We adopted a legacy where dogmas, beliefs and predetermined thought patterns replaced free thinking and scientific approach towards life. Aesthetically stale and intellectually bankrupt we are a society which aspires to dominate the world by adopting an abstract religious philosophy which nobody has so far been able to even define
From a diverse and tolerant culture of fertile lands which characterized dance and music on festive occasions like holi and basant we transitioned to a culture of vast deserts where blood flows to commemorate celebration. While performing sadqa or on the occasion of eid-ul-azha the victim is always a fellow creature. While associating with values of a different culture, romance and beauty of life was to be replaced by a stiff and sober attitude governed by pride superiority and self righteousness laced with intolerance with an exclusivist outlook towards the out-group. Pleasure and fun in this life was to be sacrificed for a luxurious life in the hereafter as the “real” life was supposed to begin after death. The society gradually became repressive and presently a large part thereof considers “pleasure seeking” a sin. During the New Year night when the entire world is having fun, the large majority in our society rejects the onset of the New Year. Our new year, as they say, begins with the first of Muharram with wailing and crying, an activity which then continues for the rest of the year. Basant used to be a festive occasion, which today is no more permissible under various pretexts. Pleasure- seeking is being restricted to mehfil-e-naat, participation in eid-e-milad or attending the tableeghi ijtamah. A few days back the goons of Jamaat-e-Islami threatened to attack a humorous poetry recitation session to be held on world population day i.e. July 11th. It was cancelled as the Punjab government backed out.
Presently another source of pleasure is discussing the destruction of the former Soviet Union, the US, India and Israel, while dreaming about the renaissance of Islam when Muslims would rule the world. Looking at models of missiles and mountains of Chaghi also gratifies our sensibilities. Some even advocate the use of nuclear weapons to annihilate the enemy while more than half the world is our enemy. We can also give them the choice of either embracing Islam, or observe complete submission and pay jazia or be prepared to die.
We also adopted a legacy where dogmas, beliefs and predetermined thought patterns replaced free thinking and scientific approach towards life. We often refer to Muslim scientists in history and their contributions but seldom mention as to what treatment was meted out to them by the state and society. Jabir Bin Hayan the chemist was placed under house arrest where he expired later. All books of al-Kindi the great philosopher were confiscated. Ibn-e-Haitham the great physicist had to pretend that he was a madman so that he could save his skin, while he was put under house arrest. Averros was banished and Avicenna kept moving from city to city to avoid persecution. A society progresses only when there is freedom to ask questions without any fear or restraint. Cultures where restrictions are imposed and you cannot say what you want to, the society stagnates. Today a large majority cannot even critically examine the blasphemy law which is man made. Perhaps it has also become difficult to call Mumtaz Qadri a murderer for he is hero to many. A large part of our intellectual discourse revolves around the question: Islam allows and Islam does not allow, Islam does not allow and Islam allows, so on and so forth. Ad hoc circular reasoning is applied to seek predetermined answers and to many this constitutes creation of knowledge. At the same time a large segment of the society considers worldly knowledge subservient to heavenly knowledge contained in one book which covers every conceivable aspect of life, except how to make polio vaccine.
Aesthetically stale and intellectually bankrupt we are a society which aspires to dominate the world by adopting an abstract religious philosophy which nobody has so far been able to even define. While part of a closed society which is averse to any new ideas we have steadily transitioned from a vibrant sub-continental culture to Kalashnikov culture to drug culture to thana culture and now jehadi culture. Manifestations of jehadi culture are visible in our streets where one frequently comes across posters signifying panjtan pak and char yaar, donations for Jamaat-ud-Dawa and jehad against the infidels.
On 16th of July 2011, the Sikh community in Lahore was barred from organizing a religious ceremony at a gurdwara after a religious group persuaded authorities that celebrating the Muslim holy day of “Shab-e-Barat” was more important than the Sikh festival. The musical equipment of the Sikhs was thrown out and their entry to the gurdwara barred due to the efforts of the Dawat-e-Islami, a Barelvi proselytizing group.
While heritage sites are fast disappearing in the land of the pure without leaving a trace, numerous monuments are in a state of total disrepair. The tangible and intangible aspects of our folk heritage are in complete disarray. Performing arts, which were once an integral part of our culture, are now controversial. The society today is deeply divided where liberals are significantly outnumbered by the forces of conservatism which apparently are poised to take over the entire civil society. What kind of culture and life is envisaged by these proponents of Islamic renaissance can be gauged by one of their leader’s lifestyle who expired recently in a fortified house in the garrison town of Abbotabad.
Osama Bin Laden was living with his four wives in a 6.7 kanal compound with 13 children who perhaps never went to school, more than 100 chickens, 2 cows, some rabbits and may be some other domesticated animals. It appeared that since he never left the premises during his five-year stay and with probably no other productive activity, he was deeply involved in his libidinous activities, while rabbit meat would act as a strong aphrodisiac.
We have also seen some footage of the interior of the compound. It was filthy and rotten to the core. It was also learned that the family would burn the trash at an open place rather than dispose it off in a proper way, causing hazardous pollution in and around the surrounding areas.
There were no telephones, internet etc to link up with the rest of the world. However AK-47's and ammunition was found in sufficient quantity. The house was isolated from the rest of the locality and had a grotesque architecture so that nobody from outside could have a glimpse of who lived inside.
A weird house with a man who constantly thought of violence, death and destruction, with four illiterate yet young wives to have sex with, plus 13 children, littered with animal waste, and polluted with burnt out trash, without any modern gadgetry but guns, perhaps no books on modern knowledge barring some on "methods of making explosives with household items" isolated from the rest of the world, gives us a picture of the culture Osama and thereafter his followers have envisioned to enforce in the entire world.
|Waseem Altaf is a human rights activist. .|