Published On: Tue, Nov 14th, 2017

A point to ponder!

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It is very unfortunate that our clergy has been hindering our masses from becoming enlightened. At a time when clerics in the Council of Islamic Ideology justify child marriage, discard DNA as primary evidence in rape cases and insist that the victim produce four eye witnesses or face punishment for  adultery,  demand abolition of co-education and allow husbands to beat wives ‘lightly,’  one continues to be reminded that one is not living in a  country Iqbal had dreamed of.

A country where minorities are maltreated, women subjected to violence  and those accused of blasphemy killed by mobs without being heard by a court is definitely not the  one  visualized by Iqbal. Iqbal recognized the importance of change. Some of his best poems celebrate the phenomenon. His views about some of the crucial issues of Muslim jurisprudence stress the need for taking into cognisance  socio-economic developments instead of following blindly the practices of a bygone era as religious parties  in Pakistan preach.

His views about harsh laws like chopping off hands and  stoning to death are opposed to those of the hidebound clergy of today. As he put it in The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam “The Shariat injunctions resulting from this application (e.g. rules relating to penalties for crimes) are in a sense specific to that people; and since their observance is not an end in itself they cannot be strictly enforced in the case of future generations.”

Iqbal also justified bank interest as the lifeblood of modern commerce despite  opposition from  the clerics. As pointed out by Javed Iqbal, the Jinnah-Iqbal correspondence on the issue of shariah, “points to the establishment of a state based on Islam’s welfare legislation; it does not propose that in the new state any laws pertaining to cutting of the hands (for theft) and stoning to death (for fornication) would be enforced.” The  mullah, or the  cleric, appears in Iqbal’s poetry not as a role model or a political leader but a mischievous person who inculcates sectarian and religious hatred, putting people and nations against one another. Unless the modernist views of Iqbal and Jinnah are made a part of text books, the country will see neither peace nor progress. As simple as that.


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