Speak Up!

2 Jun

Thousands took to the streets to protest against facebook and blasphemous content being published on it. On May 28th, 80 innocent Pakistanis were murdered in cold blood as they were peacefully praying in a house of worship. I wonder how many will take to the streets to protest this atrocity. I have a feeling that there will be few or maybe even none. There will be the usual round of condolences and demands for inquiries. But we know these are merely hollow promises. In Pakistan, little is accomplished without popular support and popular support does not lend its self to causes such as protection of minorities.
When we wanted the judiciary restored, we took to the streets and had it done. When we wanted facebook banned we took to the streets and had that done. But I have a feeling we don’t really want to protect the minorities in our country, so we’re going to let this one slide and stay inside. It’s ironic that we are willing to take to the streets for the sanctity of the name of the Prophet (PBUH) but not for any of his teachings. I am no religious scholar but what I remember from my poorly taught Islamiat classes in school, despite the poor fashion in which they were taught; the Prophet preached that it was a sin to harm innocent people.

Funeral Procession for the Victims of the Lahore Massacre

But somehow it doesn’t matter what happens to those that “we” don’t consider Muslims. While the phenomenon of terrorism is new, the problem of sectarian violence is not. We have harbored violent hatred and have not been afraid of expressing it since the establishment of Pakistan. We have massacred Shia’s, Ahmedi’s, Christians, Sikhs – you name it and we’ve attacked it! We are so caught up in some billowing self-righteous rage that we have become blind to the teachings of the religion that we profess to love and in whose name we commit all of these sins.
But these really aren’t Muslims some would say. And some would cite the teachings of popular television anchors who consider these people, particularly, the Ahmadi’s wajib-ul-qatl. But from what I remember, The Prophet (PBUH) preached, that even in times of War, those who do not pick up arms, should not be harmed; particularly women and children. But innocent children were slaughtered in this rampage in the name of Islam. The old and infirm suffered frightened and tortured deaths, while they were busy in worship. This is not the Islam that the holy Prophet (PBUH) preached. The senseless and unprovoked murder of innocent citizens is not condoned by Islam.
The people that were murdered were peaceful, tax paying, law abiding citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is the responsibility of the state, under the constitution and religious doctrine, to provide security to those citizens who despite adhering to different religions, pay taxes and abide by the laws of the land. But instead of providing protection to these people, we let television programs go on air, where anchors are allowed to rally support for murdering innocent citizens. And in the wake of such hate filled media, innocent people are murdered. But we don’t care; we let the program continue being aired and we allow the hate mongering anchor to continue preaching in public. Not a word, a whisper or a whimper about this is heard. Because in our twisted world view, its ok to say whatever we want about any other religion or its followers. But when someone attacks our religion in any way shape or form, we are up in arms in a matter of minutes. We expect the world to show us nothing but respect while we show none of this to any other religion. We can laugh, joke, degrade and even attack and murder the followers of other religions without having our collective conscience even flinch. How did we become so hypocritical and irrational? How did we become so cruel?
With the deaths of 80 innocent Pakistanis, the lives of hundreds of families have changed forever. There is sorrow and heartache and fear in hundreds of Ahmadi homes tonight. But as the rest of Pakistan sleeps easy and TV anchors remain hypocritically silent, they forget that tomorrow this could be them. Through our collective silence, as we aid and abet a culture of intolerance and senseless killing, that one day might consume us too.  A famous poem sums up the dangers of being silent over injustice to others, with apologies to the original poet, if we were to adapt it to the Pakistani context, the poem would look like this:

                                                 In Pakistan, they came first for the Hindus and Sikhs,
                                                  And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Hindu or Sikh
                                                                  Then they came for the Christians
                                                    And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Christian
                                                                  Then they came for the Ahmadis
                                                  And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an Ahmadi
                                                                     Then they came for the Shias
                                                        And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Shia
                                                                       And then they came for me
                                            And by that time, there was no one left to speak up.
 
This violence, intolerance and injustice must stop. And it must stop with the largest majority speaking up against it. For once, let’s stand up and show the world that we actually abide by the spirit of the religion that we profess to love and follow. Let us turn not far away, but towards the Holy Book and teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) to learn that this kind of violence and hate is not tolerated in Islam. Haven’t we all suffered for years because of this violence and hatred? What good has it ever done to our country or the image of our religion? This senseless killing, violence and hate must stop. And it will not stop unless we demand that this be done. So speak up for those that are treated with injustice because if you don’t, tomorrow there will be no one left to speak for you either.

Published in The News June 3, 2010

 
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One Response to “Speak Up!”

  1. Ayesha July 30, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    I very much agree with your thoughts and condemn the killings of innocent people whether Muslims or non-Muslims. It is a heinous crime that is condemned by all religions and faiths alike. Unfortunately, we tend to target Islam in subtle ways when such incidents strike any part of the country; whereas, we should actually be finding the real root cause of this madness.
    These people who claim to follow this religion and yet kill innocent people mercilessly are more dangerous to Islam and Pakistan than any country we collectively believe to be our enemy (USA, Isreal). I also believe whether it’s the Taliban or the liberals both are two extremes fighting for the same purpose and serving the same agenda in different ways: They make Islam look like the most barbaric religion and portray Muslims to be the most ruthless people. In fact,both these factions have nothing to do with Islam at all.
    I say with utmost conviction that a person who has really read the Quran and understood it under the right guidance cannot even squash an ant under his feet let alone kill so many people. But today every person has taken the responsibility of interpreting this Book on his own terms to suit his whims and attain his ghastly goals.
    You have quoted the reference of our beloved prophet in your article. Tell me honestly how many of us including you really know him in a way he should be known and followed. How many of us have even bothered to read his seerah in a way it should be read and understood. The best we do to honor this man is by paying mere lip service. The way we have been taught ‘ISLAMIYAT’ in our schools and is still being taught may take eons (or may never will) to instill an iota of love for him in the hearts of his followers. It’s a sham because we quote his examples only where it affirms with our thinking. We tend to follow only what is easy and practical in our sight, and question which tends to be an obstacle in our ‘activities’ or way of life. As for the educated liberal elites, anything that cannot answer their good for nothing logic is simply impractical and outdated. According to the Quran this approach of following Islam and the prophet is utter “hypocrisy”.
    Isn’t it ironic that we make utmost efforts to go to the best universities and colleges to understand secular education (be it economics, medical, computers and so on and so forth). No one can claim to have understood these without a teacher or by merely sitting home and reading the relevant books. However, the Divine Book that is the ultimate source of guidance for mankind in every field has been thrown on the back burner for it’s a book considered outdated only to be taught in madrassas. It becomes easy to blame Islam then, right? Why don’t people like you who are very well educated, untiringly rant slogans of women rights, political, economical and societal disruptions, hypocrisy and irrationality come forward and take the noble task of introducing the real Islam to the world? And not just quote it to convey your views only.
    You have written quite passionately about the killings of non-Muslims. What do you have to say about the innocent Muslims being killed mercilessly all over the globe including your beloved Pakistan by none other US of A’ who claims to be “THE CHAMPION” of human rights? Ms. Sehr isn’t this hypocrisy? Have you ever thought of writing anything about Ms. Afia Siddiquie, who being a Muslim woman is going through the worst humiliation any woman could go through? You love to brag yourself as a supporter of women rights. Or is this support reserved only for ‘some women’ to establish ‘some credibility’.
    You ask me to speak up, I will and I will tell you exactly why Pakistan is in the state it is today. I will tell you why so-called “Muslims” are killing their own brothers. Why with every passing day this nation is going from bad to worse. It’s because we have kicked out the REAL ISLAM from our lives. And mind you this is not a cliché’. We ignorant fools don’t even bother to fulfill our obligations towards our Creator, the very purpose we are created for, how can we have any regard for the rights of our fellow beings?. You must have heard ‘Allah will forgive His haqooq’ and that ‘haqooq ul ibaad are more important’.LOL.What a joke!! We neither know nor understand either of them in the true sense.
    Ms.Sehr Tariq, read the Quran and you will know the rights Allah (swt) has given to mankind as a whole. Go read the Islamic history and tell me if there was a better system of governance than the system implemented by Umar (r.a). He made a visible difference and the world saw it. He didn’t just sit there writing articles right left and center but practically followed and implemented the commands of Allah. Remember it was Quran and the prophet himself who changed the most barbaric people into the finest human beings. No Harvard, Stanford or Yale can produce even a single person with the wisdom, understanding and caliber of this great man. People who simply cannot rid themselves of western ideals and systems find it hard to digest that Islam in its true sense is the solution for all the problems. Which unfortunately isn’t taught anywhere in the world today.
    As long as Allah and his prophet take the back seat in our lives both individually and collectively, the state of this ummah will keep on declining—as we are witnessing today. Unlike you I am not too keen on slogans of nationalism and democracy for these are the reasons of the divide of this ummah.
    I pray that Allah guides all Muslims on the straight path and return to us the glory we once had as an ummah. Ameen

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