Dawn News

View from US: Yeah, I am a believer!

Yes I saw (its) face, now I’m a believer Not a trace of doubt in my mind Said I’m a believer, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah   Nicknamed ‘God particle,’ it has finally been spotted. It was the missing link in the scientific understanding of Creation. To discover it consumed two years, 7000 scientists, and $10 billion. The experiment was conducted underground on the Switzerland-French border.

Finally scientists were able to reach into the “fabric of the Universe at a level” they had never done before — finding proof of an invisible energy that fills the vacuum of space.

Who creates this energy? The divine ‘God particle.’ Actually the particle is called Higgs Boson. It is named after two physicists — Peter Higgs of the Edinburgh University and Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian mathematician. The two began looking for the unidentifiable particle way back in 1964. Wait. Where’s Abdus Salam? Forgotten, of course.

“The pioneering work of Abdus Salam, Pakistan's only Nobel laureate, helped lead to the apparent discovery of the subatomic ‘God particle,’” reports Sebastian Abbot of Associated Press. “But the late physicist is no hero at home, where his name has been stricken from school textbooks.” Pervaiz Hoodbhoy of Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad told AP “The way he (Salam) has been treated is such a tragedy… someone who could not set foot in Pakistan. If he came, he would be insulted and could be hurt or even killed.”

Forget the past; celebrate the present. Stop press. This is the moment to remind the world that the man who pointed his finger to ‘God particle’ and won the Nobel Prize for doing so 33 years ago was a Pakistani. Zardari and Raja Ashraf should have gone on national media to claim credit and made a bang, big enough for the world to sit up and take note.

Instead, the two politician VVIPs, perhaps ignorant of world affairs, science and technology and the latest discovery announced in Geneva, are more interested in acquiring penthouses in Europe and America; fattening their foreign asserts and saving the Swiss accounts. Cashing in on Salam’s pioneering work to build a better image for Pakistan is their least priority. They may not even know who Abdus Salam is.

They cannot be faulted because thanks to the religious obscurantists, Salam’s name has been struck off. He does not exist for the Pakistanis.

It’s the holy month. Millions in Pakistan fast. In America too. Let us then turn to the magnificence and meaning of the ‘God particle.’ Life derives energy from a divine source. To waste it, squander it or misspend it in activities that are mindless is a sin. The Divine Design incorporates compassion, generosity, honesty and humanness. It shuns hypocrites who are shallow but show the world they outdo the rest in piety because they fast, say their prayers and recite the Holy Quran. Rarely are we able to fathom the real meaning of God’s commands and why He insists we follow them in letter and spirit. The term ‘letter and spirit’ is a jaded cliché that we use without really understanding what it defines. The definition I would like to push is: implement according to the rule/law/regulation, but also attempt to follow the intent behind the law. Most of our religious clerics overlook the ‘intent’ part while emphasising the law. A pastor at a church in Houston, Texas, draws weekly seven million viewers wanting to hear him preach. His message is simple. Rather than quote the Scriptures and breathe fire and damnation on the sinners, Joel Osteen focuses on good deeds, good news, and good life. His goal is the same: to convince people that God does not like sinners, but his style is one that is gentle, kind and easy to understand.

A visitor from Pakistan who hears Osteen at his Lakewood Church in Houston is rapt in wonder. “I was astounded to see the well-heeled and wealthy Americans, actually take time out to go to church and pray,” she tells me. “They are not poor, nor sick, nor in need of any kind... yet there is an innate need in them to seek God.”

So why do people want to hear Osteen? Because says the Pakistani visitor, “Osteen encourages us to think and ask simple questions like ‘Are you content in this life? Are you content in all circumstances?’ “There's a huge difference between being content and being complacent, according to Osteen. When you are content, you are satisfied; you're full,” says the Pakistani visitor. She quotes the pastor who says one of the best ways to find contentment in your circumstances is to reach out and help someone else who is in need. When you turn your focus toward helping others, your own challenges seem more manageable, and sometimes, they simply disappear. That's because whatever you make happen for other people, God will make happen for you. Is this not a similar message for Muslims during Ramazan? You fast because you realise what it is to go hungry. Instead of stuffing your stomachs at iftar, give food to someone who is needy. This example best fits the ‘letter and spirit’ definition mentioned above. “Some in Pakistan are push button ignorants who can recite the Holy Quran by rote but know little about translating the words into our daily living,” my interviewee tells me. “We treat people and animals badly but pray five times a day. We call these people good even if they throw stones at dogs, misbehave with their wives and children and stare at the neighbour’s women!”

I ask the Houston lady if we need preachers like Osteen. “Why, of course yes!” She shoots back. “I love the way he does not talk about hell, damnation and God’s fury. Rather he emphasises faith. Values hold a high worth in his gospel, like akhlaqi qadren (good behaviour); accepting people for who they are, showing honour to people, striving for better, having faith in the Power above.”

Not everyone believes Osteen. Just as Pakistan has its share of religious hardliners, so does America. The Christian fundamentalists criticise Osteen as the “pastor of prosperity.”

Here’s the last word: “I wonder if it is in line with our belief to demand more from God for abundance or should we do sabar and shukar and die in poverty?” says the Texas-returned Karachiite. “I heard Osteen’s lectures. He says ‘Don’t settle for a C in life. Go for an A. And do stop carrying a chip on your shoulder.’”


Comments (22) Closed

Iqbal Hussain
Jul 22, 2012 04:12pm
Sure, a very good article but Mowlanas in Pakistan....will they understand and agree...!!! Regards Iqbal Hussain (USA)
Ken Bryant
Jul 22, 2012 04:17pm
Pakistan has no more right to claim Abdus Salam than Germany has to claim Einstein.
m h kayani
Jul 22, 2012 09:50am
Good article, but very weak in reality. however one only needs to understand Quran all the answers are there, it is only a matter of learning and understanding. No one is near the understand of God until one is help by Allah SWT. people are confused.
Jul 22, 2012 04:49pm
The book (Quran) wasnt reveled to teach us Science rather it was revealed to differentiate between right and wrong.
does not matter
Jul 22, 2012 05:09pm
All these 21st century problems are created by us, the human , who haven't changed in last many thousand years in our basic instincts.So if a book, does not matter Quran, Bible, Vedas, can address that and they do, then of course they have answers to all these issues. The other point is, if they haven't changed us in all these thousands years, and most of us claim to be religious people, then these books have failed and we need new ones.
Jul 22, 2012 05:09pm
Jul 22, 2012 01:39pm
osteen spent 110 million on his church.content.money can be put to better use world wide.pastors are good with words.we should know that in pakistan.
a Muslim in US
Jul 22, 2012 04:26pm
Islam is not only rituals but also deed
Tahir Chaudhry
Jul 22, 2012 03:59pm
Those nations who forget about their real heroes never flourish. Thanks, for reminding Pakistanis about Dr. Abdus Salam.
Jul 22, 2012 04:07pm
Quran has all the answers to the problem that was is and will be in order to find answers you have to use what is called in Quran the greatest gift to mankind its called "Intellect" this is the doorway to solving your day to day issues. You will find this God given gift in every scriptures that is followed by different faith be it Christianity Islam Judaism Hinduism or Buddhism, so seek with that gift but with intellect
Jul 22, 2012 10:21am
Uza Syed
Jul 22, 2012 01:50pm
"No one is near the understand of God until one is help by Allah SWT. " --- Since without His help we can't understand Quran, so who is to be blamed here? and how does one force anyone, including God, to help?
Jul 22, 2012 04:07am
Wonderfully written,
Cyrus Howell
Jul 22, 2012 07:09am
There’s a huge difference between being content and being compliant.
Cyrus Howell
Jul 22, 2012 07:13am
"accepting people for who they are" People did not come to this Earth to live up to our expectations of them. Our purpose is not to judge others.
Jul 22, 2012 12:59pm
How can a book have "all the answers" when most of the questions and problems that 21st Century world faces did not even exist when the book was written?
Jul 22, 2012 09:58am
Its a complete lie that his name has been taken out of textbooks, I didnt why everyone is just making a big thing that abdus salam is not being given credit in the research.
Ess Aar
Jul 22, 2012 10:58pm
Yes, the foremost adherent to what you preach should and must be you. Try to write coherently so that others can at least get an understanding of what it is that you are trying to say. Uggar angraezee meiN naheiN likh sukktay toh Roman Urdu meiN he likh doh... just like I have! But quite honestly, this mindless, incessant, in-your-face religiosity is one of the root causes of what ails that hapless nation. A man's faith is between him and his God. Pakistanis need to give themselves and their religion a break.
Muhammad Ahmed
Jul 22, 2012 11:40pm
I have heard Joel Osteen. He is impressive and pretty interesting at pulpit. I was greatly impressed by him till I started listening to other corporate motivational speakers. They use quite similar level of engagement , focusing on positives, team building, excellence and other aspects of ensuring an optimistic outlook without including Jesus in the picture. If author wants to ensure a more humane interaction among the readers then probably we really do not need Higgs Boson, Osteen or anything but some rules and a checks and balance system to ensure that people live by those rules. It really does not matter if these are derived from sacred religious texts or if these are man made but what is really important is that we need to follow them and be ready to adjust them when necessary. I am happy for the believers (being one myself) but why do I need worldly validation for my beliefs? I can believe pretty happily without Higgs Boson, Osteen or a an Islamic preacher being overly positive. I just hope people can be tolerant of my beliefs if I can be tolerant of their inability to believe.
Ram Sekhar
Jul 23, 2012 01:19am
Very well said. "Sarve janah sukhino bhavantu. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu." - Translated ~ May all people be happy. May all beings everywhere be happy and free.
Jul 23, 2012 04:14pm
Very nice quote from the Vedas.
Hasin Ahmed
Jul 23, 2012 06:31pm
I could not make out what the writer wanted to communicate in "View from America." A rehash of old and already known facts. However, one thing, the writer's ingenuity to mix up God particle with the existence of God Himself, is definitely new, and a brilliant discovery too. If the writer's perception is taken as true then the 94 per cent members of the National Science (Teachers) Association (of America) who are atheists or agnostics, would have long given up their heresies. Perhaps they will do so now, provided they are lucky enough to read "View from America." By the way if the title of this column is changed to "View of America from Abroad", it will sound more appropriate.