Op-ed

A nation stuck in dogma

Muhammad Ali Zafar Naqvi

Essentially, we need to cognize the idea of reluctant fundamentalism and then collectivism and individualism in order to comprehend the crux of religious freedom. Religious autonomy is the privilege of an individual but the phenomena of religious freedom is not imbued in the individualistic characters it is deemed to be collective notion. Like the Bill of rights and Magna Carta are still a part of the modern fundamental human rights; similarly, religious autonomy is a feature of a fraction of a society which altogether safeguards the religious amalgamation. Such grouping has done terrific work in the histories. In the wake of Freedom of religion all the social constructs get challenged and we see a new rivalry between the customary norms and religious jurisprudence law.
After the abrogation of the constitution of 1962, a lot of efforts were duly done by one of the biggest political celebrities Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in order to ensure unanimity from all the Maulvies of different sects. It became a cliché that constitution writing was unbiased and non-controversial in nature; it never was finally implemented until and unless concerns of all the Madrasas were addressed but here is a twist, he did not bother to involve the religious minorities into this process. Just putting aside some generic jurisdictional approaches was really no sufficient. It must have been substantiated by the proper channelization of rights and duties of that sect.
However, historians like Z.A Chaudhary presume that firstly, it was not mandatory to get entered into the good books of a small fraction of the society, so he never bothered to get their full fledge response; secondly, despite being a liberal and educated secularly, Bhutto and his wing was afraid of the antagonistic sentiments of the opposition which would have highly affected their popularity as conservative Muslims looked down upon the sectarian minorities. Thirdly, it itself is a very time-consuming process and complicated as well. These are the line of arguments which averted the criticism of minorities’ negligence
The Holy Quran says: “The guardian has been bestowed upon you in the form of first Allah, second Prophet Pub and third Ul-Il-Amar among you.”
Much advantage of this metaphorical language was taken in the Zia Regime. He implemented his own interpretation of UL-IL Amar (which means the one having divine command) explaining it as the Ruler, simply, which was quite an innovative explanation. Before the advent of Islam there had been many non-Muslim rulers who used un-Islamic laws and encoded them, so will these celestial orders pertain to them as well?
It was altogether alleged autocracy but due to Zia’s might, such a notion never got challenged; when the concept of religious freedom got questioned the censored version of Quran was always provided as evidence. However, notwithstanding the doctrine of equity promulgated by the messengers, Pakistani constitution faced many encumbrances and became a narrow strict constitution.
The freedom to exercise religion was constitutionally removed with the system of zakat being forcefully incorporated. Shia sect was given relief as they have somewhat a different set of jurisprudential procedures. On all the accounts, Profit loss sharing system was applied just to uproot the menace of interest which is discouraged of Islam. The order of his regime to ensure the observance of Salat got applauded; this means that a person was not free to practice even his own religion at his own will. There was simply a set time at which all were to appear before God. Hoodooed Ordinance again looked into the eyes of all the criminals which were appreciated by the community; it expounded upon the various punishments for nefarious crimes and Sharia law would be enforced thereto. Offences like Rape, Fornication, Maltreatment of Children (Child abuse) and robbery.
Some critics argue that for the cult of Muslims, it was biggest blessing as the Muslims were enjoying total religious setup which reminded them of the time of the Holy Prophet; as per them Westernization is a bane which has plunged deeply into the civilizational premises of the holy Muslims. Removal of all the elements which don’t stand in alignment with the fundamentalists was deemed as the last resort. The channel of negotiations and tolerance could have been a much better option. Wretchedly, it could not be witnessed.