Islam Edit Bureau
in a Fragmented Country like Pakistan
Ammara Gul Mustafa
Muslim in Trump’s America
Killing: Murder Most Foul
Today Unity In Hypocrisy
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Ammara Gul Mustafa
incident of a father murdering his daughter, Saba and her husband, Karamat Ali,
happened within a few days of the incident of a mother who burnt her daughter,
Zeenat Rafiq, alive for eloping with a man of her choice whom she wished to
marry. This is just another incident amongst many in a series of violence
against women. Approximately, 1,000 women were killed in Pakistan in 2015,
according to the Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission. And they were killed by
relatives who believed that the girls/women had “compromised” their family’s
name. A majority of these crimes are known as “honour killings.”
plagued by a virus that is deeply embedded in the flawed thought processes of
certain “identity groups.” Obviously, these parents were influenced by their
own dysfunctional mindsets when they committed these deplorable crimes. Were
these so-called parents oblivious to the fact that they took a human life and
the law in their own hands? Were they unaware of the fact that 1,400 years ago
Islam gave women the right to choose whom they wished to marry? And they
certainly did not care that the law of our state has legalised women to marry
whomsoever they wished to once they reach adulthood.
to some surveys conducted recently, such acts are less common amongst the
educated/liberal’ segment of our society. These crimes are more common amongst
the ones living in remote rural areas or those who have been deprived of proper
education and have been raised in a male dominated, patriarchal set-up. In such
set-ups, women are taught from a young age that their brothers have a right to
education and a better standard of living, and they are being raised merely as
chattel that are there only to be a submissive species amongst males.
strongly ingrained in these women that their main purpose in life is to be
obedient towards their husbands, parents and in-laws, no matter how extreme the
torture bestowed upon them is. Their own views, preferences and outlook on how
they wish to live their lives are denied to them from the very beginning. I’ve
heard, many times, what is said to a number of women by their own parents once
they are married, “Do not come back here unless it is in your Janaza
education does play a role in grooming a person’s personality and way of
thinking, and it is one very important factor that contributes to a person’s
upbringing. Social environmental factors and cultural and religious elements
that they are raised in are very important attributes that form and shape an
is justified to say that this society is divided not only in terms of its
diverse cultural aspects, way of thinking, and social and religious
standpoints, but also in terms of knowing what fundamental human rights
actually are in the true sense of the word. Whereas one segment of our society
consisting of male-female human rights activists and parliamentarians are
working towards eradication of these crimes, yet another group believes them to
be un-Islamic due to their own system of beliefs.
of Women Protection Bill has been a long-awaited step towards empowerment of
oppressed women. However, similar bills were passed during the tenures of
governments of Asif Zardari, Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto as well. Having
a bill passed is an easy step, having it incorporated and implemented is an
entirely different matter. This new legislation faced criticism from some
parliamentarians who publically stated that this law would only lead to further
It is a
matter of common sense that no happily married couple opts for divorce, and any
parliamentarian suggesting that women should remain in shackles of torment and
suffering even if they are being oppressed is of course wrong. All who oppose
bills like the Women Protection Bill should be aware of the rights bestowed to
women 1,400 years ago by Islam, but alas, they seem to be oblivious to the fact
that Islam gave women the clause of khula (right of divorce), and that Prophet
Mohammad (PBUH) himself married a divorcee. Zaynab bint Jahsh married Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH) after her previous marriage ended. (Source: Sahih al-Bukhari)
al-Bukhari (Volume 7, Book 63, Number 197) Ibn Abbas narrates: The wife of
Thabit bin Qais came to the Prophet (PBUH), and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! I do
not blame Thabit for defects in his character or his religion, but I, being a
Muslim, dislike to behave in un-Islamic manner (if I remain with him).” To
that, Allah’s Apostle said, “Will you give back the garden that your husband
has given you [as mehr]?” She said, “Yes.” Then the Prophet (PBUH) said to
Thabit, “O Thabit! Accept your garden, and divorce her at once.”
Pakistan, there is a strange law that the families of those who murder a human
may be granted forgiveness by the other party and reach a mutual agreement.
This is another hindrance in decreasing these crimes. Perhaps if a severe
penalty was given without any right of negotiation or compensation then others
would be hesitant in committing such aggravated acts of murder in the future.
appalling to see popular public figures mislead the public and glorify
misogyny, when another segment of men and women and parliamentarians are trying
their best to enlighten citizens. A famous person like Junaid Jamshed, on
national TV, stated that women “should not be allowed to drive cars.” Such
views only serve as a catalyst for those elements that already hold women as a
“root cause from which all evil is derived.” How is driving a car un-Islamic?
It is a historical fact that Hazrat Ayesha (RA), daughter of the first Caliph
Abu Bakr, and widow of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), commanded an army battalion in
the battle of Jamal (The Camel). Hazrat Ayesha (RA) mounted on a camel, and
marched from Mecca at the head of 1,000 men. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book
If a camel
was the mode of transport for women in Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) era, then I
cannot comprehend what that makes a car. Is a car something other than a mode
of transport, commutation and travelling?
killings are crimes of passion, revenge and show of misplaced manhood, where
thinking faculties of people become dysfunctional and they are only overpowered
by an emotional reaction, based on their faulty idea of “honour” instilled in
them from an early age. Crimes against women can be eliminated from society
with the help of inter-governmental organisations, NGOs, human rights activists
and clerics of Islam who can propagate enlightened concepts and condemn these
outrageous acts as strictly un-Islamic. When severity of punishment is strictly
granted to criminals instead of a pardon, things will change. A pathway towards
a secular society that Mohammad Ali Jinnah intended to lay the foundations of
can be achieved. This would be a society where people of different sects and religious
beliefs are free to practise their religion, and live with freedom, unless they
are sabotaging another’s right to live with dignity.
Ammara Gul Mustafa is a lawyer, social activist,
and an aspiring author
Muslim in Trump’s America
the US Supreme Court upheld the decision to detain Fred Korematsu under
Executive Order No 9,066 issued by President Franklin D Roosevelt. Korematsu,
19 years of age, was among 120,000 US citizens of Japanese ancestry who were
removed from their homes and detained at internment centres in California and
Arizona. Most Japanese-Americans detained were Christians. Three-fourths were
born in the US. Many thousands could not even speak Japanese. But they all
looked like the enemy who had bombed Pearl Harbour.
no points for guessing who looks like the enemy today for many Americans. If
you are Muslim, born in America or have emigrated from Pakistan, Afghanistan or
the Middle East, then you fit the description. No amount of Facebook posts
condemning the savage attack in Orlando or highlighting the fact that Omar
Mateen’s faith had nothing to with the teachings of Islam, a religion of peace,
will make much difference.
mercilessly killed 49 innocent people in a gay nightclub, which he used to
frequent himself. The killings are cited as the worst terrorist attack on
American soil since 9/11. According to his Afghan immigrant father, it was
homophobia that led his son to violence. His former wife cites mental illness.
Gun control activists bemoan the ease with which he was able to access deadly
automatic weapons. But according to the next president of America, whether
Democrat or Republican, the cause is “radical Islamic terrorism”. Under
pressure from her rival, even the reluctant Hillary Clinton is now pointing
fingers at ‘radical Islamic terrorism’.
to the presumptive Republican nominee for US president, Donald Trump, “what has
happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and
ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough!” The ban Trump
wants is on the entry of all Muslims into America. He also wants to be tough on
those who have already gotten in.
How do you
get tough? Well, one idea peddled on the fringes of US politics till now, is to
repeat what the US did to its Japanese-American citizens after the Pearl
Harbour attack. In the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting last December,
where a young immigrant couple from Pakistan shot and killed 14 fellow
Americans, Trump was “asked whether he would have supported Japanese internment
camps”. He said that he “could not say for certain”.
being investigated and interviewed three times, Omar Mateen was not deemed to
be terrorist material by the FBI. It is the failure to understand what drove
the New York-born Mateen to commit mass murder in a gay club and the
unfortunate inevitability that others may follow in his path that makes the
unthinkable thinkable — forced relocation of a stigmatised community.
not called for interning American Muslims. At least not yet. But, there were
other voices, even before Orlando, who supported such proposals for individuals
if not the entire community. According to the Oxford-educated, US General
Wesley Clark, “It is our right and obligation to segregate [radical Muslims]
from the normal community for the duration of the conflict.”
months since the terrorist attacks in Paris last November and the mass shooting
in San Bernardino last December, “reports of attacks and threats against
Muslims in the United States have surged” according to The New York Times. The
level of ignorance involved in such attacks is such that vandals spray-painted
abusive graffiti that referred to the Islamic State on a Sikh temple.
American people face a great challenge. In the battle against terror, they must
fight the flames of ignorance and fear lest it engulfs their most cherished
ideals of freedom. There is much to be learned from the lessons of 1942 when an
entire community was stigmatised with collective guilt for the actions of a
of Fred Korematsu, the 19-year-old Japanese-American who refused to be detained
under Executive Order No 9,066, bears repeating. Many years later, Korematsu
told reporters, “I didn’t feel guilty because I didn’t do anything wrong… Every
day in school, we said the pledge to the flag, ‘with liberty and justice for
all’ and I believed all that. I was an American citizen and I had as many
rights as anyone else.”
in the United States (US) keep asking: why do they hate us? The “they” is all
the people in the rest of the world that are directly or indirectly responsible
for terrorist activity directed against US “interests.” These politicians
conveniently forget all the countries the US and its allies keep bombing into
rubble. The only major act of terrorism committed over the last many decades
inside the US by “foreign” nationals is obviously what happened on 9/11. Since
then most major “terrorist” actions have been carried out by US citizens. As
such the question that should be asked is why so many US citizens are so full
of hate that they are willing to commit random murders.
are pretty common in the US. And the Lesbian-Gay-Bi-Trans (LGBT) communities
have been frequent victims of hate crime. The latest attack on a gay club in
Orlando is really a hate crime. There are reports that the attacker, a native
born American Muslim, declared his sympathy and allegiance to the Islamic State
of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) just before the attacks, but there is no evidence that
he had any direct connections with them. Because of these “declarations” the
attack is also being classified as terrorism. Reports have brought out a
history of spousal abuse and homophobia. Without indulging in armchair
psychoanalysis, it is still fair to say that Omar Mateen had a troubled past.
But then everybody with a troubled past does not pick up an automatic rifle and
go on a killing spree.
minds of most people living in the US including Muslims the big question is
what Islam as a religion has to with such outbursts of violence committed by
Muslims and directed against fellow Americans. The term used by officials is
“radicalisation” of Muslim youth that leads them to terrorist activity. So far
most of the Muslims involved in such activity were grown men and not “youths.”
In my opinion, radicalising grown up men is rather difficult but what does
happen is that as these men grow up they do accumulate grievances against a
society for real or imagined slights. And of course, if they are living in the
US they do confront things that they believe to be contrary to Islamic values.
And that in my opinion is the major problem. The Islamic values being imparted
to Muslims in many mosques and Islamic centres in the US are quite conducive to
Many of the
older members of different Muslim religious congregations in the US do not pay
much attention to what the prayer leaders in these mosques are saying. Many in
the first generation of American Muslims grew up in Muslim majority countries,
and for most of them what was “happening” in the mosques constituted a
relatively small part of the Islamic environment that they lived in. But
younger people born or growing up in the US are more susceptible since they do
not have a large Muslim society around to balance out what they hear in the
mosques. In time these young people absorb these ideas and start to accept
extreme points of view. What the Islamic preachers in the mosques are pushing
is the lifestyle acceptable to those running Saudi Arabia. Why they do that is
an interesting question, and perhaps US authorities need to concentrate on that
a bit also.
Here I must
blame some of us among the older generation of American Muslims, at least a
little bit. Most of us are comfortable with our religious feelings and have
little need to monitor what goes on in the mosques and the Islamic centres. So,
many of us abandon our children to the sort of extremism being peddled in many
of these “Islamic” centres, and don’t really think much about what they are
learning. When these otherwise “well-brought up” children suddenly want to
emulate men and women in Saudi Arabia, we get confused and cannot figure out
why this happened.
parents abandon their children’s intellectual needs, strange things can happen
to those children. Not just that they might become radicalised but they could
well swing to the other end of the spectrum. Of course, I am not talking about
children being brought up in broken homes or in great poverty and deprivation.
Most incidents of excessive religious zeal leading to terrorist attacks in the
US have not been committed by people coming from poor backgrounds. The poor
have no time for morality; they are just too busy trying to survive.
“austere” brand of Islam that many of the Islamic centres are pushing and is
also being glorified by ISIS and other Islamist sources in social media and on
the Internet have some things in common: misogyny, gay-bashing and justified
violence against “non-believers”. Mateen evidently imbibed all these lessons
and then acted on them. Muslims insist that this particular “lone wolf” does
not represent the Muslim community in the US, but they are not willing to
repudiate the anti-women, anti-LGBT and pro-jihad sentiments that are openly
expressed in the local Muslim environments. It is correct that very few if any
Muslims in the US support ISIS or want anybody to commit acts of terrorism in
the US. But they are not willing to entirely repudiate the religious ideology
that motivates ISIS.
that call the US home must learn to live with the cultural values and legal
norms that surround them. All citizens including women, members of different
ethnicities and religious beliefs as well as members of the LGBT community are
equal under the law. Unless American Muslims accept these values they will
always be malcontent. And Muslim malcontents will be susceptible to
radicalisation by extremists. If Muslims in Muslim majority countries can also
accept these values then it will be much more difficult for ISIS to find
recruits to fight its battles. But then that is a different battle for a
Today Unity in Hypocrisy
month of Ramadan (I assure you, Ramzan or Ramazan will suffice as well, I have
opted to use Ramadan, though) has arrived once again. According to Muslims, it
is supposed to be a time where the ummah (however much of it one believes to
exist) comes together in fasting, prayers and communion. In the West, Muslims
often go about promoting their belief in God to non-Muslims, along with
tolerance and unity that exists within their faith, over the course of this
before the month of Ramadan even begins, Muslims seem to be at each other’s
throats, year after year. Therefore, as another year passes by, along comes
another edict, issued by over 50 muftis, against Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai of
the Qasim Ali Mosque in Peshawar. Only this time, the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee
has likened Popalzai to the Taliban, and also stated that having a dialogue
with him “is a waste of time.” This of course, is nothing new, and protests against
the Qasim Ali Mosque, in this regard, have consistently taken place for years.
However, it does raise the question of why Muslims are not realising that such
trivial matters are holding them back from coming closer together, and
improving as a community of people.
there are more inconsequential issues that often result in explosive barrages
by Muslims, especially Pakistani Muslims, and tend to put them at loggerheads
with each other. The most prevalent of these, is of course, the ever famous and
often ridiculed, Ramadan versus Ramzan argument. This has to be one of the most
absurd topics to argue about, anywhere in the world, yet unsurprisingly, it is
a common argument in Pakistan. Nonetheless, people who do not understand it
will more often than not be baffled by the existence of such a pointless
In fact, a
recent satirical video by Pakistani comedian, Junaid Akram, takes a dig at this
nonsensical argument in hilarious fashion and perfectly explains this
unnecessary conundrum that we have created for ourselves. However, if the
argument that Ramadan is the only pronunciation of the word is pushed forth,
several Pakistanis, including myself, will have to start pronouncing our names
differently, because they happen to be words with Arabic roots, which cannot be
“correctly” pronounced in Pakistani languages. Maybe, we can start using our
minds for more important matters, such as eradicating such obstinate views from
thought processes of our society.
this miniscule example does help shed some light on why Muslims and Pakistan as
a nation have fallen so far behind in pretty much every form of progress, be it
through science, the arts or even sport. The fact that we are unwilling to
accept positions of others on topics we ourselves do not seem to aptly
understand is hypocrisy at its very finest. And this only leads us on a
dangerous path towards bigotry, ignorance and intolerance. All of which
disallows us from progressing as human beings. After all, interpretations,
diverging views and differences in opinion, are an inherent part of human
nature. And the history of Islamic faith has also served as an example in
explaining this very aspect of human thought.
passing away of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), which took place over 1,400 years ago,
there has been one consistency amongst Muslims, much like the aforementioned
examples, and that is consistent arguments or differences (as mentioned, it is
also the case with any other movement, faith or belief system). Only in the
case of the Sunni-Shia divide it has expanded significantly, often through
political manipulation, and has, unsurprisingly, resulted in violence, Takfiri
(a Sunni Muslim who accuses another Muslim or an adherent of another Abrahamic
faith of apostasy) and killings.
this is simply another example of how Muslims have become highly intolerant
today, especially when it comes to divergence of opinion, amongst several other
things, and the differences that will always manifest between people, no matter
what situation is put in front of them. Rather than arguing over issues long
past, would it be wrong to consider these differences in opinion, as the very
essence of Islam, much like the diverse set of principles, values and ideals
that Muslims across the world hold onto and believe in?
but until we do not stop worrying over who has sighted the Ramadan moon
correctly, and whether saying Ramadan is better than Ramzan, and vice versa, it
is difficult to see us breaking away from differences that have been justified
as means to kill, shame and call others kafirs (infidels). Alas, another Ramzan
will pass by, and we will be hiding our bigotry under so-called unity and
communion, for several years to come.
is a research coordinator at the South Asia Study Group
have tense relations with three of our four neighbours, clearly our foreign
policy cannot be deemed to be a brilliant success.
further mark of its abject failure, we have been unable to sustain good
relations with our principal benefactor and the world’s sole superpower, the
United States. The goal of any foreign policy is to maintain good ties with
neighbours; to promote security and trade; and to enhance the country’s image
these measures, successive governments since the 1980s have failed. Even when
9/11 gave us a chance to rehabilitate ourselves in the world’s eyes, we chose
to continue using jihadists and mercenary militants as proxies to further our
agenda in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
elected governments have faced in implementing a consistent foreign policy
rooted in national self-interest is that over the years, the military has
succeeded in wresting effective control of its direction and goals. And as we
know, our generals view the world exclusively through the prism of the
perceived threat from India.
without a lobbyist in the US has not helped us.
have torpedoed Nawaz Sharif’s earlier attempts to promote trade with our
neighbour, as well as India’s and Afghanistan’s request for overland transit.
This has inevitably led to an Indo-Iranian deal for Indian access to
Afghanistan via the Iranian port of Chabahar. Talk about own goals.
problem in fashioning a coherent foreign policy is Pakistan’s evolution into a
security state. When we see threats everywhere, we lose sight of opportunities.
There was a brief window, shortly after 9/11, when we could have cooperated
wholeheartedly with the US in crushing the Afghan Taliban. This would have
reduced the threat of the militancy that subsequently took root in our tribal
the ‘good Taliban’, ‘bad Taliban’ game that allowed groups including the
Haqqani network to set up bases on our soil and use them to attack targets in
Afghanistan, we have ended up with a lethal home-grown threat, as well as
strained relations with Washington. So when we are unable to obtain the F-16s
we sought from America, we know the reason.
current gripe with the US is that country’s support for Indian admission to the
Nuclear Suppliers Group. This, our Foreign Office argues, would tilt the
strategic balance in India’s favour. We also resent the continuing American
pressure to rein in our growing nuclear arsenal.
forget that these concerns spring from our past record of nuclear
proliferation. After A.Q. Khan confessed to selling designs and equipment to
Iran, Libya and North Korea, nobody believed the official line that he was acting
alone. To demand admission to the NSG after this murky episode is to live in
cloud cuckoo land.
countries base their foreign policy on self-interest. In Pakistan, apart from
an overwhelming security dimension, ideology is also a dominant factor. Thus,
while we rightly support the Palestinian cause, for example, we refuse to see
that unnecessarily making an enemy of Israel weakens our case in Washington.
Arab states, on the other hand, deal with Israel both formally and informally
in their self-interest.
bizarre reason, this government has discontinued the practice of hiring a
lobbying firm in Washington. When I worked at our embassy in the US capital in
1989-90, we dealt closely with Mark Siegel’s firm. Though he was a
controversial figure in Pakistan due to his close friendship with Benazir
Bhutto, the fact is that he had very close links with the Democrats, and
counted many journalists among his friends. Our embassy received detailed
reports on the thinking in Congress, as well as on media coverage of Pakistan.
law permits paid professionals to lobby lawmakers on behalf of states,
corporations and individuals. These lobbyists are often ex-congressmen and
retired civil servants who know how the system works, and are often on first-name
terms with key congressional committee members. These players are wined and
dined by lobbyists at Washington’s best restaurants, and if the budget permits,
are invited to expensive jaunts to regions where clients have an interest. If
this sounds like institutionalised corruption, that’s exactly what it is.
Fatemi, the prime minister’s special assistant on foreign affairs, has worked
in Washington and knows how the system there works. So the absence of a
lobbyist is doubly surprising. Nawaz Sharif, despite his insistence on
retaining the foreign minister’s portfolio, is generally clueless about
international relations, so his decision not to appoint a lobbyist displays his
insecurity. According to a report in this newspaper, he shot down a proposal
from GHQ because he feared the lobbyist would promote our military in
paranoia and our many hang-ups, it should surprise nobody that our foreign
policy is such a mess. Ultimately, no diplomat or lobbyist can successfully
market a bad product.