Ban Hypocrisy

23 May

As a child I was told that God created human beings to be Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqat–the greatest and best of all of God’s creations. And we were given this honour because, unlike in the case of other creatures, God gave us free will–the ability to choose between actions. He then gave us intellect and commanded us to acquire knowledge so that we could use the two in our exercising that free will.

As a Muslim, I hang my head in shame as we take to the streets to protest the inconsequential actions of a few. With intolerance, like injustice, already rampant in our society–and these are two of the things least liked by God and his Prophet (PBUH) – we are unworthy of the title of Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqat. Now we have brought shame upon our nation and our religion through our irrational actions that defy but the gift of intellect and intelligence bestowed upon us by the Creator, as well as His commandments.

The protests across Pakistan demanding the ban on the social networking site Facebook defied reason and logic. It is true that the website contained material that was blasphemous and hurt the sentiments of many Muslims. Muslims across the world have the right to be upset by this and to protest against it. But asking for a ban is an action that not only defies logic but defeats the purpose.

Banning Facebook in Pakistan did little but make us a laughingstock in the world. A more effective way of protest would have been to use the same platform to counteract the offenders who started the mischief. And this effective action has been taken by thousands of Facebook users, who started protest groups and campaigns that were gaining visibility and registering the Muslim protest in a more meaningful way. Instead, we in Pakistan chose to impose a ban and then congratulate ourselves about it, as if we had accomplished some great feat.

Let’s analyse what we accomplished. We received bad press from around the world. We helped the rest of the world reconfirm their misguided belief that Muslims are reactionary and incapable of rational thought. We played right into the hands of those who wanted to provoke Muslims. We brought internet connectivity in our country to a near-halt, thereby hurting our own economy and hundreds of small-business owners who rely on Facebook and other social networking sites for their livelihood.

Oh, and did I mention we did not stop the blasphemy either?

Banning the website in Pakistan didn’t make the page go away from Facebook, although we did congratulate ourselves as if we had managed to put an end to it.

But this is not what hurt me most. What hurt most was that while our people and the media were out protesting against a website, we as a nation continued our endless descent into chaos. And as we continued to plummet from rock bottom to whatever is even lower than that, we chanted hollow slogans in the name of religion but paid no heed to its spirit or injunctions that could have been our salvation in these times of great despair.

Our political leaders claimed that they were willing to lay down their lives for the Prophet (PBUH). I found it ironic that they issued such statements when they paid no heed to–in fact, showed great disregard for–all of the Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings and the commandments of God.

We continue to lie, cheat and steal. Bribery and corruption are rampant across the country, yet these don’t seem to cause even a facial muscle to twitch in the political leadership. Last I checked, these were also considered sins in Islam. There is violence and oppression against the innocent. Last I checked, these were banned in Islam.

I remember the chilling story of the massacre at Gojra, when innocent Christians–men women and children–were brutally slain in the name of religion. There wasn’t a peep from these defenders of the faith who now protest so loudly. Last I checked, the Prohpet (PBUH) through both his actions and words had forbidden any harm to come to those who are innocent, regardless of their religion. And while the champions of Islam protested against Facebook, policeman near Wah illegally held a young girl child for 21 days and brutally raped her. Who stood up to protest the atrocity against this innocent child?

The Prophet (PBUH) merely turned away from those who not just criticised him but protested violently against him. He chose to reason, persuade and convince, rather than to incite violence his opponents. After the conquest of Mecca, he pardoned even those who had plotted against his life. Such was his attitude of mercy, peace, justice and reason.

On the contrary, great was his intolerance for injustice and oppression of the weak. It’s a pity that those who claim to defend the honour of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) have learnt so little from his example. With their hollow words, they incite violence among misguided and unemployed youths of the country. They disregard the spirit of our religion and its teaching. They lobby for political gain under the guise of Islam.

They seek to gain popularity by using the name of religion, although they do so little to act upon what religion commands. They choose the injunctions of God that suit their political motives, disregarding the others. To me this reeks of hypocrisy. And last I checked, hypocrisy was also a sin in Islam. So could we try and ban hypocrisy instead of Facebook? That might be better for our country and really please God.

The writer is a student of Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, working for a master’s degree in public policy. Email: tell.sehar@gmail .com and www.sehartariq.wordpress.com 

Published in The News, May 23, 2010 http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=240839

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6 Responses to “Ban Hypocrisy”

  1. Ali Abbas May 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Props 🙂 – Read in The News today. Keep the candle burning!

  2. Danyal May 24, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    I couldn’t agree more to the article. I’ve had numerous arguments with friends and almost everyone seemed to be uncomfortable with my notion of not banning facebook and facing the issue head-on. Everyone was content after the statistics that showed the losses suffered by Facebook as a result of the ban. We should’ve confronted the issue without banning FB and yes as you said, we should’ve simply taken out a page out of our Prophet’s (PBUH) book.
    Keep up the great work =)

  3. farooqsoomro May 24, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    like the wise man once said.. we are ready to sacrifice our lives for Prophet but no one is ready to live one for his sake.

  4. Khan May 25, 2010 at 4:38 am #

    Salams: I read the article in The News on Sunday and i couldn’t agree more. Everything was to the point and straightforward.

    Its always nice to look at every side of a story though. Our Prophet [m.p.b.u.h] did ignore people’s insults but NOT always: i am sure you will know of the poet who was always slandering and wouldn’t stop.

    A Pakistani student has also written a nice article: One Facebook Two Faces [One is really Ugly]

    http://propakistani.pk/2010/05/23/one-facebook-two-faces-one-is-real-ugly/#comments

  5. Khan May 25, 2010 at 4:46 am #

    Salams: I read the article in The News on Sunday and i couldn’t agree more. Everything was to the point and straightforward.

    Its always nice to look at every side of a story though. Our Prophet [m.p.b.u.h] did ignore people’s insults but NOT always: i am sure you will know of the poet who was always slandering and wouldn’t stop.

    A Pakistani student has also written a nice article: One Facebook Two Faces [One is really Ugly]

    http://propakistani.pk/2010/05/23/one-facebook-two-faces-one-is-real-ugly/

  6. Amin Jan Naim May 26, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    A good article as usual. Also see the one by Kamila Hyat in todays The News. We have become an intolerant and obscurantist country.

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