Is religion the opium of Pakistani masses?

Published: February 6, 2012

The poor tend to support religion more and governments in poor societies tend to use religion to help maintain social control. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Institutionalized religion can have a major social impact on society, for good or for evil. This blog is not concerned with discussing the ‘dogmatic’ aspect of religion; rather it revolves around religion’s impact on society.

Generally, it is the poorer societies that have the greatest proportion of the population following institutionalised religion. For this reason, religion tends to have a greater social impact in poorer societies, where it is supported more strongly by the majority. Either the religion controls the government or the government uses religion as an opiate in a majority-poverty society as influence.

When Karl Marx stated that “religion is the opium of the masses” he was perhaps referring to the abovementioned features existent in the state of Pakistan today – there is a majority following of institutionalised Islam and there is an abject condition of poverty prevalent in the state.

If religion can be equated to a drug, let us first determine why people resort to this opium in the first place. A person may take drugs under peer pressure, to get rid of unwanted physical pain, to be calmer, be happier or simply out of boredom. But the widely associated reasoning for taking drugs is that it is a temporary escape from one’s problems. Is religion then, also a temporary escape from reality whereby men create illusionary contentment about their prevalent condition of misery? In this sense, religion only helps men escape into a world where they have a ‘sense of belonging’. Religion is then perhaps the self-consciousness and self-esteem of a man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again as stated by Marx.

In this perspective, a religion like institutionalised Islam that promises a better Afterlife helps the poor to live with their poverty, exploitation and government oppression. For this reason, the poor tend to support religion more and governments in poor societies tend to use religion to help maintain social control.

The bitter truth is that for many in today’s Pakistan Islam is no more a sense of spiritual connection with the Creator, but rather a politicised phenomenon with a hidden conflict between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. The ‘haves’ in Pakistan are those in places of authority who have the state in their hands as an instrument of oppression to control the ‘have-nots’ and, thereby indulge in practices of corruption. In this process, the rich have become richer, as we have witnessed, and the common people no longer have access to the basic necessities of life as the welfarist phenomenon in Pakistan has become extinct.

Institutionalised Islam is, therefore, the next available option to fill the gap that the failure of the Pakistani state has created. It has become the opium of the masses as it provides an alternative to the deteriorating condition occasioned by mismanagement in governance of the state. Poor societies are more inclined towards institutionalised religion (in the form of madrassas, for example) for the simple reason that they serve as a point at which the outcry of the common people is heard. This way, the poor are able to find some relief from the despondency which may have been created by the state’s failure to provide the basic necessities of life.

It is, therefore, not unusual to find the ‘have-nots’ resort to madrassas that provide welfare, counselling, prayer and service – functions of providing the basic necessities of roti, kapra aur makaan (food, clothing and shelter) originally assigned to the state. Unfortunately, institutionalised religion in Pakistan has been used to promote evil rather than good with some madrassas promoting radical extremist activity under the banner of religion and welfare.

In the context of Pakistan, I feel Islam was and is still today, the opium of our troubled masses. However, it appears that religion has merely served as a temporary medication to the disease of oppression and poverty. Historically, an oppressed minority condition in pre-partition India led the Muslims to drug themselves with the religious-opium.

Until Pakistan remains in a condition of poverty, madrassas will continue to influence the ‘have-nots’ in a negative way.

While the ‘haves’ so far have chose to turn a blind eye to the ‘have-nots’ for temporary gains, it is perhaps time for them to realise that the same institutionalised religion can serve as an ally of the government if revolutionised or reformed strategically with balanced interests and promulgation of modern Islamism.

The darker side of this story is that a majority force so destructive in nature will rise very soon that it will probably endanger the existence of Pakistan. The need of the time is to create economic alternatives for the people of Pakistan and ensure a smooth transfer from a condition of illusionary religious existence to economic reality. If such a shift can be achieved through institutionalised religion, it is perhaps not such a bad idea to make use of it.

Note: This article is not a reflection of the writers’ religious views.

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Sana Hameed Baba

Sana Hameed Baba

A financial industry professional with a business and legal academic background based in London. She runs a network of Pakistani professionals and students for collaborative small social initiatives in Pakistan known as United Pakistan Front (UPF) and tweets @Sana_H_Baba

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Uza Syed

    strong textOpmium?!——Now that would be perhaps much better an option! Here this seems to be some extremely toxic concoction which has induced a sense of agrandizement, a frenzy to conquer the whole world except ourselves. It’s hallucinatory and must immediately be healed by a ‘self-cleansing’ process with our collective resolution. Recommend

  • Omair Lodhi

    It seems that some people who tend to write on Madarassah’s in Pakistan have not actually visited such institutions. Nor have they bothered to spend time understanding what is happening there.
    The writer unfortunately is another person laying her fingers on a topic she has no clue about.
    The problem with the western media influence is such that one does not bother to research the true essence and reports what has already been reported.

    Just for the record. My nephews and nieces have studied at Madarassahs, and are Haafiz-e-Quran. Then they entered into schooling and were far superior in learning than those children who had been in traditional schools. So much so that they had to be upgraded a class or two than their age would allow.

    I dont see how that is a bad thing. Also the children who were sent to such Madaressahs are far more civil than the so called liberals of our society.
    If for the poor class who tends to follow religion for having nothing else, then what wrong is that. For Islam was after all for people to be treated as equals.
    I fail to understand how the liberals, who and I may be counted in one are comfortable with alcohol and naked women around them and then comment on how Islam is being used to corrupt the minds of the masses.

    Lets not taboo the Madarassah and if the writer so chooses I can find a very nice one for her to study in if she so chooses, which I am sure she would not. So while you have a choice you choose not to, then i think it is highly unacceptable for you to comment on what others choose to do.Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Political Islam has been adopted by the State to opiate and suppress the masses. An ideological narrative has been created based on false tales of achievement and superiority. When the masses have been doped with Religious and ideological zeal the end result as seen is intolerance, bigotry and violence. Recommend

  • yasir

    AmazingRecommend

  • http://think-islam.blogspot.com PostMan

    btw, when Karl Marx stated ‘religion is the opium of the masses’, his focus was more on the brutality of the economic system in which religion provides the solace or the illusion of happiness. This statement is usually used incorrectly.Recommend

  • Indian

    Nice article. Applies to all people & religion.
    When you look at the world form the prism of religion, you find out the nations with people following moderate form of religion are developed nations & while the nations with people following extreme form of religion are poor nations.
    So Economic condition of people does matter while they exert faith in god or religion.
    Seems Karl Marx holds ground for his Opium analogy.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    For years, Pakistan has been attempting to Islamize politics and has ended up politicizing Islam instead. To turn a once personal relationship between a man and his God, into a permit for violence, extortion and invasion of other people’s privacy. To overturn good, practical solutions to our socio-economic woes in favour of old, religious edicts that may have worked well a thousand years ago, but aren’t quite incompatible with the 21st century paradigm.

    In desperation, we believe that if we just keep pumping more and more religion into everything, God Himself would somehow fix all our problems. Perhaps the faithful need to admit that God gave us brains for a reason – so that we may start thinking for ourselves.Recommend

  • Fatima

    I fully agree with the writer. Although the connection between religion and the failure of our state has been talked about endlessly for the past few years, I think the writer makes a few valid points about how religion is being used by poor/rich/elite alike to further their personal agendas. Only when we stop maligning our religion by using it as a scapegoat/temporary getaway do we have any chance of prospering.Recommend

  • ashok sai

    Historically, an oppressed minority condition in pre-partition India led the Muslims to drug themselves with the religious-opium.

    But the Muslims in India (after partition) didn’t do so, why ? Because they are Indians socially and Muslims personally. Anyway, good read.Recommend

  • Usman Mustafa

    Calling religion ‘the opium of masses (‘the have-nots’ as per the writer)’ is ridiculous. Doesn’t the rich (the haves) go to their respective places of worhsips (mosque, church, temple etc)? Doesn’t the rich call to their respective Gods in pain & sorrow? Does the rich have got no conscience, moral pricniples & spirituality, which they follow? Religion is one of the basic human needs. The choice of religion & the degree to which it is followed by an individual is another thing.
    The instituionalization of a certain religion in a society is an entirely different debate. This practice has been going on since the inception of the human civilization & is not limited to a certain religion, culture, geography or race.Recommend

  • Janan

    “The poor tend to support … social control”
    Parliamentary representation and social status of “Mullah” does not support this hypothesis and it seems to be a tilted approach towards an in-fashion argument of lefties elite.Recommend

  • Janan

    @Uza Syed:
    Really!!Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Indian and Osman Mustafa

    You are falling into the trap of ‘every religion does this and every society does this’ kind of knee jerk defensive reaction.

    Think about it – if every religion and every society was indeed the same, why would the social outcomes be so different. Please understand, every society is not Pakistan.

    Unfortunately, in Pakistan, even the sense of history and self appear to have been thoroughly opiated: “Historically, an oppressed minority condition in pre-partition India led the Muslims to drug themselves with the religious-opium.”

    Kindly read the history written by your own reputed historians. Can mass detoxification occur if the educated are unwilling to let go of their delusions?Recommend

  • http://www.struggle.com.pk/ Imran Kamyana

    Article is over all well written. The writer has adopted Marxist method (or tried so) to analyze social impact of religion upon the masses. It would however be a utopia to imagine that religion can be used ‘vise versa’. Marxist method must be adopted as a whole and not partially. Religion like State is a product of class society where nucleus of economic system is “exploitation”. Sate & Religion would abolish along with the class society and both can never be eliminated ‘by force’ or ‘artificially’. Religion is not a mere ideological debate as many ‘liberals’ assume. It is a social phenomenon and has its roots within the socio economic structures of the society.
    Second point is that we must read the whole paragraph written by great Marx which contains the three famous words i.e ‘opiate of masses’. The paragraph goes like this:

    “. . . . . . Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

    The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. . . . "

    So according to Karl Marx religion is not the disease itself but a major symptom of the disease.

    Another utopia with which many liberals “suffer” is to ‘secularize Pakistan’. A state which was founded on the name of religion cannot be liberalized! Religion & religious fundamentalism is deep rooted into the state machinery (especially after Dollar Afghan Jihad) . It is the need of the state to impose it on society.
    There is only one solution to the social and economic problems prevailing in Pakistani society which is to ‘overthrow the feudal and capitalist system along with the state by a Socialist Revolution and formation of Socialist Workers State which would be the first step towards the Socialist Federation of South Asia.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Omair Lodhi,

    Also the children who were sent to such Madaressahs are far more civil than the so called liberals of our society.

    My experience has been the exact opposite. Of course, there’s no universality in madrassa-schooled children being less open-minded than kids from a regular school, but this is what we usually get to observe.

    I fail to understand how the liberals, who and I may be counted in one are comfortable with alcohol and naked women around them and then comment on how Islam is being used to corrupt the minds of the masses.

    That’s an incredibly ignorant and narrow-minded view which is systematically propagated to denigrate the liberals. That allowing women the freedom to choose what they wear counts as “promoting nudity” and recognizing a person’s right to do whatever he wants with his/her own body is “promoting alcoholism” (bear in mind liberals still believe in regulating alcohol consumption, if not banning it).

    But that’s the unfortunate story of those who favour or study in madrassas. They become acutely intolerant any and all views not consistent with theirs.Recommend

  • Mrs

    And who was Karl Marx anyway? Recommend

  • Usman Mustafa

    @kaalchakra: My point is that we should not blame the concept of religion. Blame should be on the mis-use of religious tendencies of the society. Israel is a country with a very high degree of religious institutionalization. Hasn’t it progressed economically? Malaysia, Brunei, the UAE are also some examples where instituionalization of the religion exists. Still the progressed. As for Pakistan, the institutionalization status of Islam was the same as of today during Musharraf era. Despite this Pakistani economy performed better then today. Even during the Zia era (’80s) when the Islamic instituionalization was at its peak the Pakistani economy was performing way better then many other countries including China, India & Eastern Europe block.
    As far as the economic conditions of the developed nations are concerned, there also exists a huge gap between the ‘haves’ & ‘have-nots’. The whole world is being run under the capitalist economic system which leads to creating this difference within the society.Recommend

  • http://www.zaidzamanhamid.wordpress.com Zaid Hamid

    No.. why are you saying this… oh the world is revolving in front of my eyes…Recommend

  • NH

    The writer shows a very shallow understanding of religosity in Pakistan. Referring it to as something to do with ‘haves and haves not’ is highly fallacious. The elites in Pakistan are far more conservative than lower middle, and lower class of Pakistan. The writer should do some research before writing an article or, perhaps, tribune should stop printing immature material. Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Mrs ji

    Karl Marx was actually a Prophet, who proposed a social system not too different from the social system proposed by Prophet Mazdak of Persia and by some other later Prophets of that general area – only Marx did not choose to present his own theories as the theories of or the theory of any supernatural being.

    Many people still believe in him.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Usman Mustafa,

    I’m sorry, but religion is not “one of the basic human needs”. I’m not religious, how do you reckon I’m breathing? How do you explain the existence…excuse me, healthy existence of non-religious societies around the world from Sweden to New Zealand? All the good law-abiding citizens who are such without believing in heaven or hell?Recommend

  • Mj

    Here is the full quote of Karl Marx, which in its context, is much more scathing yet sympathetic to the plight of the people.

    “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people [masses]. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”

    Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right Recommend

  • Usman Mustafa

    @kaalchakra:

    Karl Marx was actually a Prophet

    ….and actualy which Divine force did he represented? Since, the definition of the Prophet is as follows:

    a person who speaks for God or a deity, or by divine inspiration. Recommend

  • Mj

    There is a high degree of negative correlation between religiosity and wealth/happiness of nations.This image illustrates this point perfectly. Multiple surveys and studies on the link between the two have found similar results, with the exception of a few oil-rich Muslim countries and the U.S.

    Source: 47-Nations Pew Global Attitudes SurveyRecommend

  • John B

    “Who are we and where did we come from and what is the purpose in life and is there life after death, and what is death and what is life”

    It would be obvious to anyone who had read various religious texts and Philosophies and modern science that the primal quest to understand how and where and when and why all that we see today began formed the religious foundation of god and in essence Science 101. In that sense religion formed the opium of the people and it was a good one, until the religious thoughts became the political tool in the 7th century following the death of Islamic prophet.

    If one reads the Persian scholars of 8th and 9th century who once were Zoroastrians and later embraced Islam, their concept of understanding God was no different than Mohamedian philosophy, which in turn was no different than Jewish or Christian philosophy which in turn was no different from Vedic /Brahmanical philosophy. As Islam spread from middle east, religion became the state weapon and that was when religion actually became more of a “nectar and opium” for loot, plunder and conquest than bringing the masses to understand god.

    In the context of birth of Pakistan it was no different. The author’s view that “Historically, an oppressed minority condition in pre-partition India led the Muslims to drug themselves with the religious-opium” is factually incorrect.

    The volumes of historical documents left behind by the Mogul writers and later by the English speak that muslims in India enjoyed a favorable disposition and more “Sir” were given to the Muslims of India by the English than any native Hindu. Only when the issue of independence from British came into being, Muslim privileged class, who enjoyed the land grant since mogul conquest at the fear of giving them up in a new republic of India started to inject the “opium” again. Of course Aurangzeb laid the foundation by destroying what Akbar was trying to build in India.

    The author should go back and read how fierce the arguments were among the founding fathers of Pakistan in the Objective Resolutions which essentially held Pakistan as hostage in forming the first constitution for several years. Having born out of this addiction, it is hard for Pakistan to become sober.

    Religion being the opium of the poor of PAK is an escapism attitude to face the reality. Unlike other religious schools of thoughts, Islamic school shun other religious philosophies and claim superiority over the other since historical time, and creates a rift as we see today. At a time when societies were able to wean themselves of the “Nectar and Opium”, Pakistan began to take them as her birth right, and it was the “Sir” educated group that started to inject them to the poor.

    Will Pakistan ever become sober? I personally doubt that. It is like asking, will Israel ever shun her principle of Jewish home land.

    In principle and concept both Israel and Pakistan are one and the same. Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Usman

    You have a point, but that point is meaningful only for those who believe there actually existS some “God or a deity, or by divine inspiration” that sends its “messages” that have to delivered or interpreted to the rest of the human sheep by some special human.

    If you don’t believe in any such god or Gods, then what distinguishes Prophets from other humans is the former’s sense of supreme intolerance of any contradictory opinion, their “only i am right” assertions, and/or their claim of inevitability of their future predictions.

    So, true, Karl Marx did not deflect the ownership of his creation – his social theory, but his work is as Prophetic as the works any other Prophet.Recommend

  • http://India vasan

    “Historically, an oppressed minority condition in pre-partition India led the Muslims to drug themselves with the religious-opium.”
    What happened to the claim of 1000 years of rule of India by muslims before the British?
    Who were the oppressed masses, Hindus or Muslims??
    Didnt the muslims get any enlightenment during the “1000 years” of muslim rule of India ?
    This argument is patheticRecommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    @Sana Baba
    May be u live in some westren country or pakistani burger family who dont even live in pakistan they speak english they act like they are god chosens even living with poor pakistan
    is any way i have to say one thing we pakistan made by british and runs by america ……Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Usman Bhai

    In addition to what you wrote, Islam also brought great wealth some people at different points in history. So, IMO, the level of wealth available at any particular time and place itself is not an indicator of the success or failure of any ideology.

    On other hand, it would not seem right to suggest that religion, Islam or any other religion, has no social impact or effects. What those effects are should be an interesting and important question. Are they all positive, all negative, or a mixture of the two?Recommend

  • Gondal

    The writer has touched on a matter which is working as an invisible poison, dissolving slowly into the society. Why cant we accept religion as a private matter, and as such an important dimension of our being. This debate should also be seen on the receiving end, why do people believe so easily when any thing with a religious icing is fed to them. Don’t they have any curiosity, any common sense, or as a matter of fact, any confidence in their point of view. In many cases, certainly not all, religion is used to exploit human frustration and channeling them to violence or personal gains. The reason for religion and politics being mixed is politics for power and not for a cause or social welfare. I hope a day comes when the powerful recognize the consequences of using religion, the masses do not blindly accept religious statements and they can find “self-consciousness and self esteem” in a better standard of living.Recommend

  • azam

    Q: why and how often do we use a notion “BUS G GUZARA HO RAHA HY”. and how much content of religion is present in the notion.Recommend

  • Abbas ali

    @Omair Lodhi: I want too clarify that I’d naked women and alcohol are evils of our society, we
    should be one of the most developed nations in the world after Saudi Arabia.

    Infact we are one of the most backward, with no respect for women.

    Go figure!Recommend

  • JustAnotherPakistani

    Can someone explain to me what benefit accrues to our society when a person becomes a “hifz e koran”? Recommend

  • Malik Muhammad Usman Awan

    Evolution demand a complete collapse of systems of rule; let this also be a factor to an end towards a new emergence; Religion will remain a connection between the creator and the mankind as it had ever been since the first human being breathed his first; these concepts obviously apply beyond Pakistan…..Recommend

  • Idiot among the wise

    I don’t know but the joy that I receive in a sajda and the pain that I feel for people who can benefit from the Islamic system are real for me.

    If this is being high, I want to stay intoxicated in this opium. Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    “For this reason, the poor tend to support religion more and governments in poor societies tend to use religion to help maintain social control.”

    What rubbish. India is poor too. Here, Religion didn’t take center stage. We have a Sikh PM today, enjoying his second term.

    Islam has a political side that simply refuses to be bottled in. As simple as that. How many of the 57 Islamic states are Democratic? Majority are Oil rich and Wealthy!!!

    So, your whole article is based on loose arguments.

    This is what happens when Religion tries to control every inch of the believer’s life. It is not true in major World Religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity,etc.

    “Historically, an oppressed minority condition in pre-partition India led the Muslims to drug themselves with the religious-opium.”

    This is a canard of murderous proportions. Are you telling me that the Muslims hadn’t obtained power after 800 years of rule, and thereby wealth?

    Who was oppressing them? The majority community was not at the helm of governance.

    This is a lie. Most of the people who supported Pakistan were feudals. They were the oppressors, not the oppressed. Even to this day land reforms haven’t happened in Pakistan, which happened in 1951 in India under Nehru. Feudals who backed Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan and the like got their wish. I hear Pakistan’s Foreign Minister is from a Feudal family!

    It boils my blood when I see my Country’s history spoiled by a bunch who believe in such absurdities as the 2-nation theory.Recommend

  • http://is-religion-the-opium-of-pakistani-masses Iqbal Basha

    New drugs invented by the pharma companies are given to the patients to see its worthiness and in the process the patient may die. Pakistan was a subject for the religious opium drug trials and everybody seeing the end results. Any addiction is harmful.Recommend

  • Ali

    Why does our media defame Religion/Islam?

    Have non religious/liberals or those who are toooo much influenced by western culture, taken over Pakistani media?Recommend

  • leila rage

    Dear all,

    Please take a moment to read the article properly.
    The writer DOES NOT say that religiosity, or religion is at FAULT or BAD.
    She criticises the INSTITUTIONALISATION and govermental MISUSE of religion for political ends.
    Indeed, that is the problem. People seem to worship the concept of RELIGION more than God in Pakistan. And this has made them intolerant and hateful towards anything or anyone different.
    Next time, understand the article and THEN go beserk with your baseless and vehement attacks, so typical of the intolerant and hypocritical pakistani society.Recommend

  • OL

    What Marx actually said was:

    Religion is, at the same time, an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of a soulless state of affairs. It is the opium of the masses.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I think you did a splendid job in writing this. Your views and conclusions are spot on.
    I especially liked your explanation on bad governance causing frustration and a void that people try to fill with institutionalised religion and I would say, being exploited in the process.Recommend

  • http://tradersutra.com hariharmani

    @Loneliberal PK: Sorry to have pressed wrong button,to continue where I left off,Budha,did not believe in the religion of his time,and he warned his followers not to blindly follow or believe in him either.He advised us to be logical,rational and a reasoned questioning critic and a healthy dose of cynicism in our life.All religion,particularly Christianity,of dark ages and middle ages was used as a weapon and drug of choice to control peasants and poor folks by Soverigns and Church to maintain their hold and check on revolt.This game is still played by all ,including The Westerns Civilization also.It is not so obvious as in poor countries as they have reasonable handle on wide spread poverty,which is wide spread in our lands ,that’s only difference in degree.As far as Islamic lands are concerned,they do not have to sugar coat anything,Quran,haddits and Allah bless his soul,the scripture can be interpreted any which way as Arabic is foreign to even Arabic simple people, and Pakistani poor masses are at the double jeopardy they are mostly illiterate and Arabic is foreign to them,so it is lot easier.It is the same with most folks in world,who has knowledge enough to read Mills,Spenoza,Darwin,or even Dowkins or Christopher Hickens .?Isec Newton,and Emmauel Kante is far cry..Sir,my late father,once remarked we all have awareness ,higher state of Consciousness in our blood dna(AS IF),and we can travel only that far,rest will have to live as they are,it sad,but true.Have a nice day.You give me food for thought as always.Thank you.Recommend

  • Cynical

    @John B
    “In principle and concept both Israel and Pakistan are one and the same.”
    Rarely, if ever, so much was spoken with so few words.
    You can expect a barrage of desperate denials.Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/Sajaan Sajan khowaja

    Religion has to do with how you should live your life. Politics has to do with governing people and is constantly changing. Religion and politics are two different aspect of a society. One is related to faith on divine thoughts and another one on behalf of law and rules. Mixture of politics with religion is just a method of getting attention among politicians. Misguiding people is their target for vote bank. Apparently everyone knows that mixing of politics with religion is a tactics of politician for their own advantage. Religious Education is very important for our children so its the reponsibility of our Government to make sure that in Madrassa’s the religious Scholoras are teaching religious education with proper pattern. Recommend

  • MarkH

    “Note: This article is not a reflection of the writers’ religious views.”
    If they’re not your views then you should make a reference to the person to plagiarized. I know it was just so you didn’t get verbally attacked for writing it. But such a thing doesn’t deter them even if it is true.Recommend

  • Concerned Omega

    Yes we are all pathetic, yes we live in miserable times, yes honest people in Pakistan get stepped on every day. Do we want more? Yes… In a society that is filled with such misery and oppression the default move is to ignore the problem and indulge in distractions that keep as happy and satisfied and make us believe that our life has some meaning. This distraction can be found in many different ways example : US – alcohol and partying, Europe- Wars to win in the past century, Africa- fighting for humanitarian and animal rights, South America- Drug Wars, Asia- Religion. Is it opium, I think not rather it is the gateway to such opiated distractions. The problem is not partying, alcohol, wars, rights or religion they are merely symptoms of our unworthy lives. Back in the medieval times people were happy and more satisfied not because they had more worldly pleasures or necessities but rather because they believed in honor, respect and most of all humanity. At last we have lost our humanity and thus our meaning in life itself.Recommend

  • Amjad Qammar

    Dear Writer,
    Is there any person in this world who has no religion? the people who consider their selves without religion even they have institutional religion. Ethiest do have big organizations that have some relegion. Recommend

  • MilesToGo

    @Usman Mustafa:

    There is only one Divine.Recommend

  • Ayub Buzdar

    “Until Pakistan remains in a condition of poverty, madrassas will continue to influence the ‘have-nots’ in a negative way.”
    this statement shoulbe “Untill the Madrassas continues to influence the ‘have-nots’ in a negative way, Pakistan will remain in a condition of poverty”

    Article is best written but I am sorry many commentators are not reading this objectively and debating on dogmatic basis rather than social.Recommend

  • Omair Lodhi

    @Abbas ali: What is there to figure. The alcohol and naked women are forces of the liberals, who have stamped their nonsense on the rest of us.
    The poor play no part in this social evil.
    As for Madarassahs being the root cause of ill in society is surely questionable without a doubt.
    Sometimes I wonder how preschools charge a Salary of more than the Minimum Wage in our country and are allowed to do so. Is that not evil.
    A child who can barely speak yet the parents dish out more money on them that what they pay the minimum wage to their workers.
    So where does the Madarassah lie in this equation. Yet you dont see any of the liberals shouting foul play.
    And just for the record, these so called wanna be liberals are people who have no standing in Pakistan nor in the West who they so rightly defend. Such people are not on the who’s who lists of the world in any segment of western society, business or technology.

    Hail Islamic teachings for Pakistan was formed on the basis of Islam and not for the liberals. Yet they may be allowed to live freely in the state, yet this will always remain an Islamic State, the sooner people come to terms and let the religion be shared as common knowledge.
    You may seem to know the laws of the west yet how much an understanding of the Quran do you actually have?Recommend

  • r p

    why written writers views..reflection….articles are written under fear
    it means in Pakistan writers are not free to write….the sword of fundamentalist hangs on themRecommend

  • A Pakistani

    This article is nothing but part of foreign supported campaign against madrassasRecommend

  • Usman Mustafa

    @kaalchakra:
    sense of supreme intolerance of any contradictory opinion, their “only i am right” assertions, and/or their claim of inevitability of their future predictions
    I rather call such an human as a stubborn individual. Believing that ‘only I am right’ may be part of the human characteristic rather then ‘Prophethood’ whose definition requires the presence of the concept of a Divine God.
    As far as the social impact of religion is concerned I do not deny your argument but claiming that in today’s world the under-development of a society can only by gauged through its religious tendencies as suggested by the writer of this blog is totally absurd.
    @Loneliberal PK:
    Dear, religion & spirituality is more related to the needs of inner self of the humans rather then their existence. You might not be religious but even then you must have been following a certain set of rules & principles in your life. Where does this idea of having social rules, regulations & principles came from? Its the concept of religion that has introduced humans to this aspect of life. Results of Gallup Religiosity Index 2009 reveal that out of the 147 countries surveyed, more then 50% respondents from 113 countries said ‘Yes’ to the importance of religion in their lives.
    @MilesToGo:
    Yes! There is no God but Allah, Muhammad (Sallala ‘hu ‘alay he wasallam) is His Messenger.Recommend

  • gt

    Someone please explain a curious phenomenon to me! I am a keen follower of Pakistani cooking shows on television. With very few exceptions, almost all the chefs, ladies and gentlemen are [or have become] extremely religious. They offer religious sermons, or invite guests, maulvis, pirs, etc. who do, OR have overbearing assistants whose sole function appears to be that of religious commissars, making sure that the “message” is being propagated loud and clear.

    Nowhere else on earth is there such an in-your-face religiosity as in Pakistani cooking shows. Even very nice Pakistani ladies who host their own Youtube cooking segments include a significant amount of their personal religious beliefs into a simple cooking lesson. Mind you, there are thousands of other Muslims, Iranians, Moroccans, Malays, etc. all equally devout, none of whom feel it necessary to shove their religion down people’s throats at every turn. Not even Afghans! ONLY Pakistanis!! Why is this?

    Do they not realize that there is something offensive in this continuous parading of RELIGIOSITY in PUBLIC as opposed to true piety which is ALWAYS private, hidden, and secret? Jesus has some useful advice to HIS disciples about how not to behave like the Pharisees, whose religion is meant only for public display. Since Muslims accept Christ as a Prophet of God, His words should be binding on their religious conduct as well!!

    Additionally, it is very strange and disconcerting that these cooking shows with the most religious fervor are the ones that deal with very rich foods, kilograms of meat, cream, huge amounts of desi ghee, cakes, and rich sweets. Obviously, all of these items are beyond the reach of even the middle class wage-earner at today’s prices. What obscene hypocrisy! Much more could be written, especially about the week Pakistan suffered terrible floods that coincided with Eid, and some pseudo-chefs shed crocodile tears on TV. But the food shows went on without a break!!

    Where is the hamdardi, the genuine caring that religion should have brought? In India, money and wickedness is the ONLY religion, but at least they never try to conceal that fact!! Much better that way.Recommend

  • Saad Khan

    Islam is a complete code of life. Not in rhetoric, but it really provides solutions in every walk of life. Having said that, Islam fundamentally has no space for the the institution of ‘mullah’. Religious teaching should be part n parcel of the curriculum in an Islamic country. Its a fundamental responsibility of every Muslim to learn the religion for practicing it in one’s daily life. It will automatically wipe out the need of mullah. We have devised the institution of ‘mullah’ for our own convenience and we ask them to perform rituals only. I agree to the notion that it is the need of the hour that we develop proper institutions for religious education. Till then, these maddrassahs are doing whatever they can. The level of education they impart is not v good, but still its better than nothing. All we need to do is to bring them into the main-stream instead of sidelining them.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @Omair Lodhi:
    I agree with you that madrassas are not the root cause of evil in the Pak society – they are as much a symptom of the choices that the state has made in defining itself as the lack of tolerance in society, disappearance of minorities, security state and anti-India complex, misadventures such as the Afghan jihad, as well as the secession of East Pakistan. The author’s well-meaning article misses one point which has been touched (tangentially) by other contributors; the primary reason for the concept of the supernatural to exist is the lack of control that we have over our own lives and the events that take place which have no clear explanation – and man tends to attribute a divine purpose/ angle to this (it is true that the poor have less control over their well-being than the rich, and so their belief is likely to be more absolute). At this point, different religions diverge – Abrahamic religions describe their God as one who requires undivided devotion and would consign all unbelievers to hellfire – regardless of how much good they would have done in their lives (pls correct me if I am wrong); eastern religions operate more on a cause and effect mode – where your past actions influence your current situation, and you can in turn impact your future through your present (the law of Karma) – belief in God is not really a prequisite as there are many ways to salvation – through right knowledge, devotion or right action. This is the reason that all religious wars in the world have been fought by Abrahamic religions – because accepting that someone else is right precludes that you are wrong – and that is unacceptable. Where Pakistan differs from Israel is that it cooked up the existential threat to allow the feudal-army-bureaucracy nexus to stay in power, and gave out huge doses of the religion-opiate to keep the masses in good humour; another aspect is the ‘Ummah’ complex, which is another drug variety that does not mean much to Arabs, Turks or Malays – allowing the nation to constantly focus outside its borders for events that can upset its fragile balance. Israel on the other hand, has a continued existential threat – but does not define its friends on the basis of religion.Recommend

  • leila rage

    The main things I’ve noticed reading the comments:

    1) Xenophobia= Fear and hate of foreigners
    2) Intolerance towards anyone with a different opinion
    3) The belief that if you’re muslim you are suddenly a saint compared to anyone else even if you dont practice.
    4) Hatred of all things even remotely liberal, or even just slightly unconservative.
    5) the constant, stupid assumption that whatever isnt conservative or overly extreme, is necessarily vulgar and evil.

    What a lovely picture you paint of yourselves and your nationRecommend

  • leila rage

    Many of you appear to be commenting for the sake of commenting rather than READING the article. The title is a little misleading…. PLEASE read and then JUDGE.

    for the paranoid, conspiracy theorisits, please know that the whole world isnt out to get pakistan. the rest of the world have a lot of other better ways to spend their time than coming up with “propoganda” to defame us. Pakistan isnt the centre of the universe.Recommend

  • Someone

    Ahhh….. so the basic assumption of this article is that Karl Marx is right..hmmmm…. Maybe most of the western developed nations’ governing elite will disagree with that. And the masses will not also support the notion in entirety. Karl Marx is a Prophet?? Really… Most of the western intellectuals won’t agree with this either. And if for a moment, just for the sake of discussion, we assume that he was a prophet, then which of his prophecies did materialize? His view of historical materialism has been rejected even by modern day socialist, for example.

    Most of us are neither aware of Karl Marx’s theory nor Islam’s view of Life. Yes, this is true that Religion has been used to oppress people but so as other ideologies such communism, fascism etc which have nothing to do with religion. But, I would like the author or any other person to point out where Islam demands the people to bear oppression without resistance? In fact Islam teaches us that saying a word of justice in front of a tyrant ruler is also jihad.
    So in reality, we as a nation suffer from the disease of pointing the fingers to others rather than looking at ourselves. We want to blame others for the ills of our society when we are part of these ills. Extremism in any form, whether religious or liberal, is harmful to any society. Recommend

  • hameed ghani

    i read the article many times as well as comments by people , most of the people did not understand the theme of the writer , its not about good or bad of religion , matter is institutionalization Islam which not only includes madrassas but piri fiqiri , darbars n dam darood etc , the inclination n rising trend of people towards this is alarming in Pakistani society . undoubtedly govt unable to provide basic things to people of Pakistan n responsible for this .
    Recommend

  • http://www.sanahameedbaba.weebly.com Sana Hameed Baba

    Dear All, I will be responding to everyone shortly once I have all the comments. So continue discussing please. Thanks!Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Usman Mustafa,

    “Where does this idea of having social rules, regulations & principles came from?”

    From our parents. From a little thing we call “conscience’. From the government, and legislators. People tend to give religion too much credit when it comes to morality. Otherwise, atheists living in atheist societies, raised by atheist parents would have no real reason to be decent, principled, spiritually-fulfilled human beings!

    Also, it is the popularity, not the validity of a statement that is determined by the percentage of the general public who support it. The poll you alluded to deals with the popularity of religion, by asking the personal opinions of people. Suggesting that something is true just because many people believe in it is a logical fallacy.Recommend

  • Asma Baloch

    @Mrs:
    Good Question?hahhahhhhaRecommend

  • RAW is WAR

    any doubt?Recommend

  • errr

    So you are judging Islam under the shade of one sentence of some karl marks. And if following religion is one side of extremism, then I guess totally ignoring Islam and sometimes even going against its teaching, finding tactics to somehow escape it is other pole of extremism.Recommend

  • http://pakiviewson.blogspot.com/ Pakistan News

    I am 100% agreed with the writer. Writer pointed a few valid reasons that how religion is being used for personal matters Recommend

  • http://pakiviewson.blogspot.com/ Pakistan News

    I am 100% agreed with the writer as he clearly pointed out about how religion is being used for personal matters. May God Bless usRecommend

  • taffer87

    Great blog and 10/10 for facing up to an important, yet somehow taboo, issue. It’s hard to get the real meaning behind your words though…Institutionalised Islam can be many things from banned organisations which want Kilafat, terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba to political parties like Jamat-e-Islami.

    Also, if Islam is indeed an opium for the masses.. What’s wrong with that? Most Pakistanis are peaceful and there is a big silent majority. Wouldn’t there be chaos and anarchy without the ‘opium’? And it’s not hard to imagine some other means to pacify the masses?

    Agree with poverty being the big cause of radical Islamists, but there are radicals in every society. Just look at the tea party movement or even the Republican party and its supporters in the US!Recommend

  • Arslan

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say ‘institutionalised Islam.’ Could you expand on this term? At places, it seems your definition is no different that the position adopted by traditional Islam. In one place you say: “In this perspective, a religion like institutionalised Islam that promises a better Afterlife…” I know of no interpretation of the religion that does not promise a better afterlife for those who follow its fundamentals and are righteous… So I’m unsure of what distinction you’re making between Islam and ‘institutionalised Islam’ (if any).

    I agree, to an extent, with your basic point, that (the name of) Islam is often used by the wielders of power in Paistan to justify many of their actions. But in all authoritarian or third world countries, any ideology, no matter how intrinsically bengin, can be used to manipulate people. Whether this is xenophobia, communism, religion etc, the masses can always be manipulated. In this sense, removing Islam from the equation, proposed by many of Pakistan’s secular thinkers, will not make any difference. All it will mean is that the tool/ideology used to manipulate the public will shift to something else.

    I’m not sure what your final conclusion or solution is, or if indeed, even you are offering any?Recommend

  • rex minor

    Karl Heinrich Marx was a german jewish studied philosophy and besides other preoccupations was a revolutionary socialist! His thesis was that all societies progress through the dialectic of class struggle. He also named capitalism as the dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie which is run by the wealthy middle class and upper classes purely for their own benefit. He proposed revolutions and communism, a stateless society and the dictatorship of the proleteriats.
    Please lady, we have come a long way from his preachings and his philosophies. Islamic teachings and the Islamic way of life is not an opium for the masses but the belief that greed and materialism on its own is insufficient to satisfy human needs or a recipie for the soul and the mind which one is born with. Pakistan society should reform their precolonial time education system and introduce religion as a compulsary subject in schools. Madrassas must also be reformed to ncude besides religion introduce philosophy, mathematics and physic as compulsary subjects. Remembering that in the 21st century capital and labour is being rapidly being relaced by Innvation and people . Karl Marx has been dead for a long time and is going to remain dead for eternity.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Reggie Herman

    Very well written. Good job. Def outlines some real life situations; how masses in developing nations are driven to believe they will obtain something meaningful in the after life.Recommend

  • Ali

    Can’t agree more..Recommend

  • Zalmay

    @ Anoop

    Well said indeed! Recommend

  • Greame

    The reverential quoting of Marx by some above reminded me of something David Barsamian wrote on his blog when he was in Pakistan 3 years ago (he is banned from entering India now, so it may be a while before he ventures to South Asia again).

    Last night a soiree w/ old leftists arguing old issues. They have no clue what to do and are still lamenting the demise of the USSR which they insisted was socialist. They were asking me for guidance! I said just walk outside. Looking for something to do? Your country is on fire.

    Manto, whose 100th birthday was celebrated last month, was also critical of “Pakistani communists whom he always considered unthinking camp followers who had surrendered their own sense of judgment to what they believed was the all-knowing Party pontificating from distant Moscow” which claimed to be acting in the name of “Marxism-Leninism”.Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Usman Mustafa

    Agree with you about Karl Marx. Didn’t intend to make a strong statement describing the man as a prophet. Care for this ideas or not, the man was an outstanding social theoretician, and it would be silly to pretend that he spoke for or believed he spoke for any god or behaved like folks we usually refer to as prophets.

    gt

    Seems like an excellent idea to feed people’s souls while also extinguishing the fire of their tummies. Two thumbs up to the ladies, whoever they be.

    More seriously, though, your post took quite an unIslamic turn with this:

    “true piety.. is ALWAYS private, hidden, and secret.”

    Not really. Publicly performed prayer, in a group with other believers – full of unity, faith, and precise disciplined motions – is far dearer to God and brings greater thawab. Recommend

  • http://www.fashionclub2.blogspot.com/ ahmed_azhar

    Furthermore, we Pakistani Muslims degrade Hinduism at least if not other religions. What should Hindus do? Can we police the world in this regard? World is different and no where mob lynching to an alleged blasphemer is done, even the Arab countries. And, why no other Muslim country, even the pas-ban-e- haram have not raised a voice over it? Are we the best and Thackeray of the whole world while being almost the most corrupt nation in the world when it comes to day to day dealings?Recommend

  • http://www.fashionclub2.blogspot.com/ ahmed_azhar

    Now everyone has boarded the anti-crazy-Terry John wagon. From president to provincial assemblies every one has passed resolutions of condemnations against TJRecommend

  • http://www.fashionclub2.blogspot.com/ ahmed_azhar

    A child who can barely speak yet the parents dish out more money on them that what they pay the minimum wage to their workers.Recommend

  • http://www.fashionclub2.blogspot.com/ ahmed_azhar

    Hail Islamic teachings for Pakistan was formed on the basis of Islam and not for the liberals. Yet they may be allowed to live freely in the state, yet this will always remain an Islamic State, the sooner people come to terms and let the religion be shared as common knowledge.
    You may seem to know the laws of the west yet how much an understanding of the Quran do you actually have?Recommend

  • Usman Mustafa

    @Loneliberal PK:
    I referred you to the Gallop poll only to argue that people from highly advanced societies are also religious. Its not a case of “argumentum ad populum” but the fact that societies have progressed despite believing & adhering to religion. The great Roman empire, Egyptian civilization, Byzantine Empire, the Indus civilization & the islamic caliphate era provide evidence that socieites have progressed despite adhering to religion. Even in today’s world developed societies also have religious tendencies which is evident from the above referred Gallop poll.
    It is the reality that religion has been a part of human history since the start of human life. Whether you believe the Islamic concept of how life started (Hazrat Adam & Hawwa Aalis’ Salam), the Genesis creation narrative coming from Christianity or even the human history as narrated by modern historians you will find that religion has always been there. Talking of atheism please note that this concept was also a kind of derivative of religious concepts from the Vedic period.
    My argument is simple, why put all blame for evils in a certain society on religion? In societies where the atheist are a majority do they not have any crimes? Or even there the crimes & evils are only caused by people adhering to any religion?Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Usman Mustafa,

    I don’t think you realize this, but that poll favours my argument more than it does yours. The global population of non-religious people is just 13%. If half the people in what you call “highly advanced societies” claim that religion is not important, it favours my view that more educated societies tend to shift more to the non-religious side (from 13% global average to 50% in developed states).

    It’s true that atheism exists because religions do, it is has nothing to do with the Vedic philosophies (they are full of superstitious beliefs and unproven assumptions that most atheists stand firmly against).

    If people largely started believing in dragons, then the word “adragonism” would have to be invented to describe those who don’t share this believe. Atheism is a natural position of denying that for which enough evidence does not exist, and the name wouldn’t even exist if theism hadn’t existed in the first place.Recommend

  • Usman Mustafa

    @Loneliberal PK:
    Ok, lets get to the facts & figures now. Listed below are some of your favorite advanced societies of the modern world & the percentage of their citizens adhering to atheist concepts:
    Italy: 6%
    USA: 12%
    Denmark: 19%
    UK: 20%
    Sweden: 23%
    Germany: 25%
    So, has the development of these countries only been possible due to the presence of this minority? The people having any kind of religiosity have not contributed to the welfare of these countries?
    The author of this blog used Karl Marx’s statement. Has his conceived ideas brought any welfare for his society? Why has the world gradually shifted away from his proposed ideas? Infact your own favorite societies were so much repulsive of his ideas.
    Just because they were man-made & imperfect, they were bound to be flawed.
    Human life is not that easily understandable. Only its Creator can understand it & propose the guidelines to govern it.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Usman Mustafa,

    You need to address the fact that it’s not just atheists who are non-religious. Non-religious is a broad category that includes atheists, agnostics, deists, pantheists and many other kinds of people with their personal conceptions of how the universe works, not conforming with the known religions. The world isn’t divided into just theists and atheists.

    Bearing that in mind, the numbers are actually much higher than what you’ve stated (69% for Denmark, 74% for Sweden, and so on). Here’s a link.

    And nowhere did I claim that it’s only because of the non-religious members that these countries are more developed. Let us avoid the strawman argumentation. I merely pointed out that the developed world is markedly less religious than the developing world, which is statistically accurate (compare these numbers with the populations of non-religious people in Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone etc)Recommend

  • Katarina

    I think that when people are focusing on non-religious aspects (studies, work, personal life) of their lives they are able to achieve more and a non-religious society will achieve more. Every our spent in the church, religious school etc is away from productive time. Even if people in eg Scandinavia say they believe in a god they do not spend very much time praying, visiting church, studying the bible. Religion may also suppress peoples thinking and ability to question issues. And without thinking and questioning the society will not evolve. Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    @Loneliberal PK:
    Thanks for your input. I have some knowledge of the religiousity level of some countries which made me choke on reading Usman Mustafa’s figures. Ignorance is pardonable but bluffing even in the cause of religion is the height of delusion. Among one of the bigger ills of the society is following the doctrine of necessity. Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    “Among one of the bigger ills of the society is following the doctrine of necessity.”

    Well said. The extent to which we invoke that doctrine speaks a lot to the nature of our societies.Recommend

  • Danali

    Opium is not the right word. However, religion every where, for those are religious is the biggest motivator and influencer to make people do the best and even the worst things.

    P.S. Biased picture, although I don’t belong to any sect but the picture is a depiction of a certain sect, and one sect only!Recommend

  • Danali

    Moderation is what Islam teaches us in every mode of life. This is where the blogger has acted short-sightedly like most of us too.Recommend

  • Usman Mustafa

    @Loneliberal PK:
    The stats thats I mentioned represent the population of Atheist only in those countries.
    Moreover, how would you comment on my reference to the historical reality that nations & civilizations have progressed despite following some religious ideas? Infact, the countries you are so proudly referring to, have also had religious tendencies until recent past. Also, there are other developed & fast growing nations like USA, UK, Israel, Malaysia, UAE, China, India etc who have progressed or are under commendable progress despite having a higher level of religiosity. Your arguments are more like the arguments presented in favor of existance of a certain ‘Dutch desease’ according to which the resource rich economies are considered to be cursed & thus do not progress however the reality is that their progress in only hindered due to the mis-use of those resources.Recommend

  • Yumna

    @Loneliberal PK: well said!Recommend

  • Yumna

    @leila rage: The main things I’ve noticed reading the comments:
    1) Xenophobia= Fear and hate of foreigners
    2) Intolerance towards anyone with a different opinion
    3) The belief that if you’re muslim you are suddenly a saint compared to anyone else even if you dont practice.
    4) Hatred of all things even remotely liberal, or even just slightly unconservative.
    5) the constant, stupid assumption that whatever isnt conservative or overly extreme, is necessarily vulgar and evil.
    What a lovely picture you paint of yourselves and your nation

    I couldn’t agree more.Recommend

  • Yumna

    I must say you did a great job having the courage to bring this issue up but most of the people who commented did not realize the intention was not on what you referred to as ‘dogmatic aspects of religion’, and I am sure most of them did not even read it. Anyway, I will go a little off the topic to share an incident in my Sociology class. I remember my professor once telling us that whenever religion/God is brought in an argument, the implication is STOP RIGHT THERE! This is what I see most common in our society. When the notion of religion is introduced to an argument, the subtle message that lies beneath is not to go further, to give up all the critical thinking skills and accept things the way they are. How many times have we not noticed people ending the argument with ‘God knows better’ or ‘Have faith in God! He will fix everything.’ We have become so lazy of a nation that even before putting efforts to a task, we give up just by leaving it on God. Am I saying to not have faith in God? No, that’s not the point. I do not object a person following the religion. I believe we all should have the freedom to practice the religion. The point is we need to start reasoning beyond religion. We also need to acknowledge if we do not put in efforts towards progress, God will not help us. Also, it’s better to keep religion private than institutionalized. When religion is institutionalized, the minorities in the region begin to lose their rights. They feel alienated. I think the emphasis should be laid more on the humanity or else the in-group out-group mentality steps in.

    In Pakistan, Islam has taken on a whole different meaning. It’s not the religion I blame, it’s what people have made out of it.Recommend

  • leila rage

    @Yumna: Very well said.

    some one asked what was meant by “institutionalised” Islam. Basically, the most obvious example of institutionalised Islam is what Zia ul Haq did…Recommend

  • Usman Mustafa

    @leila rage:
    the most obvious example of institutionalised Islam is what Zia ul Haq did…
    It was not institutionalized Islam rather it was just a political gimmick by Zia in order to achieve the goals & objectives set by his ‘liberal’ masters i.e: the US.Recommend

  • http://www.sanahameedbaba.weebly.com Sana Hameed Baba

    @Omair Lodhi: Superiority in learning is a subjective question, it cannot be determined by a Madrassah education or otherwise. I would most welcome the idea of you finding me a Madrassah that will accept my learning in an interactive manner, even if I am critical of their points of views. While as a “liberal” I have taken the unnecessary burden to be tolerant towards the “conservatives”, I hope they will let me ‘learn’ and not try to convert me to their version of “Islam”. While I don’t drink alcohol myself, I see nothing wrong with people who do within their social limits, remember even Islam allowed it at one point in time. If women want to be naked, that’s their choice, to each their own. I have no comments on this. And please do not label others without knowing their credentials. Thank you for your comments though, they made the debate a whole lot more interesting.Recommend

  • http://www.sanahameedbaba.weebly.com Sana Hameed Baba

    @Usman Mustafa: I simply referred to the majority of the masses and this is a statistical fact. Religious following is mostly prevalent in developing nations. After food, closthing and housing, it is the “sense of belonging” NOT religion that is a basic need. What I find is that rich mostly revert to religion when they are missing something meaningful in their life – a state of misery almost and they revert to the opium – i.e. religion in this case. I could be wrong and there are of course many exceptions. However, when something great happens to us we hardly remember God, but when something wrong happens we prostrate endlessly to the Lord. Its my view again, I could be wrong.Recommend

  • http://www.sanahameedbaba.weebly.com Sana Hameed Baba

    @Janan: Labelling people as ‘leftisit’ and ‘elitist’ is also very much in fashion and it doesn’t do any good if you want to come to a common table for discussion. Let’s leave the labels shall we? I have portrayed a very balanced point of view in the blog where I have criticized the “haves” (elites) more for their irresponsible attitude towards the “have-nots”.Recommend

  • http://www.sanahameedbaba.weebly.com Sana Hameed Baba

    @kaalchakra: Please read my response to Janan. I agree with you. Its all circular – world is round indeed.Recommend

  • http://www.sanahameedbaba.weebly.com Sana Hameed Baba

    @Ali Tanoli: keep guessing.Recommend

  • http://www.sanahameedbaba.weebly.com Sana Hameed Baba

    @MarkH: Mark, I was under no pressure to write that, in fact I did so as a matter of clarity only. While I promote separation of state and religion, I’m Muslim by faith, Sunni by birth and Quranist by choice. Plus the blog hasn’t discussed any aspect of Islam, I have simply discussed the social reprecussions of institutionalized religion.Recommend