The term secularism came out used by British writer George Holyoake in 1846, it was not a new term as it spread it roots from an early term “freethought” which kind of existed throughout known history. Now this is a very interesting thing and again I will lash out at our Mullahs as someone has rightly said that they have made fool of us through our 60 years history. The “LADINIYAT” attachment has nothing to do with secularism in actual terms of reference.
If I define the term Secularism “it is generally an assertion that certain practices or institutions should exist separately from religion or religious belief. Alternatively, it is a principle of promoting secular ideas or values in either public or private settings. In extreme, it is an ideology that holds the religion has no place in public life”.
I would like to lay down some practical examples as well as heading towards the right or wrong side of this or the extreme or modern version of secularism. I will explain mainly these three topics.
Secularism and Jinnah, Pakistani ideal
Pakistan, ideals and reality
Secularism and Islam
To start I would like to quote one famous speech of Mr Jinnah, which is used in many different contexts and ways. Even Jamaat Islami now claims that this speech is reported out of context, what a change of heart for them.
Jinnah in his presidential address to the constituent assembly of Pakistan on 11th August 1947 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. You may belong to any religion, cast or creed- that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
This speech is a very famous text and you will find it nowadays in an advertisement published by CityFM89 on nearly every newspaper. But there is a very special part of this speech and how it made its way to us and for someone who said he respects Liaqat Ali Khan it might be an eye opener.
According to the famous author and the editor of Dawn, which was the official newspaper of All India Muslim League and Mr Jinnah was patron of that newspaper. Which later on became a property of Government of Pakistan. Altaf Gauher the editor of Dawn in 1947 states in his biography that he was pressurised from some sources high above in the government not to publish this speech. So under this immense pressure he went to see Mr Jinnah himself at the late hour of night when copies of newspaper were in final process. He categorically said that when informed Mr Jinnah was sad and angry and ordered Altaf Gauher to print the whole speech and Mr Jinnah said that he is up and would like to see the final copy as well as the news paper after publication himself. Altaf gauher said that he did accordingly and brushed aside the pressure and the speech was published. Those high up even tried to remove it from the archives of the Constituent Assembly as well.
Another peace of thought from Mr Jinnah’s another speech is stated here as well to open any closed eyes further. Mr Jinnah in a broadcast to the people of Australia on 19th of February 1948 said that:
“The great majority of us are Muslims. We follow the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (May Peace Be Upon Him). We are members of the brotherhood of Islam in which all are equal in rights, dignity and self-respect. Consequently, we have a special and a very deep sense of respect. But make no mistake: Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it.”
This statement clearly opens any frills left over in anyone mind about what were the intentions of the founder of Pakistan s rightly said by someone that Pakistan is not a theocratic state. So the above written speech is well spoken on the topic of what was the ideal and vision of the man who created a nation.
What people tend to forget when talking about Ataturk and his comparison to Jinnah or even Mohatma Gandhi is that. Ataturk and Khomeini were the name of change. Where people were sick of certain ideologies. In Turkey’s case people were sick of the religio-politcal stat of mind of the late Khalifas, who were leading the great nation to disaster while alienating with wrong forces. They were not custodian of faith and were branded as hypocrites. We also need to understand that Ataturk impressed Jinnah but he did not built the model of Pakistani state on the same ideals and the idea of him copying the Turkish experiment is not valid and without base. Jinnah has his own ideals as he was creating a whole new nation, dividing a region and establishing new ideals on the base of national pride and religious freedom and safety for the new residents.
The idea of calling secular ideals as “Ladini” smells of foul and baseless as it is the same group of people who use to appose Jinnah and Pakistan as I said earlier. Let me take another example of Iran, which has a completely different scenario. It is not same as Turkey and Pakistan. In Iran’s case things happened differently. Shah of Iran was a very modern and very liberal pro American leader. But he was threatening the integrity of families who were scared that the wave of openness and in other words FAHASHI. When the wave of freedom hit the Noble families bound by the religious theories they acted and a slow movement started. Ayatollah Sistani was the spearhead but he had to go into exile and Khumeini emerged as the hero of time.
The purpose of giving these examples is to elaborate the fact that Pakistan is a completely different case from Turkey and any other country. I know it is deviating the discussion to a completely different side. But I believe that until the fundamentals are not proved and stated you cannot argue any case affectively. It is a matter of understanding that all these leaders acted out of the popular public demand. But Jinnah was not one of them as he was invited and people submitted to his ideas and he derived a niche for himself. He was not Khumeini who conspired a movement or took advantage as some say. He was not Atatruk who lead people against a present and weakening force by proposing alternatives and strong ideological leads. Atatruk did create a whole new idea and worked hard to implement or dig it deep down in his people. He changed the language style of writing and dresses and even went on to change the habits.
In Pakistani idealism facts are different. Pakistan was created, as it was non-existent, it was a fresh idea though in minds from years. It was product of long deprivation of rulers who lost their empire due to their own internal divisions. It was the safe heaven for those who were deprived of their rights or feared they will be. It was an opportunity for someone like Jinnah to lead those divided people into a new entity. It was his vision, which laid the foundations of the new state. So people who were his adversaries inspired him, but his idea was not the idea, which Atatruk developed. Inspiration and the actual reality are completely different and I don’t need to further drag this as I feel if open eyes exist they will see it themselves, but for that they need to come out of the well and see the broader picture. Not a picture portrayed by a political leader/opportunist or me. They should not see it from the eyes of TV presenter and a journalist same as me. It is the individuals’ own capability to see the facts and decide what is right.
Now coming to another big topic of Islam and secularism. Islam V Secularism or is it a new terminology for the ideals laid down 14 hundred years ago? Islam is a religion which claims to encompass all the teachings bestowed on Human beings so far. It provides an eternal light to people who want to seek the right path. So a simple and straight forward thought come into mind that it should cater for all the different systems and ideals existing in this world. It has to have a broad ideal base and yet practical solutions for people to come in the many coming centuries. For this Quran is clear and it has ample examples, which lays stress on human dignity. I would like to quote two statements. Islam says that all humans are equal in the eyes of Allah and they will be graded according to their righteous deeds, it also says clearly that the tribes and nations are just symbols of recognition. So in the eyes of any system based on Islamic ideals the most important thing is the HUMANITY not the individual’s religion and his creed or caste. It is important for a state based on Islamic ideals or which strives to derive strength from them. It is important that it recognise the dignity and sanctity of humans. It has to work on this base and then try to give personal and individual moral examples to lead the group to the right side, not police it.
Islam allows people to follow their beliefs and allow them to do so anywhere in the space or most central space of an Islamic state. The world’s Islamic state of Madina was built on these values of self-respect and dignity of humanity. It laid more stress on HUQOOQ-ULIBAD than HUQOOQ_ULLAh. Because Allah is forgiving and he can forgive you but IBAD have to get forgiveness of individual sins from IBAD and Allah and then Allah will judge them fairly.
A group of Christian from a town of NAJRAN in the South of Arabia (now in Yemen) came to see the Holly Prophet (PBUH) in Madina, the capital of the first Islamic state. The delegations one morning were found collecting their stuff and preparing to go out of the town. When inquired by the Holly Prophet (PBUH) they informed that they would like to go out and pray, as there is no space here in the city. The Most dignified Human ever born, The King of Kings, the most moderate and HUMANE ruler of any and all times was so much kind that he said you are going to pray in front of God and my mosque is a house of God. So please use it and pray here, and that house of God was not an ordinary house of God, but it was the mother of all mosques ever built, which was one of the very few places to embrace those beautiful feet and forehead which prostrated in from of his Master in those areas, I mean Masjid Nabvi (the mosque of (Nabi) Prohpet). So what remain of segregation and division, as it is not religion but the humans who are important?
Secularism is a system, which does not give you privileges because you belong to a specific religion. You are human first and then come your religion and your ideologies. Islam says the same things, but even more strongly. Now what is happening in this real world in secular states?
France is one of the most important secular states I can see. Though in Pakistan secularism is just attached to Turkey and maybe India with regard to Kashmir. We narrow down our mind and just see the picture from some scattered images, but refuse to see the bigger picture. In France you will not find a lot of North Africans doing main jobs as you might see in UK. The difference is simple as in UK employers are bound by law to employ people from the recognised ethnic minorities. So majority of ethnic minorities will be seen in France doing less significant jobs, but in UK you will find people doing quite significant jobs, even the richest person in UK is an Indian.
India is another example where the state recognises you as a human and take you as you come regardless of what your faith is. The miracle of having a Muslim president was seen in India and so does having a Sikh president. Because the emphasis is not on the Ladini, but on the unique human faculties as they do not come with any religion or caste or creed. So at the end of the day religion is there to practice and is fully functional, but it has nothing to do with the running of the sate.
Now to the question of having Islamic or near Islamic laws and legislations, please note that nearly any modern country in the world has almost nearly Islamic laws (I will not add financial laws in it), without a rubber stamp of any so called Islamic stamp. The world’s major Islamic banks, and Islamic hedge funds are based in London, UK and it is considered as the centre of Halal or Islamic Finance. Not an Islamic country though. The point I am trying to make here is that any responsible society have a responsibility towards it residents and it has to fulfil it. It does not require any religious decree to enforce those ideals, as any society would like to safeguard its residents from excesses.
Our dilemma is that we have such a twisted history and facts and terminologies are presented in such a gross way that people have no idea what they are talking about and they start hating things, which they have little information about. No one is aware of what Secularism means and has little idea about it, but they will label it LADINI. They do not know about the Islamic side of Women’s right bill, but as MULLAHS were portraying it they started calling it that it is permission for zina. We need to open our eyes ourselves and see the reality in the right context, study and research things rather than just believing in one person, like anyone or me.
I will end this finally with a dialogue from film “Khuda Ke Liye” and it is an amazing commentary on our problems. “Pehle Zahir ko nahin pehle batin ko theek karo, andar aag lagao, khudbakhud bahar aye gi, werna yehi ho ga ke log haram ki kamai jaib main dali Hallah gosht ki dukan dhondetai phir rehia hinge”.
Translation: Don’t emphasize on exterior of yourself first, but correct your heart and conscious, Ignite a fire inside against evil and it will come outside itself. Otherwise it will happen that people will look for a Hallal meat shop with their black or filthy money in their pockets. Do I need to add any further?