Tag Archives: religion

Remembering innocents


If you require my personal opi­nion, I don’t like this law at all. Even people who are deeply religious have spoken out against this black law. I have showed my solidarity with minority communities who are being targeted by this law and, in doing so, I have sent across a firm message. The actual problem is that the government is not prepared to face religious fanaticism head on. The thing I find worrisome is that if you examine the cases of the hundreds tried under this law, you have to ask, why is it that only the poor and defenceless are targeted? How come over 50 per cent of them are Christians when they constitute less than 2 per cent of the country’s population. This points clearly to the fact that the law is abused to target minorities. What I find particularly loathsome is that when you speak of amendment, people assume you condone the crime. If I am against the death sentence, it does not mean I condone murder. The sentence against Aasia is inhumane. I have been handed over an appeal for a presidential pardon which I will convey to the president and soon Aasia will be pardoned. The blasphemy law is not a God-constituted law. It’s a man-made law. It was founded by General Ziaul Haq. Hence it’s a law which gives an excuse to extremists and reactionaries to target weak people and minorities. Salmaan Taseer a vocal critic of the blasphemy law, showed his overwhelming support for Aasia Bibi and his response on blasphemy laws in an interview with Newsline on December 23, 2010

On 4 January 2011, Salmaan Taseer was assassinated at the Kohsar Market in Islamabad by his bodyguard, who disagreed with Taseer’s above stand on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and Aasia Bibi. Ever since he was murdered for attempting to reform blasphemy laws in 2011, politicians have been reluctant to take a firm stance on the issue. Religion supposed to provide sanctuary to those who are insecure intellectually or physically not to take life of those who have difference of opinion or no opinion.

On 13 April 2017 a mob of hundreds of students marched through the university campus chanting religious slogans as they searched for Mashal Khan, he was grabbed from his room by a mob, while they stripped naked and beat their colleague Mashal Khan with sticks and bricks, the 20-25 students of the Mardan university enjoyed precisely this feeling of righteousness. They said Khan had posted content disrespectful of Islam on his Facebook page and so they brought it upon themselves to punish him. Ultimately, one student took out his pistol and shot him in the head and chest and then his body desecrated by a mob accusing him of committing blasphemy. Hundreds of others watched approvingly and, with their smartphone cameras, video-recorded the killing. This indicates that much of the Pakistani public endorses violent punishment of suspected blasphemers. Why? How did so many Pakistanis become bloodthirsty vigilantes? Politicians and clerics have both spoken of the need to prevent false blasphemy allegations. But there is less agreement on whether blasphemy laws should actually be altered. A great deal of the condemnation has revolved around the mob taking the law into their own hands. Mashaal Khan had blasphemed! Until this was finally exhibited to be false, no proper funeral was possible in his home village.

Mr Iqbal Khan said my son, was murdered by people who he had trusted would teach him. He will never come back, but his memory may live on eternally. I know justice will not bring my son back. Still I urge all political parties, for your children’s sake and mine let’s become one. Let’s send out the message loud and clear.  

No one should be frightened of going to school.

We lost Mashaal Khan but I don’t know what message we gave to the world in his demise. Mr Iqbal Khan has astounded everyone with a composed response to his son’s brutal murder, no tears from him but an imperturbable and indomitable warrior who is trusted to get justice for his son. Mashaal Khan had Iqbal Khan for a father, a respected figure with strong social bonds and political beliefs who has become an inspiration for thousands of people like me.

Could the case change blasphemy laws?

I am afraid no, we will be raging again for someone innocent, who will become the target of blasphemy, hundreds of articles will be written and countless condemnations from the lawmakers.

Sigh!

Paramount of Feminism; Zainab bint Ali

The battle of Karbala is largely considered a male event, revolving around the sacrifice of Hussain Ibn e Ali and the lack of visibility of women. The women of Karbala are known through the suffering of the male kin and the hardship they endured in the absence of men. The Karbala narratives that are derivative from this historic event, the martyrdom of Hussain being seen as the key moment in the history. In the earlier narratives, women were largely seen as passive victims of the tragedy and know largely through the trials and tribulations they faced. In some accounts the central female character Zainab bint Ali in Karbala is described as being weak with grief, choked with tears, in the aftermath of Karbala. This trend of representations, portraying the Karbala women as weak and passive actors changes adequately when you read the post Karbala events, the journey of the family of Holy Prophet from Karbala to Damascus as prisoners of war. 

Zainab bint Ali’s character has been an integral part of the Karbala narrative, in her augmentative role Zainab is the epitome of command, who had her father’s fiery tongue and her mother’s forbearance. It was the night of the tenth of Muharram that Zainab took charge of her desolated household. The focus shifts to Zainab at the dusk of Ashura. From this point onward, she spoke with paramount authority and unrivalled courage. Zainab confronted Yazid at his court in Damascus, to redeem her family’s suffering and tell the world the reasons for which Hussain Ibn e Ali and his companions suffered. From this moment onward, Zainab evoked the far-flung conquest of Hussain, metaphorically turning Damascus into a variant of Karbala. Hussain’s martyrdom and his physical combat are reinforced through Zainab’s subsequent confrontation with Yazid; her battle with words and deeds. Zainab became the feminine face of Hussain and Abbas Ibn e Ali.

A rigid disunion between the emotional and the rationalised versions of Karbala narrative, where the traditional narrative only make people cry and the authenticated one teaches lessons is problematic because, it separate the political from the spiritual and tends to overlook the intrinsic spiritual message of Karbala. The characters of the Karbala women are no less important than the men and their intellectual skills and oratory powers are equal to the defiant powers of their male kin. The following excerpt of the sermon of Zainab bint Ali at Yazid’s court is a prime example of such courage:

Whatever you consider today, as a bounty would turn into reparation for tomorrow; whatever you have sent in advance would be received by you. Allah does not like oppression toward his servants. I complained to Him and put my trust upon Him; thus whatever deceit you want to practice, go ahead and do it; whatever endeavours and efforts you can make, try them. 

By Allah you would never be able to remove our remembrance from the hearts, nor would you ever be able to destroy our revelations; you would never reach our splendourand majesty; you would never be able to wash this ugly spot of tyranny from your dress; your opinion and suggestions are invalid and unstable. The duration of your rein is very short, and your assembly would soon be scattered; on that day when the heavenly crier would announce: Praise be upon the Lord of the Worlds, and are beginning- with prosperity and salvation-and our end-with martyrdom and blessing. O You, Who is just and righteous toward us and who is the most compassionate among all the compassionate ones, we put our trust only upon you.

The late Fahmida Riaz who was a progressive Urdu writer, poet, human rights activist and feminist, depicted the address of Zainab bint Ali in a poem, titled Hazrat Zainab ka KhutbaSham key Darbar Mein. The poem ends with a declaration of defiance from Zainab bint Ali, and the defiance is immediately followed in the final couplet by a call to feminism.

You perpetrated a horrible crime, O murderer Yazid

Do not think it is glad tidings of victory decreed

But the very end of the low which you think to be a high

The men and women you over-ran with your army were a handful

The Gracious Lord from the sky watched the unjust slaughter

You have caused yourself a huge loss

The wrath you visited, your oppression upon our brood

You cut your own jugular, drank your own blood

The Prophet’s family have embraced martyrdom

Their heads held high, departing successfully from this kingdom

They shine on the firmament, will be remembered by the earth

The darkness of your face is now indelible, you accursed

There is great noise in every quarter over your tyranny

You deserve curses, and are worthy of a penalty

Humanity presents her a golden tribute

She elevated the world of femininity with a crowning attribute

Translated by Raza Naeem

Zainab was the third child of Ali ibn Abi Talib and his wife Fatimah bint Muhammad. Like her two elder brothers, Hassan and Hussain ibn Ali, Zainab was named by Prophet Muhammad pbuh. The name “Zainab” means, “adornment of her father”. 

She is a constant reminder that the human spirit will fight against and triumph over oppression and is seen as a protagonist, not as a victim. And finally, women were given the right, or even the responsibility, to challenge male authority when a man acted in an impious manner, even if he was the ruling caliph. Hussain’s Jihad was marked partly by sword and arrows; Zainab’s Jihad was waged through words of eloquence. Hussain made Karbala immortal; Zainabassured the immortality of Karbala through her sermons in Damascus. The manifestation of her acts is seen in the words of her grandfather Muhammad pbuh: 

The best form of jihad is to utter just words in the presence of a tyrant ruler.

The struggle of Zainab the conqueror of Damascus reminds us again and again that the minority must not be intimidated by the Majority.

Eyewitness to extremism

Majority in Pakistan recognises the fact, that the people of the Islamic republic are not sectarian-minded. Before jihad took hold of Pakistan in 1979, and extremist clerics became threatening, there was considerable harmony between the sects. Muharram was not the season of sectarian violence and pandemonium. The Tazias of the Ustad and Shagird in the city of Saints, Multan. Shah Jamal Wala Tazia of Jhang and the Tazias of Chiniot is the true legacy of shia-sunni unity. 

The Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had faced vigorous opposition throughout his premiership years. In 1977 the opposition was united under the revivalist banner of Nezam-e-Mustafa. According to supporters of the movement, establishing an Islamic state based on sharia law would mean a return to the justice and success of the early days of Islam. In an effort to stem the tide of street Islamisation, Bhutto had also called for it and banned nightclubs, horse racing, and the drinking and selling of wine by Muslims. 

On 5 July 1977, General Zia-al-Haq led a coup d’état. Hecommitted himself to establishing an Islamic state and enforcing sharia law, established separate Sharia Judicial courts to judge legal cases using Islamic doctrine. New criminal offences of adultery, fornication, and types of blasphemy, and punishments of whipping, amputation, and stoning to death, were added to Pakistani law. Offices, schools, and factories were required to offer praying space. Conservative Islamic scholars were added to the Council of Islamic Ideology. Separate electorates for Hindus and Christians were established in 1985 even though Christian and Hindu leaders complained that they felt excluded from the country’s political process.

Despite reservations expressed by the Shia Ulema, Zia al Haq promulgated a new ordinance regarding automatic annual deduction of the 2.5% Zakat from bank accounts. In July 1980, the Shia political organisation Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Fiqh-i-Jafaria, under the leadership of Mufti Jafar Hussain, organised the largest Shia demonstrations in Pakistan’s history at Lal quarters ground in Islamabad. Most of the participants were from Multan, Shorkot and Bakkhar district. When the demands of Shias were turned down by the military government, the Shia leadership decided to march towards Secretariat Islamabad. As soon as the announcement was made, Islamabad Police was ordered to attack the crowd with teargas, which created a panic in the crowd and they all started marching towards the Secretariat. One of the teargas shells hit one of the demonstrators in the head which went through his skull and the victim died at the spot. The crowdreached Secretariat Islamabad after few hours, where the sit-in was announced by the Shia leadership. The sit-in forced Zia after two days to backtrack and he agreed to exempt Shias from Zakat deduction and change the laws for inheritence. Known as the Islamabad Accord, President Zia al Haq viewed it as a personal humiliation as it sent a strong message across the country that his so-called ‘Islamisation’ was not acceptable to all Pakistanis.

As a matter of fact that was the beginning of the opposition of Shias at State level. It was the Islamabad Accord which signalled the start of sectarian war in Pakistan more than Saudi-Iran proxy war or Afghan Jihad. Military Dictator President Zia al Haq viewed Shias as a threat to be controlled and, therefore, first instigated a split in the Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Fiqah-Jafaria in 1984 with the help of his intelligence agencies. Second, and more importantly, he approved the appearance on the scene of the anti-Shia sectarian organisation Anjuman Sipah Sahaba later renamed Sipah Sahaba Pakistan. The formation of the Imamia Students Organisation soon after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the rise of Arif al Hosseini to top positions who was later murdered in Peshawar on August 5, 1988. The emergence of a new class of Shia religious clerics who had either spent most of their time in Iran or were ideologically allied to Tehran. More importantly, it also invited backlash against Shias when the Saudis bankrolled Pakistani-state sponsored madrassahs during the Afghan Jihad in the 1980s, which resulted in the rise of sectarian outfits. The first major sectarian riots in Pakistan broke out in 1983 in Karachi and later spreading to Lahore and Balochistan.

“In May 1988, low-intensity political rivalry and sectarian tension ignited into full-scale carnage as thousands of armed tribesmen from outside Gilgit district invaded Gilgit along the Karakoram Highway. Nobody stopped them. They destroyed crops and houses, lynched and burnt people to death in the villages around Gilgit town. The number of dead and injured was in the hundreds. But numbers alone tell nothing of the savagery of the invading hordes and the chilling impact it has left on these peaceful valleys.” The Herald April 1990 

Malik Ishaq, the leader of one of Pakistan’s most notorious anti-Shia extremist groups Lashkar-e-Jhangvi declared Shia Muslims “the greatest infidels on earth” and demanded that the Pakistani state “declare Shia non-Muslims on the basis of their beliefs.” Lashkar-e-Jhangvi death squads are believed to have been responsible for the killings of thousands of Shias throughout the country, including a campaign of targeted murders in 2011 which killed Shia doctors, lawyers and politicians residing in Karachi.

A fierce crackdown by security forces in 2015 which resulted in a dramatic drop in sectarian violence. The crackdown culminated in July 2015 when Malik Ishaq was killed in a firefight with police along with 13 fellow militants. The shootout wiped out much of the top leadership of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

On September 11 and 12 this month, mainstream religious right-wing parties, allied with banned outfits, held mass rallies to demand stricter blasphemy laws and for the Islam Protection Bill recently passed by the Punjab Assembly to be replicated across Pakistan. The protesters demanding a ban on Muharram processions that marks the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and his followers on 10, Muharram 61 AH. The commotion followed the detention of a Shia cleric in Karachi under blasphemy laws for leading Ziyarat-e-Ashura, a prayer that salutes the martyrs of the Battle of Karbala, on Channel 24 News on Sept. 13. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority issued a notice to the news channel and suspended its license for 15 days, and its owner was arrested.

The tragic irony of this increasingly violent sectarianism is that Friday’s demonstration saw thousands of protesters rally near the tomb of Muhammad Ali Jinnah who himself was a Shia Muslim though he maintained a secular public religious identity and preached the same for the country. Once a respected and well-integrated minority in a country and count the nation’s founder as one of their own, Shia Muslims within Pakistan have become a community under siege in recent years and are facing a situation which is increasingly being described by many as a slow-motion genocide.

The Pakistani state and political parties have been a bystander, and an accomplice, in the Shia cleansing. The Tahaffuz e Bunyad-e-Islam legislation, passed by the politicians in Punjab Assembly. The political ramifications of such a gathering cannot escape anyone, particularly in the wake of the fact that an anti-Shia movement there had once led to the killing of a large number of Shias, including professionals and other prominent persons. The State of Pakistan must not ignore the fact that the sectarianism is a dangerous political tool, even worse than religiosity. Wake up!

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.

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.

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?

Bani Israel

There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds. When I look back at my school days, I can only recall a grotesque impression of Jews, nothing positive about them, and I am afraid after four decades it hasn’t change much. Religious hate and bigotry has been immensely increased against minorities in different parts of the world.

Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

― Yehuda Bauer

The Holocaust is more than a warning from the past. A phantom of the Jews haunted Europe in the 1930s. Concurrently feared and despised as a Christ killer, a devil, subversive revolutionary and capitalist exploiter, callous upholder of an antiquated religion and insidious exponent of cultural modernism. Increasingly excluded from normal society and expelled from common human fellowship, the Jew was a subhuman, eventually almost everywhere a haunted beast.

Some Christians often blame the Jews for the death of Jesus. But this blame should probably be limited to the Jewish religious leaders, who had managed to keep some of their power by cooperating with the Romans. Crucifixion was a Roman method of punishment, and it is a basic fact that Roman soldiers, not Jews, put Jesus on the cross. A compromise view is that, Jewish leaders and Romans, played major roles, but only Jews paid the price.

In the 1920s the European Jews had presented the appearance of a vibrant and flourishing people. For the first time in their history they were recognised as citizens in every country they lived. However within the short space of two decades a dramatic change transformed. By 1939, two years before the Nazi decision to commit genocide, Jews had been deprived of civil rights and were in the process of being turned into outcasts. The great masses of Jews in east-central Europe were sunk in dire poverty. Whether in the Poland, Germany, France or USSR, Jews sincerely protested their loyalty to states of which they were citizens. Confronted by violent enmity, they embarked on a road toward collective oblivion that appeared to be the price of individual survival. Jewish culture was in retreat, as a result. Religious practice was decreasing and the orthodox, in particular, felt embattled and threatened. The cultural glue that had long bound Jews together was losing its cohesive power. The European Jews in the 1930s were actors in their own history.

By January 1939 more and more Jews in Europe were being reduced to wandering refugees. All over the continent, Jews were evicted from their homes and forced to live in camps. Growing numbers were confined in concentration camps, not just in Germany but in France and Netherlands too. The expulsion fever spread to Southeast Europe. Yugoslavia started deporting Jewish refugees who had arrived from Germany and Italy. At the end of April the Bulgarian and Romanian governments ordered the expultion of alien Jews. In Western Europe too, refugees were confined to camps. From there to mass murder was not an inevitable step.

Hitler explicitly stated in his September 1919 letter that, the Jews are definitely a race and not a religious community. This was fundamental to his anti-Semitic belief. Despite a desperate search to identify a test for Jewish blood, the Nazis never managed to find a scientific way of telling whether or not an individual was a member of the Jewish race or not. As a result, once the Nazis started to prosecute and eventually exterminate Jews, they had to rely on a Jewishness test that was religious. The primacy of race in human history was so central to Hitler’s world view that he would never let the small matter of science get in the way of his belief. The idea that racial hygiene was central to the health of a nation that the Jews were a racial threat to Aryan people, added a potentially catastrophic element to the anti-Semitic brew. Traditional anti-Semitism had been based on religion. If the Jews converted to Christianity then they had a chance of escaping persecution. But the idea that Jewishness was something inherent in an individual, in the blood.

The invasion of Austria and the subsequent union of the country with Germany was a success for Hitler’s regime. Hitler’s self confidence rose in the wake of the Nazi conquest of Austria.

Hitler claimed that his existence was part of a supernatural plan, whoever believes in God must admit: when the fate of a people is altered within three days, then this is divine judgement, and that since God had now decreed that Germany and Austria should be united then, what the Lord has joined together, let no man divide.

Around 37,000 German Jews left Germany in 1933. Many of them went to neighbouring France or The Netherlands. The action against the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto was one of the most atrocious of all the horrors of the Holocaust. Almost all of the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto were sent to the death camp at Treblinka. By June 1942, the first death factories of the Holocaust were in place, and the Nazis had created a method of killing that allowed them to murder in considerable numbers. This specialised death camp was the largest and most deadly. Around 850,000 people were murdered here between summer of 1942 and autumn 1943, around a quarter of a million of them from Warsaw ghetto. The Schutzstaffel, known as SS was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler achieved this killing because Treblinka had been built with a railway spur leading directly into the camp. The SS were able to speed up the unloading of the Jews and their transportation to the gas chambers. An obvious precondition for the deception was that the presence of large numbers of dead bodies was hidden from the arriving Jews. The killing appeared to progress efficiently for SS, with about 5,000 to 7,000 Jews murdered each day.

I wanted to post the picture of Dr Fritz Klein who was a German Nazi doctor and war criminal, standing in a mass grave surrounded by corpses around him, but couldn’t. He was hanged for his role in atrocities at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Holocaust. When asked how he reconciled his actions with his ethical obligations as a physician, Klein famously stated:

My Hippocratic Oath tells me to cut a gangrenous appendix out of the human body. The Jews are the gangrenous appendix of mankind. That’s why I cut them out.

On July 11,1944 Sir Winston Churchill wrote: There is no doubt that this is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world, and it has been done by scientific machinery by nominally civilized men in the name of a great State and one of the leading races of Europe. Declarations should be made in public, so that everyone connected with it will be hunted down and put to death.

But words of outrage and threat on their own didn’t directly help the Jews who were dying in AUSCHWITZ.

Whore of Babylon

Several terms are becoming derogatory and indecent as human race is moving forward. In Oct 2010 President Barack Obama signed a legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government.
Prostitution has been practiced throughout ancient and modern cultures. Prostitution has been described as the world’s oldest profession, and despite consistent attempts at regulation, it continues nearly unchanged.
Prostitution was commonplace in ancient Israel. There are a number of references to prostitution in the Hebrew Bible. The Biblical story of Judah and Tamar provides a depiction of prostitution being practiced in that time period. Prostitution in Ancient Rome was legal and licensed. In Ancient Rome, even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval. At the same time, the prostitutes themselves were considered shameful. Most prostitutes were slaves or freedwomen, and it is difficult to determine the balance of voluntary to forced prostitution. Because slaves were considered property under Roman law, it was legal for an owner to employ them as prostitutes. During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it helped prevent the greater evils of rape. However, sexual slavery was not considered prostitution and was very common during the Arab slave trade during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Women and girls from the Caucasus, Africa, Central Asia and Europe were captured and served as concubines in the harems of the Arab World.

Hooker, whore, and prostitute, call girl, hooker, harlot, slut, etc. etc.
At least to me I find all the above terms derogatory and disrespectful. Have we given any term to the men who pay these sex workers for their time? Why do they deserve any respect if women sex worker can’t?
Why are we judgemental towards the women sex workers?
Don’t you think men visiting brothels are prostitutes not women?
What’s a polite and respectful name for a prostitute?
Ask yourself this question honestly?