Of ignorance and knowledge – thinking of Professor Aghajari

I am a child whose teacher is love.
surely my master won’t let me grow
to be a fool*

I have been told that I am ignorant and air dangerous views when it comes to debates concerning religion. A post on Pakistaniat concerning the transformation of the “right” as the new “left” in Pakistan led to a rather exhausting debate on extremism in Islam.

The basic issue is that the ‘right’ – almost monopolistic – of knowing, defining and applying Islam is appropriated by a few and this is difficult for me to understand particularly when I believe that Islam is a universal religion that deals with man and God sans an institutionalized clergy. As the Iranian Professor Hashem Aghajari said, I refuse to be a monkey in blindly accepting what was interpreted nearly eight centuries ago under the shadows of an absolute state. Iqbal and Shariati have shown us the way ahead- we need to evolve and progress and adapt with the times. But this is a long, arduous journey.

Confronted by attacks and branded as an ignorant liberal, I had to respond. So I did and my last comment (hope this ends now) read as below:

Since you brought up the issue of Ijtihad I wrote on this site that Ijtihad denoted interpretation and in this century the process as held by Allama Iqbal required re-interpretation of earlier jurisprudence. …

I quoted Iqbal’s famous lecture and let me quote him again:

The prophetic method of teaching, according to Shah Waliullah, is that, generally speaking, the law revealed by a prophet takes especial notice of the habits, ways, and peculiarities to whom he is specially sent. The Prophet who aims at all-embracing principles, however, can neither reveal different principles for different peoples, nor leaves them to work out their own rules of conduct. His method is to train one particular people, and to use them as a nucleus for the building up of a universal Shariat. In doing so he accentuates the principles underlying the social life of all mankind in the light of the specific habits of the people immediately before him. The Shariat values (Ahkam) resulting from this application (e.g. rules relating to penalties for crimes) are in a sense specific to that people; and since their observance is not an end in itself they cannot be strictly enforced in the case of future generations(The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, lecture 6) – by the way these lectures are banned in Saudi Arabia!

After all your comments and citing Tableeghi Jamaat harmless etc., you want a definition of radical and extremist. You want to declare me as  ignorant, of Islam and very dangerous, and SCRUTINIZE my every post, hence labeling my thought and faith itself as suspect, on the simple reason that I don’t agree with your interpretation of Islam or am not schooled in a manner that is acceptable to you?

So the small groups howsoever harmless they appear to be, if appropriate the hegemony to define, interpret and implement Islam then this IS, akin to  extremism .The Cricket Team: Pakistan being a Muslim majority state, how many times have you seen people raise hue and cry on any one growing a beard, praying, or fasting? No one does. The criticism comes, when senior and influential members of team who are in position of controlling the careers of other players form a cult. The cult of the same mentality that ONLY accepts Tableeghi jamat’s version of Islam.

The newspapers reported: Dr Ashraf has also told the cricketers that there should be no pressure on players who don’t pray regularly: I have told Inzamam there should be no perception among players that if they don’t pray, they will not be in the team. Inzamam is supposed to have told him that there was no such pressure on anyone

On Muhammad Yousaf’s conversion from Christianity it is said that he was inspired by the collective prayers of the team: he probably did not want to be left out. A newspaper also report the Pakistan popular Christian singer, A Nayyar with some evidence of coercion. I don’t know what’s truth but it did leave many question marks.

And PJ Mir, the media manager when aired his objection to team members over-doing their TJ beliefs was chided and a fatwa was issued against him. Subsequently he left the country.

I called Tableeghi jamat benign in the sense that it at the outset does not preach violence or militancy. However, as I said earlier it is an organization with theological affiliation the Deobandi sect (that is by the way a minority sect in Pakistan). Many things which Deobandis preach as Islam is not the Islam understood by many others like the Baralevi majority of Pakistan. The hegemony that Tableeghi Jamat wants to exercise in Pakistan is disturbing to say the least.

Adnan wrote:

The other misconception is tableeghis means students of madrassahs while in reality this is not true. Most of members of tableeghi parties belong to various field of life. from Engineer to Architect, all are free to join. madrassah students are rather busy in their schools and they can’t participate tableegh due to its mobility since most of their members are in journey most of the time

Tableegi jamat is the open-front or popular face of Deobandi tehrik. It attempts to infiltrate into the centers of power. For instance the failed coup leaders in the 1990s, officers like General Mustansir Billah and others, were tableeghis and the government they wanted to make was also tableeghi jamat oriented clergy.

All the Sunni sectarian organizations have had links with Tableeghi jamat, until recently (when his outfit was banned) Moulana Masood Azhar used to have a camp at Raiwind ijtama, so did Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. The slogans were chanted “sur buland sur buland deoband deoband”…

Junaid Jamshed, had every right to do what he wants to do, but he HAD NO right to call Music haram and satanic life style. He is not the Pope, nor are Raiwind , Binori Town and Haqqania , Islam’s Vatican! This is extremism that you call Music haram, humiliating all those Sunni Muslims who revere saints who practiced music and qawalli.

Shoaib Mansoor did not go to Sindh High Court to force Junaid Jamshaid to play the guitar but Binori Town did go to Sindh High court to force Shoaib Mansoor from showing his movie, Khuda Ke Liye esp when it showed what Shoaib thought was a valid Islamic Point of view.

that is extremism!

How many Aga Khanis do we know who have started a petition to stop Raiwind Ijtima in Pakistan or to declare non Ismaili Muslims as “non Muslims?” But from Jamat e Islami to Binori town the latter are another variant of TJ – have launched movement to declare Ismails non Muslims. That is extremism.

How many Bohris you know who have told you that if you don’t wear a cap you are not a true Muslim. I have been told by Tableeghi friends that if I don’t have a stereotypical appearance, I am not a true practising Muslim, even having a collar is haraam they told me once-this is extremism!

When Al Huda preaches a system where covering face becomes most important part of Islamic identity , it is extremism because they fail to tell you that Abu Hanifa , the Imam of majority of Pakistani Muslims considered it to be non essential –

Even abroad (like the UK), the stalls outside the mosques where Tableeghis gather for weekly activity have literature that condemns Sufism as Qabar parasti, and declares Shias as non-muslims, every year in Raiwind ijtima Police confiscates loads of sectarian literature that is meant to flow freelu. Just scan the new papers and you will find small news items hidden in 3rd or 4rth page of news papers saying so.

I have disagreed with you both, I have given my point of view, my views but I have not called you ignorant, nor have suspected your faith, have not called my understanding of Islam as only true or correct version of Islam.

I hope you will know what is extremism – and difference of opinion!!!

* Rumi translated by Nader Khalili

Leave a Reply