On blasphemy, clerics and intolerance

Published: December 3, 2010

Maulana Sheerani became the controversial new head of the CII earlier this year

Intolerance is making headlines again. One can elucidate that local cleric Qari Salam’s decision to facilitate an FIR against Aasia Bibi or the appointment of JUI-F cleric Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani as the 12th chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) show that we are victims of our own social confusion.

I couldn’t help but notice that the history of intolerance and ignorance has always been battling against humanity. One of my colleague who visited Aasia Bibi’s village in Nankana to interview Qari Salam was astonished by the lack of remorse he felt regarding the decision to facilitate the FIR filed against her. When asked about pardoning Aasia Bibi, he went on to say that if it was his own “personal matter” he could consider pardoning her. Furthermore, he also hinted at potential public backlash from such a decision. The point I am getting at is that there was societal dynamics, which trumped anything supposedly rational.

Discussing the idea of social confusion, KK Aziz in his book “The Pakistani Historian” worried that changing society had been replaced by apathy and a lack of thought. The truth is we have reached a point where lack of education and moral strength has bred this confused circle of intolerance. Various facets of life ranging from politics to religion and even culture has challenged this attitude to live for the “now” as Aziz puts it.

Furthermore, with the death of pan-Islamic thought, our society’s ethical and moral debate has been hijacked by the religious cleric. By any means, the Council of Islamic Ideolgy has failed to even raise a proper voice against terror because religious parties remain confused about how religious beliefs fit into the concept of Pakistan. Furthermore, the state’s endorsement of Sherani is a sign that clerics retain political power during a time when academic Islamic scholars are forced to live in exile.

It seems that while living for the present, we have forgotten our past. As we boast laurels about old Islamic empires and hope for a new Saladin to come to our rescue, remember that the difference between then and now was an inherent attitude of tolerance. Tolerance in education, thought, and life in general meant that there was a collective will to strive and adapt to the changing times.


Sher Khan

A Lahore based reporter for The Express Tribune

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

  • Ali Hassan

    Very nice post, completely agreed.Recommend

  • http://www.nabihameher.wordpress.com Nabiha Meher Shaikh

    Well said! And I completely agree with you. However, as a teacher, trust me when I say that education is pointless when so much venemous indoctrination and intolerance is encouraged, promoted & taught. In fact, I don’t think it’s wrong to say that we are one of the most intolerant and hypocritical nations in the world. Recommend

  • parvez

    I think you have summed it up pretty well.Recommend

  • Humanity

    Advisor (Musheer) by Habib Jaalib


    “tu khuda ka noor hai
    akl hai, shaoor hai
    qaum tere saath hai
    tere hi!, hi!, hi!, wajood se
    mulk ki nijaat hai
    tu hai mehr-e-subh-e-nau
    tere baad raat hai!
    bolte jo chand hain
    sab ye shar pasand hain!
    inki khainch le zabaan
    inka ghoont de gala
    me ne us se ye kaha
    me ne us se ye kaha”

  • http://www.razarumi.com Raza Rumi

    God post Sher..
    Liked “a new Saladin”…Recommend

  • sohaib

    there is a death of every type of thought including original thought in the muslim world. what to talk about tolerance. we are not even educated. that is why even though we make about 20% of world population, we have no contribution or say in world affairs. our lands and our minds are occupied and we live a life of slavery. Recommend

  • http://dinopak.wordpress.com Hasan

    I agree with your observation, but isn’t it a bit late for that now? While the religio-political parties have strong holds in various areas of Pakistan, suddenly we find out that they are intolerant and irrational. It isn’t around from today, it goes way back to 1953 when the movement against the Qadiyanis was made. Today, Pakistan finds itself in a dilemma, with religious dogma on one hand and humanitarian causes on the other.

    Don’t get me wrong, Islam is a blessing for humanity, but the Muslim clergy has distorted it. No wonder we have 72 sects in Islam. Intolerance to other religions is another issue, we can’t even tolerate our own Muslim Brothers and sisters.Recommend

  • Aristo

    The so called clerics of Pakistan and their sidekicks, who are better known as “Mullahs”, today are much more intolerant than once Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahl were. I guess we are back into the time of Jahiliya.Recommend

  • Hina

    @ Writer “Sher Khan”
    Very Well Said, Great Article. Thankyou:)

  • Ahmad

    “because religious parties remain confused about how religious beliefs fit into the concept of Pakistan. ”

    I think they aren’t confused at all about how religion and identity mix. Recommend

  • athar mahmood

    here is the detail of blasphemy laws and their status in Islam.and widespread discussion.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/britpak Mohammed Abbasi

    I think Mullahs are the problem – this Bida in Islam, this infestation of a clerical criminality in a religion of hope and progress has been the downfall of the Ottoman Khilafa and Muslims worldwide. Maybe there needs to be a new Salahuddin and the Jihad that needs to done is against the mentality that denies women education and persecutes innocentsRecommend