Stories about extremism

The noble intentions of Salmaan Taseer

When people pass on, you are suddenly bombarded with memories. Both significant and insignificant, random phrases from different conversations and events flood in. With Salmaan Taseer, the only thing that flashes to my mind is his gallant, challenging smile.The smile that conveyed what his personality was all about – the lack of fear, the conviction in his own opinions, the zeal to do and say what he believed was correct and above all the refusal to back down under threats or pressure. The governor was one of the very few educated politicians who led and lived by his own set of rules. ...

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Good riddance to good riddance

Jahanzaib Haque’s blog post, “Good riddance to Faisal Shahzad” contains justified condemnation for a man who is only the latest in a stream of Pakistanis and Muslims engendering unnecessary shame and vitriol. While I agree with Mr Haque’s sentiment, I cannot condone it. Too often, we are quick to dismiss anything unsuitable to our tastes but fail to understand or comprehend why it happens in the first place. More importantly, we do nothing to address the problem so that similar future events do not occur. Rather, we sweep it under the rug, say “good riddance” and hope it never ...

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Fundamentalism versus pluralism in religion

”The principle of movement in the structure of Islam” (Allama Iqbal, Reconstruction of Religious Thought In Islam) Religious fundamentalism has been described in various terms and jargon; however the most compelling description of fundamentalism when we consider the topics of knowledge production and social practice is’ the virtual absence of historical scholarship, liberty and rationality.’ Fundamentalists are by no means inclined towards force but they do deny the call for reform and change, arguing that religion is unchangeable hence any interference by human beings through manipulative means of interpretation is an adulteration of the purity of faith. In one clear ...

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Dreams of grandeur for Pakistan’s elite

There are several armies in Pakistan. First are the regular Faujis. They’re a dependable lot; one can generally rely on them to own a vast amount of land, produce decent quality corn flakes and stage a military coup every decade or so. Then there is the army of God. This is a versatile lot – they function as terrorists, loony ideologues, charitable organisations and scapegoats and fodder for dozens of conspiracy theories. Lastly, there is the great army of liberal Pakistanis who represent enlightened moderation. Oh wait, just kidding. Let me rephrase that: lastly, there is a minuscule group of elite Pakistanis ...

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What is young Pakistan thinking?

It might come as a surprise to those concerned about a growing militancy problem in Pakistan that most of the people in the country believe that the Taliban and al Qaeda are not doing any service to Islam. According to the findings of a recent survey by the Pew Research Centre, support for terrorism among Pakistanis is much lower compared to other Muslim states. Militants have expanded their targeting of public places and intensified sectarian attacks in the last few years, actions that have fuelled public sentiments against them, and undermined the formerly tacit support for the Taliban in ...

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The great Burqa debate

Finally, French legislators have passed the bill banning the female veil in public, which covers the whole face and body. If passed by the Senate in September it will become a law. The breaking of this law will result in a fine and if men force their wives to wear full veils they will face up to one year in prison and a fine. As expected the proposed law has sparked ‘the great burqa debate’ among Muslim and non-Muslims circles all over again. Many Muslims, especially those living in France term it a violation of their basic civil rights. It ...

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Pakistan history, distorted by the literalists

Recently released, the Brookings Institute report claims that the real cause of militancy in Pakistan is the public education system, and not religious schools (madrssas) because the majority of Pakistani students attend public school whereas only ten per cent attend madrassas. It states that Pakistani public schools disseminate militancy, hatred, jihad and distort history. Until 1970, despite bureaucratic and military dictatorships, the Pakistani educational curriculum and textbooks, for example, had included the history of the Maurya and Gupta dynasties of the sub-continent conforming to the secular ideals of Pakistan clearly expressed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his speech to the constituent ...

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Muslims must learn to speak the language of bullies

When I was growing up I believed that bullies had the right to inflict pain upon their victims. It was the cycle of life everyone must accept. To go against them was unnatural and futile. All I did in dealing with them was to come up with creative ways to avoid their wrath and earn their blessings and approval. It took me a while to come to terms and wake up to the reality of bullies and how to deal with them. Giving in to their demands does not make them go away. Instead, they merely demand and expect more. The ...

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