeem F. Paracha but he wrote a really pinching piece on this event and the growing extremism of terrorist proportions in Pakistan. It’s a real reality check. Something that every Pakistani child should try reading to free themselves of the inhumane faith that they are conditioned to believe in.

Or the critics of Islam would keep on saying from time to time, again and again, as I read somewhere in an online discussion.

The Religion of Peace Strikes Again.