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From fanaticism to Sufism
by Jaan Haider
For the last few days, the federal capital is abuzz with news of the first-ever National Council of Sufism (NCS) which has been set up to promote Sufism in
Pakistan. This council will work under the aegis of President General Pervez Musharraf, who will also be the Patron-in-Chief of this council. But detractors who always doubt the intentions of the government have been talking about the U-turn the government is suspected of taking even before the Council has started working. This seems to have become the modus operandi of the government. It comes up with something new and novel for the masses but woh wada hi kia jo wafa ho gia. What could be the factors that compelled the government to promote Sufism - that had been a part of our living, culture and civilization over centuries?
Religion is something that makes your life easy. Islam is the religion that makes you identify the rights of those who are living around you. But during the last few decades what we see is that religion has been held hostage to the hands of elements of vested interest. Blame it on the US or Ziaul Haq; both had some dreams of spreading fanaticism for their interests. In order to make their dreams come true, they trained millions of militants and brainwashed them to fight for the revival of Islam. The diehard Deobandi faction was used as a launching pad to plunge their Islamist warriors into the fray. This symbiosis of Zia and the
US resulted in drastic effects on our society. Today, these militants have become so strong that even the General-President Musharraf has been reduced to a toy in their hands.
The element of Islamic fanaticism was used ideologically by the CIA and the ISI. It was propagated that the communists are 'Godless or non-believers'. If anyone has acquired mastery of coups and manipulating people all over the world, it is the CIA. The theme they chose was 'Islamic Jihad' because it could unite a bunch of people against their common enemy - the Godless communists. The Soviets wanted
Afghanistan for an access to warm waters and the US was hell bent on ensuring this didn't go through for very obvious reasons. The ISI gladly agreed because they'd be getting a lot of dollars and weaponry from the CIA for cooperation.
Propping up the fundamentalist ideology by the different Deoband Schools gave birth to not only the Taliban, but they also cherished some other militant outfits, which ultimately emerged as a crusading force that was widely welcomed by the mullahs across the country. One still remembers those ear-deafening slogans by these mullahs: 'Kaun bachaye ga Pakistan, Taliban Taliban'. With the help of their masters, in an environment of political uncertainty and instability, by September 1998, the Taliban had succeeded in systematically defeating various other sectarian Afghan groups, becoming a threat not to America or
Britain or any other Western country, but to Pakistan and
Sufism - and its beliefs of tolerance, spiritual tolerance, to know God as he ought to be known, and its emphasis on pious life are some of the measures that have its roots deep in our religion, Islam. On the other hand, fanaticism belongs to fervent fundamentalists. These fanatics even kill their own Muslim brothers (from other sects) ruthlessly. This is what the Taliban did in the province of Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan. They imposed severe restrictions not only on their women but also men.
To recap the Afghan situation, an extract from the book called Ilhamat written by Faqir Abdul Hameed Sarwari Qadeeri is being reproduced for the general interest. It reads: "Ismail Shaheed and Syed Ahmed Shaheed (they belonged to the Wahabi sect) fought valiantly with the Sikhs and vanquished them with the help of other Muslim sects in Peshawar. After thrashing the Sikhs, this intolerant faction started killing Muslims who belonged to other sects that ultimately resulted in uniting other sects against them, which ultimately made them meet their Waterloo at the hands of their Muslim brethren." Mard-e-momin, mard-e-haq played a vital role, in not only promoting Kalashnikov and heroin culture in Pakistan, but fanaticism, intolerance, unemployment and militancy.
Newton's third law of motion says, "Every action has a reaction. These actions and reactions are equal, but opposite in direction." Teachers used to explain the example of a ball you bang at the wall and it comes back to you with the same velocity. This is what is happening to our government as it tries to smash others through their holy warriors.
Nowadays, Muslims appear divided. Most of the clerics are in love with arguing with one another on trivial issues rather than caring about what is going on outside. What to talk of unity, we have more splits than a banana at a dessert factory - and we still haven't worked out what is to be done in order to curb our problems.
Islam has become the fastest growing religion and the world has its eyes on Muslims. We've been acting as though we have the answer to life, the universe, and everything; but we've locked our thinking faculties in a box and left it gathering dust. If we expect the people to unlock it based on watching how we do it, we don't give them a chance. It's no wonder they don't trust us. People of other religions don't trust us! All we need is to take the Holy Book out of those beautiful boxes covered with dust and try to understand the message of Almighty Allah.
Our government should take some important steps in order to curb fanaticism. If the government is serious in curbing this threat, it should start a campaign with its own mullahs. First, it is the need of the hour to start a crash programme to educate these mullahs about the most peaceful religion - Islam. It is time that we embraced our own brethren first and then others, for the sake of peace and humanity. We need to get involved in matters, care for those in situations of oppression, so that the truth does indeed set us free. We need to learn to celebrate our diversity and start loving others. Saints like Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, and Mian Muhammad Bukhsh's teachings can be a beacon to bring light into our lives, resulting in making a tolerant society.
Ours is a country with a disappointed nation where killings, extremism, poverty, corruption, leg-pulling, intolerance, and unemployment prevail. The government has taken a step to replace fanaticism with Sufism, which seems to be a step in the right direction. The government should realise that the teachings of the Sufi saints can help promote peace and tranquillity in our society. Last but not the least, may this council not go into limbo like a few others in the past! Amen!
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