Six (of many other) ‘wrong numbers’ that Pakistan keeps dialling

Published: February 5, 2015
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Allah (swt) has created us all and we worship Him; it does not make any difference to Him whether you tie your hands or leave them straight during prayer. PHOTO: AFP/STOCK IMAGE

Many in Pakistan have taken Aamir Khan’s PK as a lampoon only for Hindus and brushed it aside as just that blissfully ignoring the very blatant message the movie tried to give to followers of all religions. In my opinion, this movie was most relatable to our side of the border than any other place. The only real difference between what the film portrayed and what happens here is that when we bring up such questions we are killed. Simple.

But if you give the message in the movie a little more thought, you will realise that most of what happens in Pakistan is a ‘wrong number’.

Wrong number 1: Seminaries opposing modern knowledge

The prophet of Allah (swt), Muhammad (pbuh), admired the quest for knowledge and urged his followers to struggle and explore the universe. Seminaries here are too busy declaring modern studies non-religious to even pay heed to what religion itself says.

Wrong number 2: Honour killings

Prophet Shoaib’s (as) daughter once told him about a boy who helped her fetch water from a well. Later she was married to that boy – the boy was Prophet Musa (as). Today, she would have been killed for bringing shame to, and ‘dishonouring’, her family.

What I have not understood in all these years is, how on earth does killing their daughter or sister or mother bring honour to these men? Aren’t they, in turn, supposed to protect them from harm? I don’t know about you, but this is definitely a “wrong number” in my book.

Wrong number 3: Education is bad for women

We spend more on their weddings, for pomp and show, than on their education, just because it is feared that receiving an education will make them bad or “disobedient” wives. It is feared that education won’t let them focus on their house chores. It is believed that education will make them more flamboyant.

How can anyone not consider this a wrong number? Education makes women aware of their rights – rights that Allah (swt) has given them. So how is taking their right away acceptable?

Wrong number 4: Non-Muslims are always disrespectful towards Islam

The notion that non-Muslims are always contemptuous towards Islam is so strong that every time a non-Muslim is accused of blasphemy, he is presumed guilty (and in most cases killed) even before the trial takes place. The situation is so out of control now that even judges get pressurised to give a verdict against the minority group. On the other hand, “pious” Muslims can do whatever they want to do and no one can hold them accountable. The dichotomy is too blatant to ignore.

A few years back, in Islamabad, a minor and mentally challenged Christian girl was said to have desecrated the Holy Quran. When this news broke out, people were after her blood, but later she was found innocent. The local cleric – who had raised the allegations against her in the first place – was found to have burnt the sacred pages himself.

However, even after being acquitted of all charges, the girl and her family still lived in fear. The cleric, on the other hand, was never accounted for his crime.

Tring, tring. Wrong number.

Wrong number 5: Sectarian animosity

Did God create this sectarian divide? I don’t believe he did, so how dare we? Sectarian hatred has been created by opportunist, hate-mongers, who believe that God has given them the right to label whoever they want as infidels. This is a classic example of how religion can be used for personal gains.

Wrong number 6: During a regular conversation, “No, but the Quran says…”

Really? Are you 100% sure that is what the Quran says? Can you point out the exact verse instead of just saying you have read it or the so and so Imam at the so and so madrassa/mosque said in a so and so sermon.

Our society is on the verge of collapse. It is time that we stop dialling these wrong numbers and change our ways.

Daniyal Hasan

Daniyal Hasan

An MS student from NUST Islamabad. A critique of social taboos. Confused somewhere between liberals and fundamentalists. He tweets as @ahmadhumaish (twitter.com/ahmadhumaish)

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

  • Iftikhar Ali

    God has no religion. MGRecommend

  • Salma

    Of course what you say. Only ostriches read the message of the movie differently.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Surprisingly how each and every wrong number connects with ‘ religion ‘……….. would it not simplify things if ‘ religion ‘ was taken off the telephone exchange altogether ?Recommend

  • Ali

    “No but the Quran says…”. Even if the Quran says so, that doesn’t make it true unless you are able to prove it true. Until then, the argument itself is nonsense. Recommend

  • abc

    seems writing for the sake of writing…Recommend

  • Baddi Magane

    Daniyal hasan Bhai, you have spoken wise words. But, it is too little and too late for a society that has long made up its mind on what’s “wrong number” and what’s “right number”. Now It is each one to himself/herself. Good luck.Recommend

  • Rahul

    Excellent article! Would like to see more from people like you than the Retired generals, Civil servants etc. who seem frozen in the past.Recommend

  • Tanmay Jagdale

    Very Informative and Introspective Article my dear friend.
    Hope this initiates some serious thought process across the border…at least now!!Recommend

  • Rahul

    Pakistan is messed up in more ways besides religion. Pakistanis liked PK because a Muslim boy romanced a Hindu girl, but banned Ranjhanna where a Hindu boy romances a Muslim girl. Movies should make you think and look at your prejudices. Unfortunately, Pakistanis are able to enjoy movies with their prejudices intact.Recommend

  • Ihtasham Masood

    That was a very good analysis….especially wrong number 4,5 and 6 must be stopped. the price of these are very high.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    Point number 4: The six plus billion non-Muslims in the world are indifferent to Islam and its heroes and teachings. Indifference does not mean liking or disliking. It is an absence of that. It may simply stem from ignorance about Islam and having no incentive or motivation to remove that ignorance. They have their own belief systems and their own concerns to attend to. Maybe that indifference may be misunderstood to be “blasphemous” by a Muslim, who may expect respect for his beliefs and heroes. But to a non-Muslim, they believe in nothing about Islam, its holy books, its heroes, or its history. There is neither respect or lack of respect one way or the other. Ripping apart a book, which means nothing to a non-Muslim, may be “desecration” to a Muslim, but it is just a book to the non-Muslim, endowed with nothing “holy” or “sacred”. In a diverse world, just do not expect un-believers to understand or respect one’s beliefs. Don’t take it is as an insult that needs to be avenged.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    Point Number 3: Education for girls/women. Why are family sizes declining in most of the world except in the Muslim World? Because when girls and young women are empowered through education, they marry later and have fewer children. A large family may have been considered a blessing in olden days when the mortality rate was high. Today it is not, as the carrying capacity of our planet is being severely tested and our its ecology is degrading. Pakistan’s population exploded from 30 million to 180 million (6 times), while India’s exploded from 325 million to 1.25 billion (4 times) from 1947 to 2014. Nigeria, where typical families have 8-9 children, will in 25 years become the third most populated country in the world. The entire population of Muslim Middle East and Saharan/Sub-Saharan Africa is rising fast. And so will the conflicts emanating from there.Recommend

  • Vish

    The exception to this is Iran which is faced with a declining population.Recommend

  • p r sharma

    God is one and the world is created by Him( can’t be her) . If it is so then entire humanity is His creation including those who do not believe Islam. Why then someone who is non believer of Islam ( creation of the same God) is wajib ul Katl. this itself gives doubt that religion is used as a tool for vested social and political interest at some stage . don’t know my comment will pass through the moderation. if you deny to listen a view different to that of yours time gets stopped at that point.Wisdom raises doubt and get them cleared while belief irrespective of religion and values makes us a convinced person and restricts any change in our belief. it is very painful when we learn that our belief was wrong even in part.Recommend

  • p r sharma

    Societies develop their own values, imagination (which happened to be beyond their knowledge) depending on many factors. absence of answers of many questions led to an imagination of a power termes as GOD/ Allah or Nature. These values undergo a change with the passage of time , interaction with the newer societies independent thinking and many more. Association of similar thinking was helpful for the survival and there evolved the religion. No one chooses his/her religion now also. it is by birth . Upbringing is done by parents / families and therefore their words/ teachings have the lasting impact ( we may call it first forming of some belief ). We simply tend to believe whatever is told to us by our parents/families/ society and religion and its teachings are also included therein.This is a protected environment and the belief is solidified. The intensity of belief reacts the same level of intolerance towards any other society / faith / ideology / thinking which hurts our own believe which we feel as the truest one and supreme. This is universally applicable to all not only to religion but also entire aspects of life. everyone is free to disagree too.Recommend

  • anand singh

    Actually.. you seem to be replying for the sake of replying.,Recommend

  • Alann

    The person today revered as “Quaid-e-Azam” dialled a wrong number 6 decades ago, and since day 1 up till now, we can see the result, in the form of what has become of this land called Pakistan and its people.Recommend

  • abc

    ahmm i have never seen any educated person following such things … and from illiterate you can expect anything…Recommend

  • shabbir

    The female literacy rates in Iran are very high. In fact as a society, their literacy rates are high. Poverty is low.Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmed

    It does makes sense because the credibility of Quran is already-established.Recommend

  • child

    Mullahs and clerics are fond of 7th century eternally.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    And maybe Turkey. But they are educated and comparatively “modern”. But Saharan and sub-Saharan countries are a different matter.Recommend

  • Nabeel Khan

    Brilliantly put!Recommend

  • Gp65

    A brilliant comment to a brilliant OpEd. That is the exact point movir Pk was making.

    I would like to propose that religion may have a role in guiding relationship of an individual with their maker but there is potential for mischief when it is used to guide social interactions.Recommend

  • Gp65

    Only among Muslims. It certainky does not work as an argument with non-Muslims.Recommend

  • Tinkerer

    Jazakallah for summarizing the obvious truths. Keep it up. Recommend

  • Tinkerer

    Someone who is a non-believer in Islam is not ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ as proclaimed by some ignorant Muslims. Quran clearly declares the lack of compulsion in religion – “for you is your faith and for me is mine”. Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmed

    So non-Muslims should research on their own. There are plenty of books available in Market.Recommend

  • http://www.google.com/aslam09221 Aslam shaikh

    I wonder if you understand the theme of the “Wrong Number”. It does not deny the existance of God nor the religions! The main thrust is on the Bidat (Additions) not approved by the God. No religion is bad for humanity until it guides the followers and keeps them in order. As regards the religion of Islam it is a “Complete Religion for humanity” as approved in the Quran. So Islam is the Chosen Religion of God. Non-Muslim critics appriciate the Islamic rulings and the way of true Muslim life…..Recommend

  • http://www.google.com/aslam09221 Aslam shaikh

    Dear Sharmaji. Pls read the Chapter 9; 1-6 of Holy Quran yourself and then realize the truth of “Wajibul Qatal”. Don’t rely of Arun Shuri type critics. I am sure you will be convinced that the Verses relate only to “the Enemey/ Group that come to fight in the Battle-field”. This type of killing is a fight for survial and allowed in every religion. What about Maha-Bharat, Gitta and other Hindu books which talk about many Hindu wars and killings. Enjoy and be happy!Recommend

  • http://www.google.com/aslam09221 Aslam shaikh

    Try to understand the main theme of PK – Religious behaviour – wrong numbers. Don’t be selective. Romance was used as “Movie Masala” without any conclusive result. Why you are ashamed of Love? It has no boundries. Many Indians and Pakistani marry christian girls in UK and America but no one is ashamed. Be tolerant to others and enjoy happyness!Recommend