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‘Religion and politics’

Published Nov 27, 2012 12:12am


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THIS is apropos of Zubeida Mustafa’s article ‘Religion and politics’ (Nov 7), and Nadeem F. Paracha’s article ‘Refiguring Jinnah’ (Nov 11), presenting their case for a secular polity in Pakistan on the basis of Jinnah’s Aug 11, 1947, speech to the Constituent Assembly, in which he said that religion had nothing to do with the business of the state.

I disagree with their basic premise on the grounds that nowhere in his speech did Jinnah use the word ‘secular’ even once, nor did he ever mention it in any of his statements throughout his life.

Jinnah’s oft-quoted and oft-repeated speech of Aug 11, 1947, has been misinterpreted. Rather his many references to the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) on numerous occasions as the basis of Pakistan’s constitution are conveniently ignored by them.

In fact, the underlying theme of the speech is not whether religion should be part of state business or otherwise, but to emphasise ‘impartiality’ in the business of state and equal fundamental human rights of all citizens irrespective of their faith.

Impartiality in statecraft and equal rights for all citizens no matter which religion they believe in are not antithetical to Islamic polity.

I was the assistant collector, Customs, at Pakistan international containers terminal, Karachi (Model Customs Collectorate of Paccs, Karachi) way back in 2007.

One morning, one of the examiners at the terminal told me that mister so and so, an exporter, was a Qadyani (Ahmadi) and an ardent supporter of his community. I replied: “So what? We are civil servants and not supposed to discriminate against any exporter or importer on the grounds of his faith. We need to be impartial in the business of our office.”

This impartiality in state business is what the Quaid implied in his speech of Aug 11, 1947.

Secondly, I disagree with the above mentioned writers that only secular leaders were at the forefront in the struggle for Pakistan.

If history is any evidence, the pivotal role played by ulema like Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, Allama Zafar Ahmad Usmani, Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, Sheikhul Hind, and many others in the Pakistan movement can’t be denied.

Historian Sharif Al Mujahid in many of his books and articles has elaborated their role. Needless to say, the Muslim League’s performance in the 1945 elections, in juxtaposition to its poor showing in the 1937 elections was to a great extent, the result of influence of ulema.

Similarly, the referendum in the North West Frontier Province and in Sylhet district were also influenced by religious people, vindicating that Muslims wanted an Islamic, although not theocratic, state in their future homeland.

Zubeida Mustafa’s remarks, “Then what went wrong?” needs to be further elaborated upon. I will tell you what went wrong in our country. Soon after the demise of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, secular elements in Pakistan hijacked the country, squabbled over Constitution-making, delayed it for nine years, and rejected 52 unanimously- agreed-upon points of the ulema of different schools of Sharia.

As I said in my letter, ‘Faith in decline’ (Sept 21), “We need to jettison the extremist and militant brand of Islam and teach our young ones the liberal an humane aspects of Islam.

“In a nutshell, by reforming our curriculum and regulating our ‘firebrand’ media, we can bring about positive changes in our society.”



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Comments (21) Closed

Gerry D'Cunha Nov 27, 2012 01:37pm
pakistan: the truth is that muslims are happy in christian countries than in their own islamic countries.- isn't this the truth?
gu44ATHER Dec 04, 2012 06:53am
My friend i wrote this letter having full knowledge of the subject.I wish you had had read about the role of ULEMA in Indian politics before reading this letter .Thank you for your comments
AHA Nov 28, 2012 12:01pm
Absolutely true. Even the Christian Europe of the middle ages was a horrible place for humanity.
zak Nov 28, 2012 06:00pm
Re read your history. it was secular muslims that made Islam & muslims flourish in that era not the Islamic system. Muslims minds then were not warped then as they are now.
Agha Ata Nov 27, 2012 04:52pm
It is not Religion but Mullah who intervenes in politics. Jinnah wasn't a politician like modern politicians, he would never use the word "secularism" for uneducated and half-educated masses, who even after 60 years, cannot interpret or understand the true meanings of the word. Even Liaqat Ali Khan didn
Gerry D'Cunha Nov 27, 2012 09:24am
religion and politics together have always ruined the country, an examples are the islamic countries including pakistan. why are the western/european countries progressing, because they have kept aside religion from politics
anwar kamal Nov 27, 2012 03:08pm
We do not want political Islam. We want Islam of Hazrat Muhammad (sm) .
AHA Nov 28, 2012 11:53am
Jinnah was not a secularist in the literal sense. He did want a separate homeland for Muslims. While we may consider that a mistake now, at that time Jinnah believed that that was the best course of action for the Muslims of India. Jinnah never wanted a theocratic state. And he certainly did not a state run by gross abusers of humanity in the name of religion.
AHA Nov 28, 2012 11:47am
All nations and states up to around 500 years ago were brutal according to today
Tanvir Nov 27, 2012 02:37pm
Well said. Blaming Islam will not work. But educating People with the right Islamic thoughts will help all - Muslims or not. Islam is for all not just the born Muslims.
Jamshaid Nov 28, 2012 05:53am
@Pakistan I think happiness never belongs to outer look. May be people in Pakistan are more happy than them but we and you don't know about feelings of their happiness.
Liu Nov 27, 2012 11:01pm
Religion is not being followed in essence in these "Islamic" countries. They may be Muslims but they are certainly not Islamic!
Taqi Ramzan Nov 27, 2012 06:57pm
religion is opium,,,,,,KARL MARX,,,,,,,,,,,,naveed saab seems to ignore the fact that the religious elements were totally against the idea of Pakistan ,,,how come they could have been working for the Pakistan movement ,,,,go search the history and you will see that in muslim indian history ,,,two kings were most influential and powerful and served the people well,,,BALBAN and AKBAR the great ,,,and one kept the religion aloof from politics and the other through his geniuses kept a secular out look by giving every religion its equal share and parity in the affairs of the realm,,,.......
Pakistan Nov 27, 2012 11:16am
The truth is Muslims are happy in America than in Pakistan :)
Shah Nov 27, 2012 07:16pm
Both, by definition and pratically, religion is known as to be a code of life. A code which brings purity in the lives of individuals which in turn leads to a prosperous society. Whereas politics has to deal with the welfare of society as a whole, instead of facilitating few individuals. This idealogical difference clearly suggests that religion has nothing to do with the politics and vice versa.
Ali Ahmed Nov 28, 2012 04:49am
If Jinnah was secular then why did he struggle for the right of the muslims? why not for all the prople of india? why couldnt he struggle along with hindus for indian's rights?why did he have to seperate a large number of muslims from rest of india on the basis of religion? why did he chose a party even which used the name Muslim League? the name itself is religion based. why not change it toindia league or people's leauge? if religion has nothing to do with politics then why struggle for a seperate homeland for muslims?why not within india then?were hindus evil?so what kind of secularism is this that you have to seperate muslims from other communities and forma anew country and then say we are secular. amazing.
observer Nov 27, 2012 01:16pm
Regardless of what Quaid-e-Azam wanted, we can still legitimately ignore 1940s and make Pakistan a modern state where 'jihalat' has no place. This means a secular and democratic Pakistan where religion is nothing more than a very sacred but very personal issue.
ali Nov 27, 2012 08:43pm
When Muslims followed the teachings of Islam, they ruled the world. When they became secular they were humiliated. This is a big lie that religion and politics should be separated. There was no point in creating another secular state since India is the biggest Secular democracy in the world.
peddarowdy Nov 28, 2012 05:22am
I have to agree with the author of this letter. I can too quote many instances where Jinnah has invoked the Quran and Islam, especially with respect to Democracy, implying its already present in Islam since thousands of years(whether he was right or wrong is a totally different matter). Jinnah was no Islamist, not a Secular minded guy. He was agnostic and ambitious. He was driven by desire to create Pakistan, at any cost.. ANY! The truth as always lies somewhere in the middle.
JAY RAMAN Nov 28, 2012 05:13am
Religion and state should never mix. Islamic state by itself means Non Muslims are second class citizens. An Islamic state was possible in the middle ages where Muslims subjugated others by military power. .Things are very different now. In modern times where all human beings are considered equal, a state based on a particular religion will be an aberration.
zak Nov 27, 2012 07:45pm
thats what you call living in a fools paradise. religion & pakistan have failed each other - havent we aptly proven it. Let the writer of this letter delve into Jinnahs personal social life and eating habits and then formulate his thoughts on the man.