A new ideological battle in Pakistan

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URL- http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-new-ideological-battle-in-pakistan.html

It is heart warming to see there are people who would stand up for what is right! This is one happy good news from Pakistan, and  I hope to see more people stand up for the right thing, even though it is a not a major thing.

For a few Muslims “Mazhab (religion) is a divider of people” and not a unifier.  Iqbal, the great poet was dead wrong to them. – Mazhab nahin sikhata aapas may bair rakhna – Religion does not teach one to distance themselves from others.
Iqbal probably based that line after Prophet’s life – Prophet had good working relations with people of all faith, whether he agreed with them or not. Indeed, the title Amin, the trustworthy, the truthful was give by non-Muslims to him.

I am working with a news outlet to poll Muslims on the fence issues like Apostasy, Blasphemy, Sharia, divorce, rape, stoning, and treatment of women in particular. Believe it or not, Muslims do not have a clear stand on these issues.  Even a few of our Imams who believe in the right thing, are afraid to say the truth because of not wanting to annoy their income “providers” . We have to tell the truth, even if it goes against us. I hope and pray, we become free people and express our thoughts freely. Thank God, we can do this in America.

But if  a poll were taken, where Muslims are not asked to identify themselves, but participate and tell the truth, I believe we will see that a majority of Muslims are moderates who want to get along with humanity, and mind their own business. The chest thumping Muslims are few, but they are bent on denying other people their own faith, even when Quran acknowledges the legitimacy of other faiths, and assures the Jews, Christians and others that they will go to the paradise, if they do good to fellow beings. 

If this survey were crafted carefully, even in Pakistan, the actual intolerant fanatics would be less than 1%. I hope that will tell the majority of Muslims a singular message; don’t get bullied by a few, and if one of them speaks up, four of you speak up.

Muslims are a great people; unfortunately the media loves to portray the bad among us who are statistically insignificant.  I hope I am not wrong.

Enjoy the article below, it enlivens the human spirit

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse

Bhagat Singh controversy represents ‘new ideological battle’
April 01, 2013
NEW YORK – The intense controversy over renaming a traffic circle in Lahore after Bhagat Singh, the pre-Independence Indian freedom fighter, has now gone global, with a leading US newspaper calling it a ‘new ideological battle’ in Pakistan.
“If ever a squabble over a street name could sum up a nation’s identity crisis, it is happening in Lahore, country’s cultural capital,” The New York Times, which has worldwide circulation, said in a report Sunday.
The Times correspondent, Salman Masood, wrote that the sponsors of the move to rename the Shadman Chowk after the Sikh revolutionary see it as a chance to honour a local hero who they feel transcends the ethnic and sectarian tensions gripping the country today — and also as an important test of the boundaries of inclusiveness here.
“But in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, questions of religious identity also become issues of patriotism, and the effort has raised alarm bells among conservatives and Islamists,” the report said, noting that the chowk was named in 2010 after Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, who coined the name Pakistan.
“If a few people decide one day that the name has to be changed, why should the voice of the majority be ignored?” Zahid Butt, the head of Shadman business association a leader of the effort to block the renaming, was quoted as saying.
“The fight over the traffic circle — which, when they are pressed, locals usually just call Shadman Circle, after the surrounding neighbourhood — has become a showcase battle in a wider ideological war over nomenclature and identity here and in other Pakistani cities,” according to the report.
“Although many of Lahore’s prominent buildings are named after non-Muslims, there has been a growing effort to ‘Islamise’ the city’s architecture and landmarks, critics of the trend say. In that light, the effort to rename the circle after Mr Singh becomes a cultural counteroffensive.”
“Since the ’80s, the days of the dictator Gen Ziaul Haq, there has been an effort that everything should be Islamised — like The Mall should be called MA Jinnah Road,” Taimur Rahman, a Lahore musician and academic from Lahore, was quoted as saying. “They do not want to acknowledge that other people, from different religions, also lived here in the past.”
Correspondent Masood wrote, “A recent nationwide surge in deadly attacks against religious minorities, particularly against Hazara Shias, has again put a debate over tolerance on the national agenda. Though most Sikhs fled Pakistan soon after the partition from India in 1947, the fight over whether to honour a member of that minority publicly bears closely on the headlines for many…”
It was pointed out that the issue is now before Lahore’s High Court, with the provincial government remaining in tiptoe mode ever since. “It is a very delicate matter,” said Ajaz Anwar, an art historian and painter who is the vice chairman of a civic committee that is managing the renaming process.
Anwar said some committee members had proposed a compromise: renaming the circle after Habib Jalib, a widely popular post-independence poet. That move has been rejected out of hand by pro-Singh campaigners.
Taimur Rahman and other advocates for renaming the circle paint it as a test of resistance to intolerance and extremism, and they consider the government and much of Lahore society to have failed it.
“The government’s defence in the court has been very halfhearted,” Yasser Latif Hamdani, a lawyer representing the activists, was quoted as saying. “The government lawyer did not even present his case during earlier court proceedings.”
“The controversy threatens to become violent. On March 23, the anniversary of Mr Singh’s death, police officers had to break up a heated exchange between opposing groups at the circle,” The Times said.
Rahman and the other supporters have vowed to continue fighting, saying it has become a war over who gets to own Pakistan’s history.
“There is a complete historical amnesia and black hole regarding the independence struggle from the British,” Rahman said, adding of the Islamists, “They want all memories to evaporate.”


……. Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.

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