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A fine anomaly


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Recently the Bangladesh Supreme Court banned the right-wing Islamic party, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI). Apart from accusing it of being involved in the atrocities committed by the party members against Bengali nationalists in league with the former West Pakistan forces in 1971, the court also maintained that the party’s existence went against the constitution of Bangladesh.

Few remember that even before the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, a similar move was attempted in Pakistan in which the government contemplated banning religious parties because they ‘soiled the image of Islam by mixing it with amoral politics’.

It is also bemusing to note that in a country that has increasingly become obsessed with religion and the role it plays in its politics and society, very few remember one of the finest and most refined Islamic scholars produced by Pakistan. He was also the man directly associated with the attempt to dislodge religious parties from politics in Pakistan.

Maybe this is because for years the image of an Islamic scholar that has been peddled by the state and accepted by society in Pakistan is that of a man with a long beard, speaking Urdu in an Arabic accent (!), or a woman fully draped in a jet black burqa, mumbling moralistic little nothings on TV.

The man in question was Professor Fazalur Rehman Malik. Clean-shaven, well-spoken, always looking sharp in his suits and ties, and more importantly, extremely well-informed and well-versed in Islamic literature, philosophy and history, he was on the verge of almost completely undermining the role of religious parties in Pakistan when he was forced to flee the country.

After studying Arabic at the Punjab University in Lahore, Rehman went to Oxford in the UK for further studies.

He was teaching Islamic philosophy at McGill University in Canada when in 1961 he recieved an invitation from Pakistan’s head of state, Field Martial Ayub Khan, to come to Pakistan and help him set up the Central Institute of Islamic Research (CIIR).

Ayub had come to power on the back of a military coup in 1958. Though a practicing Muslim who seldom missed saying his daily prayers, he was not only allergic to civilian politicians (whom he described as being selfish and corrupt), but he also had a great disliking for religious parties and the clergy.

With the ambition to create a Pakistan driven by his ‘benevolent’ military dictatorship, and based on state-facilitated capitalism, and a constitution culled from what he described to be the ‘progressive and modernist Islam of Jinnah,’ Ayub wanted the CIIR to help him achieve this through legislation and necessary laws.

It was the CIIR under Professor Rehman who advised Ayub to constitutionally curb the religious parties and their interpretation of Islam.

Rehman then drew a social and political framework for making Pakistan a ‘progressive, modern Muslim majority state.’

Though Ayub did not act upon each and every aspect of Rehman’s framework, the workings of the CIIR certainly made the Ayub regime ban the Jamaat-i-Islami in 1964. The decision, however, was overturned by the Supreme Court.

But Rehman was not a secularist, as such. Instead he saw himself and his work to be a modern extension of the ‘Islamic rationalism’ of figures like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Syed Ameer Ali, Maulana Shibli Naumani, Niaz Fatehpuri and the 8th and 9th century Muslim rationalists, the Mu’tazilites.

Instead of attempting to become a militaristic bastion of international Islam, Rehman suggested that Pakistan take the lead in engineering an Islamic polity that through science and scholarship, could successfully compete with the economic and technological prowess of the two superpowers of the time, the United States and the communist Soviet Union.

The detailed research papers that the CIIR produced under his guidance emphasised the application of reason in the interpretation of the Qu’ran, and the absorption of western science, philosophy and economics to help Islam (in Pakistan) survive as a progressive and flexible religion with the ability to supplement economic, scientific and cultural progress instead of hindering or retarding it.

However, when in one such paper he suggested that laws and society in Pakistan should be based on a rationalist and modernist interpretation of the Qu’ran, and that the hadith (Islamic traditions based on hearsay), should only play a minimal role in this respect, he was vehemently challenged by his more conservative counterparts.

The counterparts were also well aware of his advice to Ayub to ban religious political parties.

Leading the attack on Rehman was the prolific Islamic scholar and founder of the Jamaat, Abul Ala Mauddudi, who demanded that Rehman be expelled from Pakistan. and from the fold of Islam.

Then, in 1967, during a lecture that he was delivering on Pakistan’s then nascent state-owned TV channel, PTV, Rehman suggested that drinking alcohol was not a major sin in Islam.

Even though alcohol was legal in Pakistan till 1977, the religious parties went berserk and held a number of rallies against Rehman.

Rehman, more or less, was basically repeating what early scholars of the Hanafi School of Islamic jurisprudence had already suggested.

And ironically, some 40 years after Rehman’s musings, and 30 years after the sale of alcohol (to Muslims) was banned in Pakistan, the highly conservative Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan finally decreed that consuming alcohol indeed was a minor sin.

On May 28, 2009, the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) declared whipping for the offence of drinking as un-Islamic and directed the government to amend the law to make the offence bailable — even though the last person to be whipped for consuming alcohol was in 1981.

In 1969 as Pakistan entered a turbulent period in which a far-reaching political movement led by leftist parties and student organisations forced Ayub to resign, Rehman continued being perused and harassed by the Islamic parties until he was left with no other choice but to leave the country.

He went to the US and distinguished himself as a highly regarded Professor of Islamic Thought and researcher at the University of Chicago.

The 1970s and 1980s were also his most prolific years as an author in which he wrote some of the most influential books on modern Islamic thought — especially Islam (1979) and Islam & Modernity (1982).

He never returned to Pakistan and died in Chicago in 1988.

Comments (91) Closed

Baber Khan Aug 09, 2013 07:00am

"Rehman suggested that drinking alcohol was not a major sin in Islam." NOT true! What he actually insisted on was that beer was NOT HARAM in Islam.

Expat Aug 09, 2013 09:30am

'Rehman suggested that drinking alcohol was not a major sin in Islam.' What a ridiculous statement if true, attributed to a man who claimed to be a an Islamic scholar as if there is a minor sin & there is a major sin. It is like saying that moving violation in traffic is a misdemeanour while robbery is a felony.

dr vimal raina Aug 09, 2013 10:10am


Yunus Aug 09, 2013 10:26am

Oh, how I wish Rehman had succeeded.

Danish Saad Ali Aug 09, 2013 10:27am

I remember it well. And I would also like to add that most Pakistanis in those days actually supported the move.

john Aug 09, 2013 11:16am

Majority of the so called religious Muslims in UK do not find it unacceptable to receive free benefits from the government. They also lie to their teeth to get those freebies.

Muslims also engage in those professions where there is a scope of tax fraud such as catering, small shops, and taxi driving. There is nothing wrong in lying according to those Muslims.

The concept of Halal and Haram are very relative for them, and it keeps on changing according to their changing circumstances.

Mody Aug 09, 2013 11:38am

Great information man....Thanks .....NFP...... for letting us ( the new Generation who was not born at that time) Know about our downfall as a nation and how we treat moderate and knowledgeable scholars of Islam in our country.... i wish if he was succeed, our country will be leading the Islamic world from front..... so sad...... we need a lot of Scholars like him in our country who can define the true meanings of our Religion and Create a better image of our country ........ looks like not possible for at least next 50-100 years......

A very Sad Expat from Far East .........

Anoop Aug 09, 2013 12:31pm

You cannot change the stripes on a tiger. Even if you try to paint over it, its offsprings will have the stripes, not whatever pattern you intended.

No matter how many liberal Islamist interpretation peddling experts you promote, there will be 20 times more who do the opposite.

The heart wants, what it wants. The liberal mind will gravitate towards the liberal interpretations, the not-so-liberal will gravitate towards to what they think is correct.

Its better to argue for areligious philosophies and thoughts and use common sense as a weapon, than to paint an ideology to suit your needs.

Islam will be Islam, no matter how much you try to interpret it in your way.

Feroz Aug 09, 2013 01:01pm

Many scholars like Fazalur Rehman Malik have come and gone. I am reminded of the old saying "you are not to question why, but to do and die".

TAM Aug 09, 2013 01:35pm

What was Prof Rehman's take on minorities especially the Ahmadis who were still Muslims in Pakistan then?

Sounds like Pakistan could do with thousands of Rehmans now to take them out of the present quagmire. What a mess it is, thanks to the Maulanas of all sorts that exist. The country is absolutely ruined.

Danish Qadimi Aug 09, 2013 01:50pm

Dear fans and detractors of alcohol. The point of this article is not what he said about alcohol. Its that there has been a moderated and educated past to deliberations about Islam in public life and the author talks about one the finest proponents of this in the past century. We have lost this tradition, giving in to extremism.

Anuj Aug 09, 2013 02:38pm

Pakistan's clergy and ulemas have been obsessed with power - of the politicial kind - to lend credibility to theiir already hold on people through religion.

They have looked at the power wielded by their beneficiaries , the ulema and clergymen in Saudi Arabia, and have looked on with delight at the Iranian model where the clergy actually rule, and rule and then some more since the day of Khomeini.

This Dr Fazalur Rehman described in the article, would obviously have been a nightmare to the illiterate clergymen and ulema, who had no other education of the world or other cultures and sciences etc except the diplomas earned in their Madrassas and in Islamic Departments of Universities, for the most.

What a pity, but not surprising, that this Fazalur Rehman is replaced by the current one in Pakistan politics with a similar moniker and radically different ideas and ideals ! But then the rulers reflect the predisposition of the majority. This is probably what is acceptable to the majority in Pakistan. Bangladesh, where politics and religion is sought to be separate by constitution, is fighting a grim battle against the JUI offshoot that was against Bangladesh in the first place and which continues the political-religious nexus to make Islam both the political and religious need for all peoples' of that country.

Azhar N Aug 09, 2013 04:57pm

@Baber Khan: yes, as long as alcohol level is less than 5% ? - what an inverted logic ! two versions of sin, the pardonable & non pardonable. Drink it up.

mindboggling Aug 09, 2013 04:58pm

I don't understand why Nadeem F. Paracha doesn't consider Jinnah to be communal and consider the creation of Pakistan a communal act. First of all Jinnah's party name was "Muslim League" which has the word "Muslim" in it which represent communal. Don't you think sir many problems especially extremism and terrorism Pakistan is facing is due to communalism in Pakistan, wouldn't Pakistan be a more tolerant nation if it were to be a "Secular Republic" than be a "Islamic Republic".

G.Nabi Aug 09, 2013 05:03pm

While Jamaat Islami in Bangladesh is banned but Marxism is not, if Jamaat is supposedly intolerant, since when Marxism became tolerant ? A selective justice,,contrary to democratic values.

ranganath Aug 09, 2013 05:28pm

Should one not consider the times the Quran was reveled and such times do not exist as of now?

Hulegu Aug 09, 2013 05:47pm

Another great piece of history unknown to people outside Bakistan by Paracha. I am not a fan of dictators, but after reading this piece I have slightly more respect for Ayub. Wish he and Rehman had succeded in thier vision, then Bakistan would have been a progressive Muslim majority nation today like Turkey!

Rahul Aug 09, 2013 05:51pm

@Baber Khan: Its exactly what @Expat is saying and he has got so many dislikes and u got likes. U guys are unbeliveable. Alcohol is bad for health which ever way u consume it. Although whether state should be involved in punishing alcoholic, i am not sure but than quite a few people manage to drink moderately and quite a few destroy their & family lives.

Rahul Aug 09, 2013 05:52pm

@Expat: Alcohol is bad which ever method u consume. I am surprised that you have got so many dislikes.

Arif Humayun Aug 09, 2013 08:26pm

I appreciate your analyses and writings. One of the issues is the government sponsorship of Islamic radicalism in Pakistan. Thais may be unique in a way. Evidence of Punjab Government's support of terrorism was provided by the DG of ISI to the Abbotabad Commission which, given the source, is irrefutable.

Paragraph 497 of the report (on pages 207-8), citing DG-ISI

mindboggling Aug 09, 2013 08:51pm

During elections held in 1946 Muslim League(communal party) was voted by only Muslims and won in the most reserved seats which were allocated to Muslims, no other religions voted for it. Muslim league was never considered a secular party its interest was limited/narrowed to Muslims it never emerged as secular party representing all communities unlike the congress. During those election creation of a separate Pakistan was not its manifesto, hence All-India Muslim League gained votes from Muslims of United Indian.

The seeds(communalism) of Jinnah then slowly grew and have became more and more Islamic as of today and more and more fundamental mimicking Saudi Arabia, Where Liberal/Secular Sufi Islam is fading away but the storm of conservative Islam from Saudi Arabia, I feel Pakistan is trying to beat its master Saudi Arabia in its following of Islam and calls itself fortress/warriors of Islam and trying to make its land purer by the day but excommunication other religions and sects(Ahmedi).One thing can surely be said "Indian Muslim" are a bit secular than "Pakistani Muslim".If Pakistan were to part of India then its Muslims might have been prevented from being radicalized.

Jinnah won over Hindus ZA Butto won over Ahmedis Zia Ul Haq won over Shias and Sufis Now the Shias and Sufis are made submissive to the Sunni population where equal rights haven't been given to them. I feel that in future Pakistan may become another Saudi Arabia and act as a stooge to Saudi Arabia against Iran and it will play its role in Afghanistan and India to extend its conservative Islam. Nawaz Sharif who has its party name as "Muslim League" a conservative party has very close links with Saudi Arabia which is been accused of being conservative, the world is watching Nawaz what his next move is will he act according to Saudis interests or will he make his decision based on equality to all communities in Pakistan.

I think If Pakistan is real serious of progressing and establishing harmony among communities then they should declare their country as a "Secular".

DK Aug 10, 2013 12:02am

@Baber Khan Properly chilled beer is not haram as long as it is served in chilled glasses. Warm beer absolutely is. Anyone serving warm beer deserves 38 lashes before being strung up like a rabid rodent.

I totally dig Islam.

shahid Aug 10, 2013 12:24am

In 1969 as Pakistan entered a turbulent period in which a far-reaching political movement led by leftist parties and student organisations forced Ayub to resign

There seems to be no end to the efforts to re-write history of Pakistan. Any one who knows any thing about the history of those times will know that left wing parties did participate in the movement against Ayub, but to claim that they led the movement is patently false and delusional. This is the primary problem the so called "liberal" elite writers of Pakistan that they continue to try to rewrite history, without any qualms, in order to fit it to their interpretations and analyses of Pakistan's issues. Life is much more complex and nuanced than what they would like it to be. It does not always fit the black and white narratives of ideological warriors. And so when they do not like it creating it out of, at times thin air, is no problem for them

Azhar uddin Aug 10, 2013 12:32am

@ranganath: Does Bhagavan Geeta meet the test of the time ?

Bakhtawer Bilal Aug 10, 2013 12:56am

@john: Another interesting fact among the Muslims in west. They would gladly drink alcohol, but would make sure the meat that goes with that meal is halal.

Historian Aug 10, 2013 02:00am

@shahid: People like you should know because it is people like YOU who've developed a monopoly over the interpretation of our history. What liberals like NFP are doing is that they are reclaiming this right by correcting the revisionist nonsense the state and parties like Jamat I Islami have been feeding generations in the name of Pakistani and Muslim history. Now I see people like you panicking. Take a hike brother. Your history was a farce and is melting away.

ExPat Aug 10, 2013 03:32am

NFP , I thought discussion was about Bangladesh court banning Jamaat Islami , I don't understand what Mr. Rehman's advocacy for beer as a minor sin has to do with the subject matter. If a secular wants to cosume alcohol. do n't use Islam as a spring board, go ahead , lift a glass & drink to your health.

Saifur Rahman Aug 10, 2013 05:35am

@G.Nabi: JI has been banned in Bangladesh mainly for its terrorist activities. In recent past many Marxist organizations with similar terrorist agenda (such as Naxalites and some other insurgent groups with Mao

gp65 Aug 10, 2013 06:49am

@Azhar uddin: "@ranganath: Does Bhagavan Geeta meet the test of the time ?"

If we misspellef Holy Quran you would be offended. Well give us the same respect and courtesy and learn how to spell our holy book.

Secondly whether Holy Quran or the Bhagavad Geeta, can be relevant to today if we interpret the stories in them as allegories. If we act as though all those incidents that happened were real, it loses relevance. Secondly in Hinduism, we have nothing equivalent of Sunnah which ties us to actions and behaviors of people 23 centuries back.

I. Ahmed Aug 10, 2013 06:55am

Good article. It takes us back to the point that the Islam that was practiced by our parents was perhaps wrong in the eyes of today

Syed Ahmed Aug 10, 2013 07:47am

@Historian : If I could I would like your post 1,000 times. God bless you.

Syed Ahmed Aug 10, 2013 07:56am

@Hulegu: Countries like Malaysia and Indonesia owe much of their success to Ayub and his philosophies as during his era most of the muslim world looked up to Pakistan wanted to model Pakistan as a secular-progressive Muslim country. I've even seen somewhere on youtube where the Malaysian government sent delegates to tour Pakistan and see how it was being run under Ayub's government and bring some back some policies from Pakistan to help their own economy. My mother always praises the man and says those were the "golden days" I only wish I was around to see those days.

bhagvad gita Aug 10, 2013 08:18am

@Azhar uddin: I would like you read Bhagvad gita in your native language Urdu before asking this question? I would like to say Bhagvad gita is "eternal truth" and its valid always like the Quran, Bible and other religious scriptures. Bhagvad gita's message is victory of "good over evil" and it say "Satyameva Jayate" only truth will win at last, victory belong to truth.

Shiv Aug 10, 2013 08:56am

@Azhar uddin: Yes, very much. For the Gita doesn't pass strictures or indulge in sermonizing. It's pure philosophy where one deduces (is not told) that ultimately you are answerable to your own conscience.And for your information, it has nothing to do with religion of any kind.

ranganath Aug 10, 2013 09:18am

@Azhar uddin: No. None does. Nor will you hear anyone claim that it would.

Mir Aug 10, 2013 09:28am

@Hulegu Ayub Khan? The same man who helped start the rise of the 22 industrial families, effectively giving birth to the elite which now rules over Pakistan? Yes, yes, great man.

Sandeep Singh Aug 10, 2013 10:10am

@Azhar uddin: Bhagwad Geeta is Universal, Eternal, Truth of Every Human Science. It will meet the test of time for eternity.

Shakeel Aug 10, 2013 11:56am

@Mir: So what is wrong in raising industrialists and elite families? Europe and US is full of them and prospering. What has gone wrong in the meantime has been due to our culture and distorted interpretation of religion which rides on dishonesty, nepotism, hatred, class distinction and many such ills.

bigsaf Aug 10, 2013 12:16pm


I don't understand what Mr. Rehman's advocacy for beer as a minor sin has to do with the subject matter

It was to highlight the absurdity of how an informed scholarly Islamic opinion, now accepted, was hypocritically exploited by the very same religious political groups, who continue to exist today, who successfully created and manufactured outrage to demonize a learned person who was advocating against their organizations and their very detrimental hypocrisy and abuse of religion and power over the masses. This is something which Bangladesh is now tackling, while Pakistan has ceded reason, state function and the narrative to these very groups.

bigsaf Aug 10, 2013 12:35pm

This history just sounds so alien. Interesting and informing stuff and way to put it into perspective. A bit scary though how Ayub's rule comes out looking favourable compared to where the country is headed.

Whatever happened to Ghamdi? Probably doesn't matter now as even moderate conservative thinkers get displaced by very far right-wing Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni Islamist ideologues. taking over state and society

AbbasToronto Aug 10, 2013 12:46pm

Mutazilites, the first

Salman Aug 10, 2013 03:05pm

Alas ! can somebody press reset button of Islam at manufacturers setting.

Azhar uddin Aug 10, 2013 04:52pm

@Sandeep Singh: Ask a Jew, he would say 'Torah' is universal truth, ask a Christian he would say Bible is universal truth, ask a Muslim he would say Koran is universal truth and do n't forget Buhist who would say Budha's teaching is universal truth.The truth is- common sense that even an atheist can appreciate.

Remy Aug 10, 2013 05:35pm

@Azhar uddin: I think it's hard for Muslims to comprehend the Hindu religion. There is no one book or one prophet in the religion. If there is one law, it is the law of karma - that your actions will bring a proportional reaction upon you. So the religion says (as Emerson later put it) - take what you will, but pay the price. And this is only from the time and space bound viewpoint. From that which is beyond space and time ( which is what we really are) even the law of karma is rejected. In the viewpoint, It all Is. From that perspective, Bhagavad Gita is the eternal truth. I hope you can appreciate it. I wish they teach you other religions in your schools.

Pankaj Aug 10, 2013 06:19pm

Bangladesh has left behind Pakistan in almost every sphere.........It has established a modern secular functioning state. BD's economy is getting better with each passing day. Many new businesses are eager to establish their shops in BD (including Indians). BD has a successful cricket league and international cricket is regularly being played. New generation of intellectuals of Bengali/English literature are contributing at International stage. World famous "Khan Academy" has been established by a Bangladeshi. Where is Pakistan vis a vis Bangladesh, Pakistanis have to analyze ?

saima khan Aug 10, 2013 06:39pm

Jamat Islami is a problem. Govt should ban the Jamaat-i-Islami & PTI. They both supported extremists, on daily basis extremists are killing us (Pakistanis). Once again Well written article blog by Paracha

Agha Ata Aug 10, 2013 07:34pm

To drink is not haram in Islam, to get drunk is!

Azhar uddin Aug 10, 2013 07:51pm

@gp65: I regret spelling error. Thanks for reminding me

tariq Aug 10, 2013 08:11pm

@Baber Khan: No where in the Quran Alcohol is called Haraam like Pork and Kerin. There are many instances of other things such as being fair, preserving haqq lying etc which go beyond say beer. Nobody follows that. Bribery is huge, lying second nature . All successful countries have curbed those and allowed a few beers.


Dearborn Iffy Aug 10, 2013 08:13pm

@AbbasToronto: Hi Uncle, Eid Mubarak.

It seems you've gone off track again. What exactly is your point in context with a fine anomaly? You keep on repeating the same garrulous chinwag even if NFP's topic is lighthearted about Pakistani cricketers or film stars. Tell me what Ali has got to do with Ayub Khan's rule and era? Go on tell me.

Oh, by the way you forgot to have a swipe at India this time. How cruel an omission.

AbbasToronto Aug 10, 2013 08:33pm

@Sandeep Singh

" ... Bhagwad Geeta is Universal, Eternal ..."

Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity etc. and their scriptures are tied to the Agrarian Economy. They are eternal in the sense that for those who practice agriculture as main sector of economy have an optimal socio-economics. Love is the necessary and sufficient condition for survival and growth of Agrarian society.

Pre-modern India, Europe, China had very similar scriptures.

Similarly, the Quranic Laws are universal, eternal for the Exchange Based, soil-poor, water-poor, resource-poor advanced trading economy. Hellenism (of Socratic/Platonic and Republic type, not Democratic type) is very similar to Mohammedan Islam as both were conceived in trading cities - Athens and Mecca.

Today, in advanced societies barely 1.5% of populace practices agriculture, but the rest are exchange based. Therefore, for 1.5% Bhagvad Geeta, the Gospel, may be eternal, but for the large large majority the Quranic values will provide the efficient, frugal, optimal socio-economics. For this reason Islam is the fastest growing faith on the globe.

The theory of relativity applied not only to physics, but to society as well. Everything is Relative, so are Scriptures.

Rajjev Nidumolu Aug 10, 2013 10:13pm

@AbbasToronto: There is no perfect religion. It is as good as its practicing adherents. Your argument that other religions were based solely on agrarian economy is fallacious. Trading in silk route , trading between India and indonesia, Cambodia , Burma , and Thailand preceded Islamic era

I. Ahmed Aug 10, 2013 10:23pm

@saima khan: By what is happening in Pakistan it seems PML-N (in punjab)also supports extremists for last 5 years or so, they should be banned.

NASAH (USA) Aug 10, 2013 11:02pm

@AbbasToronto: "For this reason Islam is the fastest growing faith on the globe" -- not for its economics by any means -- but for its regimented disciplined religious austere life -- for a disintegrating personality mired in drugs and derelictions.

If you don't mind hearing the truth -- most of the conversions are taking place in the prisons -- for directionless inmates who would like to renew and restart a disciplined goal oriented life for reintegrating themselves in the society.

NASAH (USA) Aug 10, 2013 11:10pm

@Pankaj: That's why it separated because the land of Nazrul Islam never felt at ease with its Western wing that was obsessed with RELIGION and Punjabi MILITARISM -- and nothing else.

Rome Aug 10, 2013 11:44pm

@AbbasToronto: You seem to be stuck in the 10th century. Islamic finance with its restrictions on riba and gharar are suitable for the pre-industrial age when gold coins were used as currency. In the modern era with complex financial and monetary instruments, it is simply not that useful. Even you friends, the Saudis lend money for interest.

Dinshaw Aug 11, 2013 12:21am

@AbbasToronto: Religion is tied to economy? Maybe Islam is, but the other major religions deal only with humanity's relationship with God. I'm beginning to understand why Islamic states involve religion into everything.

Sumit Mazumdar Aug 11, 2013 12:34am

@AbbasToronto: What does ``Every thing is relative, even religion'' mean to you? Do you understand relativity? Did you ever take a course on relativity from a physics professor?

Let me give you the answer: Relativity in physics refers to frames of reference in which different observers exist. Could be an observer in Karachi or Australia, in a spaceship or in a different planet. The very first principle of relativity is that ``The laws of physics are the same in all reference frames, and there is NO absolute frame of reference.''

Hence Abbas-ji, your statement goes against your belief of the superiority of Islam. If there is indeed relativity in religion, that simply means that no religion is more valid than the others.

That said, your comments are more entertaining than anyone else's in Dawn. You have a unique reference frame. Salam Aleikum.

Pankaj Patel Aug 11, 2013 02:21am

Another good article from NFP. At last Bangladesh has started coming out of it.It had to do something to put an end to those bad history of the freedom fight.Now after many centuaries of foreign rule first time it has started ruling it self.First it was from Patliputra(Patna) during Chandra Gupta and Ashok then Muslims invadors ruling from outside then British starting from there and colonizing subcontinent.They all exploited Bengal and left them poorer especially British neglect was too much.Now they have visibly bright future.Once Sheikh Mujibur Rehman said O'Banglal you produced so many writers,thinkers,philosophers,poets,painters and musicians but not a single leader. Today Pakistan is in the same dilema it does not have a leader capable of leading a diverse nation like Kamaal Ataturk to take the nation in different direction by taking on vested interests.Leaders without spine can not change any thing and they will always be at the mercy of vested interests.Mahatma Gandhi had great contempt for those Maharajas and Nawabs who were at the mercy of British.In today's Pakistan leaders are at the mercy of Military, Mullahs,Saudis,USA or other vested interests and on top of all they have their own vested interest to hang on power.Pakistan needs Gandhi who is not interested in power or if that word is not appropriate let it be Kamaal Ataturk,what ever that works for Pakistani masses.As for Alcohol it has nothing to do with religion because no religion codons it,problem starts when religion dictates it.In my state Gujarat in India prohibition of alcohol is from first day of independence and nor religious leader has dictated it,It has surely helped poor people but rich people do not like it.

AbbasToronto Aug 11, 2013 02:33am

@Sumit Mazumdar

So that is Indian view of Relativity? Here in the West they teach that Time is relative too just as space was, a much simpler explanation.

Did I claim Islam was

sumit mazumdar Aug 11, 2013 02:40am

@Pankaj Patel: Stay with Gujarat while pontificating on history. Bengalis were NOT under foreign rule during the times of Chandra Gupta or Ashok! There was no separate Bengali language at that time. Also following your logic, are West Bengalis under foreign rule now?

The so-called Bengalis were not discriminated against under Magadh or during the Gupta age - one of the most wellknown heads of Nalanda University was Atish Dipankar, who came from what is today's Bangladesh .

The partition of Bengal was most unfortunate and had causes different from the partition of Punjab. Please do not spread even more gossip. We Bengalis on both sides of the Indo-Bangladesh border would like to develop and maintain a friendly relationship.

Shamoon Aug 11, 2013 02:56am

Dear NFP, Thanks for reminding us Ayub Khan's effort to curb religious extremism. Fast forward to another army general (general Musharraf) who tried to control extremism of Lal Masjid in Islamabad. And recall the reaction of how he was condemned and demonized by the politicians. Media didn't lose time to jump on the band wagon. And the two platforms played important role to mislead and misguide the nation. and emboldened the terrorist. Please also recall the murder of Punjab governor, Salman Taseer, and its support by the Lawyers. These were the signs of fire spreading throughout the country. Consequently no one is safe today. Nation is still confused and divided between the pious and the unholy, and between democracy and dictatorship. The debate of democratic rule or dictatorship is a luxury that the nation cannot afford at this critical stage. Future of Pakistan depends on good leader, whatever his background, but who is patriotic first and pious second, and one who is not worried about religious vote bank for his personal gain. We also need a media which is patriotic first and business venture second, to unite the nation for the fight against prevailing menace of terrorism.

Gulab Khan Aug 11, 2013 03:09am

I agree with Saima Khan. We should ban PTI and Jamat Islami. Both are supporting Taliban.I am from PK, I know both parties very well, they are using Pathan bloods for their political goals. Imran Khan is a fake PHATTAN, he is from Mianwali, no where land like his dual personality.

Ahmed Aijaz Aug 11, 2013 04:58am

@mindboggling: Pakistan (and Bangladesh) will NEVER be part of India. Wake up. Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi was WRONG! Love to see you die of jealousy when you see Pakistan to your West and Bangladesh to your East and China to your North. Remember 1962?

Ayaz Aug 11, 2013 05:04am

Thanks to the Maulanas of all sorts that exist........ the country ... Pakistan absolutely ruined.... The latest reincarnation ... PTI led by Imran Khan .... will serve to destroy what is left.....

aditya Aug 11, 2013 06:04am

abbas shoots his mouth of pretty good from toronto..why dosent he hang out in pakistan since its the land of the pure..t m tellin yah..i ve got a feeling the people he lives with buy a ton of duct tape for him

aditya Aug 11, 2013 06:07am

@AbbasToronto: i gotta puke..dont wait for me please.. keep babblin

Insaan Aug 11, 2013 08:08am

Religion has brought more death and destruction to humanity than any thing else. The people in the western world started realizing this from 16th century onward when they began separating Church from the State. After Darwin's theory of evolution of species the western world started forming world view based on scientific inquiry and evidence rather than centuries old religious texts. Now there are about 60% people in the western countries including Australia and about 20% in India who don;t believe in the existence of God and their numbers are ever increasing.

Surprisingly many muslim scholars in prepartitioned India expressed more liberal world view contrary to dogmatic religious beliefs. I quote few of them.

 "Makke gaeyaan gal bandi nahion bhanve so so hajj kar aaeey
  "Ganga gaeyaan gal bandi nahion bhanve so so gote khaeey"
                                         (Bulle Shah 18th cetury Punjabi poet)
 " Laaee hayat aaey kaza le chali chale-Apni khushi na aaey na apni khushi chale"
                                                                                                    (Ghalb19th cetury)
 "Parde ko yakin (religious belief) ke dare dil se utha de -Khulta hai abhi pal men tilasmaat 
  jahaan ka" (Urdu poetess from Bhopal)

It is the muslim world where people are highly religious and it is here that humans are facing death and destruction in this comparatively peaceful world. My humble request to my muslim brothrs and sisters to introspect as to why allah does'nt come to their rescue from this ever increasing violence perpetrated by their own coreligionists on them.

dr vimal raina Aug 11, 2013 10:44am

@Ahmed Aijaz: Will love to see balochistan and sindh and Kp too with our consulates in them. Remember 1947, 1965, 1971 and dont remember when Kargil happened. I am pretty sure you do.

Zulfiqar Ahmad Aug 11, 2013 11:28am

Nice that some remembered a wonderful human being, a great scholar, and a very fine teacher, who was also my professor at the Univerity of Chicago. He had a most endearing habit of wearing one set of glasses for reading and then putting another one on top it when writing on the black board. He was an immesely humble person who did most of his writing sitting on a floor, madrasah style. For my interactions with him, it was clear that, till his dying days, he was deeply hurt by the way he was treated by Pakistani religious political parties.

Caz Aug 11, 2013 12:04pm

@NASAH (USA): It is not the fastest growing religion in the world. It has a lot of irrational zealots who may think so, but it is simply not true.

mindboggling Aug 11, 2013 12:41pm

@Ahmed Aijaz:

My comments were facts(objective) and there weren't any jealousy in it.

I don't expect Pakistan or Bangladesh to belong to India, if they wanted to be part of India let them be. Pain suffered, and lives lost by India during partition, similarly I see some of the pain Pakistanis also went through as Indian did when their part of the land Bangladesh became a separate country.

One thing is sure what Jinnah, Pandit nehru and the British did by dividing India was a blunder of their short sightedness and perverted thinking where so many families suffered on both sides of the border, since we had lived harmoniously for centuries and would have prevented Pakistan become a conservative "Islamic republic" and they have world's largest terrorist organizations and each sect and religion

I just want to say "Sunnis" aren't conservatives but some of the Sunnis have become conservative and terrorists because of their wrong interpretation of their scriptures and following some ignorant vested interested Mullahs,Ulemas, Maulanas and Muftis. Among all conservatives in this world sunnis stand out to be the most conservative sect among Islam. Among religions Islam is considered to be most conservative than other religions.

I believe Insaaniyat (Humanity) is greater than Nation/Religion/Sect/ethnicity/gender/race/species. Before commenting please consider Insaniyat, I want say this to you who is blinded by your religion, sect and nationality.

Greatest religion is Insaniyat by your comment I come to know that unfortunately your unaware of it. Your heart has not yet opened

Two Islams Aug 11, 2013 02:24pm

There are two Islam's in the world

1)Liberal Islam and Liberal sects where Quran and religious books are interpreted in a liberal way.

2)Conservative Islam and Conservative sects where Quran and religious books are interpreted in a conservative way.

I consider liberal Islam to be "True Islam" followed by prophets like Abraham, David, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed and Ali, they were peace loving and didn't force their ideas over others they just preached liberal values, to follow or not to follow were your choice

Salman Elahi Aug 11, 2013 02:40pm

Wow! A great amongst Islamic Scholars. His book The Major Themes in the Quran is a terrific read providing insights into the allegorical virtues of the book. GA Parwez another of the great scholars (and he too deserves a piece NFP!) was pitted against Abul'ala Madudi who seems to have won all his battles against rationalistic interpretation of the Quran and banishing the role of Hadith from the works of the state and individual.

Dr.Shabbir Ahmed of Florida and recalls ...

**The weekly "Urdu Times," New York, dated Oct 6th, 1999 has published a detailed interview of Dr. Israr Ahmed. The respected doctor is a sincere and renowned scholar of Islam. Wisely enough, he does not prefix his name with "Maulana". He knows that, according to the Qur'an, "Maulana" (Our Master) is none but Allah (9/51).*

More than three decades ago, the Daily Jang, Karachi prominently published that Dr. Israr Ahmed was planning to quit Jamaat-e-Islami. The chief of Jamaat-e-Islami then was no other than the most influential Mullah of the 20th century, Maulana Syed Abul A'Ala Maududi. Dr. Israr Ahmed and other like-minded people maintained that Al-A'ALA is the attributive Name of God, meaning the Most Glorious, the Most High. Abu means father. Therefore, Abul A'Ala would mean, "Father of the Most Glorious, Most High, and hence, FATHER OF GOD.

Salman Elahi Aug 11, 2013 02:42pm

further ...

In an interview with Urdu Times, answering a question, Dr. Israr said, "Tableeghi Jama

Ganesh (India) Aug 11, 2013 03:30pm

@Syed Ahmed:

So... Malaysia and Indonasia's understood the lessons and implemented same...they are on path of economic,social progress... What about the Pakistani's ??? they forgetb the very lessons they taught to whole of Muslim world ???

Ganesh (India) Aug 11, 2013 03:30pm

@Syed Ahmed:

So... Malaysia and Indonasia's understood the lessons and implemented same...they are on path of economic,social progress... What about the Pakistani's ??? they forgetb the very lessons they taught to whole of Muslim world ???

roots Aug 11, 2013 04:41pm

For Hindus radicalization of Pakistan began during Jinnah era. For Ahmedis radicalization of Pakistan began during Z A Butto era For Shias and Sufis radicalization of Pakistan began during Zia era.

Mehnaz Aug 11, 2013 05:12pm

@Agha Ata: peena haram hai, na pilana haram hai peenay kay baad hosh mein aana haram hai! (words by great Aziz Mian)

JBashir Aug 11, 2013 06:48pm

@dr vimal raina:

What a silly mail? Can you follow what is being discussed?

Jawwad Aug 11, 2013 07:09pm

Drinking alcohol is not forbidden in Islam but it is rather intoxication that is considered a sin. Now, you could be intoxicated by virtue of having power go through your head and that my friend is a sin and not the consumption of a beverage.

JBashir Aug 11, 2013 07:10pm

So sad that his suggestions were not implemented then. The whole country would have been immensely grateful to Ayub Khan, even if he was a dictator, had he banished the Mullahs from politics.

It is high time that the religion is excluded from the political arena. It is also important that a new enlightened, modern curriculum is devised for all schools in Pakistan, incorporating science, languages and a peaceful interpretation of history and religion, which should be mandatory and implemented rigorously in the schools. The teachers should be required to have graduated from modern universities, in science, languages, history, rather than medieval Medressahs (which at present are the fountainhead of illiteracy, bigotry and ignorance). All Medressahs should be shut down without discrimination and replaced by government schools, staffed by qualified teachers following the modern enlightened, tolerant curriculum fit for the 21st century.

This would transform our country from the intolerant, lawless and violent place it is now to a vibrant, modern, prosperous democracy in future, where religion could be practised privately (without any involvement in the business of the state) without compulsion.

Education is the key

Jawwad Aug 11, 2013 07:18pm

@Dinshaw : All religions are tied to economy. Religion is no discovery. It is an invention and it is to subjugate people economically and rule over them just like multi corporations are doing it in modern times.

Pankaj Aug 11, 2013 07:55pm

@roots: When will it start getting radicalized for Sunnis ? Time will tell.........

Pradip Aug 12, 2013 01:07am

@Insaan: No issue with your main point but would just like to point out that Zauq and not Ghalib, was the author of the famous piece you quoted...just to make sure the credit goes where it is due.

Pradip Aug 12, 2013 01:31am

@Pankaj Patel:

It is not that people from your state do not want a drink - poor Gujaratis die drinking laced liquor ...the rich can travel outside of State. Drinking in moderation has never been an issue anywhere in the world (as a matter of fact, the contrary effect as in Prohibition in this country shows it was a dumb thing to do) so I think Gujarat is an useless exemplar.

Gujarat has Gandhi and has also produced Narendra Modi -unfortunately. Also to remind you that Bengal had produced a Netaji who but for Gandhi, would have been the leader of free India (I am not going to bitch about Gandhi who I acknowledge was a great personality, sans doute). Finally, history shows that all Indian major political parties, Congress, the Communist Party, Janasangh were founded by Bengalees....the last by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, some thing that I personally am not so proud of. On the other hand, Vallabh Bhai Patel...that is one man who had integrity.

Pradip Aug 12, 2013 01:46am

@Sandeep Singh: I agree with Azhar Uddin: I do not know if you have read the Bhagavad Gita yourself ...I am reading it now and I am not highly impressed. In any case, if it is the greatest to you, more power to you, just do not claim it is the ONLY thing under the sun.

Shahryar Shirazi Aug 12, 2013 02:28am

B'desh is on the right path. They have out-done their former brown masters in all aspects of life. I wish, some day, we can pursue the same path in Pakistan. Islam is creeping into every aspect of our life at an alarming pace. God save Pakistan from ill-literate mullas Shahryar

MMasood Aug 12, 2013 02:37am

People who don't learn from history, make the same mistakes all over again. This is a complex topic and we can have all the drawing room discussions and politics, but nothing would change unless the people who can make a difference, i.e. the ruling class, are sincere with the country. Faith and logic don't mix. One is based on, of course, "faith" the other on science. Political Science and economy, have no place for faith based organized religions where there are no arguments or counter arguments and if there are, then one of them is a heretic and eliminated by who so ever has the fire power. That's Europe in its dark ages. Islamic Nations are in that phase of history, 500 years later; wow. We don't learn. We should stop existing as a "theocratic state" and start existing as a "Nation" as a "people" who have the interest of the "Nation" and not the religion. Palestine is not Pakistan's war; Its Palstenian's. Kashmir, is not Pakistan's war, its Kashmiris. China could have shot its self in the foot had it gone after Taiwan; No, they made themselves economically strong, such that, as per Iqbal, "Khuda bandey sey khud poochey, bata teri raza kiya hai". It can now take Taiwan whenever it wants to, but it won't, yet, as it will effect it economically. That's what intelligent rulers do. Korea, another country that used Pakistan's first 5 years' economic plan and catapulted into economic power. None of the countries who are economically sound and prosperous, have anything remotely religious about their political system. RELIGION SHOULD STAY AT HOME AND NOT WORN ON ONE'S SLEEVE. Clergy should be confined to the mosques and like Ata Turk did, no clergy is allowed to be an Imam, unless he has a degree from the University. Oh well---What a Utopian I am. As someone said---"Dast e dua uthaey, aik umar ho chali / Koi qadam uthao, key zanjeer e pa tootey". Sorry for my ramblings. A wonderful article to read.

Pankaj Patel(USA) Aug 12, 2013 02:57am

@sumit mazumdar: I am sorry if I have heart your feeling,but I will still stick to my point that even though there was no Bangali langauge that time the are was ruled from a distance and there was a cultural difference same way like Gujarat.There is no comparison with today's India because it is ruled by people and not by any outside ruler.The fact remains that Bengal and Gujarat were exploited most by the British and Panjab was favored because Panjab helped to expand and maintain the empire during both world wars and opium wars in China.

Saeed Aug 12, 2013 03:21am

Author give his thumbs up for this guy. But still he was using religion and introducing his version of religion like any other religious leader. And what is Quaid Azam 's Islam. Was he some kind prophet Islam define itself in many different way. There is no modern and radical islam ,it is just personal likeness . Unfortunately Pakistan create under Islamic state.pretext. We stuck with this religion and I don't how long.