Arabization of Pakistan: Bringing the desert home

Published: August 26, 2011

Abaya was an unknown word in Urdu language PHOTO: AFP

There was a land of cavaliers and cotton fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their ladies fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a civilization gone with the wind.

– An introductory foreword to the film Gone with the Wind (1939)

Civilizations can never be made up, this is all hitherto history has to tell us, but yes they can be ruined to irretrievable notwithstanding. Societies are never absolute in their very essence. This is the natural organic flow of events that weaves the edifice of a society over the time period by encompassing the divergent customs, languages, dogmas and traits. The final synthesis, what we call a society, is the one to impart the distinguishing identity to its adherents. The more firm the foundations of society, the more preeminent will be the identity yielding out of it. Societies are prone to decadence only when they cease to embrace the extrinsic flavors or when become the subject of deliberate acculturation. Later is the case with ‘the land of pure’ which, as for some, is yet to be more pure.

Pure is the word and Arabization is the synonym.

Pure of what?

Pure of the specter of the pre-partition Indian identity that was the congenital inheritance of Indian Muslims bestowed on them by the indigenous society that had evolved over hundreds of years by the commingling of various cultures and civilizations.

Plagued by quandary, the Pakistani state, after the partition, was quick to embrace the pan-Islamic identity embellished with salient features of Arabian Peninsula whilst cunningly blending it with religion in order to render it more acceptable for the local populace. The identity engineers considered it the last resort to homogenize the diverse local cultures and vernacular languages by binding them in a construct emanated from religion based identity. That was fall of Dhaka that led to expedition of the Arabization process.

Eminent historian Dr Mubarak Ali explains the predicament in the words:

“Since its inception Pakistan has faced the monumental task of formulating its national identity separate from India. Partitioned from the ancient civilization of India, Pakistan has struggled to construct its own culture; a culture not just different and unique from India, but one appreciable by the rest of the world. ..The tragedy of 1971 [when Bangladesh separated] brought a shock to the people and also a heavy blow to the ideology of Pakistan… More or less convinced of their Islamic heritage and identity, Pakistan’s government and intelligentsia consciously attempted to Islamize the country.”

History itself has been the cardinal victim since antiquity in the hands of plunderers who deem it their foremost target for their ulterior motives. That’s what happened here. History, taught in public schools, starts from the arrival of Muslim Arabs and ends at carving a Muslim state out of Hindu India. Everything else has been rendered smokescreen.

The past, prior to Muhammad Bin Qasim, is a direct threat to the engineered Arab identity as it was obviously Hindu-Buddhist so omitted. The puritans, Aurangzeb Alamgir and Ahmad Sirhindi, get all praise since they are in line with the unyielding version of Arab Islam whilst heretic Akbar is accused of creating a new religion ignoring the fact that people were far better off in Akbar’s era. There’s not even a single mentioning of inter-faith harmony Dara Shikow had been preaching given that there’s no space whatsoever for trans-religious approach in a society aimed for adherents of single creed.

Plunderer Mehmud Ghaznavi has been denominated as ‘idol-breaker’ merely to glorify the unified Islamic triumphalism over the misbeliever India. This systematic maligning of young minds is not confined to only government educational institutes but by an act of parliament, passed in 1976, all private schools are also required to follow this curriculum.

Rubina Saigol, an expert on education says:

“Our state system is the biggest madrasa. We keep blaming madrasas for everything and, of course, they are doing a lot of things I would disagree with. But the state ideologies of hate and a violent, negative nationalism are getting out there where madrasas cannot hope to reach.”

Over the last three decades Pakistan has seen some drastic changes in societal demeanor and etiquettes ranging from language to customs. Dissemination of construct based on the Arab identity is bearing fruit.

Abaya’ that was an unknown word in Urdu language has now become the benchmark of the fictitious morality that is the ultimate result of deliberate assimilation of arid Arab culture. Even the moderate ones are obliged to wear Abaya to meet the newly contrived moral standards of society. ‘Chaadar aur Char Dewaari’ (veiled behind high brick walls) policy of dictator Zia-ul-Haq is turning out to be the worst kind of oppression of women, along with the laws like Hudood ordinance enacted during his regime.

Even the language has not been spared amidst this whole drivel of purification. Article 31/2 (a) of Constitution of Pakistan states:

“The State shall endeavor, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan to make the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language.”

 What’s that?

A pathetic attempt to make Arabic lingua franca for Pakistan where less than 1 per cent population can understand Arabic?

What about the divergent local languages or even the so-called national language?

The most common but glaring example that may be put forward to underline the predicament is gradual replacement of the Indo-Persian ‘Khuda Hafiz’ with Arabic ‘Allah Hafiz’ implying that Arabic Allah is the only proper word for God.  Khuda is an Indo-Persian term to say God. It is built on the same building blocks that other Indo-European languages use. The English say God, Germans say Gott or Gutt, Persians say Khuda. The G is a variation of Kh and the utt or od is a variation of “uda”. They’re very similar. On the other hand, Arabic is Afro-Asiatic language. By taking a look to other Semitic languages such as Hebrew, they are very near to Arabic flavor. As for instance Jews say Elohim that sounds very familiar while reciting the word ‘Allah’. Where do the attributes of God come into the matter from? Some of the 99 names of God have their origins in classical Hebrew instead of Arabic. So in the view of this logic should those be abandoned too?

Renowned scholar Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy sheds the light on the issue:

“Persian, the language of Mughal India, had once been taught as a second or third language in many Pakistani schools. But, because of its association with Shiite Iran, it too was dropped and replaced with Arabic. The morphing of the traditional “Khuda hafiz” (Persian for “God be with you”) into “Allah hafiz” (Arabic for “God be with you”) took two decades to complete. The Arab import sounded odd and contrived, but ultimately the Arabic God won and the Persian God lost.”

An interesting aspect of this whole phenomenon is the puritanical version of Islam i.e. Salafism/Wahabism that is predominately a phenomenon traces its roots to Arabian Peninsula and has been instrumented by the identity surgeons to homogenize the cultures that have not even an infinitesimal thing in common – consequences are horrible. This unyielding interpretation of Islam puts great emphasis on rituals and codes of conducts than on substance quite contrary to the Indian version of Islam that is marked with local customs evolved over the centuries through intermingling of diverse doctrines.

All religions have two aspects that are theological beliefs related to one’s relationship with divine reality and sociological beliefs comprising of social behaviors dealing with human society. The former remain more or less absolute in their very nature while the later do change with the passage of time when religions go trans-regional.

Problems predominately start erupting when the sociological beliefs are subjugated by state to implement and propagate hidden agendas. These sociological beliefs then lay the bases of hatred, bigotry and misogyny. This is what has been done in land of the pure in the name of purifying religion by escalating a particular expression of religion to the stature of only-viable-interpretation-of-Islam. God has been portrayed as some Arabic speaking deity who is restricted to ethno-linguistic boundary which is clearly in contradiction of message of religion.

As the Holy Quran says:

“Another of His signs is the creation of the heavens and earth, and the diversity of your languages and color. There truly are signs in this for those who know” (30:22). There is also this famous verse: “O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, so that you may know one another.” (49:13)

As for elaborating further the above discussed phenomenon take the example of Madrassas in Pakistan. They are the social sites for the reproduction of Islamic orthodoxy. Hence, to say that the ideological orientation of madrassa education is conservative is to state the obvious.

The madrassas in Muslim South Asia teach a curriculum known as Dars-i-Nizami, first introduced by Mullah Nizamuddin Sihalvi (d.1747) who was a scholar of some repute in Islamic jurisprudence and philosophy in Lucknow. But this was only during the last two decades of twentieth century when they became involve in militancy despite having the two hundred years apathetic history.

The curriculum of madrassas has been the same for about 150 years which is most pacifist in nature. Its approach to Islam is ultra-conservative, literal, legalist and sectarian, but definitely not revolutionary or militant. If it were the militant tendencies of madrassas could have been observed during the most volatile events like: partition, fall of Dhaka and Indo-Pak wars.

What happened during the last two decades of twentieth century?

A classic example of importing doctrine is not-so-secret now and the answers lie with the diplomats and generals who were power brokers in Islamabad, Kabul, Riyadh and Langley, VA at that time.

Kamal Azfar, a Pakistani writer, states the dilemma in words:

“There are two concepts of Pakistan: the first empirical and the second utopian. The empirical concept is based on solid foundations of history and geography while the utopian concept is based on shifting sands. Utopia is not an oasis but a mirage… Samarqand and Bukhara and the splendors of the Arab world are closely related to us but we do not possess them. Our possessions are Mohenjo Daro and Sehwan Sharif, Taxila and Lahore, Multan and the Khyber. We should own up to all that is present here in the Indus Valley and cease to long for realities not our own for that is false-consciousness.”

To conclude, I will take liberty to speak for the third generation, who has the privilege to breathe in the air of this still-not-so-pure-land and is Pakistani now.

I’m not going to mourn the Indus Valley civilization, but what is the substitute they offer me if it is not desert?

The bitter reality is that I don’t have a clue of half of indigenous literature that has been written in Persian.

I have nothing whatsoever against religion, but how would they justify the attacks on the shrines of my land?

I’m all for endorsing their policies, but what is the vindication they have of myriads of dead bodies of my country-fellows?

I’m ready to relinquish Khusro, Ghalib, Bhittai, Bullah, Rahman Baba and Gul Khan, but can they introduce me to an equivalent of this stature?

I shall not question them, but will they care to tell me, ‘who am I’?

This post was originally published here.

Suleman Akhtar

Suleman Akhtar

A mechanical engineer belonging to Gujrat.

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

  • Sana

    Errr, no. Allah is preferred because it is a name that Allah likes to use for Himself, He calls Himself by other 99 names and not Khuda, the name Allah is the most preferred by Him for Himself. He starts the first Ayat with Bi-ism Allah…Start with the name of Allah. Get it? The ‘name’ of Allah. It has nothing to do with Arabization. You guys talk about Pakistan not knowing its identity, aaj tak khud toh Arabs ko Islam sey separate ker nahi sakay. Arabs are a different thing, Islam is a different thing. Arabic is the language in whic the ISlamic Holy Book, Quraan is written and there is a reason for it…Wa Allah o Aalim! Why diss it?Recommend

  • MF Hussain

    too bad less than a fraction of a percent will understand this articleRecommend

  • Hareem

    Your article makes no sense! Go and see the arab world once. Arabic was meant to be taught so the muslims which are about 98% in this country can read their holy book!
    We are just a failed society now where the pretend-to-be-islamists put the blame on people like you who don’t even know what they talk about just wanting to be against Islam, and you guys just put it on them. Stop blaming each other and cure yourselves of this disease.
    I have grown up in Saudia, and they go all over the world to get education and come back to their country to serve it and live the life that has their religion and tradition both. Women covering up themselves is not arabization, its what Islam tells women to do. Stop copy pasting quotes and get some knowledge!Recommend

  • Moderate

    Another article from author who dosnt even know ‘abc’ of Islam. Go and read Quran and Sunnah and then your questions will be answered. And Islamic culture to that too.Recommend

  • Abhi

    kudos !Recommend

  • RumaisaMohani

    Great and well reasearched article. You reminded me of an incident of my grandfather, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, when he suggested ARABIC to be made the national language of Pakistan in a Muslim League meeting, in the presence of Quaid e Azam and many other leaders. The reason given by him were that the new country will have closer ties with Arab/Islamic block of countries. Also, it would be accepted by people from all corners of the country as a single language of Muslims. He also said that it could wait 10 or 20 years to make Arabic a national language, but it would give Pakistan a very strong position in world especially the Arab world.
    Ultimately this suggestion was not supported by many,including Quaid e Azam as there were administrative and communicative problems to be faced. Hasrat always favoured the decisions of majority and he did not insist on his point further.
    Today, its a matter of utter grievance that people speaking URDU, unanimously accepted as the national language of Pakistan, are being targetted and killed in the Land of the Pure.
    The leaders who dreamt and fought for this separate homeland, had a vision for this country. All of them respected each other’s views and never belittled any one.
    After, they were gone, the country fell in the lap of the ones who never dreamt of having a land of their own and had no clear vision about it, leave aside guiding or leading the masses.
    Take the example of Hasrat Mohani, who was known as Maulana, a religious scholar and a staunch practising Muslim, never missed a single prayer in his life, performed 11 pilgrimages to Makkah. He was communist by choice, for solving the economic problems. (Sufi momin hoon Ishtraki Muslim). On the other hand, he was very open-minded, and a big supporter of freedom of expression in literature. He had supporters and fans from all walks of life, beliefs and sects. He strongly believed in sufism and always visited the shrines of various Sufis. He often visited Hindu places of worship and wrote a few poems in praise of Krishan and on other sacred themes. Surprisingly, no one ever doubted on his belief in Islam. No one could label him as a Kaafir. He was incomparable in simplicity and honesty. In the words of Allama Iqbal, one could see the living example of Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari (RA) in the form of Hasrat Mohani in 20th century.
    I think, today we need to revive this spirit of combining religion and practical life. The extreme flow of information is also working towards our confusion about religion and real life.
    This is the dilemma, of such a great nation, that we dont know, who to accept as a leader. We have religious leaders/political / liberals /landlords /industrialists /scholars…but no one has the capability of gathering the masses on one platform, as one nation.
    Lets pray together, may Allah give us guidance and vision to become good humans and to find and follow good leaders, who could take us to the road of peace and prosperity.Recommend

  • maestro

    People who are still in denial of the arabization of Pak over the last 30 years particularly, due in no small part to the massive influx of arab and afghan “mujahideen” of the afghan soviet war now mostly taliban factions on either side of the border should take note of the fact that a recent report has shown that 90% of the madrassahs in Pakistan are funded by Saudi and UAE. These are the places where our young minds are brainwashed with hate filled warped wahabi ideology and by the time they are 15, they actually believe that blowing themselves along with innocent civilians including women and children to pieces will give them heaven and the 72 virgins! Wake up and smell the flesh Pakistan. Pakistanis by nature and history are not extremists but lean more to the secular side even now. The vicious extremist minority is able to mobilize brainwashed people on to the streets for every issue except ones that matter such as against suicide bombings, rape of women, karo kari, ISLAMIC rights of minorities in a muslim land, to name a few. And to those who speak of the wonderful life in Saudi for muslims and their wonderful equity system where women cannot vote or drive (neither Islamic), I would ask you to go to talk to the Pakistani laborers who work there and are abused daily by their arab masters. So if you want to save Pakistan, kick out all arabs and afghans, shut down all madrassahs and maybe we have a future as a country! Recommend

  • MD

    History, culture/ heritage not only gives us an identity but also helps us understand the present. A good understanding of the past enables us identifying our strengths and weaknesses, which in turn gives us the ability to plan for a better future.
    You distort/destroy history and culture, you distort/destroy your future. Recommend

  • Adil

    TO b honest i have started reading this newspaper about 2 months ago and i have never seen one article in which they have said anything good about islam..
    All of its bloggers are hell bent on proving islam to be wrong…
    And unfortunately all of them are like this author..they know nothing about islamic histroy,nothing about islam but yet they write as if they have been studying islam for centuries..Recommend

  • Usman

    The problem with our people is that we let our we use our emotions not our brains when it comes to talking about religion. We are full of love and will defend to the last those “People who are even more pure than us”. They cant do no wrong.

    Can you please tell me in which way are the Arabs any less Hypocrites than us? What have they done for Islam other than making the Hajj into a major money making industry. Have they ever supported the Palestinian cause? What have they done for their Somali brothers and sisters? Why so comfy with the Americans? And please dont let me get started about their King. Yes they have a fully working version of the Khilafat. Having a different opinion to their Khalifa is the quickest route to the gallows. And for those who claim to have lived in Saudi, they would be witness to how the Saudi treats other Muslims. The Islamic tradition of slave trade is alive and well in the land of the “Purest Breed of Muslims”.

    But no they are the true beacons of Islam. Their Islam is the one which tells woman to walk about in a tent. Their Islam tells them to have a gang of Bearded Mullahs ready to beat and lock you up if you are not found praying. Any thoughts about woman driving is blasphemy. It would be better if I dont write anymore now.Recommend

  • Balma

    Dear Rumaisa.

    I beg to differ with you. Maulana Hasrat Mohani was not a Maulana, just like Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali were not.
    They were all graduates of Aligarh University. Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali even went to Oxford or Cambridge for their masters.
    They were called maulanas because their followers liked them and Maulana was still a title of respect (one who is knowledgeable) in those days. Today, I will slap anyone who calls me maulana.

    In fact, what I have read about (maulana) hasrat mohani is that he had a good sense of humor, a good cricketeer, and in fact was teased as ‘aapaa’ (big sister) by his class mates at Aligarh.

    He is know today for his poetry and politics not for any dumb-ass fatwas.
    I also repsect him for deciding to reject the idea of Pakistan at the very last minute when he asked Jinnah that ‘joe musalmaan hindustaan may reh jaayai’n gae, oon kaa kyaa ho gaa”. He did not move to Pakistan, joined either United Provinces (of Avadh and Agra) assembly representing UP’s Muslim areas or as their rep in Dehli’s parliament.

    I had the honor of visiting his grave at the Farangi Mehal qabristan in Lucknow twice. He was provided space at the Farangi Mehal qabristan not because he was a Mullah, but because he was a great leader. For ill-educated burgers: Farangi Mehal is an historic Muslim School of Lucknow where several generations of maabadolat’s ancestors were educated.


  • tanoli

    @ adil

  • Sanity

    Great article. You have echoed my thinking. We, Pakistanis, are seriously lacking identity. The identity that is being forced on us is not real and natural. As a result, we have become hypocrite and confused nation. Recommend

  • tanoli

    @ Balma
    Great respect for u and for musalmaan of india. may god bless u maan.Recommend

  • Ali

    @ sana, Hareem, Moderate, Usman: I wonder how every one of us holds the right of awarding degrees of Patriotism, Nationlism and Islamists???Recommend

  • faraz


    So why did it take 1200 years for Muslims of Subcontinent to figure that out?Recommend

  • Balma

    Dear Tanoli,
    Just to clarify, and not sure that if you even meant it, but anyways, I am not an Indian citizen and never was:-)Recommend

  • M.Adnan

    A thought provoking analysis of lost identity of sub-continent. It is dilemma of our pseudo-scholar of Middle class “Liberals” that they impose radical thoughts forcefully without even knowing the roots of our civilization , culture .All they do is to squander all their intellectual energies on defending non-sense support to “Arabization of Pakistan”. It takes hundred of years for a good idea to penetrate and become a trait for a society and culture, this is how Human Consciousness developed . So we should concentrate over the toppling of “arabization-mindset” than to fight the chilidish argument . That’s what exactly Suleman Akhtar is doing . Hats off to Suleman .Recommend

  • Anoop

    When Aatish Taseer says the same thing in WSJ in an article everybody vehemently deny it.

    Pakistan was an unnatural birth from a pluralistic entity. As a result it has to define itself against the nature of this entity.

    The irony of it all is- Pakistan was created to safeguard, supposedly, Muslims and Islam. Now, both are in danger in Pakistan. Pakistan has done more harm to Islam than any other nation on Earth. The good name India had bestowed on Islam is lost to its Arabized translation.Recommend

  • AA

    Could you have used words which are easier to understand by the majority?Recommend

  • tanoli

    @ Anoop
    Buthane rang o khoon ko thor ker millat me gum ho ja
    no turani rahe baki na irani na afghani.
    i think we are muslim and we will stay as it is.Recommend

  • Psudo Echo rarely reverberates

    “Arabization of Pakistan: Bringing the desert home”
    Ummmmmmmmmmmm…………. u follow a religion revealed & 1st practiced by Arabs !
    Heck, we have white Jews who have no problem linking to the Holy Land when they dont even have Semite blood and here we have some confused people looking for an identity after over 6 decades.Recommend

  • tanoli

    TO Suleman akhter
    i think pervez mushrafs islam is working well for you and your kind in pakistan and one
    more thing these pervezis done lot of damage to islam. and yeah ALLAH HAFIZ O NASIRRecommend

  • http://London UnionJack

    @Sana: Purely for sake of argument. Allah is all powerful, all knowledgeable, full of love, most supreme personality. Will he still exhibit an attitude which is in abundance in us low being “human ” such as “preference on how I will like to be called as”. Why are people like you not punished for blasphemy when you make Allah look so human? If HE is a supreme being, HE does not care what HIS followers call HIM as long as you call HIM with true heart. So keep your rationale about using Allah and not Khuda to yourself. Please stop maligning Islam more. It has already been plundered enough by dumb wits like you who claims to understand it just because you belong to that religion. This half intelligent and half knowledge on religion has what made religion such a repulsive thing and makes more people an atheist. I would rather believe in God , not religion. Khuda Hafiz!Recommend

  • http://London UnionJack

    @Author – Amazing article, and seriously can be used as an eye opener or some encouragement to help people to do more soul search on this topic. Here is where lies the common people’s problem. Please have more discussion or blog on this.
    @MF Hussain: Sadly agree with you.Recommend

  • http://London UnionJack

    @Hareem: I respectfully agree with author in the sense he is not talking about Pakistanis confused about version of Islam. He is pointing towards Pakistanis confused over traditions they need to follow. Tradition is more of a regional aspect and not always religious. That’s what makes it beautiful and diverse. You will see a christian in one country have different cultural traditions then christian in other country even though their belief is the same. What author is pointing is why is Pakistan erasing its old tradition and just out of desperation to blend or associate itself to Arab it is assimilating more and more of Arabic culture. Even the names of quite many organizations have Arabic accent rather than urdu. What happened to ever so pleasant urdu ? As per your comment on Quran written in Arabic, even Bible was originally written in Hebrew and was rendered into English and from there on to many versions. Are you suggesting such a translation from Arabic to Urdu is not possible ? Or almighty Allah only understands Arabic so he would ignore you if you pray in Urdu ? Silly!!!Recommend

  • hariharmani

    I Do not believe I’m competent enough to know Islam and Arabic culture,so in substance,I shall not venture,but as far as sentiment goes,the columunist Mr Suleman Akthar has done pretty well articulating is thought process in understanding fashion,I leave You guys to bysect and disect his argument,I can only tell this from my personnel experience,Arabs treat People from either India or Pakistan,muslim or non muslim very shabily.They changed their tune when they see us having American or UK passport,pl,find out for yourself if you can.Recommend

  • http://Karachi Anwar Hasan

    It is impossible to change a national language because language is orally transmitted generation to generation. You can only change the script/alphabets as Turkey has done (it went from arabic script to english alphabets) but you cannot change a national language. I do not know of any country which has done so.Recommend

  • http://London UnionJack

    @tanoli: Mushraf ever had a version of Islam ? And is the current version of Pakistani Islam working well for Pakistan ??? What was the version of Islam your forefathers followed before Pakistan was created ? Why unnecessarily critic a topic when you don’t have anything to substantiate?Recommend

  • tanoli

    @Union jack
    @Anwer Hasan
    What my forefather had reliegen its not my peoblem what i believe is right it is my concern
    and changing leters if is gonna solve the problems then good luck with that.Recommend

  • http://Karachi Anwar Hasan

    You are right. Changing letters will not solve the problem. My understanding is “Allah understands all the languages, not only Arabic”.

    As far as learing Arabic to better understanding the Quran… even among Arabs who know the Arabic language there is discrepancies in the interpretations of the Quran. Recommend

  • aj

    Nothing to saymore, Amazing article,a true eye opener.Recommend

  • True Believer

    The ancient South Asian poem “Mahabharata” says in Book 12 Chapter 72 Verse 20 – “Be like a garland maker, O king; not like a charcoal maker.”

    A garland maker strings different colored & scented flowers to make something diverse yet beautiful & fragrant … the charcoal maker reduces all kinds of wood to a single, uniform entity.

    Our leaders have resorted to being like charcoal makers. Or maybe ‘sub jalAkar rAkh kar denge’.

    Arabia and its environs are pretty much uniform – sand, sand and more sand. Hence their culture is uniform. South Asia is different – it has lush jungles and snow capped peaks and deserts etc etc. Hence our flora & fauna is diverse too. And so are we because we are what our land is …Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    What an eloquent and informative article..Recommend

  • Khadim Husain

    This article has same kind of lamentation that Ayesha Siddiqa has explaned in her article about failure of Liberalism.
    In fact author is confused and failed to co-relate his doctrine under sciences of genealogy, anthropology or civilisation. The references he quoted are enough to tell his mindset before trying to already divided society. Population of indegenious Indo-Pak muslims consist of peoples who settled in northen part of Ganga-Jamna, those were Araba, Turks, Mangool, Persians and a large number moved and settled from Turkistan. Urdu is a mixture of Arabic, Turk, Persian and Hindi. It was born in the battlefields of Panipat and a method of conversations between locals and other nations.
    Persian dominated when Humayun returned from Iran and later Noor Jehan and Mumtaz Mahal influenced on routines of government. All muslim sects derive their routes from Arab. In sufism all top appointed Imams are arabs. All type of Shia have their Imams from Arab.
    The local poets like Bulleh, Sachal Sarmast, Shah Latif and Kh Ghlam Farid were poets and nothing to do with fundamentals of Islam. Neither those were Sufi in sense that our current culture represent. Poetry of Allama Iqbal, Ghalib, Faiz or any poet is represented with music gives taste of other than traditional religious practice.
    I think we are already divided society and such kind of articles would further divide our nation.
    Think about any thing other than bashing religion with blunt swords, it makes joke if you did not have knowledge to represent new theories. Don’t be religious but also don’t be irreligious. Dr. Mubarak or Pervez Hoodbhoy have opposite doctrines and a very tiny community try to reach their version of theories.
    I suggest to please choose one ground for bashing at a time, either fundamentals of religion, history or culture, try to convince others, but mixture of different kinds of bashing is like many blinds explaining the body of elephant. Recommend

  • rehmat

    “And unfortunately all of them are like this author..they know nothing about islamic history,nothing about islam but yet they write as if they have been studying islam for centuries”

    There is nothing called Islamic history. History relates to people of a region. SO for example the Thai people who are Buddhist do not confuse the Indian history with Thai history just because Buddhism was born in India, nor do Christian Americans think that Israeli history is American history just because Jesus was born in Jerusalem. Forget other regions, Egyptians are very proud of their pre-Islamic history at the same time as they are proud of being Muslim. Their entire tourism is based on pre-Islamic monuments.

    “Another article from author who doesn’t even know ‘abc’ of Islam. Go and read Quran and Sunnah and then your questions will be answered. And Islamic culture to that too”.

    She is not criticizing Islam in any way. There is not a single word hear that is anti-Islam. She is talking about Pakistani history. The disowning of heritage such as Taxila and Mohenjo-Daro. She is talking about making heroes out of people that probably killed and raped our ancestors. So yes she maybe critical of Ghaznavi but that does not make her critical of Islam. After where in Quran does it say that attacking and killing people who do not practice your faith is justified? And if Ghaznavi who did all that is a hero, then why do you say that these suicidebombers cannot be Islamic because Islam is a religion of peace. If Islam is a religion of peace then how can Mohammed Bin Qasim and Mahmud Gaznavi be Islamic men? They were definitely not men of peace. Recommend

  • JR

    Suleman mentions two of religion’s aspects: theological belief and sociological belief. A more comprehensive description would touch as many as eight aspects.

    Racial-National: People around the world inherit religion from their parents about as dependably as they inherit physical racial characteristics.
    Spiritual: Religion deal with relationships with invisible beings — “spirits” (as if made of air), frequently departed family members or ancestors in the inherited national religion.
    Political: Drawing on the idea of spirits’ dominance over men, religion sets up an image that transfers easily to politics — dominance by warrior-kings.
    Epistemological: For religion, truth is a doctrine established by authority, which does not need to be consistent with sensory observation.
    Ethical: Religions have a role in promoting ethical ideals that value individuals, or alternatively in promoting authoritarian principles.
    Social: Its ethical stance makes religion a natural organizer of polite society among its adherents, including many who have no special spiritual affinity with the religion but who like the society that it sponsors.
    Moral: Perhaps because family and race are religion’s basic building blocks, religion may take a special interest in human reproduction and sexuality (referred to as “morals”).
    Artistic: The imaginative aspect of religion’s interest in spirits makes religion a source of art. Religion’s role in politics has also generated political patronage of literature, music, sculpture, and painting. On the other hand, religion’s authoritarian and moral aspects make religion art’s natural regulator as well.

  • rk singh

    @ Suleman Akhtar

    the comments I read here does not bode well for the future of Pakistan. Khuda Hafiz. er sorry… Allah Hafiz.Recommend

  • rehmat

    Indonesia has more Muslims than UAE, Muscat, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Egypt put together. They are proud of their faith but they have not confused their history with the history of Arab people. Many of their names even have Sanskrit origin e.g. Sukarno, Suharto, Meghawati (3 of their 4 leaders). There is no disconnect between having Sanskrit based name and having Islamic faith.

    Malaysia is another proud Muslim country. What is their language called? Bahasa which is derived from the Sankrit word for language i.e. Bhasha. Language, Nationality, Culture and Religion are distinct facets of our identity.

    I have seen many Pakistani Muslims ask the question. Are we Muslim first or Pakistani first? Then they go ahead and answer it themselves – We are Muslims first.

    We Indian Muslims do not have confusion between nationality and religion. By religion we are Muslim, by nationality we are Indian. IT is as though someone is asked do you love your father more or mother more? There is no answer because there is no comparison between these 2 sources of identity.We still say Khuda Hafiz and, Ramzan Mubarak because these words are part of our culture and language.

    Finally as a Muslim I believe that GOD is all powerful and all knowing. Quran may have been revealed only 16 centuries back but God has existed for time immemorial and has guided humanity from time immemorial. If someone prays to God – no matter whether they say Allah or Khuda or Rab, God will know that. Any prayer made in good faith will be accepted by God. The notion that the God can only understand Arabic and will only hear our prayers if we call him Allah or is so narrow minded that he only reward people who call themselves Muslim seems like a blasphemy to me. SO then you may ask why are you a Muslim? BEcause I feel that Quran has revealed the way in which a life should be lived and I try to live accordingly. I also feel that whoever lives such moral life will be rewarded – no matter what the faith. This is why Allama Iqbal had remarked (I don’t remember the exact quotation but the meaning) that in West I see a lot of Islam but not many Muslims, in some of the Arab places, I see a lot of Muslims but no Islam.Recommend

  • Ravi

    Pakistnis don’t lack identity , they never had any identity.
    Converted people (people who convert to other religion) always remain in an identity crisis. It’s not only with muslims , the same happens with christians too.
    Just look at it with a different perspective christianity’s dome is vetican which is in europe and not even 40% of europeans are actively following chriatianity like going for prayers every sunday and so on. Alike to converted christians who are forced by co-religious people to attend prayers at churches on sundays.
    Same is the case with muslims, converted muslims are far more bigoted then the muslims of arab lands .Arabs may be funding radicalism but they are not arming themselves and blowing people in their markets and mosques. They have excellent relations with the western countries.
    But converted muslims either they are from india or pakistan or any other country of the world are more concerned with islam and bring islam into every thing.
    And this is because they remain insecure and want to look more or equals to arabs muslims.

    And for pakistanis in general your identity was being a hindi (for arabs it meant you live in bharat irrespective of which ever religion you follow). Imposing yourself an international identity of being a muslim never helped you.
    Identity should be unique in nature, and being a muslim in not being unique in the world.
    And last but not the least people of afghanistan and present day pakistan have also been through a mental flip flop.
    First you were hindus then you converted to budhhism and then to jainism and islam and some to sikhism etc etc.
    As it says you become what you think . you people were always a unstable community.
    You tested and messed so many religions and now you are again messing a beautiful religion. Recommend

  • John

    Inherent conflict of Islam outside of Arabic countries that shuns all that is unique to different cultures as haram in the name of religion. The blog is a reflection of this conflict.

    Arabinization of the word god is the last straw that essentially says God Allah is different from other expressions of God in other languages as YAWEH, Khuda, Bhrama etc.

    Emperor Akbar began to have these questions late in his life as can be seen in Akbar Nama, having understood different religious theological views of the subcontinent.

    Now the author and various others face the same problem.

    If I translate Quran in English today can I use the common English word God in my translation in lieu of Arabic word Allah?

    Non Islamic scholars see no problem with such substitution whereas Islamic scholars claim only the word Allah should be used, thus establishing Allah a distinct concept of god as compared to all other civilizations perception of God.

    I see no distinction between Arabinization and Islam and that is a conundrum for Pakistan whose root civilization -language, gene pool, music, art, idioms and expressions-is from the subcontinent.

    Islam is the identity of Pakistan and it will be in conflict with base culture of the people,including language unlike Arabic nations.

    Arabinization of culture, language, dress, customs, art, music, etc including history are unavoidable when national identity is Islam.

    God or Allah save Pakistan from cultural turmoil. I mean it sincerely here. Recommend

  • Karim Javed

    Nice idea dude for collecting more and more comments and get traffic. Sometimes negative marketing also works.Recommend

  • Rahul Jain

    When my grandfather passed away, the man holding his hand was his Muslim friend.
    He was in his mid 70s. They both had seen the partition. They both felt that pain.
    I have heard them both say, that the ‘British Rule’ was preferable, to that carnage.
    Being a Jain, my grandfather’s dietary habits were strictly vegetarian,
    and in today’s age, one would probably suppose, that those old men,
    were less tolerant of each other.
    But instead, they had the most respect for each other.
    And they knew, that personal beliefs and habits, had to be accommodated / tailored,
    not because it made one weaker, but it strengthened their common human bond.
    It is a kind of maturity, that unfortunately, has been lost to two full generations,
    born after the partition. It is a tact called ‘compromise’ and a sense of ethical
    co-existence; both of which require humility and humanity.
    Reading about your grandfather, reminded me of the stratospheric regard,
    which the socially aware men of the world, had back then.
    Instead, today, we see this lingering suspicion of the ‘other’, in every sphere of our lives.
    It is not healthy. It is not good. It is impoverishing. It is eroding. It is weakening.
    In our so-called narcissistic search for ‘identity’, we are losing our foundations.
    Paradoxically, we believe that we are building and renewing our foundations.
    We cannot be more wrong, when we believe, that our delusions are our dreams. Recommend

  • Sibghat U. Waeen

    History is generally meant in Pakistan “Mutalia Pakistan” or the history of the conquers etc. not the history of man.
    We the people of Pakistan are facing the evil in its worst in the all forms of exploitation, like Hunger, Unemployment, Discrimination, Nepotism, Expensive and Discriminatory Education along with “Idiocy“. Mere “Idiocy” is not the main issue; but all idiots support the exploiters by spreading “Idiocy” so that they can exist. Recommend

  • Tony Singh

    Pakistan is Arabnising in hope some oil also flows under its soil.Recommend

  • Junaid

    another pesudo liberal intellectual who likes to whine anything religious.
    bhai jaan what problem do you have and people and issues you had quoted had already been discussed and their ideas are well known.
    i would like my son to understand arabic first because Quran is in arabic why should my priority be Persian unless i want him to read poetry.
    although i have high regards for persian one of the finest of languages.Recommend

  • Khizer

    @ Maestro – spot on!

    @ Suleman Akhtar – Our ‘land of the pure’ is oh so pure that it has taken upon itself to define Islam in its Constitution. Bravo! Now my friend, if you profess the Kalima Shahada but your views do not conform to those of a constitutionally defined Muslim, then for all purposes and intents you are not a Muslim in the country. You will be discriminated against in school, college, your workplace (government or private), you will be denied civil and military awards, and your name will be expurgated from history. Our clerics, and under their holy influence, our government, seem to be not too sure about Judgment Day, and have therefore acted responsibly by carrying out the sacred duty of judging all Pakistani Muslims.
    I don’t know about the Persian god and Arabian god but I can tell you one thing with conviction – the god of the land of the pure not win.

    Best wishesRecommend

  • Sanity

    @True Believer:
    Nowadays, when somebody mentions the reference as you did: “Book 12 Chapter 72 Verse 20”, it reminds me of Zakir naik :D

    But, a very beautiful verse used appropriately. Cheers!Recommend


    Language is just a means to achieve an end, it is not an end in itself. This shouldn’t be made such a big issue man. Recommend

  • Ali Khan

    What a piece of rubbish.

    All the bloggers i read here about have a thing against Saudi Arabia and ‘their Islam.’
    There is only ONE Islam. There is no such thing as South Asian Islam or Arab Islam as you are talking about. Didn’t Islam originate out of Arabia?

    For one thing, Saudis know their culture, and know their identity. Where are we?
    Here we have the author putting the blame on the Saudis for making the Hajj a money making affair. Dude, they have Gazillions of dollars in their pockets, do they need a few millions in their pocket from Haajis to run the government? How crude is your argument! Have you ever been to the Holy Land in Saudi and saw the facilities they provide to the people. If Kaabah was in Pakistan, we would have probably fixed a 10,000 rupess entry fees into the mosque only, such is our moral bankruptcy!!

    As for ALLAH hafiz or KHUA hafiz, it means the same thing. End of debate. I say God bless you to my non muslim colleagues

    Before crying out loud at the loss of Persian from our schools. Cry about the demise of Urdu language in Pakistan itself. Do we have any scholar doing PhD or anything like that in Pakistan itself? Urdu is influenced by Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Hindi… so by that logic, should our students be taught in those languages as well? We should focus more on our national language .Recommend

  • tanoli

    One last thing Islam is not persian and i dont care about persian poetry either The last
    prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him & his family) is prophet for all mankind not just
    for arabian countries and arabic lang will stay as a reliegen lang no matter what i remember now one historic story now Farangi want to do this thing in 1800 also they went
    to Syed ahmed khan who was very pro english and modren scholer they knew that and asked him why u guys read your azaan and prayer in arabic why not do it in urdu you know what he says its not gonna happend because it is fundametal thing its not changable
    no matter what he was modren but true muslim and if mahmood of ghazni was plundrer
    then what about prophet ibrahim ele salaam was please dont tell him any thing ella maazallah.dont change the ASAS of pakistan change your self go learn something good
    do for you and for mankind better.Recommend

  • nash

    I think there’s a claim here which needs to be corrected. It was not Hasrat Mohani who had suggested that Arabic should be the language but Aga Khan and this is recorded in many books. I have to come across any book which suggest that it was Hasrat Mohani who had suggested.

    Hafiz is not an Arabic word but rather Persian, just like Khuda..

    Zia tried to change from Khuda Hafiz to Allah Nigheban for some time but unfortunately it didn’t catch on, hence Allah Hafiz which is said by millions everyday without knowing that it is both Arabic and Persian.

    If any one of you lives in Arab world, you will know that nobody there uses Allah Hafiz when parting. It’s a desi custom adopted from Hindus and Persians.Recommend

  • Saleem Khan

    This is an amazing article which covers a lot of Islamism going on in Pakistan. Unfortunately we have very few people who actually understand this article and appreciate it. Recommend

  • Cynical

    Very nice post. Thumbs up for the author.Recommend

  • True Believer

    The Persians also have issues with their identity. A thousand years ago Ferdowsi wrote the Shahnameh about Irans Persian Zoroastrian based identity as opposed to an Arab Islamic identity.

    I’ve commented elsewhere and I will repeat myself – Urdu is an apt metaphor for our own identity. Urdu is a South Asian language written in the Arabic script and enriched with Arabic / Persian / Turkic etc. words. Likewise, we Pakistanis are a South Asian people with an ‘Arabic’ religion and our gene pool is enriched with Arabic / Persian / Turkic etc. blood.

    Urdu can be used to write a breath-taking soul elevating Diwaan-e-Ghalib or it can be used to write a vomit-inducing hate-filled pamphlet. What destiny do we Pakistani’s want to write ? Recommend

  • Shumaila

    Brilliant article.Recommend

  • Fareesa

    nice read.Recommend

  • adnan

    @ Ali Khan: Every thing apart, how can you be so sure that the writer has not been to the Holy Land ever? and where has he mentioned about the Hajj money? He wrote a research-ful and thought provoking piece, and you made an out of the way comment in a paragraph or so that too in no harmony with this, isn’t that crude Mr. Khan?Recommend

  • Umar

    Master Piece Suleman, keep going at some pace, God bless you for this read.Recommend

  • Haidar

    Brilliant article. This is exactly what my research as a student of history has led me in the past several months and I ask the same question.
    Infact, most recently it has led me to believe our so called Pakistan ideology. Was the two nation theory truly a Pakistan ideology or just a stepping stone and polictical movement to claim Pakistan?
    God bless Pak.Recommend

  • khan

    why do people like author has grudges about the Arab world, which actually doesn’t exist. we don’t wear their dresses, don’t speak their language, don’t listen to their songs, don’t follow their customs. but still the word ALLAH is seen as great sign of influence of Arabs on our civilization. while we ignore all the Hindu customs penetrated into our society.

    1) ALLAH Hafiz or KHUDA Hafiz doesn’t make any difference, at least i never felt it. KHUDA is from Persian and ALLAH is from Arabic(language of the Holy Book). BTW Arabs do not use ALLAH Hafiz.

    2) Abaya is not fro Arabs. Parda is actually an Islamic concept. and 98%-0.5%(the confused liberals) call themselves Muslims and they follow their religious tradition without knowing it as as Arab tradition. most of the people doesn’t even know what Abaya is, they call it burka. in some cultures for example in Pakhtuns, the tradition of burka existed even in pre-islamic era, their shuttle burka has not resembles to abaya at all.

    3) the people who invaded India were not plunderer they were conqueror. they did not come to India on picnic they won india through swords. like Alexander the great , Genghis Khan, Julius Ceaser, Saladin etc. the world give them respect. Only the sissy Indians historian sees the afghan/arab invaders as plunderers. if they were plunderer, why dint Indian rajas defend their lands, were they wearing bangles??? BTW Ashoka also invaded the neighbor states and went up to Afghanistan, why is he regarded as Ashoka the Great.

    4) If Akbar is degraded and Aurangzeb is glorified in Pakistan , similarly Aurangzeb is degraded and Akbar is glorified in India. both were Mughals, both ruled India, both fought wars both killed people on the battle field. main issue is the Hindu and The Muslim perspective. clearly the author wants to impose Indian ideology here.

    4) culture and religion are two different entities, both has their own significance. if countries can be created based on ethnicity, cultural, geographical ,lingual and political similarities, why cant it be made on basis of religious similarity. why cant people lead their lives based on their religious identity rather then forcing them to accept pre-8th century cultural identities which are not according to their religious believes. Recommend

  • My Name is Khan

    @ Ali Khan and others who don’t get it – yes, there is one Islam but Islam is practiced in many ways. We are not all Wahabi/Salafi purists. Our Islamic tradition is quite different. I’m Pashtun and I can tell you that while we may be different in how we practice Islam from how Punjabis and Sindhis do, we are shocked by the drive to forget our previous identities. We are a rainbow of identities and not a world of black and white.Recommend

  • Mustafa


    Are you aware Allah (God in English language) is Allah or God of not only Muslims but all mankind?

    Are you aware that there is a word for Allah in every language of the world? For example God (English), Khuda (Farsi), Allaha (Aramaic), Hazrat Eesa (Jesus) called Allah, Allaha in his Aramaic language, Ellohim (Hebrew), Hazrat Moosa (Moses) called Allah as Ellohim in his Hebrew language, Dieu (French), Dious (Spanish).

    Are you aware that Allah sent Prophets and Holy Books before the Holy Prophet? Those Holy Books from Allah were not in Arabic, therefore, in those Holy Books Allah’s name was not in Arabic language. What gave you the idea that calling Allah’s name in a language other than the names mentioned in the Holy Quran is sin or inappropriate?Recommend

  • Tupple

    @ ‘Moderate’ : On what basis do you say that the author doesn’t know the ‘abc’ of Islam, ha?Unless we see you, we can’t believe that you know abc of Islam either.

    I am sure you didn’t understand abc of the serious topic the author was talking about.Bye!Recommend

  • Ahmed Malik

    @tanoli: “One last thing Islam is not persian and i dont care about persian poetry either The last
    prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him & his family) is prophet for all mankind not just
    for arabian countries and arabic lang will stay as a reliegen lang no matter what…”
    For your very kind information all the Hadith collections were compiled by Persian authors Arabic language is important but Persians also played their part in formation of modern Islamic traditions. Recommend

  • Ahmed Malik

    @Sana: “Errr, no. Allah is preferred because it is a name that Allah likes to use for Himself, He calls Himself by other 99 names and not Khuda, the name Allah is the most preferred by Him for Himself.”
    Allah has also used the word Rab-ul-Aalimeen for himself and even in the kalma we say La-ilaha… both the words Rab and Ilah means Owner of the universe or worth worshiping, both of these words can be translated into Urdu and English as Khuda or God respectively. In Punjabi we directly use the word Rab for God, Sindhis say Saeen, some say Maula, so are you saying that praying to God in our own language is a sin?? Recommend

  • Mustafa

    Arabic is the language of Arabia. It is not official language of Allah or Islam because Allah created all languages of the world just as He created all mankind of the world. If Arabic was chosen language of Allah, all his previous Books would have been in Arabic only.

    Allah sent messengers to all countries of the world and His messages (Holy Books) to the messengers were in the languages of the messengers.

    The Holy Prophet was born in Arabia, so the Holy Quran is in Arabic language. If the Holy Prophet was born in Iran, then the Holy Quran would have been in Farsi.

    There was a time when it was very important to learn Arabic language to understand the Message of Allah, the Holy Quran. But today there are translations of the Holy Quran in every language of the world and people learn to recite the Holy Quran without learning Arabic language and they know the meaning from translations in their own languages.

    There was a time in India just less than 200 years ago that English language was considered “Frangi ki zabaan” (the language of English people) and learning or speaking English language was considered “Un-Islamic” or even sin. When Sir Syed Ahmad Khan started the proposal of “Muslim University, Aligarh, India”, there was a big uproar against him. Eggs were pelted at him and he was called “Kafir” (apostate) as well because this university would give education in English language. Today English language is used more than any language of the world, including Arabic, in preaching and propagating and delivering message of Islam all over the world. We have to move forward, not go backward.Recommend

  • Raj

    Urdu is not the mother tongue of majority of Pakistanis, forget about Arabic as a national language. 99.99% of rural Pakistanis cannot even understand the Kalma ( La Illaha Ill Allah Muhammad al Rasool Allah ) in their own language. Sufism is the identity of Pakistan which conveys the ideology of Islam in local language.Recommend

  • Vandana

    The article states the truth but so many of the commentators seem to not want to see it….’without the past ,there is no future’.Pakistan will ignore this basic truth at a grave cost to itself.Recommend


    Excellent piece and well written. Like someone said above it will definitely go above the heads of “common” reader.Recommend

  • Anonymous


    Arabic is the language in whic the ISlamic Holy Book, Quraan is written and there is a reason for it…Wa Allah o Aalim! people from Bangladesh, Iran,Indonesia, Maldives, Turkey etc who claim to be Muslims and yet do not converse in Arabic are perhaps living in sin. Good to know Pakistan is fast becoming more pious by the day.

    Now tell me when do you propose to turn Pakistan into a desert. As you know the Holy Book was revealed in the desert for ‘a reason…Wa Allah o Aalim!’ Recommend

  • rehmat

    @Ali Khan:
    “There is only ONE Islam. There is no such thing as South Asian Islam or Arab Islam as you are talking about. Didn’t Islam originate out of Arabia?”

    YEs there is only one Islam but there are many different languages and nations and the people in those different nations can have separate culture, tradition, history and language even while professing the same religion.
    If Polish people, French, Germans, British and Americans have their own culture traditions, language and history even while most of them are Christians, why can Pakistan not have its own culture, history, traditions and language. Why does it have to give up its originality and mimick Saud Arabia?Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Most Pakistanis are intellectually incapable of separating the social-behavioural model of 7th century Arabia from Islam. A lot of things that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his followers did were not commanded by Islam directly, but were simple norms followed by every Arabic man and woman of that time, from Hazrat Umar to Abu Jahl.

    We need to sift out Arabic culture from Islamic religion. They don’t have to be integrated with one another.Recommend

  • Abdul

    I definitely have a problem with the use of the word “plunderer”. and I know it is used to please whom. But its sad to see they have sold their ideals.Recommend

  • whynot


    “Now tell me when do you propose to turn Pakistan into a desert. As you know the Holy Book was revealed in the desert for ‘a reason…Wa Allah o Aalim!’”

    Don’t worry. They are working hard to get this done sooner than later.Recommend

  • Rishi

    You don’t know India.If any King in India can be called great,it should be Chandragupta Maurya,but his grandson Ashoka is called Great.You know why…because he had choose the path to win the heart of people not to cut the head of people. Recommend

  • jai


  • Farhad Yousafzai

    Great article..Perhaps this only is the root cause of most of our problems…Recommend