Qaum Aur Mulk – By Y. L. Hamdani

It was the general will of the Muslims of South Asia that got us Pakistan. Our founding fathers’ struggle against tyranny of the Majority was an epic struggle. Then Pakistan was hijacked. Pakistan was hijacked by bigots and fanatics who were determined to declare everyone “Kafir” except themselves. Thus muslim was unleashed against a muslim. The bigots who had bitterly opposed the creation of Pakistan became the “chachas” of Pakistan. Then came Zia Ul Haq and Islam became synonymous with oppression and intolerance. Sunnis killed Shias and Shias killed sunnis and when they got tired, both groups killed Ahmadis the quasi-Islamic sect that was declared heretic by the constitution in the 1970s. The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan undertook the responsibility of defining a muslim. Ironically they were only able to define a Non Muslim. Thus the “qaum” plunged further into the state of confusion about its ideology and what it actually stood for.

My peers and I grew up in the “Zia Daur” and Islam to us became a negative thing. It was blatantly used to the Military ruler’s own ends. We came to view Islam as a religion of intolerance, bigotry and restrictions. The spirit of Islam was lost upon us. Ulema and religious zealots became a feared community. As I reflect back on that time (I was only 7 when Zia died in that plane crash) I see more and more of the injustice that was committed against the Pakistani people in the name of Islam. The Hudood ordinance especially catches one’s attention for it was a law directed specifically at women. Thus rapists were encouraged to rape more women and get away with it. Also during that time the sectarianism was an upsurge. Mullahism began to discuss me. We came to hate anyone with a beard, a contempt I still hold to this day.

So then what was left of our “qaumiat” for the basis of our nationhood was common religious beliefs. This posed the inevitable question. Who is a Pakistani? Is Pakistani a Muslim? Then what is to become of the minorities in Pakistan. Do they cease to exist as Pakistanis? Is Pakistani someone who is a native of what is now Pakistan? So what about the Pakistanis who migrated from India to Pakistan.

Adhering strictly to the 2 nation theory all Indian Muslims are Pakistanis, but then again the Indian Muslims are 127 million in number and make up a significant percentage of Indian population. Then Why Pakistan?

As noted earlier Pakistan came into existence due to the general will of the Muslims of South Asia. Not only was it to uphold the great ideal of Democracy and resist tyranny of the Majority for Muslims but for all minorities. The very existence of Pakistan was supposed to protect the rights of Muslims in India. Today we have fallen way short of our ideal.

In 1971 the Government of the “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan butchered and massacred its own people. This happened because we strayed away from our ideal and we moved away from the very basis of genesis ie the preservation of the rights of minorities. The raison de ettre of Pakistan was never the imposition of a theocratic state on the masses. It was always the preservation of the glorious ideal of Democracy and fair play. Democracy was to be the Polity and Islam the nation unifier. In the great state of Pakistan all people were to have a freedom of religious beliefs like Jinnah said “The Hindu Community will vanish and the Muslim community will vanish In this great state of Pakistan you are free to go to your temples and your mosques ….that is none of the state’s business.”

In conclusion I will like to discuss whether a secular political order is compatible with the basis of our nationhood ie Islam. Pakistan has to be essentially secular in order to survive. Our nation unifier is Islam but there is so much division in Islam itself that the question of “whose Islam”? is bound to come up. With so many divisions, Islam can function as a nation unifier only in a secular state. I feel that it is insultingly suggestive to the loyalty of Muslims to Islam to even suggest a system other than a secular Democracy.

A theocracy will only widen the gaps and weaken Islam’s role as a nation unifier. Now as far as the compatibility of a secular Political order with Islam goes the first premise of my argument is “Islam has no organized clergy” therefore the political order of Islam has always been secular in essence with exception of Muhammad(PBUH) who had a dual role of a politician and Prophet. Therefore I dont think that a secular political order can ever be a threat to Islam or vice versa. In the Islamic History there have been cases of Jews and Christians fighting bravely for their Islamic overlords.

In crusades we know for a fact that the Orthodox Christians sided with the Muslims instead of the latin christians and the reason for this was better and more equitable treatment by Muslims. I am not saying that Islamic empires have been perfect but the ideals of religious and ideological freedom which they espoused were perfect, perfectly secular in nature. Their actions can only be judged according to the warts of their times. So a secular Political order is inherent to the Islamic civilization as opposed to be being incompatible. Fanaticism, Bigotry and intolerance are the evils that we need to get rid off.


Published with special thanks and compliments of Y. L. Hamdani, a scholar on South Asian History. 

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