The drawbacks of over-idealism by Afzal Tahir
Afzal Tahir

The partition of British India during 1947 was thought to be the perfect prescription to settled-down the contesting ideologies and arguments with the expectations for peaceful future of the region, paving the way for progress and prosperity of common people, the ultimate goals and objectives of the freedom. The facts on ground after almost 63 years telling a different story, which by no mean reflect any real change to the common people on the streets.

I wonder how one would divide history of a land except to recognize its historical stages. The term, “The India”, or “the Hind” originate itself from the very land presently known as Pakistan.  The historical accounts are very clear: “The etymological roots of the term ‘India’ lie in a Sanskrit word, sindhu, meaning river frontier.  The earliest sacred text of India, the Rig-Veda, speaks of a land called Sapta-Sindhava, which can be identified as the province of Punjab, formerly the land of seven rivers.  Today, five rivers flow through it – the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej/Beas – but it is believed that some 4,000 years ago there were two other rivers, called the Saraswati and the Drasadvati,  which have long since dried up. When the Persians began to penetrate Indian lands in the six century BC, they refer to the modern River Indus, the most westerly of the seven rivers, and the peoples living in the region, by the term Hindhu  in Old Persian, the cognate of the Indic sindhu.  (Basham 1954: 1).  When the Macedonians, under Alexander the Great, invaded the same region in the fourth century BC, they use the Greek Indos  to refer to the river, and India to refer to the land around and beyond the river.  So ‘India’ is actually a Greek expression: no native in ancient India would have thought of using this term.” There fore the term hindu originally coined as people of India rather than a religious community.

The land always remain the same, carry its history forward, but the people may change, their faiths, cultures, habits might evolved to a new shape, but they can not change the  history of the land.  The India remains same; Sindh remain same; Hijaz remain same and the Egypt remains same in spite of the fact that these political entities had or has been  remain parts of political arrangements of the Empires for more then thousands of years.

The people come and bring along with their cultures, faiths, habits, prejudices, knowledge and skills enriching the new land, and learning from their new homeland and new people. Their previous lands become history while the present become a reality of their new ID, except those who had come for their temporary assignments to safe-guard the interest of an alien powers.  The Arabs came to Sindh, had contributed to it, and been benefiting from it. So, it is always both ways.  

Robert Trivers, in his book [Social Evolution:1976] while expanding his evolutionary theory of self-deception: “hiding the truth from the conscious mind the better to hide it from others.  In our own species we recognize that shifty eyes, sweaty palms and croaky voices may indicate the stress that accompanies conscious knowledge of attempted deception.  By becoming unconscious of its deception, the deceiver hides these signs from the observer. He or she can lie without the nervousness that accompanies deception.”

“By becoming unconscious of its deception, the deceiver hides these signs from the observer”. This is more true to those Pakistani writers, intellectuals, educationists, politicians, campaigners and journalists, popularly known as ‘gharrit brigade’. Though there is a section in India, the opposite side of the same coin, the ‘gharrit brigade’ but to my knowledge, they do not carry any weight among the general masses of the Indian society.   

A person is a product of his/her atmosphere. I would be certainly the product of my daily observations; the newspapers I read; the radio I listen; the TV I watched, the workplace, my community and the level of socialization. Therefore, the writers, intellectuals, educationists, politicians, campaigners and journalists are the main contributors in the process of making and shaping of a society. To prove the point to a specific political landscape such as Pakistan, the opinion makers are equally responsible for its downward trends and backwardness.

The debate attracted by Nawaz Sharif’s speech on August the 13th, 2011 at the Safma seminar “Building Bridges in the Subcontinent”.  The leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N) and ex-Prime Minister, while promoting his idea of historical and cultural similarities for better understanding of the people of both countries for their mutual gains and benefits, in opposition to the policy of conflict and confrontation, that is been tried and tested for last 63 years, offering nothing in content and substance, but promoting and strengthening a policy of self-defeating and self-destructive. 

 It is difficult to argue the case in a situation where the artificial norms been styled and exhibited by the forces of vested interests from behind the curtain, contradicting the rules of their own statue books, leaving no space for a debate that must reflect the balance picture of a society. The culture of prejudging the opposing argument by evoking and attracting the emotions and sentiments of the innocent masses, always contribute to the forces of stagnation, and, eliminating the natural trends of creativeness and innovation, ultimately leading towards anarchy and destruction.  Poor Nawaz Sharif landed into a hot-water just because he tried to speak his mind which do not fit with the forces of the status queue. The hostility between India and Pakistan directly producing strength and benefits to those, who always has been the champion in favor of the so-called ‘ideological borders’ rather than the reality of the day.  

Is it possible for someone to deny the fact that both India and Pakistan do own the same culture and civilization, of course with variables of its own nature?  There is no such evidence to support that the sectarian prescription of Indian Sub-Continent deprived one party of its historical heritage against the other or either one opted out of its own indigenous civilization.  The late Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, once while reacting to the question of his Country’s intention to go nuclear, said to his interviewee by questing: “Is it possible that we will destroy our own civilization? Is it possible that we will destroy Taj Mhal or Red Fort?”  Even I had seen politicians in Pakistan while addressing public rallies, still use proverbially the entire India as one political entity, “the people are united with us from Kanya Kumari to Khabir.”   

The irony that both countries own the same civilization and cultural heritage, yet constantly failed to discover new fields of cooperation and friendship. On the contrary, they discovered the recycling-process-of-fuel for a hate-machine, and to keep this machine running, a ready-made tool, an “ideology-of-Pakistan’s” rhetoric. The subject ideology has proved to be a slow poisoning of the masses, particularly in Pakistan, so that the vested interest could continue plundering of their resources by creating a fear of national security.

There is no rational to understand the benefits out of the subject position, which is by keeping themselves limited to the stated positions and contested issues. The innovative and creative aspects in bilateral relations always demand to avoid contested issues by focusing on non-contested sides so to make the bilateral relationship more result oriented. It is a tried and tested strategy in the field of conflict resolution.  There are hundreds of examples, such as US-China,Saudi Arabia-UAEIRAN-UAE, UK-Ireland. The Pakistani state machine, instead of rationalizing its relations, they are still trying to ride the old horse, the “ideology” of Pakistan!  If we rely on an empirical evidence, one would notice no benefits at all except to promote hatred against all those who happened to be none-Muslims Pakistanis;   those Pakistanis, who do not subscribe to any fake ideology; to block any rational thinking among masses; to create conditions so to keep the masses constantly in fear of terror, intimidation, ignorance and poverty.

As early as  late 1920, British was planning to built railways from Madras to Peshawar, which mean they were having proper understating of the future economic trends and growth. On contrary, the successive governments always played in the hands of reactionaries, depriving the people of their mutual benefits and gains, a drawback in the partition prescription rather then complementing.   

The fact that millions [7249000 from Pakistan and 7226000 from India]  had been migrated during 1947 from each side, leaving behind relatives, properties, graveyards of their loved ones and  the memories of their childhood, but, are unable to meet each other freely. In addition, instead of reducing the hardship for the citizens of both countries, the successive governments has been busy in erecting further artificial barriers, in spite of the fact that there is no visible benefits to the people for last 63 years, except to build military machines which are the main reasons for mismanagement, underdevelopment and poverty.    

One would certainly recognize the fact that Nawaz Sharif has finally reached to the conclusion by identifying the facts: where the problems lie?  And instead of playing to the stage-manage so-called popular galleries, stood-up to face the challenge, so to explore the polices that have been constantly dictating and distorting the facts by taking refuge among the forces-of-hatred, and, instead, want to take the debate to the men on streets.  

N.Sharif shacking hand with Mushraf
The true emergence of a leadership is through the process of creativity and innovations. In this sense Mr. Sharif proved to be ready to walk through the thorny path, so to lead his people out of the stalemate-of-hatred by introducing new narratives of inclusive-thinking on the national, regional and international level which undoubtedly would guarantee the fruits to all people of the region.

It is an encouraging sign by observing the evidence of a wide spread support in favour of Nawaz Sharif’s assertion, both among general masses as well as intelligentsia. The writers, intellectuals and journalists while supporting his argument are of the view that,  “Nawaz Sharif has truly interpreted Islam and the ideology ofPakistan in the right perspectives, and by rationalizing the bilateral relationship which is his duty as the leader of the second largest party” (Nazir Naji, Atul. Huq Qasmi).  "The Country that still lingering on of its creation question! almost 63 years now, could be only ours: The Islamic Republic of Pakistan" (Ayaz Amir).

There are those of ‘gharrit brigade’  who had attacked  Nawaz  Sharif by suggesting that  he is withdrawing from the “ideology” of Muslim League and betraying the guidelines that had adopted by Dr. Muhammad Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azad Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which is, as they claimed, is the ideology of two nation theory. They are of the opinion that our “Allah” “Prophet” and  “Qur’an” are different from them ignoring even the fact that there are more Muslims living in India then in Pakistan. There fore they demanded from Mr. Sharif, to withdraw his statement and to apologize from the people of Pakistan (Cross Fire of Dunya TV).

A piece published in The News International (Pakistani daily) with the title ‘no way to build bridges’  (Asif Ezdi, August 29, 2011)  required a detailed response,  both from political and theological stand point.  The points in his piece are as follows:-

            1: “Media attention has focused mainly on some of his observations which seem to question the basis of Pakistani nationhood.”

            2: “- his statement is offensive. And it is untrue because, though the Muslims and Hindus lived on the same soil for centuries, they inhabited two different spiritual worlds.  Nawaz was in fact repeating many of the points made by the Congress Party of India – and refuted by the Quaid-e-Azam – during the Pakistan movement.”

            3 “The Quran says something very different in Surah al-Kafirun: The believers worship not that which the non-believers worship, nor do the non-believers worship that which the believers worship.  Nawaz should also know that the Muslims do not perform puja, as the Hindus do, but ibadat.”

The above traditions tells us some thing about nations and narrations, because Prophet called Ansar a Nation. What was Ansar? A socially and racially group of a people who had evolved together may be over a period of thousands of years. So,  in a primitive societies, people identify themselves with their own tribes, as nation. This is the case even today. Waziri Qoom, [Wiziree Nation] Shanwari Qoom [Shanwari Nation] etc. The Sindhis, Pashtoons, Punjabees and Blooch are nations and Pakistan is a state of these nations in the shape of federation.  British India was divided in to two states not two nations. There fore, in my opinion, the correct term is two states solution, not the two nations theory or the ideology of Pakistan.  There fore both India and Pakistan are states, one is a Union which is comprises of different nations and the other is a federation comprises of different nations too. The believe system of a people and the objective realities which are directly accessible to human sensory tools to be verified, are two different aspects and can not be mixed together.  

Mr. Ezdi’s  second point shows a lack of his understanding of a society in its proper context. To study a society one has to rely on sociology and anthropology. Living on the same soil: is an anthropological and sociological question. Mr. Jinnah and Dr. Iqbal to the best of my knowledge never demanded to change the basic laws of physics.  When he himself suggesting “living together”, means they are a social group. The point is that no group of a people is absolute in terms of its unity and separation. There is a degree of unity and separation between husband and wife, between brothers and sisters and between the members of the UN. This is where the utopias and fanatics go wrong. Living together is a socially grounded life with its own diversity. The diversity of faith or religion is one. Like race, colour and gender, religion is an exclusive aspect of human life. Its membership and association is voluntarily. It can not be limited to a geographical or political entity.  There fore it is international in nature.  The State and Nations are inclusive narratives, socially grounded, and confined to a specific geographical location.  Its membership is limited to its citizens only and it is an inclusive institution.  This is modern world we are living in. It is not the Empires and the subjects. There fore the problem is that there are those of the Pakistanis still confused because of the writers like Ezdi.  They are living in the reality of a-state-and-citizen relationship, yet believing as a-subject-of-an- Empire. Let us see what Mr. Jinnah himself was of the view:-

Mr. Jinnah
the founder
of Pakistan
"It is Business of Every Nationalist to Find Solution of Hindu-Muslim Problem said Mr. Jinnah. (From our special Correspondent)

Lahore. July 15. Mr. M. A. Jinnah, M.L.A, Barrister-at-Law, who arrived here last night to argue Ilam Din’s appeal before the High Court to-day against his death sentence by the sessions Judge Lahore, was interviewed this evening by the special correspondent of the Tribune in order to obtain his views on the current political problems of the day.  The correspondent asked Mr. Jinnah whether his attention had been drawn to Mr. Chagla’s recent statement in the press in which it was suggested that he and Pandit Moti Lal Nehru should meet and try to come to an understanding and whether he had any idea of interchange of views like this?  If not, how did he propose to proceed in the matter? What did he think of the resolution which was passed by the Muslim League at Delhi in his absence?  What he think the Labour Government should do in order to make it possible for India to co-operate with it in finding a solution of the present problem?  Did he think that the boycotters of the Simon Commission would attend a Conference first with the Select Committee of Parliament and then with the British Cabinet as suggested by Dr. Beasant.

Mr. Jinnah at first declined to say anything in the interview but after a prolonged conversation with the correspondent, in which the political situation was discussed closely and minutely, he made the following statement to the special correspondent:-

“At present I do not want to say anything” said Mr. Jinnah,  “more than what I had already said in my recent interview, that I have placed my views before His Excellency the Viceroy before he left for England and I have also taken the liberty of communicating them to the Prime Minister personally.  Under these circumstances you will not expect me to say anything more than that a great deal will depend upon what decision His Majesty’s Government come to with regard to the serious deadlock that is created in India at present”.
“I want the public to look upon the question of Hindu-Muslim settlement,”  added Mr. Jinnah, “not as communal question, but as a national problem.  And to find a solution of this problem is, in my opinion, the business of every Nationalist, be he a Hindu or a Muslim or of any other community.  It is question purely of safeguarding the minorities which is causing anxiety and trouble, not only in India but the world over.  As you must have observed the league of Nations is at present seriously engaged with regard to minority questions in various States of Europe.  Every country where there is a minority question, it had to tackle it in a manner which gave a sense of security to the minority.  The fitness and successful working of any constitution depends upon how far the majority is able to carry the minority with them and thereby give them a sense of security in any constitution that may be framed.  And we have to solve the problem in our country according to our conditions, so that the path of progress on democratic lines may be smooth and lead us to the goal of true representative Government in India.”

Mr. Jinnah left tonight for Bombay by the Frontier Mail.  Before he left he was entertained to a dinner party at Lahore by Diwan Chaman Lal M.L.A."

[The Tribune Lahore, Wednesday, July 17, 1929, British Library SM-13 ]

One can see how futuristic and forwarding looking was Mr. Jinnah. “It is question purely of safeguarding the minorities which is causing anxiety and trouble, not only in India but the world over”.  To see Mr. Jinnah’s argument and today’sPakistan and make your own judgement.
The Qur’an can not be interpreted literally. Those who try to interpret literally, are known as literalist, where as we all know that the main steam Islam is non-literalist. The exegesis strictly based on texts do not solved the problems. There is a long history of intellectual reasoning which involved many aspects including the linguistic exegesis. The term ‘Kafir’, means to hide where as the term believers can not understood without taking into consideration historical linguistic evolution and objective conditions of the time and the specific verse for specific purpose or specific time [asbab-al-nazool-al-Qur’an]. The time and again, the term ‘believers’ repeated itself in Qur’an.  The commentators and jurists are not enlightening us, though few exceptions. It was the counter argument to those of that time who were constantly disputing Prophet’s claim of prophesy and calling him the blasphemer. So the Qur’an was trying to make a distinction between those who believe in Prophet in opposition to those who were claiming to be the guardian of religion of the time and the self-righteous-one like many now-a-days among Muslims, especially in Pakistan.   

Every thing is subject to change, evolve, adjust and accommodate.  “On account of his dualistic and contradictory nature, man, this dialectical phenomenon, is compelled to be always in motion. … How disgraceful then, are all fixed standards.  Who can ever fix a standard?  Man is a ‘choice,” a struggle, a constant becoming.  He is an infinite migration, a migration within himself, from clay to God; he is a migrant within his own soul.” [Ali Shariati, On the Sociology of Islam]   

Let us now see the question from purely a theological angle. Linguistically speaking what is the difference between ‘puja’ and ‘ibadat’?  Mr. Jinnah himself used the same language while addressing both Mr. Gandhi and Moullana Azad, ‘gentlemen have you finished your prayers so that we could move for the business’.  He never called, differently to Moullanas and other worshipers. As we speak, we call all the religious people of their prayers. So what is the fun between ‘puja’ and ‘ibadat’? 

Theologically speaking, the fundamental of Muslim believe system rest squarely on the notion that there is only one God.  One for Muslims, one for Hindus, one for American and so on is directly in opposition to the Muslims’ believing system. In Islam any one believing more than one God is come under sehrik (more then one God).  The question that how one would express his/her relationship with God is totally a different matter, and so far Muslim believes system is concern; there is only one God for every one.  Similarly, among Muslims, no one believes that there is any other prophet after the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). I think Mr. Red Hat (Cross Fire), might do because he himself is Caliph of his prophet, late Yousuf the Kazab.   There fore, Prophet of Islam is, too, for the entire universe, that is why the title for the prophet is “ramut-o-lil-alimeen”. Not for one community or two. The point that how one would choose to express it, is, up to the individuals, and to my knowledge all Muslims believes that Prophet Muhammad is the last Prophet and for all universe and all people. So far the question of holly Qur’an is concern,  it too claims itself the last book, recognizing all the previous scriptures. How do we know the previous books?  There are books with Jewish, Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists and Hindus, yet, our claim is that there had been more then hundreds of thousands of Prophets before the last Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Where are the rest of the books then?   Certainly we are not suggesting that the Prophets without books?

The early Muslims, historically speaking, were always flexible and rational when ever encountered the question of interpretation of scripture, faith, values, norms or moral questions. They along with Jewish and Christian also Sabians been recognized as the people of book.  Similarly, they appreciated that the Zoroastrians of Iran and the Hindus of India, both people with their own extensive scriptural heritages, should also qualify for that status. Muhammad al-Qasim wrote to Hijaz and he replied him after the approval of the Caliph that they, too, are same like Jewish and Christians and should be treated with same yard-stick.

There were some critics who tried to use Kashmir issue to criticise Nawaz Sharif by suggesting that his statement received very negatively at Srinagar. This position is mostly taken by people from Jamat-e-Islami or pro-military, ignoring the fact that Kashmiri do not believe in racism.  The basic of their struggle is the restoration of their historical political entity.  Their claim is not because of an ideology or faith. All Kashmiri believe that the State belong to all its citizens, regardless of colour, ethnicity, gender or faith. They want Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Jammu Kashir to be reunited and make it an independent state.  As I have mentioned above  that the religion is “an exclusive aspect and expression of human life, voluntarily in association and membership, can not be limited to a geographical location” where as “the State is must to a define geographical location, must inclusive to all its citizens. The association and membership is limited to its citizens only”.  There fore Kashmiri do not mix religion and politics. Both are necessary to human life but both play a different role.  The American Muslim can not be a Saudi, India or Pakistani. Similarly the Indian can be a Pakistani, Saudi, Irani, French but all of them could be Muslims.

Finally, the question of separate hero, is a variable term and can not be used out of its specific context. If one is suggesting of a separate hero, does not legitimize the basis of an absolute separation or unity.  For example Imran Khan was Captain of Pakistani team when they were able to won the world cup. The Pakistani team from Pakistani domain went to contest world cup, so after winning, the team and the captain automatically emerged as a world hero. The hero of the people of the world, but certainly the persons belongs to a specific location. 

Dr. Iqbal
I would like to end with the Qur’anic verse ‘Verily God will not change the conditions of men, till they change what is in themselves.’ [13:12]  “If he does not take the initiative, if he does not evolve the inner richness of his being, if he ceases to feel the inward push of advancing life, then the spirit within him hardens into stone and he reduced to the level of dead matter.” [Interpretation of verse (13:12) by Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam P-12]  

No comments: