Concept of Muslims as "victims" - need for re-thinking

Daily Times, July 26, 2005
SECOND OPINION: The Muslims may not be so ‘mazloom’ —Khaled Ahmed’s TV Review

Ayaz Amir was right but Ahmad Javed, whose purism is normally frightening, agreed with him from a defeatism which is equally threatening to normal life. Secularism has to be accepted with sincerity, not because the Muslims are retrograde

The theme of the victimhood of the Muslims has gained currency and, as non-Muslims die at the hands of Muslim terrorists all over the world, the Pakistani TV channels have turned up the rhetoric about mazloom Muslims. In Sudan, Indonesia, Nigeria, etc, Muslims are killing non-Muslims or Muslims. No one talks about it because Muslims feel nothing for non-Muslims in the name of humanity. The OIC may not be active against Britain and the United States, but it is equally supine when it comes to Sudanese Arabs killing Sudan’s non-Arab Muslims.

GEO (9 July 2005) Aniq Ahmad discussed the plight of the Muslims with Maulana Ehtramul Haq Thanvi, Mr Ahmad Javed, journalist Ayaz Amir and Mutahir Hussain of Karachi University. Aniq Ahmad that Muslims were being subjected to suffering, and their life had become difficult (dubhar kar diya hai). What was the way out of this?

Why should the TV host decide the question of victimhood? If he had it in his mind he should have invited guests to argue the question. Are the Muslims of Chechnya mazloom? If you look at the way the Chechens behaved within the Russian Republic, it doesn’t appear to be so. In the beginning Moscow was willing to give the Chechens the same deal that it gave to the Tatars (flag, anthem, foreign trade, banking). But Khattab entered Chechnya with wahhabi Islam and its blood-letting.

OIC could not support Chechnya’s freedom because it was a different model from the republics. The Union had broken up, not the republics. Later, Russia did not cover itself with glory while putting down the Chechens. Mullah Umar would not agree to relent after 9/11 because his daughter had married Osama Bin Laden’s son. The Taliban killed a lot of Muslims before being attacked by ISAF.

On Iraq, the Americans were wrong and the Iraqi Muslims suffered because of that. But there too one must not ignore the fact that Muslims kill Muslims the same way as in Afghanistan earlier. Sunnis are killing Shias in Iraq; Shias are killing Sunnis in Beirut. The same sort of thing is happening in Pakistan. (If you want to be professional victims like the Jews, then behave like them too.) The Muslims have their share of the mazloom, but a TV host has no business presenting himself and all the other otherwise zalim Muslims as mazloom.

Thanvi said that 9/11 was a conspiracy against the Muslims. No proof of Muslims being involved was given. Ayaz Amir said the pretext of attacking Iraq was a pack of lies. He lamented that the Muslims did not protest against America while Europe did and many in America opposed the policy of Bush. He said the Islamic world was bankrupt and that OIC was of no value. It did not even verbally condemn the United States. He said umma did not exist in practice.

Aniq said there was a distance between Muslims and Muslim rulers. Ahmad Javed said that umma was a thought not a reality. Muslims thought one way but lived another way. Muslim masses had leaders that did not represent them. Mutahir said that this was the age of nation states and each state looked to its self-interest whereas umma was a supranational concept. There was also the question of Arab and non-Arab in the Islamic world. He said Muslim rulers used war and fear of war to perpetuate themselves on Muslim masses.

Maulana Thanwi is one of the less cerebral clerics. The 9/11 incident cannot be quoted as a conspiracy against Islam. It may have highlighted many issues that the West must address; but this is not one of them. Why condemn the OIC if it is not a military organisation and, unlike the UN, doesn’t have permanent members with power to sanction and invade under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter?

Umma is subversive of the nation state and Mutahir was right in his view. The damage the concept of the umma does and will do to the Muslims cannot be quantified. Islamic rejectionism of all political orders including democracy in favour of a utopia is the other significant factor in the Muslim plight. Ahmad Javed’s accusation about Muslims not living and thinking seamlessly is frightening because it can give rise to fascism, and it negates democracy as a system in which each lives freely according to his lights.

Aniq said Muslims were living in the Makki period. Thanvi added that it was in fact the time of jahiliyya. Aniq said Muslims were mazloom but did not attract sympathy of others. Thanvi said that jihad was duty and the first terrorists were the men (Jews) who crucified Christ.

He accused the jihadi organisations of working for the United States against Russia and the defeat of Russia had enabled America to designate Islam as its next global rival. Ayaz Amir agreed with it but recommended that Muslims should also raise themselves through knowledge like the Jews.

A reference to Makki period implies that a Madani period is to follow with an equally implied conquest. This is a bad thought to encourage. Jihad is not the duty to emphasise in this day and age. Pakistan has suffered because of it. The view that Muslims should study other variable means of progress was more relevant.

Aniq suggested that Muslims should follow the example of Jews and Christians but Ahmad Javed objected that Muslims had ideological opposition to the two. If they were right then Muslims were wrong and vice versa. He said the real enemy was capitalism. He said the West was an enemy because it was capitalist; Saudi Arabia was an enemy for the same reason. Mutahir suggested that Muslims should reach a consensus on jihad. Thanvi said jihad was essential to Islam.

Ayaz Amir then suggested that Muslims could only prosper by going secular, separating religion from politics, but he feared that he would be apostatised for saying so. Ahmad Javed agreed with him after saying that historically speaking it was true that the Muslims had not been able to integrate religion with all life, including politics.

Ayaz Amir was right but his view was clearly in the way of a rebuke. Ahmad Javed, whose purism is normally frightening, agreed with it from a defeatism which is equally threatening to normal life. Secularism has to be accepted with sincerity, not because the Muslims are retrograde, because then they will ruin secularism too.

GEO (12 July 2005) had Iftikhar Ahmad interviewing ex-PPP leader Mr Hafeez Pirzada who said that in 1977 when Bhutto was conducting talks with the PNA, he never thought that his army chief General Zia would betray him. In fact he reposed trust in him till the last.

Bhutto’s greatest mistake was that he left Pakistan for a foreign visit when he had almost clinched a political deal on re-elections with the PNA although there were Asghar Khan and Pir Pagaro who did not want reconciliation. The foreign visit lost Bhutto 10 days in which the army chief made up his mind.

He said PPP’s slogan of roti, kapra and makan was incompatible with Bhutto’s determination to fight India for a thousand years. Bhutto greatest blunder was sending the army into Balochistan. He ignored the party workers and relied on the feudals for winning elections and also relied on bureaucrats and thugs like Masood Mehmood and Tamman to run the administration.

What Pirzada was not asked was whether he ever protested to Bhutto on policy and whether he was ever threatened. Others like Rafi Raza were. The party’s founder member and secretary general JA Rahim was actually beaten up and his anus was stuffed with red chillies. He stated this in TV. *

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