Refuting Najam Sethi’s editorial Passions of Bangladesh
17th century Western thought was already yielding skepticism, empiricism and humanism, all diminutives of the completely God-free ideas of secularism and atheism that were to strengthen its feet in European ideology by the following two centuries. Hegel, whose dialectic methodology had initially cast its color upon Iqbal’s thinking, too, was a hidden proponent of atheistic thoughts himself. Perhaps the realizations of the emptiness of the Western thought and the devastation it was headed to forced Iqbal to put his hopes away from Western philosophy and revert to the Quran as soul-giver to true knowledge.
In his 1930 Allahabad Address, Iqbal said, ‘In Europe Christianity was understood to be a purely monastic order which gradually developed into a vast church organization. The protest of Luther was directed against this church organization, not against any system of polity of a secular nature, for the obvious reason that there was no such polity associated with Christianity. And Luther was perfectly justified in rising in revolt against this organization; though, I think, he did not realize that in the peculiar conditions which obtained in Europe, his revolt would eventually mean the complete displacement of [the]universal ethics of Jesus by the growth of a plurality of national and hence narrower systems of ethics’.
In the above lines, Iqbal has made it clear that Europe’s turning away from Christianity had been by virtue of its inability to create a sociopolitical system for its masses, and the desertion of the Church for all practical matters was going to eventuate into ‘national, hence narrower systems of ethics’. For Iqbal, therefore, nationality is a narrower thought compared to religion, whereas religion, which holds the ideals of universality and absoluteness, brings man to a heightened illumination, which is the basis required for true altruism. In such an understanding from an intense thinker such as Iqbal himself, what does a trivial thinker such as Najam Sethi have, when Sethi says:
‘…a significant majority of Pakistan’s youth are inclined to say “I am a Muslim” when asked the simple question “who are you?” rather than “I am a Pakistani”? This contrasts sharply with Muslims elsewhere in the world who are more likely to stress their nationality over their religion, eg, Arabs, Saudis, Malaysians, Chinese, Palestinians, Kuwaitis, Emiratees, Iranians, etc. Indeed, even Muslims in India would answer “Indian” rather than “Muslim”.’
Najam Sethi here seems to be a proponent of Karl Marx, who had gone one step further from Hegel in separating any idea of ‘spirit’ from the human process, reducing it to mere ‘material’ factors. Marx regarded religion to be the ‘opium of the masses’, and regarded change in material conditions as having primary influence on how society and economy are organized; thus making national interest the highest point of man’s thought. Further on, Mr. Sethi goes on shamelessly maligning the Quaid, saying:
‘…Mohammad Ali Jinnah, deliberately mixed up propagandistic notions of Islam, the religion and culture, “being in danger” with the fact of “economic and political discrimination” of Muslims in the body politic of India led by the predominantly Hindu-Congress.’
So Sethi and the liberal lot call Jinnah a secular first, and now they are resorting to call him a propagandist, and Islam needed not any safeguard in united India! Surely the stubborn minded, secular cult will never admit religion to be the most essential consideration for the Muslims of the subcontinent, and they knew practically that Islam was not practicable under alien circumstances. Iqbal had said:
‘The nature of the Prophet’s religious experience, as disclosed in the Quran, however, is wholly different. It is not mere experience in the sense of a purely biological event, happening inside the experient and necessitating no reactions on its social environment. It is individual experience creative of a social order. Its immediate outcome is the fundamentals of a polity with implicit legal concepts whose civic significance cannot be belittled merely because their origin is revelational.’
It was this Iqbal who wrote to the Quaid, inviting him back to the Subcontinent, as the only hope for Muslim unity and as a guardian who could secure an independent state for them that would ensure the ‘polity’ he saw created around the Prophet. He wrote to Jinnah in March 1937:
‘It is absolutely necessary to tell the world both inside and outside India that the economic problem is not the only problem in the country. From the Muslim point of view, the cultural problem is of much greater consequence to most Indian Muslims.’
He wrote again to Jinnah in May 1937, ‘But the enforcement and development of the Shariat of Islam is impossible in this country without a free Muslim state or states… If such a thing is impossible in India, the only other alternative is a civil war, which as a matter of fact has been going on for some time in the shape of Hindu-Muslim riots. I fear that in certain parts of the country, e.g. N.W. India, Palestine may be repeated.’
So the work of Sethi and the likes is simply to invert the reason why this country has been made, – the only state made upon ‘ideology’, the ideology of which was securing Islam as the ‘way of living’ of its citizens. Sethi says, ‘Unfortunately, however, after the creation of Pakistan, the political leaders of the new nation state continued to clutch at “Islamic ideology” rather than secular democracy for purposes of legitimacy and conjured up “Hindu India” as the perennial external enemy seeking to undo Pakistan.’
So, according to Sethi, a ‘secular democracy’ is the only way for a legitimate state to exist. Does a secular democracy ensure the sovereignty of Allah over all matters? Does a secular democracy ensure the law given by the Quran and the Sunnah, or does it shun them off as obsolete? And did the Quaid aim for a ‘secular democracy’ using Islam only as a popular slogan to secure a revolution in the masses. ? Jinnah said:
‘When you talk of democracy, you are thoroughly dishonest. When you talk of democracy you mean Hindu Raj, to dominate over the Muslims, a totally different nation, different in culture, different in everything. You yourself are working for Hindu nationalism and Hindu Raj.’ (All-India Muslim League, Delhi, April 24, 1943.)
He said, ‘We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play.’ [October 11, 1947.)
Jinnah did not mean Islam to be a means to an end, merely a propaganda to be disposed of later; one year after the establishment of Pakistan, he said, ‘Now you have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and equality of manhood in your own native soil.’ (February 21, 1948, Ack Ack Regiments at Malir)
The question is, how does such an evident hater of Islam as Sethi, who deems ‘a singular Muslim identity in Pakistan’ to be the reason for ‘the rise of separatist ethnic movements no less than eruptions of Islamic terrorism and sectarianism’, find places of high office in the state of Pakistan? One who deplores the founding father of the nation, must answer first about his own loyalties to the state; he must answer why he has always been a proponent of the idea of the separation of Baluchistan, why the World Bank’s president pleaded for his release when he had been arrested for his ‘ attempt to destabilize the state’? He must also answer how his person fits between the infamous deal made between Geo TV and the USAID.
What kind of a democracy does this ‘cult of seculars’ want, when the majority of this nation professes Islam as their belief system? Is democracy not the will of the majority? If so, then the only democracy that will work for Pakistan is an Islamic democracy and none other!
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