Tag Archives: Draw Muhammad Day

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


Can We Ban Hypocrisy Instead of Facebook, Please?

21 May

The Jamaat-e-Islami is the main political party that is organizing anti-facebook protests in Pakistan. It was in large part due to their efforts that the issue of the “everybody draw muhammad day” got visibity and facebook eventually got banned. The Jamaat has a history of being a very disciplined political party and effective organizer of street protests.

The women’s wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, organized a large rally in Lahore about this and scores of women and children carrying posters and Jamaat flags attended the event. They even made ripples on the international media scene and the associated press and reuters carried coverage of these protests which the Jamaat proudly displays on its website. In these videos you see an angry mob of protestors chanting slogans and there are interviews with articulate and very forceful women who issue “warnings” to facebook to  be prepared for the wrath of the Muslim world.

The videos just made me sad. I wanted to shake this woman, who was the protest leader,  and ask her if she knew of any other Muslim country protesting in this manner. But more than that reasonable argument, I wanted to ask her if she had heard about the young girl near Wah who had been detained illegally and raped by police officers for 21 days. Was she aware of the misery that this child had suffered? Did she care? Would she raise her voice for that child?

She probably wouldnt. Probably no one from the Jamaat would. A quick visit to the website of the Jamaat will show you ban facebook logos and news plastered all over it. You will see a ton of anti america rhetoric but no mention of or outrage at the ills that plague our society. Ironic.

And as any student of Islamic history would know, that had the Prophet (PBUH) been in a sitaution like this would undoutedly have stood up to demand justice for the young girl so creully treated before he demanded revenge or retribution for the actions of a frivolous few. Instead of making a fuss about his detractors, he would have fought for ridding our land of the injustice where the guardiuans of the law are its worst abusers.

Our Prophet (PBUH) the wisest of all men taught us, through his own example, to stand up against hypocrisy and injustice. It is amazing to me that we and the Jamaat in particular are willing to die in the name of the Prophet but are not willing to organize a single protest or rally or even a statement of codemnation for this heinous act and the countless others that are so frequent in our land and would undoubtedly have been whole heartefly condemned and probably abhirred by our Prophet (PBUH).

To me this sounds like hypocrisy. And from what little I know of my religion, hypocrisy is a sin.

Pakistan Bans Facebook

20 May

Pakistan has banned facebook. And if you thought that was funny (or not) it just gets better. Because we decided to ban youtube and wikipedia and blackberry service too!!! because those sneaky Pakistani’s were trying to access facebook on their blackberries. Naughty Naughty!

Can someone pinch me please so that I wake up from this Orwellian nightmare? Or wait, dont….because in this nightmare, the biggest problem in my country is that people are upset about a facebook page. I can live with that. If I wake up I might return to the Pakistan where there is no electricity, no gas, no water and no safety.  Tantrums over facebook are infinitely better. 

But what’s this tantrum about? Its about a group of attention seeking people on facebook who decided to host an event called Everybody Draw Muhammad Day and tried to get people across the world to draw images of the Prophet  Muhammad (pbuh). And this offended the religious sentiments of our people. So they took to the streets because a facebook page had hurt their feelings. And our judiciary, was so upset by their adoring masses being upset that they took prompt action on our hurt behalfs and decided to give it to the offender. They promptly slapped the offender with a……….. (drumroll)………….. court order!

Bravo!!  Take that you offending website!

You thought you could have your blasphemous fun!? Well, we banned it!! You cant do it anymore!! HA!

What!? You mean you can get that offending content through other websites as well? Hang on …let me call Daddy SuoMoto and get him to take notice of this. He’ll fix it. He can fix anything!

Daddy!! Its not just facebook! Its all the other kids too! Can you ban them as well!?

Thanks! I love you!

Ok done! Now you cant get it on any other website. Phew! Daddy saved the day again! We manged to stop their nefarious designs!! Now they cant do it!

 They can!? How!? Arent they afriad of daddy’s orders? Arent they upset that we arent talking to them or looking at them? Surely they are going to stop now!

They arent?? But There are Muslims across the world standing up in rage and protest. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. There is a new protestor being born every second!! 

Huh? You mean …. the rest of the Muslim world doesnt care? They didnt say anything? No rallies? No protests? No burning things!?

You mean the event is still going to go on!???


Unfortunately, the incitement of religious sentiment in the name of free speech continues and we are the laughing stock of the world.

You mean our court order and our protesting didnt do anything!?

It did!! It made headlines the world over again (because we werent getting enough attention as it is! :P)  and we reaffirmed the world’s belief that we are a nation of myopic fools who’s faith isnt strong enough to withstand a facebook page and who’s priorities are misguided enough to push to the top a page on a social networking site while turning a blind eye to the chaos and destruction that surrounds us.

Given the scope and breadth of the internet, its really hard to control the flow of content. But one cant blame us for trying. Did someone think about the sustainability of this order or its viability before it was implemented? Obviously not!! Thought makes for boring headlines! Already we are beginning to see a domino effect, and the telecommunications authority is shutting down one social networking site after the other. Where will this ridiculous ban end? With the banning of the internet!?

When will our hypocrisy end? When Media houses were banned during the Lal Masjid operation and the Long March because they were inciting violence and civil unrest, they took to the streets and protested in the name of freedom of the media. Could they please stand up and let us know why its ok to ban one medium and not their particular media outlet? What happened to all their “principles”?

(Did someone say they didnt ever have any excpet self promotion!? WOW! harsh!!)

And what happened to the strength of our faith? Is it really so weak that it gets offended by a facebook page? I would say that makes for pretty weak belief !!

But this website is against our religion you say…..

Not just me …but the court order too. Daddy said we couldnt do anything in this country that was against our religion…thats why he ordered the ban.

Oh! Now you tell me. Ofcourse, its part of the law. Why didnt you mention this important rational legal argument before!? Makes total sense now. I apologize.

But …..if thats the law and we care about implementing the law so much especially when it concerns religion; what about the other teachings of Islam? We seem to disregard those completely. Funny that we get so mad about a facebook page but not about cheating, lying, thievery, bribery, rape, harrassment of women….I thought those acts were forbidden too?? Where and when did God tell us that a stupid facebook page that shouild have been ignored as a childish attempt to attract hatred was a graver crime than those we commit against our own countrymen and women?? I totally didnt get that memo.

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