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Mosque versus state

Updated Jan 10, 2015 09:30am


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The writer teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.
The writer teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

THE mosque in Pakistan is now no longer just a religious institution. Instead it has morphed into a deeply political one that seeks to radically transform culture and society. Actively assisted by the state in this mission in earlier decades, the mosque is a powerful actor over which the state now exercises little authority. Some have been captured by those who fight the government and military. An eviscerated, embattled state finds it easier to drop bombs on the TTP in tribal Waziristan than to rein in its urban supporters, or to dismiss from state payroll those mosque leaders belonging to militant groups.

Very few Pakistanis have dared to criticise the country’s increasingly powerful mosque establishment although they do not spare the Pakistan Army and the country’s political leaders for their many shortcomings. For example, following the Army Public School massacre, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s promise to regulate the madressahs was immediately criticised as undoable. Had he instead suggested that Pakistan’s mosques be brought under state control as in Saudi Arabia, Iran and several Muslim countries, it would have been dismissed as belonging to even beyond the undoable.

The state’s timidity was vividly exposed in its handling of the 2007 bloody insurrection, launched from inside Islamabad’s central mosque, Lal Masjid, barely a mile from the heart of Pakistan’s government. It was a defining point in Pakistan’s history. The story of the Lal Masjid insurrection, its bloody ending, and subsequent rebound is so critical to understanding the limitations of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism that it deserves to be told once again.

Very few Pakistanis have dared to criticise the country’s increasingly powerful mosque establishment.

In early January 2007, the two head clerics of the Lal Masjid demanded the immediate rebuilding of eight illegally constructed mosques knocked down by the civic authorities. Days later, an immediate enforcement of Sharia in Islamabad was demanded. Armed vigilante groups from Jamia Hafsa and nearby madressahs kidnapped ordinary citizens and policemen, threatened shopkeepers, burned CDs and videos, and repeated the demands of tribal militants fighting the Pakistan Army.

At a meeting held in Lal Masjid on April 6, 2007, it was reported that 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Sharia. On April 12, in an illegal FM broadcast from the mosque’s own radio station, the clerics issued a threat to the government: “There will be suicide blasts in every nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death….”

The brothers Abdul Aziz and Abdur Rashid Ghazi, who headed the Lal Masjid, had attracted a core of militant organisations around them, including the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region, Jaish-e-Mohammad. Their goal was to change Pakistan’s culture. On April 12, 2007, Rashid Ghazi, a former student of Quaid-i-Azam University, broadcast the following chilling message to our female students:

“The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-i-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam…. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it.”

For months, unhindered by Gen Musharraf’s government, Lal Masjid operated a parallel government. Its minions received the Saudi Arabian ambassador on the mosque premises, and negotiated with the Chinese ambassador for the release of his country’s kidnapped nationals. The showdown came in July 2007. Copious TV coverage showed armed madressah students with gas masks firing away into the dense smoke. The final push left 10 of Pakistan’s crack SSG commandos dead, together with scores of madressah students. A tidal wave of suicide attacks — as promised by the cleric brothers — duly followed.

Amazingly Pakistan’s civilian courts exonerated Abdul Aziz and Umme Hassan (his wife, who headed Jamia Hafsa). Ignoring TV footage, the court ruled that possession of heavy weaponry by the accused could not be proven. Today Abdul Aziz remains firmly ensconced in Lal Masjid and hundreds pray behind him. He has threatened to unleash a force of 8,000 students from nearby madressahs if he is again arrested. At the behest of the then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, the destroyed Jamia Hafsa was awarded 20 kanals of choice land in sector H-11 of Islamabad for rebuilding. The land tycoon, Malik Riaz, lavishly reconstructed the damaged mosque.

How many other Abdul Aziz’s does Pakistan have? Clerics who propagate Taliban and Daesh (Islamic State) views to their followers and who, like Aziz, are unmoved by the Peshawar massacre? No one knows even the number of mosques in Pakistan, where they are located, and, most importantly, what their khutbas (sermons) contain. This must change if Pakistan is to make any progress towards containing religious violence.

The first baby step towards bringing an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 mosques under state control requires tasking local authorities at the district and tehsil level with documentation: mosque locations, sizes, religious affiliation, and known sources of funding. The second is to monitor Friday sermons, a possibility offered by modern technology. Many worshippers have mobile phones capable of recording audio. A sermon, once recorded, could be uploaded to a website operated by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Readers wishing to see how this might be done should visit where sermons from scores of mosques in rural Punjab have been recorded, transcribed, and categorised for full and free public access.

A crisis is said to be a terrible thing to waste. Before the horror of the Peshawar atrocity fades from our collective memory let the state act decisively — albeit in small steps — to restore its right to regulate religious activities within its boundaries. Else the people of Pakistan shall continue to suffer terribly.

The writer teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2015

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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (111) Closed

Prof Abdul Malik Jan 10, 2015 01:51am

The Pakistani State needs to urgently deal with the threats posed by degenerate Abdul Aziz, his depraved cohorts, maderasas and mosques propagating hate, violence. their version of Islamic sharia and rebellion against the State. Failure to do so without further loss of time will result in abominable consequences.

Fiz Jan 10, 2015 01:52am

I love Hoodbhai's quality of speaking unbridled truth. What he has written about Lal Masjid is 110% true. But alas! we have a short memory. Still we have time to act against Maulana Aziz if we want to avoid another Lal Masjid 2007 type tragedy.

James zatonski Jan 10, 2015 01:52am

UAE, Turkey, Saudi, Kuwait etc etc - Friday sermon of all mosques is same - religion has to be regulated and controlled - but in Pakistan the fashion of the elite is to be above the law - the leaders of the unregulated mosques have learned the trick - how to stay above the law. Common man is suffering but elite is well protected - therefore by definition this is not a problem to worry about.

Fawad Jan 10, 2015 02:02am

Glad to read this. Mr Hoodbhoy always tries hard to bring the facts and mirror to society. He is one of the very few intellectuals in Pakistan who dare to call a spade a spade. He is keen observant and I have nothing but praise for him.

Religion should be separate from politics and government. When I see army praying and politician praying, it gives message that one who is not praying (as he might be not from same religion) doesn't belong here. Is Pakistan only for Muslims?

Fawad Jan 10, 2015 02:12am

A sermon from prayer reader caused lynching of Christian couple. Theses clerics regularly spread hate speech amid applaud, just like on a morning show recently without remorse. In fact they are proud of it. Do you think people will ask for Zaid Hamid's opinion if he will stop talking against India? These people thrive on hatred.

Mohsin Jan 10, 2015 02:15am

Scientists are the real "alims" according to the Quran (for those unaware of how this word is actually used in the Quran.) So I'm glad to see a physicist offering this deeply needed critique.

Magister Jan 10, 2015 02:24am

I salute Musheraff for going after this mafia. They are devils in wolves' clothing.

indus Jan 10, 2015 02:30am

Thanks Professor Hoodbhoy.

Milind Jan 10, 2015 03:12am

Excellent article by well learned professor and highlights all things but to my understanding your political leadership play very suspicious and crude role in passing new law and now persistence conflicts between both and will be very deadly for Pakistan

Suraj Jan 10, 2015 03:29am

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy makes more sense than all Pakistani mullahs and leaders put together. Pakistan can still rein in terrorism by having control over mosques before genie gets out of the bottle.

Canada For Canadians Jan 10, 2015 03:37am

Excellent exposition of facts. However, if religion is not separated from state and constitution is not changed to a secular republic and governance does not know any religion , unless Blasphemy Laws are abandoned, unless mosques are madrassahs are secondary to culture and institutions and education, unless Abdus Salam is declared a Pakistani muslim ,there is no chance of the writer's dream to become true. Note only Pakistanis in general has the capacity to bring in the revolutionary idea into practice. Who will bell the cat?

Chi ben Jan 10, 2015 03:37am

Thanks a lot Pervez Hoodbhoy for keeping cool but calling a spade a spade and not a spoon. Pakistanis shall rise and demand closure of all Madressahas. Pakistan needs institutes of higher learning and not of medieval learning. Our children need to fly planes and space shuttles and ot trek on camels and donkeys.Think!

Khwaab Jan 10, 2015 03:45am

Islamiyat and Insaaniyat seem to be mutually exclusive for a lot of folks around the world these days, especially in Pakistan, Syria and Iraq.

Don't expect Dawn to publish this comment either!

Dr. Sehar Khan Jan 10, 2015 04:33am

Great job Dawn News for publishing this article...

s.subrahmanyam Jan 10, 2015 04:37am

It is a clear reflection of the radicalisation of Pakistani society that an extremely well argued and sensible column in Dawn evokes no comment! Is it that the entire moderate Pakistani society has been cowed down because of the fear of the extremists? What a sorry state of affairs.

Mazrat Ke Saath Jan 10, 2015 04:40am

Like always, Dr. Hoodboy has provided a concise, unemotional and logical view of the situation, without the least fear. May your tribe prosper in Pakistan. Oddly enough, many will agree with you but not stand behind you. But, you keep going strong.

Masood Khan Jan 10, 2015 04:47am

It takes great courage to write an article such this and have it published in a major newspaper. You are a brave man and a man of principle. Take care.

Malik Jan 10, 2015 05:02am

Our history indicates that beautiful mosques were built by Ummayads, Abbassids and later by Mughal emperors, in places like Delhi, Lahore, Grenada, Baghdad, Damascus and Spain. They had glorious past and have beautiful architectural value. They have beautiful ceilings, doors, floors and of course the total structures. The Masjids in Isphan are very beautiful. Now, we have mushrooming of masjids, monstrously built, without any architectural beauty and in full violation of all kinds of zoning laws. Why we do not enact better zoning laws. Why there is cluster of masjids in a small housing sector? A masjid built without permission of zoning laws and withhout the approval of any competent housing authority is just an illegal structure and it would be perfectly legal to demolish them. Also, there should be respect to our elders and sick, and students laboring for exams. There should be some laws to control this blistering, annoying, shouting loud speakers all the time. All calls to prayer should be given in person and without the use of loud speakers.A small loud speaker tax, and registration would not be out of the way. Again, there should be no speakers attached with the physical walls of the masjid. The Friday sermons should be authorized by the Masjid committees, and a copy of which should be deposited with them. Mullas should not be allowed to speak on politics, on conflicting, polarizing issues. (like someone said Generals should not conduct wars, same way, a Mulla is worst person to discuss politics). Can they just deliver the basic essence of Islam. Of course, they can do. We don't need the complex, hard core philosophy of Islam which no one bother to understand: we should concentrate on the basic message of Islam in its simple and pure form. That should be the essence of Friday sermons only.

Gordon D Walker Jan 10, 2015 05:03am

Thank you, Mr Hoodbhoy, for such an insightful and informative article. Religion in the hands of the ungodly is the most tragic form of excess...

Gordon D Walker: Artist, Writer, Citizen of the World.

Rizwan Jan 10, 2015 05:07am

An eye opener for those who lives in illusion

Farhan Jan 10, 2015 05:07am

Bringing mosques under state control will only make things worse. Remember it is the government of Pakistan that armed and trained these militants in the first place. If mosques are brought under government control they will be used to spread government propaganda and to manipulate the people. On the one hand the author and his ilk want a secular government and on the other they want the government to take over mosques. You can't have it both ways!

hud hud Jan 10, 2015 05:14am

Over ebullient and fallacious. Not all mosques are wrong doers. A host of factors are responsible for pakistan's current malaise. One factor is American policy of propping up puppets in our country instead of giving democracy a free hand.Absence of state to provide a uniform system of education. Thoughtless channelled programmes, so on.

Asif Jan 10, 2015 05:16am

That's the right to thing to do but given the prevalent radicalism in our midst and the lack of political will, it's not going to happen any time soon. God forbid, the ghost of extremism is here to stay. Incidents like APS will soon be forgotten and we will go into the slumber mode once again..........

Siva D Jan 10, 2015 05:17am

Sir you are a global treasure! Please be safe and keep pointing at the right path.

A. Hyder,Ph.D. Jan 10, 2015 05:42am

What good will recording sermons do? If truck loads of bombs and other incendiary material were not enough proof of there existence what do you think the recordings would do? Prosecute the judges (start with the Right Honourable Mr. Chaudry), who let go free these terrorists, to give any action a chance.

Arslan Jan 10, 2015 06:24am

I laud the recipe laid out by Mr. Hoodbhoy for bringing order to the hate sermons being propagated in some of the religious institutions. The State's ambivalence to this speech has marginalized the segments with a more inclusive and caring message. Worse the complicity of the State to co-opt some of the more aggressive and zealous elements has given them range to terrorize the public with impunity. I hope the leadership will be more decisive and forthright in dealing with these subversive elements and also in singling out their patrons at least in the last few years.

Bachabassi Jan 10, 2015 06:32am

What is logic behind Government promoting religion. Religion should be a private/personal matter for the people. If gov. tries to impose their will on the people on their private life, that is worse than slavery. Western countries developed economically,technologically and culturally because they allowed people to think freely. We don't see any 'Christian Republic' at the end of the name of any Western countries like we see in Islamic countries.

Laeeq,NY Jan 10, 2015 06:39am

Government need to go one step further. It should license all the Khatibs and illegally built mosques should be legalized or should be demolished. No loud speakers for prayer calling.. Loud speakers should be used only in side the mosques. Mosques should not be used residence and should be locked after each prayer.

Visibly Jan 10, 2015 07:18am

Satire. One of the best way for any dogmatic society to develop is through satire. Or arguments. The alternative is violence. The use of violence suggests that arguments fail. Use of violence is a low-intellectual type of response. It can be defended in certain situations, but overall, the use of violence reflects failure.

mukhtar Jan 10, 2015 07:26am

Very fine analysis. It is too late now to have effective control over mosques. This govt is not capable of taking any such decision. Maulana Aziz case is an open challenge to writ of state, if you cant control one individual forget about Madrassehas restructuring

Janzeb Jan 10, 2015 07:56am

A criminal element has taken over many of our mosques. It is a huge reglious mafia. A mosque that is home to teaching hate, and houses weapons is not a house of God anymore, and deserves to be demolished.

Nauman M Jan 10, 2015 08:40am

It is easy to note Professor Hoodbhoy’s valid concerns and his suggestions to the problems.

When it comes to challenging anything connected with religion, one is left with no choice except go on the back foot and just listen. I have heard boisterous politicians, TV anchors, liberals and human rights activists simply buckling down when sitting face to face with a charged up Mullah.

The liberals, if there are many left, need to come out strongly and make efforts to reverse this situation. Someone for once made sense when he said ‘respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion’. It is about time we criticize and reject out of business those religious bigots who use heavy handed methods to suppress freedom of expression.

Manjeet Kocchar Jan 10, 2015 09:25am

@Malik saner voices indeed

Fazal Karim Jan 10, 2015 09:28am

After Ayoob Khans government ignorant and back word religious fraternity has been left loose by politicians. These religious leaders or scholars as they call themselves have no knowledge of history, geography,science, economics,human psychology,other religions,military science and administration. They find solution of every problem in shariat and few books.They talk of democracy so long they are out power, but once in power they pronounce democracy anti Islam. Unfortunately incompetent politicians in pakistan had nothing to give to people, they seek favours from mullahs who have following through madersas and mosques. If if we have to move forward we must convince people that in this modern world of technology religion is personal matter and affairs of states have to be conducted though best means available in the world. Every body in Pakistan should consider himself Pakistani not minority.Every body should feel that this is his country.

Manjeet Kocchar Jan 10, 2015 09:31am

Surprising that press in Pakistan is remarkably independent. considering its socio political structure and monolithic nature of state it really requires great courage to write and still greater courage to publish such clear and frank analyses. Kudos to Shri Pervez Hoodbhai for standing up for the greater common cause of society.

Keti Zilgish Jan 10, 2015 09:40am

Pakistanis are a lot more fortunate (in that their state is more 'timid' than states that have oil wealth to protect) than they realize. Capitalism relies on the state which relies on its capacity to use Religion.

Ahmed Jan 10, 2015 09:45am

Suggestions to reform and regulate mosques and its activities are simple and doable. If we spend half the money on strictly enforcing a well thought out measures in mosques , we won't have to spend much on catching terrorists. Thank you Mr. Pervez Hoodhboy , you are one of the few clear headed & upright person.

Asif Jan 10, 2015 09:46am

The government is too timid to even talk about this, let alone act about it.

anand singh Jan 10, 2015 09:59am

Pakistan is a classic case of a nation not knowing that its going through good times.

They wanted a nation to themselves , they got it but then quickly proceeded to undermine it in 1958 when Ayub stepped in.This was followed by the systematic victimization of Bengalis leading to the break away of its Eastern wing.

Needing someone to hate it was the Baluchis next, the results are for all to see.

Fast forward to the present, it had a wonderful opportunity to show case itself in Af , it did but for all the wrong reasons.

Now , as a fallout of the Af situation the Mosque has taken precedence over the Parliament & even the Army.

The theocracy is winning.

Keti Zilgish Jan 10, 2015 10:05am

'Gen Musharraf' paid dearly for attempting to appease the procrastinators among his supporters in and outside the armed forces even though such attempts had failed (thanks to AK Brohi, a prominent Sindhi) ZAB himself who was simply trying to appease ingrained religious elements among his supporters.

Salma Jan 10, 2015 10:31am

What can I say? your forthright approach and courage stand tall in front of the pigheadedness of the rest of the countrymen. Religion, instead of becoming a means of liberation from ones ignorance and egoism, has now become a tool -- in the hands of unscrupulous "religious leaders", the gullible public, and the exploiting politicians -- of spreading hatred, of committing the most heinous crimes, and of destroying the very fabric that binds a civilized society together. Sermons are used to incite lumpen people to loot, arson and lynch.The so called intellectuals who have, by their silence, co-opted themselves are no less guilty.

syed imtiaz ahmed Jan 10, 2015 10:39am

Pervez Hoodbhoy U are far better teacher than the one leading our university in both politics and physics that is University of the Punjab.Our VC wites in The Nation by Majeed nizami's bidding.U are better writer,aYou should lead institutions rather than these politically appointed ones

ashok Jan 10, 2015 10:40am

@Suraj My friend the day the Pakistan state became a theocratic country and used religion as a tool to further its policies the genie was out of the bottle. It now has to see how it can get it back in and permanently seal the bottle.

Adam K? Jan 10, 2015 10:40am

@Fiz Wouldn't that be simply addressing the symptom, not the root cause?

Adam K? Jan 10, 2015 10:43am

@Magister Please clarify. Are Wolves OK, let alone devils in wolves clothing? Didn't you mean sheep? Just wondering.

Habibullah Naviwala Jan 10, 2015 10:45am

Most successful way to regulate all the affairs of mosques and Madressa is through government as done in Turkey. All sermons in the Mosque to be delivered under the certain guide-lines chalked by Ulema of all firqa. The Maressa school to be registered in Provincial Government and administered by a certified educated principal under local government. Funding of Madressa to be strictly monitored

ashok Jan 10, 2015 10:48am

one of the few sane voices in Pakistan. Is the Pakistan state giving him security or is it that he requires security from the Pakistan state for being such a rational critic.

Adam K? Jan 10, 2015 10:51am

@Malik Perhaps the concept of entropy extends to civilizations and religions.

Faisal Jan 10, 2015 11:03am

I am living in SAudia for the last 5 years and they way control their mosques is amazing. In fact, the Jumma prayer sermons supposedly come directly from the government. Moreover, if they found that if any of the cleric has even a slightly different interpretation of things (region, politics), they will replace him in no time.

think_then_speak Jan 10, 2015 11:16am

visited the recommended website. More uploads would make the dark picture unveiled to the apologists of Taliban.

think_then_speak Jan 10, 2015 11:19am

@Asif The apparent timid overture of the government is trenched in their support to the conservative extremist outfits because these extremists provide the incumbent politicos support in election. This is a win win situation for both government and extremists at the cost of common man.

ARK Jan 10, 2015 11:58am

An excellent piece of writing from one of Pakistan's finest minds. Finally, a voice that doesn't just criticize but also teaches and presents a solution. Bravo Prof. Hoodbhoy!

Shamoon Ahmad Jan 10, 2015 11:59am

People of the neighborhood are the backbone of support to their mosque, both in terms of finance and its followership . They would also know if the prayer leader is spreading hate and sectarianism in their area. And if that is the case people can cut off the flow of donation and boycott the Imam by not attending his sermon. Along with security forces citizens of Pakistan also have to share the responsibility to control their mosques.

WHITE KNIGHT Jan 10, 2015 12:09pm

Professor Pervez A Hoodbhoy is an intrepid intellectual. He has laid bare the conundrum in no uncertain terms which even the State of Pakistan would not have been able to. All well done , but a solution is what is required --when it comes to that the Author unfortunately, becomes evasive. All what he has written is perfectly spot on , "chutzpahic" in fact but the solution trails off rather mellowly. The problem is audaciously dealt with , but apparently it defies a solution in the short or the long run!! Small steps by the State to mitigate the crisis will not work. A sanguinary overhauling is what is the need of the hour. Even after the gruesome massacre at the APS, Peshawar, the TTP continues in its goteque ways. Who will salvage Pakistan from this implosion, nobody knows.

Shyam Jan 10, 2015 12:09pm

A very daring article I would say. It does sit call for retrospection on that it is not just lal Masjid but I have seen that it is true for all masjids. In India my muslim friends go to masjids and they have so much knowledge and concern about people in Iraq, they have great details of what is happening in Gujarat, they know exactly how Aurunzeb use dto live that I am surprised and shocked that they are reading the same newspaper and books that I read. They are totally brainwashed and thier view points and their circle of interaction is only around muslims. I personally believe that place of worship should only talk about religion and not work in news spreading, you should live in a mixed locality and have a more balanced view. Religion is a road to achieve spirituality not a political party to gain majority. I hope people understand that.

Parvez Jan 10, 2015 12:25pm

An excellent, extremely necessary write up....... governments both political and military have pandered to the likes of Abdul Aziz at the expense of the State / people. It was correctly said that when you breed snakes in your backyard you should expect that one day they will bit you.

saz Jan 10, 2015 12:26pm

Mosques should not be under control of Govt as Govt will damage their sanctity completely and this happened during tenure if Zia. He had taken control of mosques and funded the prayer leaders as per His choice and asked them to propagate his agendas and that resulted in corruption in mosques at larger level. The result of that corruption in the form of terrorism are in front of us. We should not do the same mistake again. The best solution is to identify few major hate mongers and corrupt religious clerics and that will help controlling the rest. For example punishing adequately laal mosque foundation and religious cleric would set example that Govt is not allowing them to propagate their nefarious agendas so who ever has similar ideologies is going to face similar iron stick.

saz Jan 10, 2015 12:29pm

It is also important to control funding sources of those seminaries busy in violence and extremism. Once funding is eliminated their battery would be completely discharged. Funding is their back bone.

Burjor Rustomji Jan 10, 2015 01:26pm

Hoodbhoy writes eloquently. One has to read his article and compare with an article written on page 14, "Abu Hamza jailed for life in US." One gets a very good picture of how "justice" system works here in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and how justice is delivered in the US. How we think and act, and how others think and act, the two articles are indeed worth reading. Good work Dawn !!!.

Haris Jan 10, 2015 01:43pm

@Prof Abdul Malik there must a law that Mosque or any other religious can be establish only after approval from government administration and will be under surveillance of govt. agencies.

Waqas Jan 10, 2015 01:47pm

The menace of terrorisim wrapped in the religion, causes threat to the world. The masacares do not belong to Muslims only it can happen any part of the world and numerous examples are alive. Information technology is a miracle of this century that has been spreading like forest fire. It has been transforming a new civilisation where social justice is an integral part. In modern world, the demand of social justice has been picking momentum and 8 billions human wish for. Same is in the case of Pakistan. Islam is the only religion that determines the rights of animals, even.

nabil Jan 10, 2015 01:54pm

That's exactly why i totally refuse to call these people by there title moulana.

umair rahman Jan 10, 2015 01:58pm

assalam u alaikum can anyone tell me what is the procedure to send the opinion/column to the dawn newspaper? thanks

Mian Shahid Mehmood Jan 10, 2015 02:29pm

Good article depicting the actual story; but unfortunately despite Peshawar massacre, the government is still soft towards Lal Masjid and its administration and right under nose of the government, in center of Pakistan, Lal Masjid leadership is supporting and propagating terrorism. Perhaps the law of land in Pakistan is not applicable to the Lal Masjid. The government timidity towards Lal Masjid leadership is a big dent in our national resolve to fight and weed out terrorism from Pakistan.

bauke Jan 10, 2015 02:37pm

@Manjeet Kocchar "Surprising that press in Pakistan is remarkably independent."......... I hardly pass the Dawn moderator with my reasonable comments comparable with Mr. Hoodbhoy's ideas.

Babay Jan 10, 2015 02:42pm

PM NS is requested to please read Hadood Bhai sincere observations and take some constructive measures to control the mullahism in the country to establish peace in the country.

Combaticus Jan 10, 2015 03:07pm

Dr. Hoodbhoy is my favorite commentator on social and political issues and, ofcourse, science and higher education. I wish the government will listen to his advice. His ideas are always sane and logical.

Saeed Ahmad Jan 10, 2015 03:17pm

In the whole of Islamic History there has never been an incident of Clergy demanding Shariah or Rule of Clergy in any Islamic or Muslim country. Never. Kindly point out if there was any, Now these "Khawarijs" demand Shariah of their own understanding which should be stopped immediately otherwise it is spreading like cancer and a day will come when it would become un-treatable. If would be a great service to our country and our religion if somebody tries to raise and explain in detail my aforesaid point. May be a learned n upright person like Hoodbhoy will carry out the job better than the divided Clergy itself.

Chi ben Jan 10, 2015 03:33pm

@Khwaab , Dawn is a neutral newspaper. It has to moderate comments, not for keeping some comments out for its own benefit but to comply with certain laws of the land, like it cannot print comments that are against blasphemy law and communal harmony etc. Dawn is a very professional news media.

Feroz Jan 10, 2015 04:07pm

A reading of the Pakistani Constitution by a layman would conclude the State is a Theocracy. It was never a suitable framework for a Democracy where equality for all is a principle. Seen in this light it is very obvious that the Mosque will be the dominant player in any national discourse. It is now for the citizen to decide whether the role played by the Mosque has helped the nation progress or crippled it. I wonder how lamenting bygones can ever change the fortunes of a country. Band Aid treatment like setting up Military Courts is hardly the solution for extremism and militancy, it is the mindset of not just the rulers but the citizenry that needs drastic changes. Terrorism simply cannot be rooted out if the infrastructure supporting it and the forces propagating hate and bigotry are allowed a free reign. The educational system needs a major overhaul too.

Aftab ulfat Jan 10, 2015 04:18pm

Parvez has pointed out the real and root cause of terrorism. Our mosques should be reformed immediately. instead of bombing

mountains and claiming scores of terrorist die every day by ISPR the internally monsters must be brought into control

Riaz Jan 10, 2015 04:19pm

Why was Rashid Ghazi not arrested and tried when he offered to surrender in front of Media? There is some link missing somewhere.

Riaz Jan 10, 2015 04:35pm


The nation needs to get united to fight sectarianism. The Government cannot do anything as long as we keep supporting bad elements of own sects. The maulvies exploit by talks against other sects and we support them by appreciating and funding. If we unite as a nation and boycott the Maulvies who spread hatred, they will be forced to behave, and a few who don't can then be taken to task by the the Government through our support. Lets stop supporting criminals within own sects first and let this message be conveyed to all.

Adeel Jan 10, 2015 04:43pm

Religious intolerance is a direct outcome of broken/failed state. The foremost thing we need is a "functioning" state. Had we have a system of education, health, justice and social welfare in place for general public - essential elements of a functional state - we would not have been facing this religious extremism. It does not take any special foresight to observe that religious extremism flourishing in madrassas is fed by social inequalities prevailing all around us. Government education system is in dire straits. People who cannot afford basic necessities to their children send them to madrassas which take care of their food and other necessities. It is the responsibility of state but is performed by non state actors (read madrassas). That is where they get their legitimacy and sympathies of their donors. Our politicians/ruling elite (both CIV & MIL) are inept. They think that the resources of pakistan are only for them and their children. They get whatever they desire and general public is left to fend for itself. These tactics are backfiring in the form of extremisim. Fixing this system is the first thing we should be doing but these rulers are not ready to let go of their comforts gained at the cost of general public. so they present such ridiculous ideas of crackdowns and terrorism help lines.

mudasir ali shah Jan 10, 2015 05:01pm

great indeed.. government must follow such steps to eradicate the menace of terrorism from this country which is spreading venom among the masses..

I A Khan Jan 10, 2015 05:29pm

You are right that Middle East and Turkey masjids are financed and controlled by state but one thing they have common they do not have that is "Welfare for All" ( Hai lal Fallah). Today masjids are buildings not institutions are not by Taqwa ( Guidance + Knowledge) for Peace but governed by confusion or egos and the vested interests of elite, landlords industrialists or sects

rashid Jan 10, 2015 06:34pm

Your words are gems! And the courts in Pakistan.... don't find any proof!!

Rustam Ali Khan Jan 10, 2015 06:36pm

In Pakistan, Majority of the mosques are no more dedicated to prayers only, they are rather becoming a symbol of terror than peace.

Hassan Jan 10, 2015 06:45pm

@nabil : The accurate word for these type of people is hate preacher.

fahad Jan 10, 2015 06:46pm

sir, you are a gem of a person.spaeking truth in pakistan is the last thing many people would do.kudos!!

fahad Jan 10, 2015 06:47pm

i sincerely wish dawn had an urdu akhbar to cater to and influence the narrative of the people that make up the majority of our society

Zarvan Azim Jan 10, 2015 06:58pm

Truth be told, no matter by whom... Mr. Pervez is doing the job with honesty of intention and purpose. he must be supported because in this time great atrocity and confusion sown by militants and their cohorts in our mosques, the true Jihad is to 'reclaim the soul of our great religion Islam'. Those who preach violence to shove down our throat their concept of religion, are the 'transgressors' and they must be resisted by everyone, not least the state.

Mohammed Abbasi Jan 10, 2015 07:03pm

Excellent article by the professor - any nation or people that wish to move forward and thrive have to be educated and open minded - without these requirements the people become slaves and the nation falls apart over time.

muhammad Jan 10, 2015 07:07pm

There are many such mosques exists all around the Pakistan who are openly challenging the writ of government and have created state within state due to weak policies of consecutive Governments

Reeba Jan 10, 2015 07:19pm

Dr Hoodbhoy, Please write in Urdu based publications also so that these ideas will infiltrate into the minds of average Pakistanis. Most people who read Dawn are the privileged and educated types who already have similar opinions.

GKA Jan 10, 2015 07:21pm

it is for this reason that mosques were attacked in France after the recent killings. Mullahs use mosques, and the muslims allow mullahs to do so

AJamal Jan 10, 2015 07:28pm

I live in Saudia Arabia and here mosque sermons are government approved. Indeed all imams are government employees. This is called "writ" which our "heavy mandate" dare never exercise.

Kamath Jan 10, 2015 07:43pm

Pakistan was created on the basis of religion, citing Islamic intellectual, spiritual, philosophical arguments over many decades. Why not let Islami law prevail. Give it a chance. If that foe s not work, then Pakistanis can try something else. What is important in Pakistan is political stability, peace and good order. Rest will follow,

Give ex very one to try their hand in running the country.

Agha Ata Jan 10, 2015 08:10pm

When the government decides to do something, and some people declare it udoable, and a result is that the government cancels its plan. That means only one thing, that the government has no mind of its own. If it had, it would have established its writ in just one moth with the powerful army behind it. Extraordinary conditions demean extraordinary measures.

karim Mohd Khan Jan 10, 2015 08:31pm

This is an excellent article indeed and a daring initiative to declining the most fatal and existential menace to the country that is extremism and terrorism. Like him all the intellectuals and civil society discourage the hatred preaching and sermons of selfish mullahs through different channels such as print and electronic media.

karim Mohd Khan Jan 10, 2015 08:38pm

An excellent contribution in the recent national action plan against terrorism.

A. Hyder,Ph.D. Jan 10, 2015 08:47pm

@Chi ben You think so?

Ayesha Jan 10, 2015 09:06pm

@James zatonski Absolutely spot on. However, regulation is not too difficult to do. One 5 minute sermon has to be typed out and faxed out to all government appointed( wafaq ul Madaris) khateebs with instructions for reading out to the congregation!

BeFair Jan 10, 2015 10:23pm

Why are we spreading divisions? we should solve them instead of spreading them.

Even professors? I wonder who is loyal to this country, they all are running after their ideologies.

Looks like some factors want to create unrest in Pakistan or at least confuse common muslims. Very small amount of deen is left in this society and they want to even create more doubts and mistrust by taking a twisted example and generalizing it to a bigger scale. These guys are perfect example of conflict of interest conflicting with interest of Pakistan.

Aarzi Jan 10, 2015 10:55pm

@hud hud Great escapism. Just blame someone else and go bury your head in the sand !!!!

javed ali Jan 10, 2015 11:05pm

it is all about Zia policy , who promote Jehadi in the name of Islam in Kashmir & Pakistan.

human being Jan 11, 2015 12:03am

@Fawad God created the world.human created religion and bountries.

Shoukat Cheema Jan 11, 2015 01:17am

Excellent and well written. Govt of Pakistan should be reminded of these issues again and again and again..........

rudraiah rajasekhar Jan 11, 2015 02:12am

The Pakistan is one step away from theocracy and professor Hoodbhoy is absolutely right but little bit late to change the course.

gary Jan 11, 2015 03:49am

@Adam K? Religion was supposed to do the opposite what entropy is supposed to do.

Haroon Rooha Jan 11, 2015 08:09am

@Khwaab ,Thanks.... for the courage to speak up.People like you are only hope for innocent helpless poor sufferers at the hands of Believers and submitter.The dawn and other Muslim editors and moderators are help less,scared, afraid their own and their family security ,thus must toe the cannot blame them,they see the terror all around them,Paris, netherlan.The determination to eliminate opposition kufer is all around. Fear is the one of the greatest factor to make people slaves.

Mustafa J. Jan 11, 2015 09:03am

Excellent article by Pervez Hoodbhoy

Some suggestions to bring stability and peace in Pakistan:

  1. All properties where mosques or Islamic Centers are situated, must to transferred to an entity under the control of Federal or Provincial government .

  2. All Imams and Khateebs should be evaluated, tested and certified by government with strict requirement that they should confine their discussion in religious topics only not initiate or allow political discussions or debates in mosques.

  3. If uncertified Imams or Khateebs are not available, government will provide qualified people and pay for their services if necessary.

  4. Mosques should not be run or controlled by local residents whether or not they are elected by local people.

  5. There is no priesthood in Islam. Muslim men and women should be free to practice Islam in their home and daily life and only be answerable to Allah and no one else as long as they do not interfere with other people lives. When they assemble in mosques then they follow the teachings and practices as the Imam and Khateeb of the mosque has prescribed.

Vi Jan 11, 2015 09:10am

whatever the author has written is what whole world is been telling Pakistan to do i.e. control madarsahs, reform education, arrest preachers of radical Islam that causes violence so on and so forth. What wonders me to read comments like "what a master piece. Thanks Dawn for publishing this article, very brave article, Author shows the reality and mirror to Pakistan society. when whole world was telling u the same u ignores it. Why this difference of opinion?

Burjor Rustomji Jan 11, 2015 10:29am

Why cannot people like Pervez hoodbhoy lead prayers. Why do not educated, learned, broad minded people, lead prayers, instead of people like the one mentioned above. If this is what it takes to change the culture, change the values, change the perception of religion, then why cannot this simple thought be brought into practice, just think about the change for the better this would bring about, mosques and mudrassah's will actually become places of learning, for discussions, this would bring about so much good in society. Teachers and parents are the first and foremost mentors of a nation, not politicians, or mullah's. The most impressionable age is when a child is young, this is the time when good values of love, compassion, broad mindedness, appreciating the universe in all its splendor can be instilled. Until this happens, until this nation has people, who have compassion, who have goodness in their hearts and minds, this nation will not improve.

adeel gujar Jan 11, 2015 10:42am

Thanx prof hoodbhoy

Adam K? Jan 11, 2015 11:02am

@Chi ben Which Pakistanis will make such a demand, and which politicians will have the courage to follow-through on those demands? Nawaz Sharif, who cooled his heals in Saudi Arabia when he was illegally removed from office by General Mush in 10/99 and which he repairs to quite often since coming back, is definitely not going to insult the Saudis for their "generous" funding of Wahabi-based Madrasahs. Their gift cannot be refused or given back.

Abassin Jan 12, 2015 10:54am

The mullah has indeed joined the ranks of the Pakistani elite and has become all powerful like them, no accountability and above the law. And to boot, there are voices within which think and believe that this is due to the so called war on terror and the Drone attacks by the Americans. Well, this fallacious attitude and the "the head buried in the sand" mind set will not solve the problem. The government, the so called elite and the society at large has to make a choice, as to who rules the state, the Mullah through un-supervised, un-regulated madrasahs, or the Government through rules and regulations? This is a pure and simple existential question for the state of Pakistan-and if it does not address the issue, it will do so at its own peril.

sameer Jan 12, 2015 02:11pm

I hope the people at the helm read this.

LATIF Jan 12, 2015 03:37pm

An excellent and surgical article by a scientist identifying incoming hatred and extremism in Pakistan by so called religious imam/ preacher of illegal built Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad and with the blessing of Home Ministry, too. Professor indeed did a remarkable job for highlighting the facts which the present government ignored due to variety of reasons including safeguarding its own position. It is really a very encouraging that the Daily Dawn has provided a platform to intellectuals and writers whose thinking is in line with the founder of Pakistan, and if followed would lead to a better Pakistan.

Mithidada Jan 12, 2015 04:24pm

Excellent, as always. But nothing will come out of the sound advice here - as always!

surgeon Jan 13, 2015 04:11pm

Very effective and thoughtful. Mr hoodbhoy, plz be safe. The world can talk about controlling religious fanaticism in Pakistan but it really needs courage to utter a word against these so called clerics and illegally built medrassahs. Just tell me, is there some one who can speak against the mosque named after Salman Taseer assassin Qadri? He is the hero of these mullahs. So you can all imagine what kind of education and mentality they are spreading to the innocent kids. They preach hatred and intolerance that finally results in violence. Who can ask these mullahs that who are they to authorize themselves as the Guardian of GOD. He is the creator of this whole universe. He doesn't need you to protect him. Please spare us and let us live peacefully. Period......