Namaaz: Not just a personal matter

Published: October 16, 2011

Islam and being a Muslim is not just a 'personal matter.' It is a matter concerning the entire Muslim Ummah. PHOTO: REUTERS

Call me conservative, call me old, call me a buttoned-down bore or call me whatever you like – in the end I am the only one who can define my identity because I know what I am. I am not a very good Muslim and I don’t belong to a religious or extremist community. However, personally, I would be absolutely mortified to say “No, I don’t pray Jummah. Once I too used to believe that prayers and religion were a personal matter but I have come to the conclusion that religion is very much shared and communal.

Growing up, every Wednesdays after Asar prayers some bearded men from a nearby mosque use to go from door to door, urging people to join in on a gasht (walk-in sermon). My brother and I dreaded these and every Wednesday when the men would appear at our door and ring the bell, we used to beg our mother to make excuses for us. She would say:

“Ghar main koi nahi hai.”

(There is no one at home.)

Thus, my brother and I used to successfully evade these tableeghi men every week. After a few years,  I moved to Karachi and enrolled at a local university. I lived in the university hostel. One day I returned from class completely exhausted and fell into bed without bothering to change my clothes. Suddenly, I was woken by a knock on my door. Disgruntled and annoyed I opened my door and inwardly uttered a string of abuses at what I saw. Alas! The university had its very own religious group of tableeghi students.

Now I had to invent new excuses to avoid these young men whenever they came knocking.

However, with time I began to wonder what weakness of mine was not giving me the courage to face these tableeghi men. I would often justify my decision by saying:

 ”Mein namaz parhun ya na parhun mera masla hai.”

(Whether I pray or don’t pray is my problem.)

Despite this reasoning with myself, I was still dissatisfied and there was a nagging feeling inside. I started to reason as to why religious scholars impose on other peoples’ personal religious beliefs. I began to read the Holy Quran and hadiths on tableegh and dawah. It was only then that I understood that Islam is not just a ‘personal matter’. Rather it is related to the entire Muslim Ummah.

Why?

Because, if religion really was a personal matter, then the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wouldn’t have preached and had interactive sermons. Nor would he have encouraged people to pray together. Moreover, he wouldn’t  have asked other Muslims to spread the teachings of Islam. In addition to this, if  it really is a personal matter,  why would the Azaan (call to prayer) be a practice common to Muslims all over the world? Furthermore, why would the Quran guide us to offer prayers on numerous occasions?

If some Muslim brothers can help explain the teachings of the Holy Quran and can remind us when it is time to pray, why do we respond to these practices so harshly?

We need to understand that Islam is a community religion that encourages brotherhood.

It teaches us to maintain ties with our neighbours and to treat servants as equals. Thus, if sitting together and listening to a sermon can encourage these feelings of camaraderie, then why are we so against this?

Muhammad.Umair.Savul

Muhammad Umair Savul

A business graduate from one of leading business schools in Pakistan who is now pursuing his career as a Chartered Accountant .

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

  • Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam

    Heartfelt & honest write-up. And kudos to the Tribune to publish the other side of the picture too. Agreed!!!Recommend

  • H Javed

    It IS a personal matter, because it’s certainly not a government/state matter.
    The most you can do is announce that you are praying, therefor “encouraging/shaming” others to perform it as well. There is no missionary in islamRecommend

  • Aviator

    Thank you for writing some sense. Be ready to be crucified by the grouchy liberalsRecommend

  • http://www.bbcurdu.com Najeeb

    It is personal matter. Everyone has to go his/her own grave, so no one iz allowed to try to make someone’s grave BRIGHT through force or through any oder means. Islam mein koi jabar nahin jamatyoooo…. ThxRecommend

  • d2412412

    So what about the saying which revolves around the concept of “Tum Jaano aur Tumhara Khuda Jaanay”Recommend

  • http://www.nerdcrunch.com Moderate

    Brilliantly put! These seculars/liberals make false claims that religion is a personal matter. Quran is not composed of Chap 1 Namaz Chap 2 Fasting ,,,,,,,,, Chap 5 Heaven/Hell and end. NO! It is a complete code of life, how to behave with others, what are crimes for certain punishments, how to run govt, how to preach your religion etc. That what Prophet did and same goes for his followers.

    Only people whose lives are dictated by their own desires rather than desires of Allah make excuses that religion is personal matter and go all mad when they are told the truth! May Allah help us all. AmeenRecommend

  • Godhpur

    Wow……..this is the stuff Stalins and Hitlers are made of…..and please stop deluding yourself that most of us miss our prayers because we are too busy watching silly Rom-com movies……’It’s a personal matter’ is our euphemism for ‘man, i don’t think it’s worth my time’…….And yes it’s sad we still need euphemisms to define our beliefs!Recommend

  • Talha

    There is a difference between giving advice and being forceful.

    Those who do not pray should be calmly asked to do so and this advice should be supported with relevant information from religious scriptures.

    That is the only thing required and the rest is up to Allah.

    I can’t judge someone and neither force someone to pray.

    It becomes a serious problem when you do judge someone over matters of religion and force them towards your point of view.

    If you don’t pray, I can ask you to pray politely. If you do not want to then that is fine and it won’t change my opinion or interaction with you.

    There is after all no compulsion in the matters of religion.Recommend

  • Waqar

    I believe that mostly people have an issue with the evangelicals who force people to come and pray with them. Inviting someone to a sermon, gasht or other religious activity isn’t the problem. It’s when you continually harass the person about it, even when he has refused. Recommend

  • mf hussain

    and therein lies the problem.
    Where does the intrusion into others lives end. I suspect in the name of the Almighty never.
    This communal religion may sound really good but God made us as individuals and this religious communalism is best described by Orwell’s 1984.
    Heres my advice to Mr Savul. Stay out of my face…Recommend

  • http://emmefemme.wordpress.com/ EmmeFemme

    I agree with you – I believe that Dawah is important, i believe that it’s perfectly fine to encourage people to pray, but the issue of forcing someone is completely outta the Question- granted you didn’t mention that and the article you are responding to also didn’t mention that but i’m going to mention it:)

    Prayer is both communal and personal; our levels of sincerity are what separate us from one another- our imaan. Unfortunately, this society is one where people are severely confused, you can’t say anything without people ‘minding’- but i don’t blame them entirely because a lot of times the person trying to ‘guide’ them can be very hard and harsh- there is no respect and that is a KEY problem.

    Also you cannot force imaan down someone’s throat- that has to come from with in, that IS personal. You can give advice, you can point out how to help people in a very loving way so that people are attracted, but to actually put your foot down and say ‘NO, you gotta do this and that the way i say it,’ boy, people are going to run the other way, (i’m not directing this to ‘you’, the author, i’m using ‘you’ generally) and people ARE running away. Look how many people talk senselessly about ‘mullahs’ and ‘extremists’ without ever having really encountered them. Under every single article on the ET website you see people discussing ‘mullahs’ like they’re all the same… Everything is so generalized and you know why? Because the way some people respond, it just strengthens the belief that mullahs are an ignorant bunch.

    Sigh

    Key message…respect and love one another and TEACH and LEARN from each other without hate, only then can we really achieve something. You can’t force something down someone’s throat, and oh, Islam isn’t that hard to follow, people just MAKE it really hard, its a moderate religion that asks you a few things that might seem hard to people without proper knowledge but trust me, it is not at all hard…Recommend

  • http://emmefemme.wordpress.com/ EmmeFemme

    @ H Javed:
    There is no concept of shaming one another- if people don’t feel guilty not praying then that is completely up to them… Ah sir, as far as there being no ‘missionaries in Islam’, no, but we are an Ummah here to help each other, whats missing is respect and love for one another :) Recommend

  • Arif

    Prayers have very much positive effects on overall community and our Ijtemai Zindagi. But below average article representing radical and ‘JABRI’ ideology with weaker and some unrelated arguments even. Writer trying to emphasise more on repeating his standpoint but failed to provide valid, logical and convincing argumentsRecommend

  • Xam Xaffa

    Nicely Written.Recommend

  • Syed Omar Sherazi

    A great article.Recommend

  • Parvez

    NIcely argued though somewhat simplistic in content.
    There is much more involved in this debate which I feel you have avoided addressing.Recommend

  • Waqar

    A good article, Thank you.
    I was tired of those daily repetitive articles from the other side.
    However we must also promote tolerance and not force one’s belief into others. If someone doesnt pray, dont just force them in staright away, but slowly slowly invite them inRecommend

  • http://www.salmanlatif.wordpress.com Salman Latif

    Dear Author,
    That may be your opinion, but then many people don’t agree to this opinion. So is it, then, wise to trash the people who belong the latter category and impose Islam and injunctions, at instance by force? ‘Let there be no compulsion in Islam’, that’s also a part of Islam, right?

    Plus, your hypothesis that religion is shared entity, yes! It is. So is culture. Have you seen men forcing you to wear shalwar kameez or asking you to eat wheat-bread rather than fast food so as to ‘preserve’ that culture or enforce it? No, because its stupid to say that what’s a shared entity also needs be enforced. The decision to follow it or not is personal and by all humane standards, should be personal.

    So let’s not say that it’s the obligation of every other ‘pious’ Muslim who goes to mosque to tell every other sinful brother, who doesn’t, that he should. Let’s keep religion personal, as it should be! Recommend

  • http://www. afia

    Uffff .. why twist everything… yes Islam is a collective religion, and there are many advantages of that… but NO it is NOT to be imposed through force…. so the government has no role in its practice.Recommend

  • Ammar

    Well written. However, I disagree. Why do we care what other people are doing as long as they aren’t hurting those around them or being disrespectful to culture/religion in public. Let’s all follow the saying ‘LIVE AND LET LIVE.’ Please. Recommend

  • Acha bacha

    Well well well, same has happened with me many time and I have successfully escaped out of this. But have you ever noticed the persons who asked you to pray or something else are themselves not perfect Muslims. they don’t practice Islam properly, yet they force you to obey Quran and Sunnah. I’m not saying this to all tablegeez but that’s the fact which is still stinging the youth like us. Other aspect of this situation is that every individual has its own rewards or punishments. NO one will BOTHER you when it comes to punishment. But for sharing rewards(sawab) everyone forces you to pray so that they may receive rewards.
    Why people need an exertion to offer prayers? That’s because we youth aren’t impressed by the role models around us. It isn’t necessary that those who pray 5 times a day and wear beard are the role models and we need to follow them.
    Conclusion: To attract the youth for Namaz or prayers, these religious persons need to be best practicer of ISLAM first. Recommend

  • Yousuf Jamil Siddiqui

    Namaz is obligatory for a Muslim…there is no choice whether to offer it or not…if people (including me) are not offering it 5 times a day regularly, we are not fulfilling our deen. I agree on that point! Also, doing tableegh and telling someone to follow good deeds is no problem as well. But I do not agree when you say that its not a personal matter. It is a personal matter. If I don’t offer namaz and my brother does regularly, then he won’t be punished for me not praying, neither will I get reward for my brother’s prayers. As they say, “Sab ko apna apna hisaab dena hai”!Recommend

  • Hassan Siddique

    Really well written. If we follow Sahabas we would easily know that how preaching was done and should be done.. Its more than a personal matter, where persuasion is necessary to spread the cause.Recommend

  • DAMDAM

    Bravo! Your point is that people should have full right to knock your door to demand to follow what they perceive to be right. Be very careful about giving in to these people because once you give them the chance to decide whats wrong and whats right they would not stop there. A lot of these self made god’s vigilantes are asking for the release of a cold blooded murderer. As for Quran, Its a book and as in any book you can make any interpretation out of it to prove your point of view. Find that hard to believe well I dont given that each sect has their own interpretation of it. Remember this that Islam survived in Indian subcontinent not due to Mohmmed bin Qassem’s brutality or the plundering invaders but due to the mystic sufis who taught people to connect to god through love and compassion not through hate and compulsion. Recommend

  • Shajia

    I fail to understand why the Quran is always used as a reference book and not understood in its entirety. Just because some verses preach “tableegh”, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other verses encouraging personal and private practice.
    More over, since when did we start replacing logical thinking with a reference book? That’s not the spirit of the Quran or of Islam.
    It is impractical, a waste-of-time and kind of derogatory to “preach” any religion.
    If Muslims really want to show others what a great religion we have, we need to do so by our actions and not by our words. References from the Quran are meaningless when Muslims all over the world are the most corrupt, unhygienic, ungroomed, impolite, impatient, uneducated and closed minded people. Of course there are exceptions, but that is the general trend, who are we kidding?
    First fix your actions, your appearance and your reluctance to engage in civilized public debates, and then preach whatever it is that you practice!Recommend

  • A.

    I respect you so much for this article.Recommend

  • PEEPEEPPEE

    Namaz is a personal matter. It is not upto you to tell me how to live my life and how I define my identity, as you yourself said in the opening paragraph. Go to your heaven and let me go to my hell.

    The worst part is when you people think ‘we’ are making excuses for not praying. We don’t make excuses. We don’t need to. It is our fundamental right to choose to pray or not to pray. Recommend

  • Usama Aziz

    Excellent Piece of writing…
    @to all those who think religion is a personal matter
    If religion is a personal matter then why did Hazrat Muhammad(S.A.W.W) came to this world? If religion is a personal matter and between you and ALLAH, then ALLAH would not have sent his Messengers to guide people…Recommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha Suleman

    Well-written, Umair!

    Agree with you.Recommend

  • Danish

    “Because, if religion really was a personal matter, then the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wouldn’t have preached and had interactive sermons.”
    brother He(PBUH) was the prophet of Allah, thats why he was preaching the ‘jahils’ of arab, because in history that period before Prophet was called “Dor e jahalia”.Recommend

  • Nero

    Well, religion as personal matter means that state shall not interfere in a person’s belief system. For eg,. in Pakistan if you want to stand for presidential elections, you must be Muslim which means that the state is judging you for your beliefs, this is very old-fashioned, hypocritical (as many Pakistanis enjoy freedom of religion in other non-muslim countries) and barbaric. Second instance is that Ahmadis are declared non-Muslims. Again a blatant case of state putting its nose in a person’s belief system. The STATE should not judge private belief.

    Secondly you talked of the tableeghis coming you to your college and inviting you for namaz, you feel its great communal affair and good religious freedom. I must say you are seeing this activity from a very narrow and communal mindset. Think for a moment, how would a Christian, Hindu would feel if suddenly a grim looking mans knocks at his hostel room. IT’s NOT OKAY TO SHOVE DOWN FAITH a person’s throat.

    Thirdly my question to the author is how would he or other muslims react if AHMADIS or CHRISTIANs form their own missionary groups and start calling people for their religious activities. You know what will happed – it would violent reprisal.

    what you talked about PERSONAL AFFAIR is actually communal MAJORITARIANISM, true freedom means anyone can spread his belief or disbelief. You might think religion should not be a personal affair, but suppose you go a Christian nation and they say religion is NOT PERSONAL and start teaching you BIBLE, how would you feel.

    So please, be religious or not, DON’T BE A BIG HYPOCRITE!!!Recommend

  • AZEEM

    Great article..! Recommend

  • AA

    five stars !Recommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha

    Well written, Umair!

    Agree with you,Recommend

  • Ammar Saleem

    Thanx boy…
    Good effort at least some of us replied against “self made personal issue”.Recommend

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

    The author claims that he is not a religious extremist, yet attempts to shove his religious beliefs down other people throats in a manner which is quintessentially “extremist”.

    As long as my prayer, or the lack of it, does not affect your personal life, I needn’t listen to your high-headed nonsense. The secularists don’t tell you when, where and how to pray, and it’s not completely outrageous for us to demand some reciprocity!Recommend

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

    I’m an Atheist and don’t pray. Yet I manage to maintain good relations with my neighbours and treat my servants with respect. The idea that without religion all sense of community would be lost is nothing more than a sad myth.Recommend

  • Faraz

    One’s relationship with his Master is as personal as the relationship with his lover…please get out of that ‘local university’ mentality. Your argument is too absurd to merit serious consideration….Recommend

  • faraz

    A basic principal of Islam is that a person will be held responsible for his deeds only. He will not be answerable for the good or bad deeds of others. Thus relationship between a man and his creator is of personal nature. The entire concept of heaven and hell depends on the idea of free will.Recommend

  • Ms Marium

    I just loved this article – thank you for writing this – most sensible article on Tribune !Recommend

  • Saad Jamil

    @Nero:
    Daawah is a basic component of religion Islam only. There is no concept of invitation/daawah in any of other religion Stay blessed :) Recommend

  • Aneeza

    I have no issues with people propagating religion but as soon as that verges on “holier than thou” approach, I have a problem. Moreover, when the same “tebleesgi” people do trading of religion for worldly things, then I have a problem. The issue is that “tableegh” has become a business in our country. Otherwise, of course, religion is about inviting others and showing through example. However, there is also no compulsion in religon. All one can do is to try to appeal to someones’ finer senses but picking up a baton and letting everyone follow by force is counter productive.Recommend

  • kamran

    Pakistan saw an emergence of religion during the Zia era. a move to fortify hi illegimate hold on power. the rise of religion was done through indoctrination, and moreso a philosophy of hate to which Islam as a religion never subscribed. the beards increased and so did namaz but my dear friends, has corruption reduced in Pakistan. we in Pakistan are selective with our religious discourse, namaz but not Islamic disciplne of honesty, dont we hve people who sport beards and are pious supermen but are corrupt in business practices. Islam is not just display fell the spirit. “No, I don’t pray Jummah“ wanted to make a point but many of us missed the spirit. May God bless you.Recommend

  • Nadir

    Stop judging other people. If I am an adherent to a religion, I do so so that I am judged by God. Everyone in Pakistan seems to have their own definition of what a good or bad Muslim is. The last time I checked we are supposed to account for our own sins, if that is the case, then religion is a personal matter, and no one should have to conform to what any other persons beliefs. Recommend

  • Babar Ahmed

    It still is a personal choice to read namaaz or not. First of all, the Holy Quran doesn’t have the word namaaz anywhere. It is Salaat, to establish salaat (islamic system) in your life and the world around you. Unfortunately people narrow salaat into just a ritual. Allah created us to establish the Islamic system ( not the so-called b.s.-shariah the taliban talk about) in this world and in your life. Even if all the 5.9 billion people in this world read namaaz, nothing would change until you establish the islamic system that Allah commanded you to do. Namaaz is a form of connection between you and your lord and provides meditation and peace. People in the time of Jahaliyyah also prayed, so do the hindus, buddhists, but in my opinion Allah created us for a bigger purpose than to just perform rituals (hajj, fast, namaaz, etc.) The problem is that the Jumaah khutbah nowadays is not what it used to be. Back then it used to be an open congregation with men and women separate but able to speak about problems within the community, if certain individuals had questions, concerns, how the community can improve or help each other. Not just some Imam telling us Ahadith (which by the way written,compiled 250 years after the death of the Prophet (pbuh) like the Bible. Basically Islamic rituals are given too much importance, because Muslims think if they perform them their sins are washed away, just like Christians when they go to confession.
    Just like Allama Iqbal said:
    namaaz-o rozah-o -qurbaani-o hajj
    yeh sab baaki hain
    tu baaki nahin haiRecommend

  • malik

    Yes, it is true that our Prophet (PBUH) encouraged people to pray together and it is true that Azaan (call to prayer) , a practice common to Muslims all over the world, started during the times of our Prophet (PBUH).

    Your argument “If it was a personal matter, Prophet (PBUH) would have surely said so” is weak at best. If we accept that argument, then we will also have to accept that all the things that are not explicitly encouraged in the Holy Book would have to be deemed as ‘not allowed’.

    If the Prophet (PBUH) wanted his followers to pray collectively, there is a context and reason behind it which we have to take into account. During those days, the converts to the religion were smaller in number and they were feeling that they were being besieged. They had to demonstrate to others that they were united and that they believed in one God. This was also done to increase the number of faithfuls to the new religion.

    During early days of Islam, if people were not told (and even pressurized) to pray together, the unity would have been lost and it would have been easy for others to create friction or suspicion among the followers, by planting doubts in their minds. This is the reason the new converts were told to assemble every week, so that they can assure each other and they can find out who is getting weak in his belief.

    Times now have changed, and we have to move with the times. Recommend

  • Ahmad Kamal

    A very good & provocative explanation of very little in seen but a very big issue which most of us these days are being faced with. this article defiantly serves its purpose of seeding the thought of creations relation to it creator & why we are created, just to live , eat , mingle & die.. our purpose of life is larger than life & is to interact with each other to uphold that is said & what is told in shape of Quran & Hadith. its very good to read such a primitive thought which we might have lost in the our self imposed complexities of life & Allah willingly if we start with just praying on time, there isn’t any reason we shall rise from this awful predicament which we are in!Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Valid point shared…. and why the hell @Loneliberal PK you are all of a sudden offended by someone who is telling he belives in and practices in religion for that matter. The reality is mostly people do have faith. Recommend

  • Saba

    Exactly!! I have gone through the lyf of many people poking their nose into my business showing there reverent status!! Truly speaking these people are soporific n I just ignore them!! :P satirical?? yup i know!! bt these censorious people delight in casting blames showing their illusory face!!Islam is complete code of lyf which holds tenacity and Islam has never imposed its commands, it is religion of peace n it has directed us to obey it by heart, not by showing off n exposing!! To sum up I’ll just say that follow Islam by the core of your heart!!Recommend

  • Hashmi

    Brilliant Article!!

    Express Tribune realised that printing liberal material is not selling their newspaper. As liberal material is fiction to the core that no one is interested in. All the liberal articles from promoting homosexuality to secularism to downgrading two nation theory has only earned this newspaper ridicule. As these liberal types constitute less than 0.001% of readership.

    Namaz is something that is not to be missed under any circumstance. It is to be prayed in congregation. How is it not related to the society.

    May Allah guide us all. May Allah make the Fajr congregation as large as the Jummah.Recommend

  • Sam

    And i thought that we already lived in ISLAMIC Republic of Pakistan, not 1400 years old Prophet Mohammad’s era where Islam had to be spread among people. 98% of people living in this country are Muslim by birth no matter which sect they follow but these maulvis still try to convert us to Islam…Recommend

  • Ahmad Kamal

    @Nero:
    I appreciate your thoughts on the article & like your details comments rather than just liking or disliking it. coming to your points, Pakistan has been formed on the basis of religion no matter what today’s so called liberal scholars say, Jinnah in my option was a true Muslim & big follower of our Prophet (peace on him). by endogenously a Muslim state their are certain rules of Islam which you needs to follow & rule of engagement for state is it shall be governed my Muslim & shall protect all her country men irrespective of their race, ethnicity, etc.PM or President’s should be Muslim that is necessary to avoid any policy or regulation which is against Islam & Muslim. & he is also obligatory not to make any against any other religion. secondly for your issue of Ahmadi’s being called Non-Muslims. well in Islam like other religions of past have some fundamental rules which needs to be observed & believed. So the basic fundamental rule is that There is only One God that is Allah & Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the last Prophet of Allah & their shall be no other coming after him. so if any one believes this than he is a Muslim & if any one don’t accept it he is a non-Muslim.its very simple i see no complications init. yes i do believe in the harmony of the Ethnic group.no one has the right to kill any one but in otherwise situation courts are open. for your comments on Tablegi jamat that they are forcing the religion on by force, no sir i beg to differ, Islam has never been forced on any one but with proper logic & conviction. lastly your we are not afraid of any other religion to over come Islam. if any body can convenience us to turn into Christianity or Jewish be our guest but they cannot , here i am not disrespecting any heavenly religion i am just making my point & that is human’s have been sent with many Appostals of Allah from Adam to Moses to Jesus to lately Muhammad ( Peace on them All) & all of them till last have been saying one thing in common that Allah is one & prophecies of last Prophet Muhammad was in all Scriptures, so basically all religions which were sent by Allah are in continuation towards Islam because Islam is not just a spiritual religion, it also a way of life. it teaches you who you are, how to live a life, yes i do believe that Islam is the succession & completion of all the previous (Godly)religions lastly our Holy Book Qur’an is in it original form coz you will not find any other religions holy scriptures are in their original manuscript. Lastly i believe i can try to revert any non Muslim to Islam by logic & through convincing him but not through force or any thing like that. i hope that i have answered your apprehensions.Recommend

  • Saad

    When people say it’s a personal matter, it usually is to those people who tend to force a person to pray, which isn’t exactly the right thing to do in the first place. Having said that, I do agree with some of the things you talked about and I can relate to you.Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    Imagine my discomfort when an anti-Shia Wahhabi group of strangers with their faux religiosity using over the top Arab lingo even when they know I’m and they’re not Arab (Wa-Lahi, brother!) comes knocking on my door…yea, I’d sure love to be in that Jamaat…

    While a few not religiously inclined Sunni practitioners, and perhaps even sub-sects, might have a problem, you can bet other non-Sunni Pakistanis definitely will.

    Imagine if they knocked on an Ahmadi or Christian Pakistani’s door?! Awkwaaaaaarrrd…

    While I hold my conservative religious values and agree it’s communal, and Dawah is important, there’s a time and place. Like if we’re together playing a game of cricket, and it’s time for prayers, you can ask then or in passing, and should avoid judging. Yes? Great. No? I’ll see you in a few minutes then….you damn kafir! (Kidding…I meant you Takfiri! lol. As you can see I’ve been learning terminology so I can survive in case of a Taliban take over!).

    I too didn’t particularly like the reasoning in the blog you’re replying to, because Jumaah is pretty fundamental and there’s no religious excuse, however, that writer was partly right, and it is his choice and he shouldn’t be subjected to prejudice or persecution in the workplace because of it and would suggest he get away from his extremist co-workers and the hostile environment.

    Evangelical strangers knocking on people’s door is cheap and annoying as someone trying to sell me something. If I want to buy something I’ll go out or shop online. Don’t bother me and act all like Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    To top it, the government should simply not be funding such groups, and should have rules and regulations disallowing proselytizing on public or state property, while still maintaining pluralism. There should also be protection of employees from discrimination. Bad enough they deny a set of Pakistani rights by making us sign a declaration against a group for being non-Muslims in order to get a passport. How the Punjab government gets away with funding extremist sectarian religious terrorists and militants and their causes is beyond me.Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    Btw, it’s Salaat, not Namaaz

    Haven’t you heard?

    We’re pro-Saudi anti-Irani

    Love all things Arab, hate all things non-Arab

    (sarcasm…just in case..)Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli,

    Very well written jayo mian.Recommend

  • zalim singh

    real brave boy to have written this.Recommend

  • rehmat

    I live in India and I would not be happy if Hindus came to my door regularly and tried to do tableegh of their religion. Fortunately that does not happen. I hope that Hindus and Chistians in Paistan are given the same freedom to choose as we are in India.Recommend

  • deedeee

    rubbbisshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…
    there is no compulsion in religion!!!
    this is why pakistan is in such a condition today!!! people need to keep their noses out of other peoples business!!!especially in religion…which is an EXTREMELYYYYY personal mattter!!Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/749/muhammad-umair-savul/ Muhammad Umair Savul

    @PEEPEEPPEE:
    Sorry dude it may be your wish or bid but not a fundamental right. Religion Islam has comprehensively marked all the maxims. And please try to develop beneficial sense of comprehending and differentiating between two things.
    Plus God has given you an ethical sense to gauge if the preacher is honorable man or a pseud.
    Have a good life :)Recommend

  • Mehr

    Thankyou ET for publishing an amazing article for a change. Love it. Concise and to the point but very well written!!Recommend

  • Ali

    Very well said bro! Thank you for this.
    Will look forward to more stuff from you.Recommend

  • Rafey

    @Loneliberal PK:
    I don’t find anything extreme in this article. It is the secular people here who are shoving their high headed and shallow nonsense on others rather than the other way round. As the article mentions, the tablighi people knock on the door and propagate (not force) their views on others. If you want to go with them fine, if not then they aren’t going to put a gun to your head and blow you up.

    Frankly I am appalled at the arrogance of the people here. With the global financial crises, famine in Africa, breakdown of social systems in the west, everyone knows that the secularists/atheists/capitalists are naked (figuratively), shallow in argument and without evidence. And yet the have the nerve to call others extreme when they are enforcing their beliefs (capitalism, consumerism, democracy) on others. When was the last time these topics were objectively evaluated and debated in Pakistan or any where in the world for that matter? Yet these are not only being shoved down peoples throats but questioning these is considered a sin in modern times. I would call this extreme.Recommend

  • Rafey

    Agree with the author. People here saying that religion is not a personal matter. Well ok, whats your evidence? It is easily proven from Quran and Sunnah that religion is not confined to individuals, it is communal. Please any one here who thinks religion is a personal matter bring forth some evidence from the Quran and Sunnah to prove their point. No secularist/atheist non sense please.Recommend

  • Cynical

    O.K. Namaaz is not a personal matter, agreed.

    What next on the list?
    I guess what I wear, what I eat, what I read, what and whom I listen to, who I could be friends with, whom I can marry and may be who I can kill in the name of my belief.
    Recommend

  • Hamza

    Unfortunately one has to begin with “Call me conservative, call me old, call me a buttoned-down bore or call me whatever you like” before even attempting to write on this topic. Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/749/muhammad-umair-savul/ Muhammad Umair Savul

    @Faraz:
    I feel gallant and proud to have been a part of that “Local University”. I am not a tableeghi guy and it was just my experience. No where in the entire article i set this criteria irremissible for anyone but Holy Quran that is complete code of Islam doesn’t countenance at any point to let Namaz on the will of an individual Muslim, rather at many degrees it strongly accentuates and dictates for Namaz. People thinking themselves liberal or Modern Muslims badly need to get out of their “Absurd and Artificial Non-Local University” mentality, it won’t make you a cool dude. Boy live a genuine life even if its with ‘local university’ wali mentality. Recommend

  • KS

    Great write up.Totally agree to every word the writer has writtenRecommend

  • Sajid I.

    The problem with this writing is that the writer pre-set a conclusion that he wanted to reach, and then tried to manufacture reasons to support it. And pretty much failed in doing so.

    Religion IS a private matter. What right does a Tableeghi have of entering your room and waking you up to ask you for Namaz? THAT IS CALLED ZABARDASTI. If my memory serves me correctly, Prophet himself once had to cut apart a part of his attire because a cat was sleeping on it and he didn’t want to wake it up by pulling the cloth from underneath it.

    So the Tableeghis come and wake a human up from sleep to teach the lesson of the Prophet who wouldn’t even wake a sleeping cat up? There is plenty of things out there Tablighis could do, why don’t they do gasht to collect funding for the poor and the weak? I think that is a better way of practicing Islam! To me a drinking philanthropist is way way better person than an alcohol-hating self-serving-in-God’s-name-Qari-or-tableeghi who spends his lifetime doing nothing for humanity but talking about fearing God outwardly and waiting impatiently to “do the things” once he tricks God into the Jannat. Recommend

  • http://www.salmanzq.com Salman Qureshi

    What a joke? I believe in God and like to pray – when it’s not shoved down my throat. And it’s my personal matter. I agree with the above. Would you let people come and invite you to other religions, etc to you? Would you still allow preaching then? And everyone can see the effects of our move towards these barbaric interpretations of Islam on our society. The Pakistani social fabric is failing and becoming backward. It should make you realise there is something wrong with how you are interpreting things.Recommend

  • http://www.salmanzq.com Salman Qureshi

    @loneliberal – kudos to you man. I agree – I have friends who are christians, atheists, gays, and from all other walks of life and belief systems – all of whom are much better people than these so called ‘righteous muslims’ of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    Excellent Write up….. agreed 110%Recommend

  • Abdullah Ali Khan

    I’m sorry Umair but I couldn’t disagree with you more. Choosing whether or not to pray is most certainly a personal matter. I was brought up in a liberal household. Incidentally, liberality does not necessarily translate to lack of religion. It’s funny how liberalism is perceived by many here but essentially it pertains to freedom of thought and speech, individual rights and equality among human beings.

    My parents were and are steadfast in their observance of all facets of religion. I was given basic religious education, finished the Quran twice under a Qari etc. and was encouraged to pray regularly. However, to be honest, for most of my teens, I went through the motions of being a Muslim without ever really having any belief. Used to go to Jumma with my father and sneak out the back of the mosque for a smoke with another errant friend.

    Around my 17th year, I found myself pondering more and more about God, religion, life after death and similar questions related mostly to my adolescent existential angst. I started reading up seriously, seeked knowledgeable people to question them and tried my best to understand Islam as well as other religions. Eventually, I began praying irregularly without coercion for the first time in my life and discovered it relaxed me and gave me piece of mind. I now pray five times a day, fast and strive my utmost to follow the religion which I have CHOSEN. Point being, Islam worked for me. For somebody else, it might be Buddhism or Christianity, believing in Gaia or choosing not to believe in a superior guiding force at all.

    Following your line of reasoning, however, everybody else who does not conform to your idea of Righteousness is wrong, wrong, wrong and should be hectored until he/she conforms. So should I castigate you on your appearance because I find your goatee to be deeply unIslamic and offensive to my belief system? Or should I strive to be the best human being and the best Muslim I can be and leave the judging to God?Recommend

  • Rehan

    its v well written umair.

    it is not a personal matter… and who ever thinks that it is … he/she just show excuses by not practicing islam in a proper way.
    actualy we tired and lazy so called muslims want that we do not follow islam… we just remain in the life of enjoyment….crazy life…. and still we get jannat…still we dont get any AZAAB from Allah in grav and afterward….
    no its not like that… we cant make islam as a perosnall matter. if it is so… then why Allah and his Rasool (Sallal la hu Alaihee-wasalam) said that… not only obey and practice islam by urself alon only…also preach islam …. one who done good deeds alon will not be awarded ..until he offers/preaches others muslim to do so….Recommend

  • waqqas iftikhar

    You are right in a sense, all religion is usually a communal experience, but, personal freedoms are paramount, you CANNOT and SHOULD NOT force things down someone’s throat….that is just no on. There are people who might not subscribe to your conception of the religion, so instead of imposing one’s views, we should have the patience to listen to their views, tolerance is paramount! but alas, the most ‘religious’ looking don’t subscribe to that view.Recommend

  • saleem

    The point missed by the writer and most comments is that:

    Pakistan is a state, it has a constitution and parliamant to make laws
    Islam is a religion like other religions where persons follow the religious diktats to run their lives.
    Where the state gives a law it becomes a state affairs, while all other is personal matter
    No one should in a country impose personal matters over others , therefore if one wishes to follow a religion or abide by it , go ahead it is fair as long as it does not disturb other persons right.
    Recommend

  • Pakistani

    Totally agree with the writer ………… Islam is not a personal matter its collective matter.

    Anyone accept it or not ……….. or gives reasons not to believe it but its true.

    Thumbs up for the writer!!!Recommend

  • Rehan

    Please read Ahadees about namaz and bey-namazi.
    There are very strict orders and punishments for one who dont offer prayer.

    If one who is a muslim, then he must beleive on Quran-o-Hadees. then he must follow what is written in Quran-o-Hadees.

    Try to become a complete muslim with fear of Allah. Only our good deeds and neik aamal will be with us after death. nthng else.Recommend

  • Syed Mauze Rehan

    The Hadith is taken from Sahih Bukhai. Sorry i missed it.Recommend

  • Shiraz

    There is a difference between Informing, convincing and forcing. I hope you know that. Islam doesn’t teach forcing. Only informing and convincing ( by those who are good human beings), because dawah comes after being a good human being and a good righteous muslimRecommend

  • Hassan

    Greatly appreciated article.
    Its the same case with me. My parents are very strict about regualar Namaz. More so, since the Masjid is very close to our house, my father believes in going there to pray as much as he can and rigidly encourages me to do the same often saying that:” I feel so happy when i see my son (im his only son) in the Masjid before I have arrived”. My mother too wants me to go and pray there instead of in the house and taunts me if i skip the prayers in the masjid due to lazziness or some other reason while still being in the house.

    I on the other hand, have highs and lows of faith. At times i try praying regularly, At times, its almost like I am not a Muslim, and dont even feel the urge to pray anywhere, despite my parents reminding. And thats when I lie to them that I have already prayed in the house.

    At times, I even answer back to them saying that praying is my personal thing and they should not repeatedly remind me to go to the masjid.

    Among all this, I am trying to find my love for this essential Islamic obligation. I know its importance. But somehow, that doesnt encourages me to pray as much as I should. I dont want to pray just to show it to them, which I am doing most of the times these days.

    I can only say that reading both these articles on whether praying is a personal matter or not was a good experience. Tehre are many things I want to share with you readers and want opinions on them. Maybe I’l write an article here soon!

    God bless everyone who prays or who doesnt. We all need His blessings nevertheless!Recommend

  • Awais Khan

    Yes Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, while entirely the opposite is being preached to us by the radicals.Recommend

  • A Baqi

    Well done brother you have rightly pointed out the importance of NAMAAZ as a collective matter.Recommend

  • http://www.salmanzq.com Salman Qureshi

    Good one Sam!Recommend

  • Mujtaba

    I am with the writer … religion is not personal matter!! ur acts also effect me…. Its Allah’s law that rewards and punishments are granted to nations based on there collective behavior…. when Azaab-e-illahi comes… like it came to nations like Lout and Nooh… It destroy all… and when Nusraat-e-illahi comes like it come to Muslims… it comes to all… munafiqs of that time also enjoyed to benefits… so.. my dear… ur acts effect me…. we are social animal… living together… and we have impact on each other…! and we have to ask our brothers and sisters politely to accept the fact… as we have been told to ask by our religion!! Recommend

  • Nero

    @Saad Jamil: Really? Bible says Jesus is the salt of the earth and he is called light of the world. Christianity commands its followers to spread the Gospel( which literally means good news) and is an invitation to Christianity. Moreover, the problem here is not spreading the faith. What the author says is that religion is not a personal matter which means that any government/mullah etc can interfere in your personal life using religion. This is wrong. Freedom of religion includes freedom to spread your faith. But this freedom should also be for AHMADIS, CHRISTIANS and other religions , not just for muslims.Recommend

  • Nero

    @Ahmad Kamal :
    I accept your challenge. Revert me to Islam.Recommend

  • zehra

    it is ofcourse a personal matter, qayamat ke din har ik apna hisab dega, our senses, our organs will be our witnesses not our neighbours , friends or family! yes preaching is an important aspect and sure people may preach about Namaz/ roza/ zakat, however the need is to recognize the thin line between preaching with kindness and forcing upon others. remember islam grew not through power of sword byut mainly due to the presonality of the Holy prophet (SAW). you are accountable if you dont pray only you, no one else that makes it a personal matter. Recommend

  • Aamir

    As a muslim this is our duty to show the right side of life to all mankind. Being Muslims and belonging to the Ummah of last Prophet (PBUH), our excuses will trap us more in wrong doings. Read Quran with meanings, we will be able to clean ourselves. Life is too short, and there is no guarantee for tomorrow. May Allah show all of us the right path. Ameen.Recommend

  • Saad

    soon you’ll be justifying suicide bombing too. this is how it starts.Recommend

  • Patel

    @Talha:
    Well may be if someone’s not fair/fulfilling at work or in friends will that impact your opinion of him ?
    So why with God its all different ? Recommend

  • Nazi

    Well Written Bro !
    I really liked it reading , first time saw such kinda thing on tribune .
    ‘Personal matter’ and ‘koi ghar pe nahi hy’ are really true lines, the behavior our youngsters have towards Namaz.
    I really admire u learet somethign fom this,
    elsewise its so so common , in young genration ..
    and really its not the matter to insist someone , but u can ask someone, u can tell someone the benefits.
    May ALLAH keep u on right path . ameen . Recommend

  • Munis

    Its nice to see Express Tribune publish perspectives from the different views , proves ET’s neutrality. Though I see several loose ends with this article , not much convincing at allRecommend

  • Moazzam Salim

    So the writer is trying to say that the whole of Umah is responsible for my sins? and my sins are not mine alone?? seems like a too far fetched logic which appears to be completely against the teachings of IslamRecommend

  • pfaraz

    Agreed with it… good write-up and great example of Azaan.Recommend

  • Adeel

    People aren’t against tableegh, as much as they are against the whole “if you don’t pray you are kaafir… if you dont have beard you are kaafir… if you dont follow our brand of Islam you are kaafir…” etc nonsense that some so-called maulvis do. Tableegh is amazing… it gives you a chance to learn more about your religion and gives you the answers that you are looking for…
    I think its a wrong choice of words… religion IS a personal matter. The relationship one has with Allah is too personal and unique for you to say religion is not a personal matter… since religion is basically your relationship with your God… It really isn’t anyone else’s problem if I don’t pray 5 times a day, etc… Having said that, I understand the importance of Namaz and I know I SHOULD pray 5 times a day. However, no one can and should force me to do it… But, if my family, friends, colleagues, well wishers, etc, with the true intention of bringing me on the right path so I may not suffer in the hereafter, have all the right to suggest and try to convince me to take up Namaz…
    And while that may help…ultimately I will start praying Namaz five times a day only when Allah blesses me with the firm will to not miss a namaz ever again. It will happen one day, and it only happens when you ask Allah for guidance…
    when everything is dependent on your relationship with Allah, how is religion NOT a personal matter?
    Maybe you are trying to say that religion promotes community bonding because it has a lot of benefits… and also if we as a community started practicing Islam, in true letter and spirit, then many of our problems will be solved…. true… but that does not translate into religion not being a personal matter… you are saying something correct but choosing the wrong words to say it…
    Recommend

  • Essa

    I totally agree with the writer, even i used to make the same excuses when the Tableeghi Jamaat used to come on wednesdays or any other times, but after a lot of reading and sitting with such people I agree that Islam & namaz is nothing only personal.
    I am no extremist and i also believe that one has the right to live his life his own way, but Islam teaches us to stop the person if he is going on thew wrong path. It annoys at times, that who the hell are you to tell me what to do n how to do, but the reality is that every muslim has to take care of all muslims, because if we dont, if we just think that ‘me namaz parhta hu, me quran parhta hu, doosra koi parhe ya na parhe uska imaan,’ this can be a cause of PAKAR on the day of judgement… we must understand the reality of DAWAT E TABLEEGH instead of just taunting and criticising the TABLEEGHIIS.. This is the aim of our Holy Prophet that each and every person in the world is saved from the fire of hell and goes to jannah…..Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/749/muhammad-umair-savul/ Muhammad Umair Savul

    @Moazzam Salim:
    I didn’t mean what you sensed. But on eschaton an individual would be questioned for not courting his/her other Muslim brother/sister/children/fellow for Namaz. Recommend

  • Twit

    Why are you bothered if I pray or not? What business is it of yours?Recommend

  • waqqas iftikhar

    so the tableeghi dudes are out to get some more sawaab….btw….iused to pray quite a bit…..these days i dont….but then sometimes i do…in any case, tableeghis that come to my door aren’t met by the women of the house to make excuses, me and/or my dad go meet them, and tell them that the sunshine and butterflies koolaid that they are selling is all fine and dandy, but we aren’t buying.
    its just that people who criticise the tableeghis are consigned to hell so readily that…well for a religion of forgiveness, surprises me. Religious practice IS a personal matter otherwise all conversions to the religion of Islam would have been at the point of a sword.
    Just like jehovah’s witnesses in the states….I dont care if these guys come to my door, they can sell whatever it is they want to sell….but listen, its my right to buy it or otherwise.

    oh and by the way, jumma is NOT technically farz…if there isnt a congregation around you can pray zuhr..Recommend