Secularism, ‘patriotism’ and Marvi Sirmed

Published: September 18, 2011

Marvi Sirmed was called anti-Pakistani, anti-Islamic, a Zionist, indecent, and pro-Indian because she was wearing a saari

Surfing along my Facebook newsfeed like any other day, today I came across a link a contact of mine had shared. It was titled, “Marvi Sirmed exposed again”. I watched the 10 minute video clip of Miss Sirmed on a current affairs show, making what I thought was perfect sense. The other guests on the show disagreed strongly with what she had to say, but could only support their argument by calling her anti-Islamic.

Posted under the link were a flood of comments written in very bad taste against Marvi. Besides those that were too profane to mention, she was called anti-Pakistani, anti-Islamic, a Zionist and indecent and pro-Indian because she was wearing a saari – all from that video. This was not the first time I had come across something like this. I had seen the infamous Shahidnama episode she was on with Zaid Hamid and a few other shows, but this time it was on a forum that I could be part of. I put on my internet activism boots and commented away in her defense.

I was baffled by some of the responses I received.

All the people on the thread were convinced that just because Marvi Sirmed did not believe that Pakistan was meant to be a theocracy, and that she was against the two nation theory in that capacity, she was anti-Pakistani. She was a Zionist because she believed in rights for homosexuals, and she was anti-Islamic for saying Muslims should allow nude picture ceremonies.

I thought Marvi spoke boldly and truthfully. She spoke of the artistic aspects of nude paintings and the intellectual growth they produce; she spoke against the violence inside an art gallery against an innocent woman; she spoke about how religion should be kept at an individual level because everyone has their own interpretation of it, and how it should not be used to govern a country where there are people of different faiths.

She did not deserve the ridiculous descent that was directed at her. However, this angry, emotional hatred teaches us an important lesson about present day Pakistan.

A very large part of our society shares a particular opinion considering history, religion, culture and nationalism with a slightly radical element. They cannot endure anyone who would dare to disagree with them. Common views include:

“Pakistan was made in the name of Islam and for Islam”

“Islam is the greatest religion and Islamic laws should be used for people of all religions”

“anyone who disagrees is a non-believer and hence inferior to us and could be harmed lawfully”

In matters like these, people become judge, jury and executioner. They seek justification for their acts through a moulded version of their religion.

The narrow-minded, uncompromising nature of society can also be studied on a micro-level by analyzing its blind trust in some self-proclaimed heroes. Even after being exposed numerous times, people give their unconditional support to Dr. Aamir Liaqat just because of his pro-Islamic accepted profile. No matter what Zaid Hamid says on air to anyone, how factually incorrect his history may be or how far-fetched his conspiracy theories may be, he will always be loved because of his patriotism.

Speaking of patriotism, is secularism the answer to Pakistan’s woes?

The debate about whether secularism would make Pakistan more progressive or tolerant has been rekindled recently. It has been intriguing to read different opinions on the matter, but still the argument doesn’t remain quite settled.

First of all, it has to be admitted that secularism is a tried and tested philosophy that has been extremely successful wherever implemented. But that does not mean being a theocracy spells out inevitable failure.

Pakistan unfortunately, as I see it, is neither here nor there. Jinnah clearly stated that he did not want Pakistan to be theocratic, and was a man who did not believe in religion intervening with state affairs, the inspiration and idea of Pakistan though, came from Muhammad Iqbal who believed in the Islamic role in politics and legal philosophy, and today Pakistan is officially an Islamic state, but is still mostly governed by secular laws. Sixty four years independent now, it is no wonder we struggle to agree on Pakistan’s identity.

Secularism guarantees you freedom of religion, but so does Islamic law. Yet today in Pakistan, Hindus cannot get married legally, innocent Christians are killed after being wrongly accused of blasphemy, Jews are unconditionally hated and Ahmadis are murdered and also declared non-Muslim. This shows that the problem does not lie in the philosophy you chose to govern the country, but in the society.

Secularism will not save Pakistan, because it will not make any difference. There is no pure culture, religion or form of politics that denies human rights or freedom of religion to members of the state – only personal, self-made forms and interpretations of the aforementioned have done that.

That’s why in my opinion to save Pakistan we need to nurture its people. We need to educate them on matters of sociology, philosophy and critical reasoning in ideas from the east and the west. We need to educate people on basic human rights and stop the enforcements of a particular brand of religion on them. Religion should be a personal matter and learned by study and examination rather than force, and no one should be able to call anyone a non-believer of any faith because they think their own faith, or version, of it is superior.

The lack of education is Pakistan is staggering, and even where there is education, the quality must be improved. Illiteracy and also injustice both drive people towards crime and extremism. Unfortunately, some of these acts are justified wrongly by the use of religion, hence tarnishing its name and calling for cries of secularism. If the idea of secularism is mentioned presently and to such a society, unprecedented violent reaction may occur; an example is the murder of Salmaan Taseer, the general reaction of the public and then the subsequent praise for the murderer.

With all this being said, I must confess that personally, I do favour a secular Pakistan, just not now. Even though Pakistan was created for the freedom of the Muslims of India, there are non-Muslims living in Pakistan. If you guarantee equal rights to all citizens of your country, you must make it legal for any citizen to run for president or prime-minister, which is not the case.

Religious minorities cannot show patriotism if you ask them to chant slogans like “Pakistan ka matlab kya, La Ilaha Illallah”, especially if Pakistan translates to ‘Land of The Pure’. But most importantly, to me it does not seem like a safe option to govern the state using religion. Everyone has a different interpretation of Islam today, which hides its true essence, and values. The religion is used wrongly and is being used to hurt itself in the process.

A country cannot progress in this system unless the true spirit of religion is brought forward, which I do not see happening. In its perfect form, I wholeheartedly believe Islam governs peacefully and justly in every capacity. The charter of Medina is a fantastic example of how two different religious populations lived in harmony. Sadly, this version of Islam is not going to be allowed to show itself in Pakistan. Rather the Islam of our heroes like Aamir Liaqat and Zaid Hamid, who we all follow so blindly, is the Islam we have come to know.

In a secular state where religion is kept away from state matters and cannot be used to curb laws and justify acts, the society will be free and justice will prevail. Pakistan will know to recognize its true champions of the oppressed, like Salman Taseer and Marvi Sirmed, and perhaps someday in secularism, Pakistan will be a better and more Islamic state then it is under the title or being ‘Islamic’ itself.

Abu Bakr Agha

Abu Bakr Agha

A software engineer, musician, writer and activist from Islamabad, currently based in Chicago. He tweets @AB_Agha (

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

  • heer

    I like her but she should act politely and befriending. Roaring on TV and Twitter is disturbing for the viewers and tweeples respectively ! Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK

    This country seemingly prides itself for its hatred for religious and cultural diversity, and considers anybody not strictly adhering to their values as an “enemy of the state”.

    You don’t have to like what Marvi Sarmed says or believes, but you do have to respect her right to hold that opinion!Recommend

  • Asad

    Where there is a smoke, there is a fire…Recommend

  • http://none sarfraz abbasi

    “Ahmadis are murdered and also declared non-Muslim”. Ahmedis murder is wrong, but declaring them non muslim is no wrong. With little or no brain or sense of Islamic studies no one should be allowed to poke his nose in matters which need a detailed study, research and hard work. Advocate of Marvi Sarmid should keep in their mind, she does not wear sari and draw a tikka on her forehead but also she visits india frequently, lives there and she is inspire and she is among those who believe that Pakistan should not be known as an islamic state rather a B team or small colony of india. So its a shame for the devils advocates.. Recommend

  • Ibrahim Afridi

    u mentioned it but lemme say it again in a speech Quaid i Azam himself said

    our society should be based on Islamic socialism not other ism..and I really wonder on people who talk about secularism and broad thinking and stuff like that if you have that mentality then Pakistan is not the place becuz Pakistan is the only country in the world which was made on religious grounds and everyone sacrificed for religion not for people like u to come and give thte right to people to talk about homosexuals and nude pictures to you it may be artistic but to Islam its not.Recommend

  • Kashif

    i support her viewsRecommend

  • Crirtically

    Most of the arguments made lot of sense. But again, why secularism as a solution to religious intolerance?
    This in itself is a problem as it slides far too much towards the materialistic dimension, ignoring the flip-side of human nature. The ‘private matter’ assumption is not an adage for all to accept.
    If intolerance is a problem, infidel-state is a far greater one simply because it’s ignoring the overall nature of human being which needs balanced laws (catering of both material and spiritual needs) at individual and also at Social-level.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Secularism will help Pakistan because it will prohibit the dangerous “personal, self-made forms and interpretations” of culture and religion from being incorporated directly into the state constitution. Bigotry may continue to exist on the community level, but at least it will no longer be a part of our legislation!Recommend

  • Abdullah

    The author lives in a cloud cukoo land. French secular state just banned the veil and praying in public.. Similar secular states in EU are banning mosques and in US burning Qurans and insulting other beliefs

    the idea that secular state guarantees freedoms is a utopia. It allows freedom as long as you don’t challenge secularism itself. Once you do that there is no freedom but rendition, torture, jail without trial, insults and labels such as fundamentalist, extremist etcRecommend

  • MAD

    I don’t approve of nude paintings and i believe homosexuals are a stain on humanity. Is that too conservative for you.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Apparently, we idolise adulterers like Imran Khan and use filthy foul language in our daily diatribes at work and play, but Marvi Sirmed is anti-Islamic for being a liberal.

    Pakistan deserves its third-world status simply because of a third-world mentality populace. Recommend

  • Hyder Abbas

    That’s what our people need to know, understand, absorb and act dear Abubakr Agha, thanks for writing such a clear, lucid and truthful piece of writing. Ms Marvi Sirmed is a valuable asset of this Pakistan, as Shaheed Salman Taseer was and will be.Theocracy would never take Pakistan for to long, people will be kill each other and a day will come when our enemies would run over our dead bodies and walk through our burnt homes thinking how wretched and ill-fated this nation was. We need to stop these radical, illogical and ignorant fake religious scholars, they need to know the meaning and philosophy of Islam, they should not be allowed and given the right to represent our beloved Islam. May Allah gives you strength and honor my brother, I am really glad to read this article, and many more like me.Recommend

  • Talha

    Ill-mannerism should be answered with ill-mannerism.

    That is how these crass misogynistic, hate filled, intolerant, zionist blaming people should be replied to.Recommend

  • Wolf

    “With all this being said, I must confess that personally, I do favour a secular Pakistan, just not now. Even though Pakistan was created for the freedom of the Muslims of India, there are non-Muslims living in Pakistan. If you guarantee equal rights to all citizens of your country, you must make it legal for any citizen to run for president or prime-minister, which is not the case.”

    So just because 2-3% non-muslims live in Pakistan, it should be made secular ? This is a logic as mature as a logic of kindergarten student. And by that logic, non-muslims cant live in an Islamic state ? Does the era of Holy Prophet (SAW) ring some bells ?

    Non-muslims are entitled to their rights by law. It’s just culprits who disrespect those rules much like they shatter other rules too.Recommend

  • Honorliving


    You wrote “I don’t approve of nude paintings and i believe homosexuals are a stain on humanity. Is that too conservative for you.” No it is not too conservative just Crazy. No body forces you to look at nude paintings and you have every right to decline same sex advances made towards you. Get yourself some education about what is homosexuality and if it natural or just a disease. Recommend

  • Daggardalla

    Nice Article. true that there is flaw in our society & thinking of people. The mindset created by our mullahs are mostly against Islamic teaching. Islam itself is a secular religion. Secularism is part of Islam, Islam allow each & everyone, believer or non believer to pray according to their religion & to give them religious freedom. We saw that in the era of Hazrat Umer Farooq (R.A). But these Mullahs corrupted our society & elements like zaid hamid corrupted our historical routes & guide to the wrong path. And our ignorant society still call the our heroes.Recommend

  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos

    Well written article. Agree with most of what AbuBakr Agha have written. No one has right to dictate how another persons lives. On the day of judgement will be judged on the good and bads things we have done.

    Marvi Sirmed has all the right to do as she pleases. Its none of anybody elses business.Recommend

  • Suhail Abdul Rehman Chougule

    hey guys/gals chill Marvi is talking about the base on which Pakistan is created does not exists and that is the problem here. She says creation of Pakistan is not on Islam. Well it is only and only Islam. And hence all that anger.

    By the way any decent person who watches the show will know who was behaving normally and who was getting out of control. So please stop defending Marvi. Recommend

  • WhatsInAName

    Those who support homosexuality, please read the Quran. It is an act very displeasing to our creator. It is not about our opinion or liberalism or religion being a private matter.

    It is about what our Creator, who is also the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He is our sustainer, all praise be to Him. We must not indulge ourself in any act that is displeasing to Allah.

    Secondly, as we all agree Pakistan was made in the name of Islam. Every street in every corner of the subcontinent echoed with the words of ‘What is the meaning of Pakistan? Pakistan means La Illaha Ill’a Allah’

    Now we want to deviate from our original promise.

    Fear your creator, who gave us our homeland. Do not go against your original premise.

    Marvi Sirmed has every right to project her opinion.

    But lets let the world know that she does not represent the people of Pakistan. She may speak for 0.0001% population, who reside in upscale housing areas, and move about in an elite social circle, characterised by late night parties and an affinity for materialism. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    @ Abu Bakr Agha
    Well written article our elders used to say pakistan was not like that before 1970s since
    we got involved by choice or by forced in afghan wars all this we got gifts.Recommend

  • umar abad

    As per the rules of secular democracy, masses constitute laws and regulations. Weather anyone of you recognizes this or not , what you call religious “theocracy” is the choice of the people. I am sorry to say but none of us here, the author, and the people commenting are not representing masses in any way. Not even 15% of the population has access to these forums. 70% of the population living outside the big cities does not read express tribune and are not even aware of the term blogging, which is why i dont think the author has any right to impose that a secular state is better.Recommend

  • Moderate

    People like Marvi and Zaid Hamid, both are extremists. Islam is neither like Zaid Hamid presents and neither is Secularism the solution that Marvi preaches. Quaid knew that and thats why he mentioned Islam and Democracy in all of his speeches. Recommend

  • Fahadullah

    “Pakistan was made in the name of Islam and for Islam”

    “Islam is the greatest religion and Islamic laws should be used for people of all religions”

    “anyone who disagrees is a non-believer and hence inferior to us and could be harmed lawfully”

    I think most of us agree with the first 2 statements and NOT the last one.
    It is very amusing how the author and many those in favour of secularism somehow think that Pakistan at the moment is an ‘Islamic state’ where Islamic hudood other aspects of the Shariah are being implemented at its fullest. You don’t need to be a scholar to realize that it is not an Islamic state and clearly there is no Islamic state at the moment not even Saudi Arabia or Iran.

    The issue then becomes when people start judging the current ugly reality of religious groups fighting each other or the highly emotional fanatic muslims of today that are just waiting to attack if Islam is attacked in anyway. That’s is NOT the reality of the Islamic state nor it was in the past

    In fact, the Islamic state has had a great history of having Jews and Christians living under peace. There are various accounts of Jewish rabbis and Christians clerics telling how at peace they were and they had their own churches and their own courts to deal with some of their legal matters and how much wealth they were earning at the time.

    A famous Jewish historian Zion Zohar stated how the Jews were under oppression from Christian rule, the Jews saw the Muslims as liberators from Christian persecution.

    So to conclude,

    1) There is no account of Islamic state being practiced at the moment
    2) Islamic state has the scope to deal with the issues of non-Muslims in a peaceful way (History testifies to this)
    3) Islamic state is not the same as ‘Christian’ state and so is the answer to society’s problemsRecommend

  • Anthony Permal

    The stupidity of people astounds me, especially when they get defensive on a principle instead of facts.

    The fact is, no matter HOW many times you say that ‘the people are corrupt don’t blame Islamic law in government statutes’ Pakistan – an Islamic republic – has been a 3rd world country for over half a century.

    We – your self-proclaimed Islamic nation – spend billions on defense of our country against the ‘enemies of Islam’ but can’t find even a fraction of that to save our flood-hit homeless, and then we say the world is lethargic and doesn’t want to help Pakistan.

    This Islamic republic has failed. Yes, it may be because of people or it may be because a theocracy is impossible in today’s world, but it has failed.

    The answer may not be secularism, but given the mentality of a majority of the people in Pakistan, a theocracy is also NOT the answer. What sensible, intelligent and non-parrot-thinking Muslim Pakistanis need to realise is that Islam CAN help the country get better, but only through EDUCATION. Leave the government to use politics, meritocracy and democracy to solve things.

    If Islamic governance was the answer to a 21st century 3rd world country, it is a surprise not a single non-natural-resource Muslim country is a 2nd or 1st world country today.Recommend

  • Ma Awan

    and what was Zaid called because of wearing a cap. ……. If she believed in rights for homosexuals, and that Muslims should allow nude picture ceremonies, she can do it at home, why she wants all the nations start doing it, coz when all will be naked she will not feel any shame!!!………………… First of all, it has to be admitted that secularism is a tried and tested philosophy____ and Islam is just a theory!!! …………….. In a secular state where religion is kept away from state matters and cannot be used to curb laws and justify acts, the society will be free and justice will prevail.____ Islam is against justice. …. I tried to read all his article but disgusted. enough to say

    Does this lady have any authority to talk on Islam, can any body stand and start talking on medical without getting a degree or spending a single day in the medical college. Recommend

  • The Forbidden Fruit

    I don’t know what pleasure people drive out of “Labeling” others as zionist/non-muslim/kaafir etc. Everyone have their own individual views and opinions. One can agree or disagree, politely.Recommend

  • amerbail

    Very sensible article, good job writer.Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    If it still has been established:

    1) I don’ t think secularism will save Pakistan – i prefer it
    2) I don’t think Pakistan is an Islamic Republic – most of its laws are still secular.Recommend

  • http://Karachi Javed Iftiqhar

    Young man in my opinion you are the best writer on this website. Keep it up.


  • Kaleem

    The author clearly states that ISLAM in its perfect form is ideally suited for running a state fairly and that secularism today will NOT save Pakistan. He says that answer is in EDUCATION. What are people disagreeing on? Very well written!Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    @ Abu Bakr
    Dont be over react man pakistan will stay but system will chaged and by the way pakistan
    been through many times in worst than this.Recommend

  • Shehrbano Taseer

    Great stuffRecommend

  • Abu Bakr

    @Ali Tanoli:
    Not at all. Just meant to clear out these two points – again. Like Kaleem said, I think education is the answer to Pakistan’s problems.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Today it matters not what our founding fathers had in mind in 1947, what matters now is that Islamic principles must prevail, this is now fait accompli. The problem is how is this to be accomplished. Are we to wait another 64 years and then admit that our founding fathers were right. I sincerely hope not. Recommend

  • sam

    secularism \m/ … Recommend

  • Arsalan Ajmal

    What can i say…. According to you, you must be open minded, but brother due to open minded people like you we are in trouble……….Its true Islam is being used in wrong sense and people dont have total knowledge about their religon. But secularism is noo solution
    Our religon provides us guidance on every matter thats why its called ” Deen-e-Islam , but this western culture has penetrated soo much into us that we forgot who we are…….
    When ever muslims followed their religon properly, they ruled the world……And if we again follow our religon with its true essence we will again be successful in this life and hereafterRecommend

  • uak4

    @sarfraz abbasi:
    What lets you decide whether Ahmadis are muslims or non-muslims. Recommend

  • Jameel

    @sarfraz abbasi:

    Ahmedis murder is wrong, but declaring
    them non muslim is no wrong.

    No one can be declared anything on the basis of religion. This is discrimination. You are justifying discrimination and official contempt by state towards its own citizen’s on the basis of religion. This is the first step towards persecution proper.

    How about all other sects who call each other kafir? Should we also declare them non-muslim as well? All kafirs should be treated the same under the law.Recommend

  • yasmin

    well written article. marvie is a brave woman.pakistani nation is stupid and illitrate.they cant understand what she say.Recommend

  • Sanity

    Anyone living in Pakistan should respect the customs of the country. They should refrain from offending the majority. This is called good behaviour and is expected from anyone in any country. Recommend

  • BraveHeart

    People who support her and her kind of views need to be looked at ..
    u guys should go and study islam i dont know why these so called liberals of our society just naturally start hating those who are close to their religion
    people Stop hating your true selfRecommend

  • Maham

    Excellent, excellent piece Mr. Agha!Recommend

  • Ali

    You say you were baffled by those comments? I’m baffled by THESE comments. I don’t see how anyone can disagree when the author says Islam is the right path, but not when it is misused. I think you Mr. Agha absolutely hit the nail on the head when you made the point about education. Brilliant write-up.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    @Arsalan Ajmal:

    Western culture has infiltrated us? Wow!

    Honour killing is not Western culture.
    Suicide bombing in the name of religion and for winning virgins in heaven is not Western culture.
    5-day long hedonistic wedding ceremonies that cost crores of rupees is not Western culture.
    Corruption and imbezzlement in the name of politics on a DAILY basis is not Western culture. While some countries in the West may have this problem, ALL countries in the sub-continent have had this problem as the BIGGEST issue facing them.
    Thousand-person massacres in the name of religion in the 21st century is not Western culture.

    I could go on, but I’m sure I don’t need to. Recommend

  • Sikandar

    Educate, educate AND educate. That is the answer that logic, common sense and even the Holy Prophet taught us – and that is the message the writer is trying to give that most of the commentators are missing. Great article.Recommend

  • Sarah


  • Reason

    @AbuBakr Agha

    Hater’s gonna hate. Live your dream, your intentions are noble and you have been blessed with an open mind, sound logic and a way with words. Recommend

  • Superman

    People in this country don’t know how to respect an opinion.

    @Writer – totally agree. Education is never given enough importance in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Awais Khan

    Tolerance should be present in our society to listen each and every view. Intolerance or suppression of opinion will only push our society into deeper predicaments.Recommend

  • Hassan

    Ideological foundations and beliefs are irrelevant when the concept of a society and community living do not exist. As the writer mentions education is indeed the key, we get into pointless debates at this juncture without considering that people must be educated, so that they can value the difference between a secular state and a theocracy. Pakistan is not a theocracy not by a large stretch, but we do act like puritans and hypocrites in matters of religion.

    Marvi Sirmed and many like her have all the right in the world to air their views but must consider that freedom of expression works both ways and in this country with a charged and emotional environment direct confrontation is probably not the smartest way to deal with sensitive issues. We might feel that religion is private and should not be a sensitive issue but a vast majority in this country thinks differently and we must respect that and engage in a concerted effort at multiple levels in society to change things rather than pass sweeping statements about secularism vs theocracy.

    The need of this time is not just education but rational and composed action which is directed towards a long term goal of empowering people in this country to pick the ideological bearings with which they identify themselves.Recommend

  • Hassan

    @Anthony Permal: having a prejudiced view of current affairs and history isnt really going to solve the issues or even direct the debate towards a solution. Since you are pointing out the follies with the sub continent and Pakistan in particular lets take a look at the supposed beacon of civlisation the western world

    Honor killing must be not be western culture but killing hundreds of thousands in the name of democracy and freedom isnt part of our culture
    Extra judicial murders in foreign countries to take over their resources isnt part of our culture
    Need i mention the billions that werre lost on Wall Street and the financial markets around the world which resulted in wiping out entire savings of the salaried class in these countries and that none of the perpetrators were punished, that my friend is corruption and embezzlement and very much a part of western culture
    The politcal and corporate nexus that rules western goverments and furthers the agends of large corporations is indeed part of western culture
    More people have been killed in the past 100 years by western countries than by all Islamic terror groups put together yet people like you bend over backwards and forwards to sing praises of the western way of life.

    the western world has the same problems but the one thing that they have working for them and which we need to aspire too is building institutions and improving governance these two elements guarantee the working of a country. Recommend

  • MAD


    Its unnatural. not a disease. a disease can be treated.Recommend

  • salman qureshi

    Agree with you dude! I’d rather have Pakistan known as secular then as a nuclear state. :)Recommend

  • amar akbar

    This is a ridiculous article in the sense that the slogan for Pakistan cannot be changed in any way!!!! Minorities should be given equal rights, yes, but the slogan need not be altered. Pakistan was acquired for Islam and nothing else. Its a shame that there is no Islam here (true Islam i mean). Recommend

  • umar

    you might be right, but still i DONOT agree with her. I repeat i don not agree! no matter you call me uneducated or a aloof. She is callenging Quaid’s speeches and theories Recommend

  • fareeha

    If Pakistan should be islamic state because we have Islamic majority then India should be Hindue state because they have Hindue Majority by the arguments given by pro islamic shariah state, france is right to ban veil since it is christian state. Why do we forget that Pakistan is not the only country in the world. When Switzerland bans minarets we cry out lound and tak eout rallys but when we kill minorites we think we can justify..Recommend

  • Anthony Permal


    Lol, look at my point for those arguments and look at yours! What does ANYTHING that’s wrong with the Western world have ANYthing to do with Pakistan? Another commenter blamed all our problems on the West, I merely proved that the inherent cons we have in our country have nothing at all to do with Western culture.

    Yet, you ranted in a diatribe about how the West has failed on various fronts and how that isn’t our culture.

    Do you not see the folly in your own argument? How does ANYthing you desribed prove what I said wrong?Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    You have EVERY right to not agree with her. I disagree with her on many things. I agree with her on a few points that i mentioned in the video i saw (not the one posted above) – but my point is that the decent she received for having a different opinion is not justified and calling her pro-indian, pro-isreal or a RAW agent is wrong.

    I honestly believe many people feel a Muslim Pakistani is always going to be superior compared to a Hindu Pakistani. You can say all you want about the west, and absolutely many secular states have flaws, but ask Muslims how many of them feel like they have fewer rights or a discriminated against abroad. I don’t care if Pakistan is theocratic or secular as long as it is progressive and peaceful. The problem is unless the true spirit of Islam is realized and brought forward, a theocracy tarnishes its name. That is why i prefer secularism. That does NOT mean I want Islam gone or i am against the religion God forbid. That simply means it should not be used in state affairs – because people miss use it.

    “Illiteracy and also injustice both drive people towards crime and extremism. Unfortunately, some of these acts are justified wrongly by the use of religion, hence tarnishing its name and calling for cries of secularism. ”

    Islamic laws protect minorities and grant them rights – i cannot stress this enough. But do you want Islam to be used to justify immoral and unethical acts as it is? In a theocracy that could well happen. In secular government it could be prevented. Pakistan is neither. Either way people need to be educated.Recommend

  • Cynical

    A bigger question is, “Are democracy and secularism compatible with the idea of Islam?”
    Being the only country born on the basis of religion,shoudn’t it be more appropriate fot it to find solutions to it’s problems in religious texts.Recommend

  • Malik

    Shame on all the guys in support of a secular Pakistan. I just have one question…if we need to separate religion and state then why Pakistan was created in the first place. think about it in and you will get the answer….whether you admit it or not.

    Secondly…in secular India….I think all the minorities are protected, right?…..or is it my misunderstanding?Recommend

  • Hassan

    @Anthony Permal: This is usually what happens when one is eager to claim victory on the comments section of a blog, i didnt say that you were wrong i said that when you point out follies and claim that one set of people alone are erring in their ways that comparision is not correct. The west has their set of problems and we have ours.


  • Anthony Permal

    Also, about why Pakistan was created:

    The slogan on which it was created says ‘There is no god but God’. That’s ALL it says. So if one really comes down to semantics, and since Jews, Christians and Muslims are people of the book, the argument which uses THIS slogan to justify a theocracy or majoritarianism is silly, as this slogan literally means Pakistan belongs to Jews and Christians EQUALLY.

    Fact is, it is a stupid argument, because if indeed Pakistan was made truly in the name of Islam FOR Muslims, then Muslims have failed it. There goes your theocratic justification. You can cry for the next 60+ years that ‘we should, could, would’ but it won’t change the fact that things are BEYOND repair for it as a theocracy.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal


    I agree with you whole-heartedly on that point, bro. Fact is, we all know deep down what will solve Pakistan’s issues, and we all know it is beyond the argument of theocracy or secularism or democracy. The issues are far deeper as they go beyond logic, and enter a mindset issue.Recommend

  • Fawwad

    Where is the “LIKE” button? Great Article. I AGREE.Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    @Anthony Permal:
    Education? :)Recommend

  • mudassar

    My humble opinion is that we being Muslim consider Islam a complete way of life not just a religion as any other one so its out of question to compare Islam with other religions.once we have read kalima its obligatory for us to accept it complete code(social,economic and religious) that covers all aspects of life or to abolish ait at all there is no mid way.point is k Islam doesn’t usurp the rights of minorities or any other depends who is ruling.if u wanna give freedom to homosexuals on this land and let every one speak out of his heart no matter what beastly appetite his mind produces,& name it freedom of speech,than how will u define profanity and blasphemy?? in this way you are narrowing down your option instead of making people support you you are depriving your self from their democratic accept the differences.allow us to think as we deem appropriate !thanks !Recommend

  • mudassar

    @Abdullah great reply sir: Recommend

  • Tabish

    Nice article. Liked the conclusion part. You havent just highlighted the problem, there is a solution also, that is important. Having said that, secularism is implemented in India, being born brought up in Bombay, have seen multiple facets of it. Right wing or extremists will persist anyhow to convey their point. Art aficionados like Marvi here, or some other XYZ, take freedom of expression for granted and expect the world at their disposal. Take the case of M. F. Hussain here, how he was harassed being in a secular state. Well, there are many aspects to be considered in order to change a nations’ ideology.Recommend

  • mudassar

    would you yourself allow to be filmed nude?? aah thuuu… don’t challenge the nature !Recommend

  • Mira

    @MAD: You have every right to not approve of nude paintings or homosexuality. What you absolutely do not have is a right to tell other people that they have to agree with your point-of-view. What you absolutely do not have is a right to tell other people that they don’t have the right to paint nudes or be homosexual because you don’t approve.Recommend

  • MAD


    I never told anyone to agree with me. Just gave my point of view. I do have a right to respond and thats all I have done.Recommend

  • zoya

    I salute marvi for speaking up so boldy in an intolerant society like ours. And thumbs up for the writerRecommend

  • Hyder Abbas

    Whatever, Pakistani society needs to be shaped on secular basis or else, no one will be safe…everyone will be Killed or slaughtred by those fanatics whose children feed on innocent bloods…we need to demolish these buildngs of hatred…we need peace and harmny amgst Muslims Hindus Christians and all….we need to stop calling Kafir Anti-Islam to our own brothrs and sisters.!

    This is what Quid e Azam implied in his address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in 1947:

    “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

    I think he talked about a Secular Pakistan.!Recommend

  • Hyder Abbas

    @AbuBkr @zoya: Agreed.Recommend

  • Hyder Abbas

    @Farhan javed: zaid hamid is not alone too…!!…and those who preach killing of innocents…and those who (nauuzubilla) try to use Allah’s Ikhtiya’ars…and those who don’t assume others have got any right to live, except for them.!!! Secularism is not Anti-Islam…please don’t confuse’s just a social system…!Recommend

  • Fahadullah

    @ Hyder Abbas

    Islam is also a social system it is further a legal system and an economic system making it an ideology fit for humanity’s problems. It is a system revealed from Allah through His Messenger (pbuh)

    The case has always been especially in Pakistan is the fanatic ‘mullah’ culture or ‘molvi’ culture where people have studied fixed Islamic statements and have not learned how to apply them in different settings and realities. It’s not then not a surprise that any attachment to Islam by seeing these so called ‘maulvis’ then, one wants to alienate from them as much as possible especially when people confuse the current ugly reality of ‘jahil’ muslims and the things they call for. This is so much so, that a guy who even mentions ‘Allah’, ‘Messenger’, ‘Deen’ is seen as ‘oh yeah…those maulvi guys’.. so people are always reminded of Islam through the idiocy of religious groups fighting each other, shia vs brelvi vs deoband war and so on.

    However, people tend to forget the scope Islam has a political and ideological basis for serving humanity’s interests and problems.

    Regarding secularism, the question then becomes do we even have the right as Muslims to opt for a rule other than Allah’s. In other words, where does our good and bad, and our way of life come from? Does it come from the West? from societal norms? or from our Creator?

    From our history of Islam, the Islamic system is a tried and tested model and history testifies to this that how Islam is attributed to the ‘Golden Ages’ and ‘the cradle of civilization’ from the protection and justice of religious minorities to the immense advancements in science and technology that helped spawn the European Renaissance.Recommend

  • http://yahoo Farhan javed

    Yeah i do agree with you.Recommend

  • rehan

    The perfect example of governing in history is the era of hazrat Umer(rta) and religion was involved in state affairs and these current fashist cum secular state soping his rules. If ur demanding for equal right ,so why ru going to this so called sucularisim Islam gives u that and if it is not happening it is our fault, we are the poor drivers of this beautiful mercedez, not it this luxury car does’nt go bcz we cant drive it u have to work on the driver not on the car, so the idealogy which is islam doesnt have anything wrong that u cant run state with.
    The bloger write about literacy and unjustice, well give me one example where u can prove that religion stop some one from education or justice again it is about about implemantition not the basic isealogy of islam. And u mintion that u have got non muslims living in our country so we should involve islamic laws in state affairs, so as a secular beliver u might be taking of democracy credit every day how does it work mejority is running state affairst even if the minorities doesnt agree with its mainefesto, so if we apply the same on pakistan and as a majority religion.
    so if we give every right to non muslims which a muslim have and islam in prictical gives it and this tried and tested islam which has been extremily succsessful (u cant deny it),we apply in its true sririt and everyone knows that the argument is’nt idealogy of islam or secularism rather is “Islam fully apply in true spirit” and the problem we have in application of Ialam on state affairs should be improved.Recommend

  • Arsalan Ajmal

    @Anthony Permal: All the things you mentioned are not western culture; i totally agree…….But they are also not the teachings which Islam teaches us
    As I said people hardly have knowledge about their religion…… Or should i say they dont even have the basic education
    As i said we were provided guidance on every matter but still people are not ready to opt it
    The more we will follow our religion, and i mean true Islam the sooner things will get better….
    Till then the only ways is to educate people and pray to Allah that Pakistan survives through this hard time

  • Zeeshan

    She spoke all the right things at a wrong place:DRecommend

  • Salman Orangiwala

    Bravo Lady , la manifique !

    At last someone had the guts to stand up against this “defender of faith “, Mr.Zaid Hamid .

    Mr.Hamid’s glib talk got gobbled up in this instance , I must admit ………………lolzzzzzzzz

    And that phrase ….” laal topi wala ……………………” lolzzzz again and again .Recommend

  • Absar

    Jinnah clearly stated that he did not
    want Pakistan to be theocratic, and
    was a man who did not believe in
    religion intervening with state

    I am sure this will give you a chance to stay outside the horizon of biasedness:

    And perhaps this too:

    Must read critiques for all: leftists, rightists and centrists. Readers discretion advised.

    According to the Pakistani scholar Ishtiaq Ahmad, there is even support for the Shariah to be found in a few of Jinnah’s pronouncements, like when he promised the Pir of Manki Sharif to enforce in exchange for the Pir’s support to the Muslim League in the 1946 elections. There are few other relevant events that the author has discounted in his “blog”.

    Pakistan should have a theodemocracy or a western-democracy remains a subject of dispute and debate to-date. Everyone has got his own version of interpretations regarding Jinnah’s model of Pakistan. Let’s make it simple about what Jinnah had wanted Pakistan to be. He wanted Pakistan to be a country where minorities are given protection, their rights are given to them, they are not discriminated, they receive the same humane treatment as any other Pakistani-Muslim. And to achieve all that, the rule of law must be upheld.Recommend

  • Khan

    The secular brigade shouldn’t hurl abuses while discussing anything on Social media, that’s what Miss Marvi does on twitter. What kind of Secularism is this that you hurl abuses and derogatory remarks if any one doesn’t agree to your arguments?Recommend

  • jingoist

    To all my dear liberal extremist!
    Why when a woman (with her own will) wants to practice Islam is considered to be conservative ?

    and, Why a woman willingly wants to be nude is considered to be liberal ?

    Both of them are doing it willingly and people like you should accept them!

    That is not the case. Unfortunately, you ppl are extremely biased and descriminate the Hijabis and woman who practices religion.

    Stop calling the terrorists to be extremists! You yourself are extremists of our society!!

    Educated-yet-mentally-sick liberals!
    Learn to respect others! You aren’t the only literate species on earth!Recommend

  • Faaiez Mohammad

    Wonderful discussion and worth a lot to read really. i must say that Turkey used this mode of politics to bring peace in their country as there was huge sectarian, cultural and social divide. but they could not achieve good goals in this aspect. rather they had to improve their educational system to upgrade their masses and on the other side they curbed all these division perpetrators by punishing hard. so its a two way process, also we must decide through public consensus that what course of political life we want to have in our country instead of bullying something.Recommend

  • Lamss

    @Anthony Permal:
    Pakistan was made for Muslims but did not exclude the right to live to those of other religions. The intention was a state where Muslims were in majority. Otherwise partition would have been a joke. Having said that I’m always happy to come across non Muslim Pakistanis who at the end of the day are the same as Pakistani Muslims, with the same issues etc..Recommend

  • Sanity

    Two things that we severely need as a nation is Truthfulness and Rationality. We are not going to progress ethically, socially and economically, unless we learn these two qualities.

    Once we acquire these two qualities, secularism, co-existence, tolerance etc. will automatically follow.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ali Khan

    In my opinion, every one has the right to express what he/she thinks. Ms Marvi was very clear about her views but i felt that Mr Zaid was not coming up with logical arguments e.g linkages of Ms marvi with RAW, she is funded by RAW,these are very serious allegations but he couldn’t produce any evidence. I think our men should grow up and think critically and with sound proofs.Recommend

  • nasir

    to sll those shouting their head off….please give me name of just one nation which is secular.Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    The writer has also written a blog titled ‘Why I chose Imran Khan’ and now agrees with marvi sirmed’s views, just asking ‘ Kya yeh khula tezaad nai ?’Recommend

  • Potion

    Loved it.Recommend

  • waqas

    George Jacob Holyoake,the man who coined the term “SECULARISM”!!..According to him someone who believes in the “DIVINE BEING” can not be a true secular,in other word,one has to be an ATHEIST to be a true secular!!..THAT SAYS IT ALL!!.With the State being atheist,how would an individual in his private capacity be religious when the law of the state will collide with his beliefs and laws of his religion?.And talking about freedom in secular societies,what do you say about the banning of the minnarets in Switzerland and burqa in France?? Recommend

  • Anthony Permal


    Waqas, I can ask the same with regard to religious societies then: why am I not allowed to build a church in Saudi Arabia? Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    The point is still being missed. I think we all want Pakistan to be a peaceful and progressive state where everyone is the same under the law. If religion is going to be wrongly used to justify acts of violence and corrupt society we can either educate society completely or try to separate religion from state affairs. I think if Islamic governance is implemented in its true, pure spirit, then it is perfect. But opinions differ today, and everybody has their own interpretation. Who do we believe? Women need witnesses to prove rape, innocent Christians are killed wrongly accused of blasphemy and Ahmedis are murdered. Look at the charter of Medina. The first true society with religous freedom WAS Islamic – also the first welfare state and the first state offering pensions. Today the true spirit of Islam can never be brought out in Pakistan, and certainly not any time soon. There are enough problems already, the last thing we need is theocracy. What we need is literacy, and justice. Recommend

  • Omar

    @Abu Bakr:
    Agreed 100%Recommend

  • Hyder Abbas

    @Abu Bakr…Agreed my bro…every single word of you…Pakistani society needs to be educated…socially, morally, religiously and on humanitarian grounds…believe me it hurts when a literate person says to his children about an Islamic faction that, “They are non-Muslims”…without any knowledge and research about them…it’s pinching…stop doing that..tell your children We All Are Human no one is responsible for anyone’s A’akhirat..!!Recommend

  • sane


    QURAN also tells that Sun sets on west side muddy water, earth has edges, difference between earth and rest of universe created is no more than 6 days. In order to know truth scientifically read religious cosmologies of other faiths as well as Carl Segan cosmology.Recommend

  • H

    It makes you prudish and homophobic, which can at a glance be taken as being “conservative”.Recommend

  • Aniq

    “Marvi Sirmed did not believe that Pakistan was meant to be a theocracy, and that she was against the two nation theory in that capacity”

    LOL the common man of pakistan doesnt hare marvi because she doest want a theocracy or wants to be part of Secular India. But other reasons , but ofcourse this french paper wont post them typical give distorting views of common man Recommend

  • Charagh

    Dude you dont need to be homosexual and allow nude paintings to be progressive. Islam is the most progressive religion because it is based on nature and designed by God Himself but todays’ Muslims do not represent it truly, just as liberals and seculars don’t show or even know true picture of liberalism and secularism. Liberals and rigid conservatives both don’t know what they are actually fighting for? Can this writer explain what is actualy liberalism or secularism and what impact it has on human history?
    Marvi Sarmad is not opposed due to her ‘Sari’ but due to her views. So if she has right to hold an opinion, others have also right to object her opinion. Further Marvi Sarmad and Co is no different and better than Mullahs when it comes to flaring up emotions and manipulating for their own interests. It all shows how sincere is she in her slogans. Mullahs do it in the name of religion and she does in the name of liberalism, mixed culture, women protection, domestic violence & bla bla.
    The problem is that most of the liberals suffer from same diseases which they blame conservatives for i.e. ignorance, intolerance, discrimination, manipulating facts, humiliation of others in the name of satire etc.
    Intolerance and narrow mindedness are not religious problems. If it were so, all liberals must be free of these evils which is not the case. Inadequate finances for education, health are not because Pakistan is theocracy. High ups involved in corruption of billions of dollars are not Mullahs.These are psychological diseases on national level and must be diagnosed and treated in true contest.
    It is a pride now a days to just misinterpret Quaid-e-Azam, deny two nation theory, support homosexuals and right a blog on any controversial topic.Recommend