Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two by Feroz Khan

Two by Feroz Khan.  Emphasis added, and some proof-reading

By following this thread and observing how the argumentative lines of logic are developing, it is interesting to witness a gradual emergence of an intellectual mea culpa. It seems, from comments posted and replies made to them, that debate is being characterized as one between resident Pakistanis and non-resident Pakistanis and their view on Islam; with the non-resident Pakistani identified as seeking a more extremist response to the end of a religious role, while the resident Pakistanis suggesting that Islam/religion is not a problem, but its interpretation which is the root of all the evil in Pakistan.

Pakistanis need to understand that the issue of religion has to be confronted and it has to be rationalized. Religion is the elephant in the room, which most resident Pakistanis, as seen from their comments, are afraid to speak out against it in a critical sense. Even, the oblique references to the “enemy” suggests that there is such a dread of the punitive powers of religion and its terror, at the disposal of the state, that most Pakistanis are not even willing to call the “enemy” by its name.

This is the problem in Pakistan and this is the problem, which the resident Pakistanis will have to grapple with and eventually confront. There is a war being waged in Pakistan, for its soul, and in this war, like all wars fought in the name of a god, it will be long, destructive, divisive and intolerant.

Wars, even if they are fought for a religious purpose, are expressions of secular politics and their conduct is often decided by the politics of that war; determinations of power. In this sense, the utilization of a religion, Islam to be more precise, as a political motivation used as casus belli, is a secular aim; the attainment of political power and the exercise of that power within a territory.
Even a theocratic ideal is bound by a secular reality and religion, in the process of fighting this war for its own ends, has to exist within a secular framework. In such a case, the “enemy” or religion and in the case of Pakistan, Islam, can be easily identified. When a religion is used to gain a political end, it loses its aura of infallibility and it opens itself for criticism. As the old Roman saying suggested: render unto gods what is god’s and unto to caesar, what is caesar’s; once religion is used for a more secular, temporal purpose of fighting a war to gain a political end, it ceases to be a religion and instead becomes another political argument, which by definition and intent, is a secular idea. 

Islam, in this struggle, as being defined by those who wish to leverage it for their own political ends, is not a religious thought any more, but is an expression of a more cheapened commodity; political power. If Islam/religion wish to pursue the endeavors of political power in the secular world, then it opens itself for what the Germans referred to as “gegenangriff” – counter-attack. 

In the case of Pakistan, Islam and its ideology is no longer beyond the pale of untouchability and such, can be questioned. Islam and religion, in Pakistan, are just another political idea, party, manifestation and doctrine and if Islam and religion in Pakistan wish to wield political power and enter the political arena; they should, and must, be judged by the standards of the arena they have entered of their own free will without anyone having forced them to do so, and which exists in the present world and not in the Hereafter. 

This, in the case of Pakistan, may have the trimmings of a religious war, but is in all actuality a secular attempt at gaining political power. Like all secular political parties, if Islam and the idea of religion wants to be a political force, then it it must be judged by the standards of accountability that exist for politics in the secular world and not the by the standards of the Hereafter. 

Therefore, resident Pakistanis should not waffle and be confused and be afraid of questioning religion in Pakistan and its role in the Pakistani society.

In response:
@ Feroz Khan 9th Oct 7.16 pm. Wow what a novel and super thought. ‘If Islam is used as a political ideology it can be questioned and debated as say Marxism, Capitalism, Socialism or various mutants of these’. But Sir, you are wanting to pull the rug from under the feet of the so called proponents because they say their philosophy deals with the Hereafter and can not brook any opposition. However it can not remain so. All over the world whoever has wanted unbridled Secular Power by peddling goodies for hereafter has fallen on his feet. His greed and arrogance have been his undoing. Feroz Sahib you may have to wait but your philosophy will definitely find many takers.

Feroz Khan replied:

@ Vijay Goel (October 10, 2010 at 3:21 pm)

Islam needs to be questioned and debated. There is a striking fear in the hearts of Pakistanis, which makes a coward out of all us when it comes to religion. We are too afraid, because we think, that if we question Islam and our religion, we will not gain entry into heaven.

You are the only one, who spotted my comment on the nature of political Islam. I did notice that the Pakistanis are, and were, avoiding that comment and its implications and rather latched on to my examples of Marxism thus, once again as is their national habit; of ignoring the real issues and debating distractions. Pakistanis, despite all their rhetoric and it is rhetoric, are not willing to tackle monster of religion, which is spawning evil in their midst.

I have noted this trepidation on PTH. There is a urge on PTH, and this is true of all Pakistanis, to limit the debate to the interpretations of Islam and not to challenge the religion itself. Unless the main body of Islam is challenged and dealt with by placing it on par with other ideologies in the political spectrum and understanding it within boundaries of secular political ideas, Islam will continue to exploit its position of primacy and supremacy in the lives of the people and escape accountability for its actions.

Let me share a few blogs with you and show you my reservations on the possibility of change happening in Pakistan. T.S. Bokhari, in blog dated October 10, 2010 at 7:04, says that Pakistanis have been dehumanized by obscurantism and need to rehumanize. Then in another blog, dated October 10, 2010 at 8:53 am, says and I quote, “Divine guidance is the need of the hour.”

See the problem!

The only manner in which Pakistanis can rehumanize; that is re-discover their humanism is to place religion in its proper perspective and reject those views, easily identified as “divine” guidance, because it has been the divine guidance and their unquestioning acceptance, which has dehumanized Pakistan and Pakistanis.

How do you intend to solve the problem? If you think the cure to a poison is more poison, then you will die! This is why Pakistan is dying. It thinks that in order to stop the menace of religion, it needs more religion and not less of it.

A long time ago, Robert Graves wrote a book on his experiences in World War I as a British infantry officer titled as “A Goodbye to All That”. In that book, he called England a hopeless place and said that he had no interest in England or its people. Observing Pakistan and the Pakistanis from a distance, I am starting to understand and identify with what Graves wrote and meant.

There is no hope for Pakistan and its people, because they are too afraid to change. Pakistan and its people remind of the Russian writer Gogol. Gogol committed suicide by starving himself to death and the Pakistanis in Pakistan are also committing suicide by choosing to remain wedded to an idea – religion – which is slowly killing them.


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