All posts by ivestige

A Philanthropist ,traveller ,freelance blogger @Dawn_com @Nation.com @theasians.co.uk @DunyaBlogs

Ahrar, Mawdudi and Ahmedis

AHRAR, MAWDUDI, AND AHMEDIS

Ik kafira key waste Islam ko chhora

yeh Quaid e Azam, hai keh hai kafir-i-azam

Above lines are attributed to Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar, a leading personality in the Majlis e Ahrar ul Islam organisation. The demand for declaring the Ahmadis as a non-Muslim minority was first publicly made at an Ahrar meeting held at Pind Dadan Khan on 1st May 1949. The movement launched countrywide campaigns and protests resulting in a ban on Majlis-e-Ahrar in 1954. Ahmadis were the sole subject of speeches made at public meetings organised by the Ahrar. Majlis-e-Ahrar-ul-Islam had three demands:

Removal of Muhammad Zafarullah Khan from the foreign ministry;

Removal of Ahmadis from top government offices;

Declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims.

In February 1953, the demonstrations escalate into citywide incidents, including murder, looting, and arson targeting the Ahmadi community. The attacks were incited by the Jamaat e Islami political party led by Abul Ala Mawdudi. The anti-Ahmedi protestors billed their struggle as a jihad against infidels. The agitation brought the sectarian pot in Pakistan to a dangerous boil. Some Barelvis demanded that Deobandis be declared a separate minority.

Looking to establish his Islamic credentials in a country whose creation he had opposed, two issues remain central in Mawdudi’s political guile; the dispute with India over Kashmir and the controversy over the status of the Ahmedi community in Islam. In 1948 he challenged Pakistan’s endorsement of Jihad declared by local religious leaders in Kashmir during a ceasefire with India. So long as Pakistan maintained diplomatic relations with India, its covert assistance to the Kashmiri mujahideen was contrary to Sharia. Thus believing that Kashmir’s rightful place was in Pakistan, he advocated breaking off relations with India.

Maulana Mawdudi’s role in the 1953 agitation to exclude Ahmedis from the Muslim community was linked to his composition of Jihad in Kashmir. The Pakistani state, having been created in the name of Islam, had an obligation to define what it meant to be a Muslim. Ahmedis were apostates, and Islamic law demanded waging a jihad against them.

Charging the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed with offending faith, Mawdudi argued that declaring them a non-Muslim minority was a natural and reasonable result of the course they had chosen. Most unacceptable were the political irritants that Ahmedis had imposed on Muslims. It was wrong to say that the setting such a dangerous and misguided group outside the bounds of Islam would open the floodgates to the exclusion of other sects. No sect posed a bigger threat than the Ahmedis, who “hide behind Islam” and sow disunity among Muslims. By their cunning method of pretending Islam[sic], they had grabbed more administrative positions and employments. This subterfuge was harmful to the community, which could not tolerate a minority that was persecuting the majority. Apostasy in an Islamic State is punishable with death. According to this doctrine, Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan, if he has not inherited his present religious beliefs but has voluntarily elected to be an Ahmadi, must be put to death. (Partisans of Allah by Ayesha Jalal)

Unable to contain the increasingly widespread civil disorder, Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad handed over the administration of the city to the army under Lieutenant General Azam Khan, imposing martial lawand a curfew in Lahore on 6, March, 1953. Soldiers opened fire on bearded mob. Within two days the disturbances had been quelled. Mawdudi and his colleague Maulana Kausar Niazi were arrested and charged with treason. Both were found guilty, but Mawdudi was sentenced to death, later commuted to some years in prison.  Mawdudi’s offence was his book. Kauser Niazi had indulged in violent and obscene rhetoric at a public rally, and stoked the crowd to such a fury that a mob surrounded and lynched an on duty policeman. According to the official inquiry conducted by the Punjab Government the actual number killed in these riots were around 20 people. Chief Minister MumtazDaultana was forced to resign. Kausar Niazi subsequesntly broke with the Jamaat e Islami and joined Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s People’s party in 1972; He became minister of religious affairs and advisor to the prime minister. It was his advice that led to the Bhutto regime that the Ahmedis were non-Muslims. (The Clash of Fundamentalisms)

Justice Munir Report on 1953 riots:

A public court inquiry was appointed, with Justice Munir and Justice M.R, Kayani, to investigate the cause of the Anti-Ahmedi disturbances. The 387 page report was published in 1954. Justice Munir and Justice Kayani were fearless in their recommendations; they mocked the confusions of the mullahs, and warned the country that an Islamic state would be a disaster.

How do you define Muslim? Keeping in view the several definitions given by the Ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental? If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by anyone of the Ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that Alim but kafirs according to the definition of everyone else. The Justice Munir report denounced religious sectarianism as ‘perfidious’ and virtually argued that Islam was the stranger in the house: its intervention was unwarranted, its recourse to violence had created a political crises and it could only impede the development of the new state. Therefore it should be excluded from Pakistan’s politics and institutions. A separation between religion and the state was crucial if the country was to move forward.

The net result of all this is that neither Shias nor Sunnis nor Deobandis nor Ahl-i-Hadith nor Barelvis are Muslims and any change from one view to the other must be accompanied in an Islamic State with the penalty of death if the Government of the State is in the hands of the party which considers the other party to be kafirs. And it does not require much imagination to judge of the consequences of this doctrine when it is remembered that no two Ulama have agreed before us as to the definition of a Muslim. The violence against the Ahmadis has seen no decline, in fact it has actually increased, yet, they are no longer a sect of Islam. The hatred model of the Majlis e Ahrar has now been adopted by many and has gone mainstream.

FALLING IN LOVE…

Lahore

My soul is entangled with the indifferent one

Lord of all things visible and invisible.

Madhu Laal Husain

The Lahore I love is so beautifully expressed by Bapsi Sidhwa; the city conjures up gardens and fragrances, the gardens in thousands of Lahori homes with their riot of spring flowers. The trees bloom in a carnival of jewel colours, the defiant brilliance of kachnar, bougainvillea and gulmohr silhouetted against an azure sky. And the winter and spring air are heady, they make the blood hum. On summer evenings the scent from the water sprinkled on the parched earth signals respite from the furnace of the day, for the summers are as hellish as the winters are divine. The city’s ambience has moulded my sensibility and emotional responses. To belong to Lahore is to be steeped in its romance, to inhale with each breath an intensity of feeling that demands expressions.

Lahore; the ancient whore, the handmaiden of dimly remembered Hindu Kings, the courtesan of Mughal Emperors, bedecked and bejewelled, savaged by marauding hordes, healed by the caressing hands of successive lovers. A little shoddy, as Qasim saw her; like an attractive but ageing concubine, ready to bestow surprising delights on those who cared to court her, profoundly displaying Royal gifts.

According to popular traditions Lahore was founded by Loh, one of the twin sons of Lord Rama, the epic hero of Ramayana. The other son Kush is said to have founded Kusawar or Kasu. The city was called Loh in the beginning; it acquired its present name when “awar” was attached to it, which means fort in Sanskrit. When Sultan Mahmud Ghazni seized Lahore his general, Malik Ayaz built the citadel, later to be replaced by Emperor Akbar’s brick construction.

Punjab is referred Panchal in Mahabharata, and Draupati wife of Arjun was called Panchali, the daughter of the Punjab. Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated to Loh. Western historians believe the personages in the Ramayana existed between the sixth and seventh century BC, which proves that Lahore is one of the oldest cities in the world.

The name of Lahore is also celebrated in the legends and quasi-historical traditions of other Hindu states associated with the age of chivalry of the Hindus and their ancient civilisation. The first historical reference to the city is found in the journals of the Chinese pilgrim, written in 630 AD. At the time of Bin Qasim’s invasion of Sindh, Lahore was in the possession of a Chauhan prince. In 1008 the last Rajput king who was defeated by Mahmud Ghazni fled to Ajmer. In 1022 Mahmud Ghazni seized Lahore without any opposition. The Mongols invaded and conquered the Khwarazmian dynasty. The Mongol army advanced and in 1241 and defeated the Lahore governor Malik Ikhtyaruddin Qaraqash, massacred the population and the city was leveled to the ground. There are no buildings or monuments in Lahore that predates the Mongol destruction.

Lahore had welcomed visitors and settlers throughout its history. It has changed hands from Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, Mughal, Afghan, Mongol, Sikh and the British, thereby becoming the cultural capital and the heart of modern day Pakistan. Invaded and conquered many times, but apart from invasions, Sufis from different parts of the world settelled in Lahore too, the existence of shrines of great saints like Data Ganj Bakhsh, Mian Mir and Baba Shah Jamal are the living examples. Sufi thinking became popular among the people, because of their message of brotherhood, tolerance, unity and respect for other religions, besides promoting Islamic values.

It was during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Ghazni that Abul Hassan Ali Hajveri came to Lahore. Ali Hajveri had travelled widely like many Sufi saints, visiting Baghdad, Basra, Bukhara, Damascus, and Khorasan before settling in Lahore. Ali Hajveri was one of the most notable Sufi preachers on the subcontinent. He is said to have lived on the site in the 11th Century. The Shrine of Ali Hajveri is located west of Bhatti Gate. Data Darbar is one of the oldest Muslim shrines on the subcontinent. It was originally built by the Ghaznavi king Sultan Zakiruddin Ibrahim and has been expanded several times since.

Baba Sain Mir Mohammed Sahib, popularly known as Mian Mir was another famous Sufi saint who resided in Lahore, specifically in the town of Dharampura. He is famous for being a spiritual instructor of Dara Shikoh. According to Sikh tradition, the Sikh guru Guru Arjun Dev met Mian Mir during their stay in Lahore. Mian Mir’s Mausoleum still attracts hundreds of devotees.

Baba Shah Jamal who belonged to a famous Kashmiri family came to Lahore in 1617 CE. He lived in Ichra at the time of Mughal emperor Akbar. Shah Jamal fought against Akbar’s Deen e Ilahi. He died in 1671 CE and was buried near Ichra in Tomb of Shah Jamal. The area has been named Shah Jamal in his honour.

And lastly we have another famous shrine of Shah Husain in Baghbanpura,  a pair of two graves next to each other, one of Shah Hussain and one of Madhu Laal. Both marked with a single emblem reading, SAKHI SARKAR MADHU LAAL HUSAIN.

Shah Husain, who neither belonged to a direct lineage of the Prophet Muhammad nor a wealthy merchant household.

Says Husain the worthless fakir, I am the dust on your doorstep.

After spending years learning the teachings of the Holy Quran and what his teacher would refer to as the true path towards salvation. Shah Hussain’s life took a turn when he came across a Brahmin Hindu boy, Madhu Laal. He was overwhelmed by the feeling of love and enchantment. Everyone questioned their attachment and called them with different names. Shah Hussain believed in the value of self-blame, that piety should be a private matter and that being held in good esteem will lead to worldly attachment. The bond between the two went so deep that Shah Hussain put his name after his beloved’s, becoming Madhu Laal Hussain.

The Urs of Madhu Laal Hussain is celebrated at his shrine, adjacent to the Shalimar Gardens. The Urs and the Mela were two separate events, one carried out at the shrine and the other in the Shalimar Gardens, until they were both combined into one, Mela Chiraghan which still is regarded as the biggest festival of Punjab, and has been a symbol of love, devotion, harmony and defiance of social customs.

Shah Husain says:

O God, do not mind my faults; full of failing,

I am without virtue.

O God, from within, show compassion,

 and enlighten me.

To the men of the world, the pride of the world,

to the recluse, renunciation

all masks, masks, masks!

Neither the man of the worlds, nor a recluse am I,

And they laugh at me, at me,

Who has befriended the terrible one

Annihilation of Minorities

On March 24, 2019, the then Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said:

“The minorities in Pakistan make up the white of our flag and all of our flag’s colours are precious to us. Protection of our flag is our duty.”

Addressing a function to celebrate Holi with Hindus in 2017, the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif insisted that it was not anyone’s job to decide who will go to hell or heaven, but to make Pakistan a heaven on earth. He said that forcible conversion and destruction of worship places of other religions is a crime in Islam and in Pakistan as he greeted the Hindu community on the occasion of Holi. In his inclusive message to minorities in Pakistan, he stated

“No one can force others to adopt a certain religion,”

“Islam gives importance to every human being regardless of his caste, creed or religion and I say it clearly that forcing anyone to convert his religion is a crime and it is our duty to protect the worship places of the minorities in Pakistan.” 

On March 24, 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan had put a probe into reports of abduction, forced conversion and underage marriages of two teenage Hindu girls in Sindh province and to take immediate steps for their recovery. He also told the Sindh and Punjab governments to devise a joint action plan in light of the incident, and to take concrete steps to prevent such incidents from happening again.

In mid-September this year the Parliamentary Committee on Minorities headed by Senator Anwar ul Haq Kakar had decided to travel to various areas of Sindh to meet the victims of forced conversion. The committee determined to visit all provinces and hold meetings with the provincial, district governments, civil administration and police officials so as to create an integrated system of detection, reporting, vigilance and response concerning forced conversions

On October 19, 2020 Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar spoke to the press alongside committee member MNA Lal Chand Malhi and civil society activist from Tharparkar Krishan Sharma, following a recent visit by the committee to parts of Sindh where forced conversions of young Hindu girls have been described. . Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar, said the issue was sensitive, serious and complicated, the most complicated part of the situation is that what is considered as forced conversion by the aggrieved community is considered wilful conversion by religious groups, which includes Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, people like Mian Mithu of Sindh and even Tablighi Jamaat, but at the same time all conversions are not under duress and threats. The finding of the committee adds an interesting facet to the discourse around the forced conversion issue. Although conversion to seek a better lifestyle is also considered forced conversion, economic reasons can be considered exploitation and not force, as eventually it is after consent. Most instances have some degree of willingness. He added that there was a tenuous line between consent and exploitation, the conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh could not be considered forced. The committee did not see any trace of kidnapping and illegal confinement of Hindu girls who later came to give statements in court.

During the visit, members of the committee held public meetings in Sukkur and Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district, as comfortably as a meeting with senior officials in the Sindh government in Karachi. Meetings were held with the households of victims of forced conversions, officials and accused groups. Approximately 200 members of the Hindu community participated in a public meeting in Sukkur while around 800 people attended the meeting in Mirpur Mathelo. The most vulnerable districts for forced conversions are Sanghar, Ghotki, Sukkur, Khairpur and Mirpurkhas. There have been negligible reported cases from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while a few cases involving Christians have been reported in Punjab.

The committee have done a relatively thorough job of stretching out the layers of how and why forced conversions take place. Mr Malhi said that people such as Mian Mithu and Pir Sarhandi house girls and manage the system to prevent the girl away from her family. He stated there was no evidence that they were backed by an authority, political power or state organ. Mr Krishan Sharma said there are two kinds of forced conversions, the first involving kidnapping and illegal confinement. The second is rampant in Sindh and that has to be taken care of by the state, this is procedural forced conversions, [in which] the whole organization of the country, from the police, the courts, etc. are violating the laws and facilitating such conversions. Senator Kakar said that people who encourage young ladies from the Hindu community to move out and marry according to their own wishes are not as liberal about their own daughters.

The committee identified social and economic marginalisation as the reason why some girls willingly convert; to assign all incidents of forced conversions under this category is unfair and insensitive. Although the committee categorically said that the government had neglected in its responsibility to shield minority communities from forced conversion. They denounced all manner of religious conversion under social or economic duress. Identified it as exploitation, calling them, conversion as an effect of the social, administrative and economic marginalisation of the Hindu community in Sindh.

I am in entire disagreement with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmaker Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani who said: Times are changing and we should take advantage of this era, as all those who used to encourage kidnapping of minor girls, marry them and announce that they have converted to Islam are on the back foot now. Even today the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi cancelled a seminar of noted economist Dr Atif Mian, who goes to the minority Ahmadiyya community, due to the threats the university administration was facing from extremists.

“Sorry to report that my zoom economics seminar at IBA Karachi has been cancelled due to threats that the university administration was facing from extremists,” tweeted Dr Atif Mian.

Prime minister Imran Khan mentions Riyasat Medina in his every speech; I would like to remind him that providing security to the minorities is the basic principle of such form of governance. If the economic conditions are not improved and the minorities are passed on to the influential religious groups, I am afraid we will be left with religious groups only in the land of Sufis. Federal and provincial governments must improve the economic conditions to stop conversions due to the economic pressure, or accept it that, the annihilation of the minorities is a planned practice.

Emancipate the minorities from economic and religious pressures.

Military is supreme

In 1957, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto became the youngest member of Pakistan’s delegation to the United Nations. Bhutto became one of the youngest politicians in Pakistan when he entered the government led by President Ayub Khan. In 1958 Bhutto became the youngest cabinet minister when he was given charge of the Energy ministry by Field Marshal Ayub Khan, who had seized power, through a successful coup d’état. In 1960, he was subsequently promoted to minister of the Commerce Ministry, and minister of Water and Power. He aided President Ayub in negotiating the Indus Water Treaty in India in 1960. In 1961, Bhutto negotiated an oil exploration agreement with the Soviet Union, which also agreed to provide economic and technical aid to Pakistan.

In 1963, after his appointment as foreign minister, he opted working for greater independence from Western powers and for closer ties with China. Bhutto was made the foreign minister at the height of reaction to a US decision to give military aid to India following the attack by China on India’s Himalayan border. President Ayub depended heavily, on Bhutto for carrying out new foreign policy initiatives. But Bhutto’s opposition to the peace with India after the 1965 war over Kashmir caused him to resign from the government, and in December 1967 he founded the Pakistan People’s Party, which won a majority of seats from West Pakistan in 1970.

By the time Bhutto was given the control of the government in 1971, Pakistan was torn apart, isolated, demoralized, and emotionally shattered after a bitter defeat at the hands of arch-enemy India. East Pakistan became Bangladesh with the help of India. The trauma was severe in Pakistan, a psychological setback and emotional breakdown for Pakistan; the citizens were stunned at the defeat. They were amazed by the incompetence of their military ruler. The army was unpopular; Bhutto was the only alternative as President Yahya’s successor.

In his address to the nation on December 20, 1971, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto said:

“I would not like to see Martial Law remain one day longer than necessary… We have to rebuild democratic institutions…we have to rebuild a situation in which the common man, the poor man in the street, can tell me to go to hell.”

One of the first thing Bhutto did as President was to dismiss General Hamid as Chief of Staff and appoint General Gul Hassan. He announced reforms limiting land ownership and a government take-over of over a million acres to distribute to landless peasants. More than 2,000 civil servants were dismissed on charges of corruption. Bhutto visited India to meet Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and negotiated a formal peace agreement and the release of 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war. Bhutto also promised to hold a future summit for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute and pledged to recognise Bangladesh. Although he secured the release of Pakistani soldiers, he was criticised by many for allegedly making too many concessions to India.

“The sporadic fighting between the insurgency and the army started in 1973 with the largest confrontation taking place in September 1974. Saddam’s government provided support for Baloch separatists in Pakistan, hoping their conflict would spread to rival Iran. In 1973, Iraq provided the Baloch with conventional arms, and it opened an office for the Baluchistan Liberation Front (BLF) in Baghdad. This operation was supposed to be covert, but in 1973, the operation was exposed by M.I. when senior separatist leader Akbar Bugti defected to Bhutto, revealing a series of arms stored in the Iraqi Embassy. On the midnight of 9 February 1973, Bhutto launched an operation to seize control of the Iraqi Embassy, and preparation for siege was hastily prepared. The operation was highly risky and a wrong step could have started a war between the two countries. The operation was carefully analysed and at 0:00hrs (12:00 am), the SSG Division accompanied by Army Rangers stormed the Embassy. Military Police arrested the Iraqi Ambassador, the military attaché, and Iraq’s diplomatic staff.”

Study of Revenge: The First World Trade Center Attack and Saddam Hussein’s War against America by Laurie Mylroie

On 30 March, 1973, fourteen Air Force and twenty one army officers were arrested on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. Major General Zia ul Haq headed the subsequent court martial and used the opportunity to inform Bhutto about the proceedings and offer his services to him.

Bhutto made sure that 1973 Constitution authorised the Parliament to pass laws for the punishment of those found guilty of treason, and included an oath to refrain from indulging in political activity, the Constitution explicitly formalised it:

I …do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan and uphold the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I will not engage in any political activities whatsoever and that I will honestly and faithfully serve the Pakistan Army/Navy/Airforce as required by and under the law.

Bhutto promoted Zia ul Haq from Brigadier to Major General, after King Hussein of Jordan had put in a word for him appreciating his services in Jordan. Zia was in Jordan at the time of the Black September Operations against Palestinians, was believed to have taken part in the massacre on the orders of King Hussein. In February 1976 Zia ul Haq was appointed as COAS, he stood eighth in the seniority list at that time of promotion. Rest is history.

Reason for giving a brief overview of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s career is because of the recent stance of Mian Nawaz Sharif against the military intervention in politics. Three times prime minister Nawaz Sharif aspires to end Pakistan Army’s control on civilian government. He is openly criticising army generals; he talked about the military and its agencies as the “State above the State”. He was among the few civilian leaders to hold friendly relations with the military establishment. But that did not get him anywhere. He ended up getting deposed General Pervez Musharraf in 1999. He was put on trial for corruption and went in exile. In 2013, he became prime minister for the third time. He is alleged to have told his confidantes that he would curtail the role of army and ascertain the supremacy of civilian governments in Pakistan forever. He is locking horns with military establishment at one time again. 

Can he push back a military that is deep-rooted in power politics, today? Can he sustain the pressure?

Despite being an optimist, I believe NO.

If an intelligent and the most popular first elected Prime Minister like Bhutto, who was the founder of Pakistan’s atomic bomb programme, lost his grounds to military, then Mian Nawaz Sharif has no chance. Looking at Mian Nawaz Sharif’s own history, even in the recent past, he has been compromising with the establishment time to time. Opposition’s alliance may force the sitting government for early elections, but as a matter of fact it wouldn’t change the current status of military establishment.    

HINDUTVA

The events in Srebrenica in 1995 included the killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim. The genocides of 2.7 to 3 million Polish Jews and 1.8 to 2.77 million non-Jewish ethnic Poles. The systematic killing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population carried out in Anatolia during World War I and its aftermath (1914–1922) on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. Five thousand Yazidi civilians were killed during what has been called a forced conversion campaign being carried out by ISIL in Northern Iraq. At least 6,700 Rohingya, were killed in the month after the violence broke out. At least 288 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine state after August 2017. According to UN reports, over 700,000 Rohingya people had fled and took shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh as refugees as of September 2018.

All the above mentioned crimes were committed using religion, Christians, Muslims, and even Buddhist. For the last few years BJP government is quite actively engaged in such activities against minorities in India and Kashmir.

A couple of weeks ago I used the term “Hindutva” on a lighter mode referring to a political incident. Unfortunately my comment offended my Hindu followers and friends on social media inside and outside Pakistan. I always try my level best not to write anything which hurt the feelings of anyone. Hence I decided to write about the importance of the issue to understand the problem; hence it is important for the audience to understand what Hinduism is:

Hinduism is both a civilisation and a congregation of religions; it has neither a beginning, nor a founder, nor a central authority, or organisation. One can be a believer in one God, or multiplicity of Gods or even none at all. Hinduism does not expel much less crucify alleged non-believers. Hinduism is not a revealed religion and, therefore, has neither a founder nor definite teachings or common system of doctrines. It has no organisation, no dogma or accepted creeds. There is no authority with recognised jurisdiction. A man, therefore, could neglect any one of the prescribed duties of his group and still be regarded as a good Hindu. It embraces a range of doctrines and practices, from pantheism to agnosticism and religious belief in reincarnation to belief in cast system. Hinduism recognizes that the truth is plural, that there is no one correct answers to the big question of creation. A Catholic is a Catholic because he believes Jesus was the Son of the God, and in the conceptions of virgin birth. A Muslim must believe that there is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet. A Jew cherishes his Torah; simply there is no Hindu equivalent to any of these beliefs. Hinduism maintains that all ways of belief are equally valid. Hinduism incorporates almost all varieties of belief and worship within it, there is no need to choose or reject others. . There is, however, one key difference. Hinduism is a plural tradition, as compared to Christianity and Islam which possess well defined universal creedal formulations.

Therefore, Hindu “fundamentalism” is remarkably thin in terms of religious content as compared to Christianity and Islam. The Hindu thought of God to Hindu is; God is everywhere, a bearing and an absence, within us and outside us. God transcends both time and distance. God has no beginning and no end, but equally has no form and no form. God can thus be imagined, since there in nowhere that God is not, and nowhere that God cannot be. Hindus therefore understand that all worship of God reflects an attempt to reach out to that which cannot be touched or seen; since God is, in that sense, literally unknowable, one may imagine Him/Her/It in any form, since each form may be just as valid as another and none can be guaranteed to be more accurate than the next one. Hinduism is both a civilisation and a congregation of religions. Throughout India’s ancient history, the word Hindu was never meant to denote religion. It was a geographic and cultural term used by the Greeks, Persians and Arabs, derived from the Sanskrit Sindhu, to describe the people living by and beyond the river Sindhu or Indus.

The Chief Justice Gajendragadkar wrote for the Supreme Court of India (AIR 1966 SC 1127), that Hinduism is impossible to define. The court adopted Radhakrishnan’s submission that Hinduism is complex and the theist and atheist, the sceptic and agnostic, may all be Hindus if they accept the Hindu system of culture and life. The Court judged that Hinduism historically has had an inclusive nature and it may “broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more”. All it means is, the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos, and by no means anti-minority or anti Muslim potion.

The Supreme Court of India in 1995 ruled that Ordinarily, HINDUTVA is understood as a way of life or a state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism… it is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption… that the use of words Hindutva or Hinduism per se depicts an attitude hostile to all persons practising any religion other than the Hindu religion. Hindutva is not hostility to any organised religion nor does it proclaim its superiority of any religion to another. It is the shield of security and freedom for all religious minorities in India.

“However the BJP officially adopted HINDUTVA as its ideology in its 1989 resolution. The BJP claims that Hindutva represents cultural nationalism and its conception of Indian nationhood, but not a religious or theocratic concept. Hinduism is the name given to the most ancient and persistent religion on the Indian subcontinent, and Hindutva is the name by which the ideology of the Hindu right, represented by the political party Bharatiya Janata Party, is known. It is also the ideology of the cultural body known as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which was founded in 1925 and with which the BJP has strong links. Ever since the rise of the BJP on the Indian political scene from 1990 onward, and its recent successes in national elections in India in 2014 and 2019, the question of the relationship between Hinduism as a religion and Hindutva as a political ideology has come to the fore, because the word “Hindu” is common to both“.  Association for Asian Studies

I hope I have managed to explain the difference between Hindutva and the term Hindutva used for political gains by BJP in India, I would like to apologise to anyone who was and still offended because of the use of the term. And I would like to thank you Veengas for making me realise to re-visit my thoughts on the issue.

May the indigenous land of Sindh will always remain peaceful for Sindhus and the rest.

FALLING IN LOVE…

Falling in love again and again; Lahore

My soul is entangled with the indifferent one

Lord of all things visible and invisible.

Madhu Laal Husain

The Lahore I love is so beautifully expressed by Bapsi Sidhwa; the city conjures up gardens and fragrances, the gardens in thousands of Lahori homes with their riot of spring flowers. The trees bloom in a carnival of jewel colours, the defiant brilliance of kachnar, bougainvillea and gulmohr silhouetted against an azure sky. And the winter and spring air are heady, they make the blood hum. On summer evenings the scent from the water sprinkled on the parched earth signals respite from the furnace of the day, for the summers are as hellish as the winters are divine. The city’s ambience has moulded my sensibility and emotional responses. To belong to Lahore is to be steeped in its romance, to inhale with each breath an intensity of feeling that demands expressions.

Lahore; the ancient whore, the handmaiden of dimly remembered Hindu Kings, the courtesan of Mughal Emperors, bedecked and bejewelled, savaged by marauding hordes, healed by the caressing hands of successive lovers. A little shoddy, as Qasim saw her; like an attractive but ageing concubine, ready to bestow surprising delights on those who cared to court her, profoundly displaying Royal gifts.

According to popular traditions Lahore was founded by Loh, one of the twin sons of Lord Rama, the epic hero of Ramayana. The other son Kush is said to have founded Kusawar or Kasu. The city was called Loh in the beginning; it acquired its present name when “awar” was attached to it, which means fort in Sanskrit. When Sultan Mahmud Ghazni seized Lahore his general, Malik Ayaz built the citadel, later to be replaced by Emperor Akbar’s brick construction.

Punjab is referred Panchal in Mahabharata, and Draupati wife of Arjun was called Panchali, the daughter of the Punjab. Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated to Loh. Western historians believe the personages in the Ramayana existed between the sixth and seventh century BC, which proves that Lahore is one of the oldest cities in the world.

The name of Lahore is also celebrated in the legends and quasi-historical traditions of other Hindu states associated with the age of chivalry of the Hindus and their ancient civilisation. The first historical reference to the city is found in the journals of the Chinese pilgrim, written in 630 AD. At the time of Bin Qasim’s invasion of Sindh, Lahore was in the possession of a Chauhan prince. In 1008 the last Rajput king who was defeated by Mahmud Ghazni fled to Ajmer. In 1022 Mahmud Ghazni seized Lahore without any opposition. The Mongols invaded and conquered the Khwarazmian dynasty. The Mongol army advanced and in 1241 and defeated the Lahore governor Malik Ikhtyaruddin Qaraqash, massacred the population and the city was leveled to the ground. There are no buildings or monuments in Lahore that predates the Mongol destruction.

Lahore had welcomed visitors and settlers throughout its history. It has changed hands from Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, Mughal, Afghan, Mongol, Sikh and the British, thereby becoming the cultural capital and the heart of modern day Pakistan. Invaded and conquered many times, but apart from invasions, Sufis from different parts of the world settelled in Lahore too, the existence of shrines of great saints like Data Ganj Bakhsh, Mian Mir and Baba Shah Jamal are the living examples. Sufi thinking became popular among the people, because of their message of brotherhood, tolerance, unity and respect for other religions, besides promoting Islamic values.

It was during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Ghazni that Abul Hassan Ali Hajveri came to Lahore. Ali Hajveri had travelled widely like many Sufi saints, visiting Baghdad, Basra, Bukhara, Damascus, and Khorasan before settling in Lahore. Ali Hajveri was one of the most notable Sufi preachers on the subcontinent. He is said to have lived on the site in the 11th Century. The Shrine of Ali Hajveri is located west of Bhatti Gate. Data Darbar is one of the oldest Muslim shrines on the subcontinent. It was originally built by the Ghaznavi king Sultan Zakiruddin Ibrahim and has been expanded several times since.

Baba Sain Mir Mohammed Sahib, popularly known as Mian Mir was another famous Sufi saint who resided in Lahore, specifically in the town of Dharampura. He is famous for being a spiritual instructor of Dara Shikoh. According to Sikh tradition, the Sikh guru Guru Arjun Dev met Mian Mir during their stay in Lahore. Mian Mir’s Mausoleum still attracts hundreds of devotees.

Baba Shah Jamal who belonged to a famous Kashmiri family came to Lahore in 1617 CE. He lived in Ichra at the time of Mughal emperor Akbar. Shah Jamal fought against Akbar’s Deen e Ilahi. He died in 1671 CE and was buried near Ichra in Tomb of Shah Jamal. The area has been named Shah Jamal in his honour.

And lastly we have another famous shrine of Shah Husain in Baghbanpura,  a pair of two graves next to each other, one of Shah Hussain and one of Madhu Laal. Both marked with a single emblem reading, SAKHI SARKAR MADHU LAAL HUSAIN.

Shah Husain, who neither belonged to a direct lineage of the Prophet Muhammad nor a wealthy merchant household.

Says Husain the worthless fakir, I am the dust on your doorstep.

After spending years learning the teachings of the Holy Quran and what his teacher would refer to as the true path towards salvation. Shah Hussain’s life took a turn when he came across a Brahmin Hindu boy, Madhu Laal. He was overwhelmed by the feeling of love and enchantment. Everyone questioned their attachment and called them with different names. Shah Hussain believed in the value of self-blame, that piety should be a private matter and that being held in good esteem will lead to worldly attachment. The bond between the two went so deep that Shah Hussain put his name after his beloved’s, becoming Madhu Laal Hussain.

The Urs of Madhu Laal Hussain is celebrated at his shrine, adjacent to the Shalimar Gardens. The Urs and the Mela were two separate events, one carried out at the shrine and the other in the Shalimar Gardens, until they were both combined into one, Mela Chiraghan which still is regarded as the biggest festival of Punjab, and has been a symbol of love, devotion, harmony and defiance of social customs.

Shah Husain says:

O God, do not mind my faults; full of failing,

I am without virtue.

O God, from within, show compassion,

 and enlighten me.

To the men of the world, the pride of the world,

to the recluse, renunciation

all masks, masks, masks!

Neither the man of the worlds, nor a recluse am I,

And they laugh at me, at me,

Who has befriended the terrible one

BLASPHEMY

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Blasphemy: Quran has a different view

When I speak to Muslims in Pakistan, they say you cannot discuss the Islamic laws  its blasphemous, not agreeing with them is blasphemous, not following the Quran the way they are following is blasphemous, not believing in all of the Ashabs of the Prophet Mohammad is blasphemous, and not praying the way they pray is blasphemous.

Men made laws cannot be discussed or criticised in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, but Quran provides me the space to discuss anything. When I speak to Quran; God says ignore them, it’s my PREROGATIVE not theirs, it’s my Book not theirs, I have sent the Prophet not them, I have sent my Book through Prophet not them, I, the God is the guardian of the Book, not them, to guard even a single dot in Quran is my RESPONSIBILITY.

They can’t guard the sanctity of my Prophet and my Book, Can’t you read?

“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.”

The Quran, Al-Hijr 15:9

Let’s discuss the background of the law, an international view, some recent incidents, and the replies of the Holy Quran to my questions, about blasphemy, finality of the Prophet Mohammad pbuh, and who is the GUARDIAN of the Holy Book and the Prophet’s honour.

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom: “Pakistan’s frequently invoked blasphemy law carries the death penalty or life in prison. There are no procedural safeguards, making the law ripe for abuse. While the death penalty for blasphemy has never been carried out, individuals accused of blasphemy have been murdered in vigilante violence. Mere allegations often serve as an accelerant in combustible situations, resulting in mob attacks or violence that undermines Pakistan’s stability and empowers EXTREMISTS. Despite the law’s rampant abuse and lack of procedural safeguards, Pakistan’s Federal Sharia Court recently ruled that the death penalty should be the sole penalty for blasphemy.”

The Pakistan Tehreek Insaf government on Tuesday introduced the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2020 in the National Assembly to make intentional ridiculing and defaming the armed forces as a punishable crime. According to an insertion 500A in the Pakistan Penal Code Act 1860, whosoever intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames the armed forces or member of the armed forces shall be guilty of the offence. It will be punishable with two years’ imprisonment or Rs0.5 million fines or with both.

In June this year the National Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution making it mandatory to write ‘Khatam-un-Nabiyeen’ along with Prophet Muhammad’s name in official documents, books and wherever the holy name is used. 

Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from ERROR.

The Quran, Al-Baqarah 2: 256

Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law enacted by President General Zia-ul-Haq in1986 and later amended by the parliament in 2004. The penalty includes a mandatory death sentence for defaming Prophet Mohammad pbuh and life imprisonment for desecrating the Holy Quran. Prior to 1986, only 14 cases pertaining to blasphemy were reported. An estimated number of 1,500 people have been charged under the stringent blasphemy laws of Pakistan between 1986, and 2017.

Junaid Hafeez: a university lecturer was arrested in March 2013 and accused of posting derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad on social media. He had studied a Master’s degree in the US on a Fulbright Scholarship, specialising in American literature, photography and theatre. After returning to Pakistan he took up a lecturer position at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan, where he worked until his arrest. 34 year-old has been imprisoned without trial for six years, with much of that time spent in solitary confinement. He was sentenced to death in December 2019.

Mashal Khan: In April, 2017, a large group of students formed into a mob, accusing these students of running a Facebook page where Mashal was allegedly publishing blasphemous material. Mashal was killed inside the premises of the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan. He was in the hostel of the university when he was stripped naked and severely beaten by a group of students and then shot. He succumbed to his injuries. Graphic video footage of the lynching showed Khan was lying on the floor; his body bore marks of severe torture and was not moving. The mob was seen kicking his lifeless body and beating it with wooden planks. He was also thrown from the second floor of the building. At least 25 policemen were present in the university premises when Khan was killed. On the following day, Mashal Khan’s funeral was led by his father. Most neighbours kept away from the funeral, as threats made earlier by a local to anyone attending led them to fear follow-up attacks from religious mobs.

On the topic of blasphemy:

And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together.

The Quran, Al-Nisa 4:140

Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant.

The Quran, Al A’raf 7:199

And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.

The Quran, Al-Furqan 25: 63

Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good, and from what We have provided them they spend. And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, “For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant.”

The Quran, Al-Qasas 28: 54, 55

[He is] the Lord of the East and the West; there is no deity except Him, so take Him as Disposer of [your] affairs. And be patient over what they say and avoid them with gracious avoidance. And leave Me with [the matter of] the deniers, those of ease [in life], and allow them respite a little.

The Quran, Muzammil 73: 9, 10, 11

On the Finality of the Prophet:

 “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.”

The Quran, Al-Ahzab  33: 40

About the book itself: He it is Who has revealed the Book to you; some of its verses are decisive, they are the basis of the Book, and others are allegorical; then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity they follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. But none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord; and none do mind except those having understanding.

The Quran, Al Imran 3: 7

Please read the verses yourself to confirm what I have quoted from the Quran.I will be at peace even if one person will understand what Quran is preaching not a cleric.

Sanity must prevail.

UNDER DURESS

History of religious or sectarian conversions is quite long. However forced conversion that occurred after the seventh century generally took place during riots and massacres carried out by mobs and clergy without support of the rulers. In contrast, royal persecutions of Jews from the late eleventh century onward generally took the form of expulsions, with some exceptions, such as conversions of Jews in southern Italy of the 13th century, which were carried out by Dominican Inquisitors but instigated by King Charles II of Naples. The Rhineland massacres, also known as the persecutions of 1096, were a series of mass murders of Jews perpetrated by mobs of German Christians of the People’s Crusade in the year 1096. The massacre is seen as the first in a sequence of anti-Semitic events in Europe which culminated in the Holocaust.

After the end of Islamic control of Spain, Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. In Portugal, following an order for their expulsion in 1496, only a handful was allowed to leave and the rest were forced to convert. Muslims were expelled from Portugal in 1497, and they were gradually forced to convert in the constituent kingdoms of Spain. After the forced conversion, when all former Muslims and Jews had ostensibly become Catholic, the Spanish Inquisition targeted primarily forced converts from Judaism and Islam, who came under suspicion of either continuing to adhere to their old religion.

Although it’s not completely true, but lot of historians believe that forced conversion was rare in Islamic history, and most conversions to Islam were voluntary especially in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, where Sufis played a greater role. Muslim rulers were often more interested in conquest and imposing Jiziyah than conversion. A per capita yearly taxation, called Jiziyah historically levied in the form of financial charge on permanent non-Muslim subjects of a state governed by Islamic law. Studies in the 21st century suggest that, in terms of percentage and worldwide spread, Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world. A comprehensive religious forecast for 2050 by the Pew Research Centre concludes that global Muslim population is expected to grow at a faster rate than the Christian population due primarily to the young age and high fertility-rate of Muslims. According to Pew Research, religious conversion has no net impact on the Muslim population as the number of people who convert to Islam is roughly similar to those who leave Islam.

India is a nation that is home to a diversity of religious beliefs and practices.  The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four major world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Hinduism is one of the oldest living religions in the world. Laws restricting religious conversions were originally introduced by Hindu princely states during the British Colonial period, mainly during the latter half of the 1930s and 1940s. These states enacted the laws in an attempt to preserve Hindu religious identity in the face of British missionaries. But in recent years politicians and human rights groups including Muslims have protested against ‘forced’ conversions to Hinduism by nationalist groups. They accuse right-wing Hindus aligned with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of forcibly converting Christians and Muslims.

Islamic law prohibits forced conversion, following the Quranic principle that there is “no compulsion in religion” (2:256).

Pakistan is an Islamic country. However, Jinnah’s vision seems to have faded with the passage of time. Despite being the signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that the right to freedom of religion includes the right to change one’s religion and that no one shall be subject to coercion to change their religion, Pakistan has failed to comply with its international obligations. The current ruling Pakistan Tehreek Insaf government, vowed in their 2018 election manifesto that “PTI will protect the civil, social and religious rights of minorities; their places of worship, property and institutions as laid down in the Constitution.”

The Sindh government twice attempted to outlaw forced conversions and marriages, including laying guidelines for the court process in the Protection of Minorities Bill, placing an age limit of 18 years upon conversions.

In 2016, the bill was unanimously passed by the Sindh Assembly, but religious parties objected to an age limit for conversions, and threatened to besiege the assembly if the bill received approval of the governor, who then refused to sign the bill into law. Religious groups oppose a minimum age for conversion or marriage on the basis that this is not sanctioned by Islam. Former Sindh governor rejected the bill and said: “When Ali Ibn Abi Talib can convert to Islam at a young age 9 years, why can’t Hindu girls?”

In 2019, a revised version was introduced, but religious parties protested once again. A sit-in was organised by Pir Mian Abdul Khaliq Mian Mithu, a political and religious leader and a central character in many cases of forced conversions of underage Hindu girls in Sindh. However, Mian Mitthu turned down all the allegations and said, in the past 200 years, not a single Hindu has been converted to Islam forcibly, he claimed. “All those men, women, girls and boys, whether they belong to the Hindu community or any other community, come to us to change their religion out of their own choice. They are not forced to convert.”

Hindus are often the victims of bonded labour. It was outlawed in 1992, but the practice is still prevalent. The Global Slavery Index estimates that just over three million Pakistanis live in debt servitude. Landlords trap poor Hindus into such bondage by providing loans that they know can never be repaid. They and their families are then forced to work off the debt.  Islamic charities and clerics offer incentives of jobs or land to impoverished minorities on the condition that they convert. Muhammad Ali who was known by his Hindu name, Rajesh, before converting alongside 205 others. Ultimately, his entire family had decided to convert to Islam when one of the cleric, offered to free them from the bonded labour. Muhammad Ali is originally from one of the lowest in Hinduism.

According to a report, more than 100 Hindus in Sindh converted to Islam in June 2020 to escape discrimination and economic pressures. Some of these conversions are voluntary, some not. To convert someone is perceived as a pious deed that will bring rewards in the hereafter, no matter the method employed to execute the conversion.

Although every conversion is not forced, but a question irritates me when a young Hindu girl is kidnapped or eloped and after a few days she converts to Islam: Why it is only Hindu girls who are so eager to change their religion, why aren’t Hindu boys, who enjoy more social independence than the girls? Why wealthy and educated independent Hindu women are not attracted to Islam?