Are your beliefs that hollow?

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The year is 1948. Major Mahmud, an Ahmadi, is murdered in a manner described by the 1954 Justice Munir Report as “singularly brutal.” He is an army officer. His car suffers a breakdown close to a place where an angry mob has held a meeting denouncing Ahmadis — this is 1948 when Pakistan does not have its own constitution providing for a definition of a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Major Mahmud is chased by a crowd after they learn of his beliefs. He suffers multiple injuries from blunt instruments. He is helpless against the attacking mob which stabs him multiple times till his entrails fall out. But this isn’t the majority’s problem, right?
The year is 2012. An Ahmadi school teacher is picked up by the police and dies in police custody, allegedly because of torture. People fail to protest. After all, he is an Ahmadi and many people die of torture in police custody so why should he get special attention?
A woman commits suicide after being the victim of an acid attack. The media raises questions while shying away from others. A popular talk show host becomes an apologist for the attacker — detailing how women almost ask for these crimes to be committed against them. Mr Javed Chaudhry’s article was repulsive in many ways. As a lawyer, I have all the respect for anyone wanting to explain why people commit crimes since society often does not discuss that. But there is a difference between an explanation and a justification; the latter imparts a moral quality to heinous acts. Even the most skilled advocate would think twice about running the sort of misogynistic defence that the likes of Mr. Chaudhury have furthered. I said skilled, not typical.
A society’s reaction to crimes against its most vulnerable is important. Equally important is its reaction to crimes committed against people who further unpopular discourse. This after all is a society where many politicians including the increasingly self-righteous and popular ones explain suicide bombings by blaming drone attacks. As if every child being brainwashed in suicide bombing schools has lost someone or every instructor there has suffered a loss and turned vengeful. That is the beauty of rhetoric, I guess. When popular opinion makers and politicians say the absurd many will just accept it.
When Mr Salmaan Taseer was murdered, there was no shortage of people who said, “But why did he have to speak out against blasphemy laws? He should have known better.” As if something as sacred and deep rooted as a religion is threatened by a differing point of view.
Every time I write about these issues I get a ton of emails saying that we have bigger problems, that corruption and power cuts affect people’s lives more than these issues. And my reaction, each time, to such reasoning is the same; I am deeply disturbed. It is easy for people to say “we have bigger problems” when they have never been the target of a systematic campaign aimed at certain viewpoints or beliefs. Adopting a deeply selfish stance to the plight of others might have reasons but again it is not justified. Not by any variant of logical reasoning if you care about law or justice.
Why should our imagination be so limited? Why can’t we tolerate or even defend unpopular viewpoints expressed by people? There is something deeply rotten about a society where murderers are greeted with rose-petals while victims are blamed. The discourse surrounding these issues is inherently twisted and the opinion makers engage in a great disservice by not clarifying the issues.
Of course all crime should be condemned but that does not mean that we stop condemning certain crimes because they involve people who say things that make us uncomfortable. Islam is not threatened if someone takes issue with the way blasphemy laws are implemented or the way they have been drafted. Man made laws can have many problems and many of our laws do. If people can make a general argument about how the justice system often fails to deliver, why shouldn’t someone be allowed to target its specifics and speak for people who are victimised?
You do not have to agree with someone’s faith or beliefs but that does not have to result in you failing to condemn the fact that people are targeted because of their beliefs. This culture of becoming apologists for criminals is hurting us deeply. Then there are also the likes of Mr Zaid Hamid who decided to approach the apex court of the land to deal with traitors. Here is the first bit of bad news for Mr Hamid: your lawyer doesn’t seem to have given you the right advice. And here is some advice: if you believe in a country and in a religion, then you insult both if you think that disagreement is a threat.
I vehemently disagree with what Mr Hamid says and also with what most blatantly patriarchal television hosts say when crimes are committed against women. But the solution is not to kill their speech. The solution, I believe, is more speech. Let the fearmongers insult their own intelligence. But I am not willing to allow them to threaten our collective freedom. And if our freedom matters to us then we should use that to condemn, in the strongest terms, the crimes against the most vulnerable members of our society.
There is nothing to be gained by becoming apologists for the most heinous crimes. In fact, we imperil our own freedom each time we do so. And shame on those who raise slogans of patriotism and religiosity only to go running to courts just because someone disagrees with them. Genuine love for country or religion is never this hollow.

The writer is a Barrister and an Advocate of the High Courts. He is currently pursuing his LL.M in the US and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @wordoflaw

35 COMMENTS

  1. Its people with opinions like Mr. Saud Butt’s… who bring shame to our religion and our nation. Seriously.. Bigots like that should be killed in the name of Islam instead. Bloody ignorant, mullah-brainwashed fools!

  2. U need tolerance for other religion for those who are confusing our religion and making propoganda… mygoodness it would be more convenient if Ahmad’s declare their self as non muslim so than pakistan would protect their right’s….. shame on all of u… by having such foolish knowledge…

  3. True! Its sad that religion has been made a tool in the intellectual hijacking of our society by intellectual inferiors.

    • Doesnt surprise me. Pakistanis have always been ridiculously 'Jazbati' about everything and anything under the Sun. They dont think for themselves and belief all kinds of nonsense that plays on their ignorance and fears.

  4. and barbie because of nuts like u ppls r the main reason of pakistan crises…. now i know ur also non muslim and part of Ahmadi’s…. Allah will let u know abt ur acts and speach very soon Insh’Allah just wait

  5. Anyone posting on this: Understand one thing. Intollerance towards non-muslims will not be let go of without resistance. Those of you who believe Islam is an intolerant and warring religion should refrain from posting their mis-guided views. People like Saad above talk about threats to Islam.. Let me give you an example: If he ever goes abroad and gets arrested abroad and discriminated against by Christians, he will cry and scream the injustice, saying that they are against Muslims… but if it happens to a non-muslim in Pakistan, he will be in complete agreement with the acts of brutality and congratulate idiots like himself. I stand for the truth in Islam, not illiteracy inspired mullahism…ISlam is a religion of peace. Not a reason to hate others.

  6. Secondly, its just a media hype to report it using the sectarian name…how about the thousands of Muslim Karachiets killied in only a few months in target killings ??

  7. Hey Baber know its confirmed ur Ahmadi’s (Non- Muslim) and for your kind info Cristians are non muslim whatever the circumstances they declared their self as non-muslim and comes under the rule of minority in pakistan and they have they full minority rights… further abt religion of u ppl (so called Ahmadi’s) ur comletely non-muslim and ur making alteration in our existing religion which is not allowed and should be punished or killed….. that’s the fact further i spent all my life in abroad and still im in Italy where ppl like u (non-muslims) licking our feets just come and i will show u how? good work by our police salute for them first time in my life

    • Saud do you know what Islam says ? it asks all its followers to spread its message to the people of the world. Do you believe that every human is born with Allah's noor? if so, then every Ahmadi also has that noor in him…which means that if you think he is wrong, then you should try to convert him by telling him about the real Islam, so that he may become a 'true Muslim' like you one day. But if you keep killing them and hating them, you will be killing Human beings without giving them a chance to see the truth. Am i right? So which would be better? killing them, or preaching to them? And in order to discuss religion with them, you need to let both sides talk as well. I think you need to study a little bit about Islam before passing judgement on Human Life. What if you are wrong? I f you die today, would God give u another life to make things right?

  8. excellent writing skills… very much impressed and delighted… may God bless you and always protect your voice against these devils…

  9. Very well said. Though I should add that the complete lack of paragraphs and poor formatting makes this otherwise brilliant article a little difficult to read.

  10. Brother "Jannati" Saud, I wish that someday you get a call/email from Saudia Arabia for a job with perfect islamic benefits (free camel ride from home to the office) .. and hope you never come back to pakistan.. a "True muslim" should live in a place which is "pure".. italy has cleaner streets but not "pure" (hawww).. so u better shift from there .. u dont deserve to be called a pakistani who has opinions and ideas for the betterment of our nation.. its "true muslims" like you i wish this country never got freedom from hindus and british.. from wht i have read and heard in quran you should not call yourself a muslim…such hypocrites like you have tarnished the image of our religion and our country.. who in hell have made you the judge of people? how insane of you to encourage violence against another human (with what so ever ethnicity).. if you have read somewhere that its your right to judge, say and do that then fine! i guess i have the right to say that Allah will never even let you see the doors of jannah for being such a huge hypocrite.. ur prayers (i dont think u even pray) will not be enough let you in and have your 72 virgins!

  11. Excellent article.
    All true muslims are deeply ashamed of the treatment some violence minded Pakistanis mete to the weak in their society. "The weak" include women, religious minorities like Ahmadis, Christians. Hindus, Shia's and even "low caste" Sunnis, children, mentally handicapped or sick folk and animals. Discrimination or violence against disadvantaged groups has to be more swiftly punished by the law. The trouble is that many policemen, lawyers and judges are themselves of a rabid and bigoted mindset.
    That these rabid individuals use the name of Islam, to spread hate and disobey the commands and stray from the example of our Prophet except in misleadingly sporting beards and in outward appearance, is a grave sin. True Aalims and scholars (like Ghamdi) bear a heavy burden of responsibility for guiding the Umma to the true path from which we have widely strayed.

  12. EVERYWHERE in the world, the first section of society to come under fire in times of economic hardship is minorities or immigrants (or both). This is the case even in the 'developed' and 'tolerant' West. Until our people get just a feeling that someone is trying to lift them out of this quagmire, they will continue to vent their frustrations in this brutal, closed minded and self defeating way. It is only when people get caught up in their normal daily routine of economic achievement, that their minds are opened to the more humane aspects of societal life. They will only look after their neighbor if their own family is comfortable. It's ok to call a spade a spade, but do not expect miracles in the wink of an eye. As long as we are manipulated into accepting self serving 'leaders' as our saviours, things will not change. And by the way, I believe, drone attacks may not be the cause of extremism, but they certainly are making things worse and polarizing society in a frightful way. And to top it all…..the term extra judicial killing comes to mind. We are stooping to the same level as these terrorists, and propagating a misdemeanor exponentially.

  13. Excellent article.. I agree with everything the author says.. what I want to know us why the majority of people in Pakistan are being held hostage by an insane minority?.. how dare anyone tell me how to conduct my beliefs??!..

  14. I salute for such a courgeous article. I never thought that there was such situation in Pakistan in its early days. I thought that such bigottery was result of ‘Mard-e-moin, mard-e-haq policies. But level of religous intorelance has increased many fold.

  15. It is a courageous act to raise your voice in the favor of minorities in this land of pure dwelled by bigoted majority.not to talk of the plight of minorities which are obviously under stress,majority of us can't see our siblings, relatives and neighbours thriving at their own.I regret to say it is a common mindset prevalent in our learned few.

  16. What a wonderful write up. Hit the nail at perfect spot. Nobody takes learning from religious speeches which are true in a real sense. They do all wrongs after learning good things.

  17. What a wonderful write up. Hit the nail at perfect spot. Nobody takes learning from religious speeches which are true in a real sense. They do all wrongs after learning good things. One day will come when infighting will start in one sect itself bcoz no minority will be available to supress.

  18. The Moderator seems to follow our 8pm dogfights Hosts on this insane electronic media that we have.Are there Ratings involved here too?He needs to be sensible and not post such trash comments.
    Now Mr.Mir, I would have appreciated if you had spoken of your kind who due to their indescretions have introduced a new word 'VOKALA GARDI'.

  19. I am really saddened by the comments of literate but intolerant people … Non muslims or not, Ahmadis have inalienable rights in Pakistan … the people who foment hate, and hurt or harm Ahmadis are the real non-muslims and should be punished for transgressing the hudood of Islam …

  20. … almost all the Ahmadis living today are born into that religion … so they didn't renounce Islam and convert to a non-muslim faith … so cannot be punished for what they didn't do themselves of their will … Thank You!

  21. My question is to Saud, you call yourself Muslim and talk about Pakistan as your country and so on and so forth. Though given your thoughts it is not much of a use but still for others I would like to ask you if you could quote even a SINGLE example where such an incident had happened in the early days of Islam, was any person leading a peaceful life not involved in any war or aggression killed brutally just because he was not a Muslim EVER!!

    Islam brought peace and love and that was the reason of its spread not swords.

    As to Pakistan, read your history correctly the mullahs called Pakistan paleedistan at that time and it were Ahmadis who brought Qaide Azam back as mentioned by the great Qaide Azam himself in his letter when he came back. Think before you speak it is because of people like you that the west thinks that Muslims and terrorists are synonyms whereas Islam is the most tolerant religions of all. May Allah give them eyes who have not!

  22. Bravo Mr. Waqqas Mir…!!! U have certainly done Justice to the topic…. If only, such fairness and Justice would also be seen in the streets of Pakistan where on a daily basis the policy of “Might is Right” is being used not just by the Man with power on the streets But More effectively and pre-dominantly by the Religious Leader’s of Pakistan, who have the street power with them and use it in which ever way suits them.

    They have been using or shall I say Most Surely MIS-USING this power to crush the Minorities of Pakistan, not knowing that once they were also a minority(if we go back to the early era of Islam) and they will probably be a Minority in the near future as well i.e if they continue their path towards self destruction.

    Awareness of the masses towards this fact of Might Is Right is probably the most essential key factor in saving Pakistan from complete Destruction.

    Peace…!!!

  23. Waqas Mir Sahib really deserve congratulations for such a great article: bold, articulate, highly sensible, well worded and full of reasoning. Sensible will definitely benefit. We can just pray in the words of Holy Prophet, "O' Allah guide my people to the right path, they simply don't know ". Our beloved prophet pity's upon them so why shouldn't we?

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