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Welcome to Chowraha - crossroads!

Chowraha is the crossroads of thoughts, events, opinions and feelings...all that have been shaped by individuals living in an increasingly complex world inter-connected through various means of communications.

This blog is about the crossroads in society - whether it is those of a diaspora community, global media complicating the structure of nations and cultures, or individuals finding parallels in spaces unknown to them.

Note:
The above picture is courtesy a much-admired photographer (Ali Khurshid) whose work is a source of inspiration and reaffirms the belief in the complex beauty of this world.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The debate on the meaning of Pakistan


Pakistan is a state. But what kind of a state is it? Is it a nation state? Is it a country for Pakistanis? If it is then we need to understand who Pakistanis are. Are they a group of people who speak the same language? Or are they from the same race? The only commonality amongst all Pakistanis (or at least 95% of them) is Islam. This is why during the movement for independence of Pakistan the slogan on the tongue of Pakistanis was پاکستان کا مطلب کیا؟ لا الہ الا اللہ (What does Pakistan mean? There is no god but Allah). The slogan was the heart beat of every Muslim of subcontinent who supported a separate homeland. And this is why the leaders of Pakistan movement created a slogan مسلم ہو تو مسلم لیگ میں آو (Muslims should be Muslim Leaguers). These slogans were rationalized by Quaid e Azam in his speech at many occasions. 

One such occasion was his address to Civil, Naval, Military and Air Force officers of the Pakistan government at Khalaqdina hall, Karachi on 11th October, 1947.  He said: “The idea was that 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.” 

Just 19 days later (30th October, 1947) in a speech at a rally at the University stadium Lahore; the Quaid categorically said that “We have been the victims of a deeply-laid and well-planned conspiracy executed with utter disregard of the elementary principles of honesty, chivalry and honor. We thank Providence for giving us the courage and faith to fight these forces of evil. If we take our inspiration and guidance from the Holy Quran, the final victory, I once again say, will be ours.

Thus, Pakistan was founded on solid ideological foundation. This ideology was further communicated to the nation by the founding fathers in the form of Objective resolution. The forces of evil are till today conspiring against Pakistan. Our ignorance from our ideology and history is further complicating the situation. 

Many people not aware of Quaid’s vision for Pakistan assume that Pakistan was created to protect the cultural heritage of the Muslims. If that was the case then Quaid e Azam would not have appointed Leopold Weis as the member of “Islamic Education Board” and later as permanent representative of Pakistan to UN in New York. This Leopold Weis (Muhammad Asad) in May 1947 in his column in a magazine “Arafat” said: “It is impossible to create nationalism amongst the Muslims of India on the basis of race because Muslim nation over here is based on diversified racial background. But I am afraid that Pakistan’s ideological basis can be derailed because of another reason. That fear is because of overemphasis on “cultural heritage”. Instead of talking about “common ideological basis”; emphasis is being given on specific cultural, social norms and tradition and common economic benefits. There is no doubt that cultural norms and traditions and economic interests will play an important part in future shaping of the nation. But what needs to be remembered is that these important characteristics cannot be separated from our ideological vision”. 

So it is the strengthening of this ideological vision that will strengthen Pakistan. An ideology whose source of “inspiration and guidance is the Holy Quran”. It is this Holy book that directs us to find the best principles in the character of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him)
لقد کان لکم فی رسول اللہ اسوہ حسنہ
And his example motivates us to create a state on the lines of the Islamic State of Madinah. A state where the cornerstone of the society was love and brotherhood amongst humans. A society that ensured that no rich sleeps while a poor goes hungry. A government that was not only worried about the death of humans due to hunger on its border but also of animals. A country that respects the “family” as an important unit. A state that facilitates humans to recognize God’s love and pursue happiness in his love.

Enemies of such a state – commonly accuse that a state founded on the basis of Islam will be cruel to minorities. But they forget (and so do many Muslims) that an Islamic state does not protect minorities due to its secular duties but also because of its divine ordainment. Prophet’s instruction warns Muslims that he himself will be witness against those Muslims who will oppress minorities. The constitution of Madinah sets an example where the articles regarding Jews read something like:
  • Jews (of the state) will be treated equal and helped. They will not be oppressed and no one will be helped against them.
  • The Jews of Bani Auf along with Muslims will be one political unit. To Jews their religion and to Muslims their religion.  
This is why throughout Muslim history; people of other religions found safe haven in Muslim lands. Spain under Ummayyads and Turkey under Ottomans were the best examples. And this is what the Quaid had in mind when he said:
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan.” (Presidential address to the constituent assembly of Pakistan at Karachi on 11th August, 1947)

Only three days later during the transfer of power ceremony; Mountbatten suggested tolerance like in the era of Emperor Akbar. At this the Quaid said:
“The tolerance and goodwill that the Emperor Akbar showed to all the non-Muslims is not of recent origin. It dates back thirteen centuries ago when our prophet (PBUH) not only by words but by deeds treated the Jews and Christians, after he had conquered them, with the utmost tolerance and regard for their faith and beliefs.”



Revinq
19th January, 2013

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