Religion and State?
Daily Times, January 21, 2006
SECOND OPINION: Who is listening to the ‘new debate’?— Khaled Ahmed’s TV Review
This is the Muslim predicament. The new millennium has not seen the Muslims moving closer to the modern state but revolting against it. The politicians and the people are scared of discussing the problem but they are privately absorbing the debate
The private channels have done a few good things and a few bad ones, always following the market. They have downgraded religion to a mantra by following the istikhara market, but they have also begun discussing religion and its relationship with the state seriously. Is Pakistan being affected by this discourse? Not yet. Significantly, the politicians are staying away from the debate.
GEO (January 1, 2006) discussed Islam and the state in Fifty Minutes, Dr Mubarak Ali said that religion did not mix well with the state. He said talk of ijtihad was meaningless because there was no guarantee that any Muslims would accept it. He said every time someone did ijtihad it gave birth to a new sect. He said the two-nation doctrine was no longer valid in Pakistan. The concept of ummah was equally irrelevant.
He said if the Muslims wanted to get together they should create a bloc of states but not based on religion. Religion must remain in the private domain. The nation-state was the reality in our times. It was no longer possible to discriminate against the non-Muslims on the excuse of Islam. He said before 1947 ideology had no reference in what was later called the Pakistan Movement.
Ahmad Javed observed that Dr Mubarak’s idea of religion was different. He said Dr Mubarak may be right but the question was: could religion be separated from the working of the state? He said the two-nation doctrine could be defended only philosophically and that was the way it should be retained. He held that whoever wanted to subject Islam to ijtihad actually wanted to run away from religion. He said Islam was not law but guided lawmaking.
Aitzaz Ahsan said that Islamic state had to be changed to make the minorities feel secure. He said the question of identity today was not related to religion but to the soil. He said the man in Pakistan was the man of Indus regardless of his religion. Dr Javed Iqbal said states were founded on soil but nations were founded on ideology. In Bosnia a nation of Muslims had come into being while living on a soil where non-Muslim nations too live.
He conceded that the two-nation doctrine was valid only between Pakistan and India but not inside Pakistan. He said Jinnah had Hindus in his cabinet but now Pakistan had a different approach.
Dr Mubarak Ali was on the dot. This is the Muslim predicament. The new millennium has not seen the Muslims moving closer to the modern state but revolting against it. The politicians and the people are scared of discussing the problem but they are privately absorbing the debate. Hence, there is great merit in what Fifty Minutes is doing.
Aitzaz Ahsan is alone among the PPP leadership to take an honest look at what Pakistan has made of the state. If he were to hear what ND Khan has been mouthing on TV — proudly claiming the apostatisation of the Qadianis as his party’s Islamic identity — he would swoon in shock. Raza Rabbani and Amin Fahim have fallen to the clerical bait and the party will choke on the hook in the final count.
The private TV channels are producing their anti-Aitzazes more rapidly through their ‘on-line’ religious kitsch. So far the wrong side is winning. Except for Javed Ghamidi who challenges the clergy from within.
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Thursday, 1 January 2009
Religion and State?