Dr Ifran ZafarWednesday, March 09, 2011 - Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated in broad daylight in Islamabad on the 2nd of March, 2011. This is the second high profile killing in the Capital, first being of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. Another killing in the name of religion. So here we stand, naked in the eyes of the world, trying to defend our religion and what it really stands for. It seems that every sane voice will be silenced by the guns in the hands of those who will never understand what true Islam is and what it really stands for. The sane voices of reason are labeled as “enlightened” extremes and the ones with bullets are showered with roses. Where to go from here? Suffer silently or raise our voices and wait for the next bullet to pierce our body? Difficult choice for the ones who do not have faith in God.
Let’s go back to the Holy Qur’an, the source of our religion and the guiding light for us to become better human beings. In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, 30 Bullets were pierced in the body of a human being who belonged to Minorities. The Qur’anic injunction “There is no coercion in religion” (2:256) negates the element of oppression in the religious matters and forms the basis for the protection of minority rights. The Holy Qur’an says “(So) for you is your religion and for me is my religion (109:6). At another point it says “Had God willed, they had not been idolatrous. We have not set thee as a keeper over them, nor art thou responsible for them” (6:107) and “Do not revile those unto whom they pray beside God, lest they wrongfully revile God through ignorance” (6:108).
Holy Prophet (PBUH) said “Beware! If anyone dared oppress a member of minority community or usurped his right or tortured him more than his endurance or took something away forcibly without his consent, I would fight (against such Muslims) on his behalf on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawood 3:170). At another point Prophet (PBUH) said “Whoever killed a member of a minority community, he would not smell the fragrance of paradise though fragrance of paradise would cover the distance of forty years.” (Ibne Rushd, Badiya-tul-Mujtahid, 2:299).
Islam propagates a society where all the citizens enjoy equal rights and religion does not become the basis for any discrimination. The history of Islam is full of such examples. For instance, once a Muslim, who was accused of killing a non-Muslim, was presented in the court of Hazrat Ali (RA). The evidence supported the accusation. When Hazrat Ali ordered the Muslim to be killed by way of Qisas, the relatives of the murderer made the brother of the killed forgive by paying him the compensation money. When Hazrat Ali (RA) came to know of it, he asked, “Perhaps these people may have coerced you into saying so.” To this, he replied in the negative, saying that the killing would not bring his brother back. Since they were paying him blood money, it would help the family financially to some extent. The Caliph agreed to the deal but added that the principle underlying the functioning of his government was “the blood of those of our non-Muslim subjects is equal to our blood and his blood money is like our blood money.” (Abu Yusuf, Kitab-ul-Khiraj, p. 187)
The problem somehow stems down to the basic fact that the majority of people teaching religion do not hold the requisite qualifications. Interpreting the religion becomes a serious issue when it is being done by individuals having limited or no-knowledge. Somehow the segregation of the modern education and that being taught at the religious seminaries has created a vacuum which is being exploited by the religious extremist elements on one side and the western influenced enlightened upper class on the other. Unfortunately we have not been able to build educational infrastructures to the level of Al-Azhar University (Cairo) which concerns itself with the religious syllabus, paying special attention to the Qur’anic sciences & traditions of the prophet on the one hand and on the other hand teaching all the modern fields of science to the students.
For how long we will continue to become hostage to the ignorance is anybody’s guess. The real tragedy however is the silence of the masses amidst these atrocities and their choosing to live on their knees instead. Let’s fight to save our religion, even if we are the last men standing. Isn’t it not a cause worth dying for?
—The writer is a social activist.