AFTER reading Imran Khan’s article on; “Why the West craves materialism & why the East sticks to religion” published in the Siast Daily on August 9, 2018, I have become a bit perplexed. Selected extracts from his article reproduced below, indicate that the understanding of the Prime Minister elect of Pakistan, about science, religion, secularism, psychology, soul, morality, etc, is not much different from the views of a layperson about these a bit technical and philosophical concepts: “Science had replaced religion and if something couldn’t be logically proved it did not exist. All supernatural stuff was confined to the movies. Philosophers like Darwin, who with his half-baked theory of evolution had supposedly disproved the creation of men and hence religion, were read and revered.”
“To understand why the West is so keen on secularism, one should go to places like Cordoba in Spain and see the torture apparatus used during the Spanish Inquisition. Also the persecution of scientists as heretics by the clergy had convinced the Europeans that all religions are regressive.” “While science, no matter how much it progresses, can answer a lot of questions – two questions it will never be able to answer: One, what is the purpose of our existence and two, what happens to us when we die?” “Consequently, in the US, which has shown the greatest materialistic progress while giving its citizens numerous rights, almost 60 percent of the population consult psychiatrists. Yet, amazingly in modern psychology, there is no study of the human soul. Sweden and Switzerland, who provide the most welfare to their citizens, also have the highest suicide rates. Hence, man is not necessarily content with material well being and needs something more.”
“Since all morality has its roots in religion, once religion was removed, immorality has progressively grown since the 70s.” Saying that “science had replaced religion” reflects only partial understanding about the types, sources and methods of acquiring knowledge. Some of the well known types of knowledge are revealed knowledge, scientific knowledge, priori (reasoning) knowledge, posteriori (empirical) knowledge, etc. For gaining knowledge about different phenomena, suitable methods are selected according to the nature of phenomena that are to be investigated. If the purpose is to obtain reliable and verifiable knowledge about a physical phenomenon, scientific method is preferred over other methods such as experience, observation, inductive and deductive reasoning because of their limited scope and value. However, scientific method is not considered a suitable means to investigate, religious, spiritual or metaphysical (conceptual) phenomena. According to metaphysicts revelation, intuition, Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), introspection, meditation, inductive and deductive reasoning, etc. are some of the means of acquiring knowledge about unobservable phenomena. Psychology, being a relatively young science, is not equipped with the requisite tools and techniques to study soul or any unobservable object and behaviour.
The objects studied by metaphysics exist independently of any observer. Another view about this branch of learning is that the objects studied by metaphysics exist inside the mind of an observer, so the subject becomes a form of introspection and conceptual analysis. Majority of the Muslims believe that only the “blessed chosen ones”, like the Prophets and Waliullahs, are endowed with the power and ability to perceive the imperceptible and observe the unobservable without using physical senses. However, independent evidence shows that ESP is not the exclusive domain of any religion. A number of documentaries have been made to show how the detectives, given licence to practise by the US government, traced the culprits involved in mysterious crimes, using their power of ESP. All of us experience spiritual occurrences a number of times in our life, without being aware of it, in the shape of turning points or chances that subsequently determine the future course of our life.
Like spirituality, morality is not the domain of the religion or a religion. The righteous, pious and conscientious as well as corrupt, sinful and criminal people are found among the followers of different religions, and even among the areligious persons. Basing spirituality and morality on people’s faith, amounts to challenging the teachings of Sufi saints and sages about vice and virtue. Literally the word secular means: “earthly”, “worldly”, “no spiritual”, etc. But as a political term secularism implies: “religious freedom”, “religious tolerance”, “nondiscrimination on religious basis”, or at the most it means: “religious bodies should have no part in political or civic affairs”. Quaid-i-Azam repeatedly insisted that all citizens of Pakistan regardless of their religion would be considered equal. He did not use the word secular due to the misconception among Muslims that a secular state is an anti-religion and anti-Islam state where their religion will be banned. In his historical address to the Constituent Assembly, after the creation of Pakistan, he assured the people’s representatives and the nation; “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State”.
Imran Khan has repeatedly pledged that he would rebuild Pakistan and the destiny of his nation in the light of Quaid’s vision. Before implementing his plan of creating a new Pakistan, he needs to know more about the Quaid’s vision and Ideology of Pakistan, in its true historical perspective. No doubt, Pakistan came into existence on the basis of Muslim Nationhood (Two Nation Theory), it was not conceived to be a theocratic or a religious state, exclusively for Muslims. Misled by the fundamentalists, who opposed the creation of Pakistan, even the educated people think Pakistan was created in the name of religion. Rise of puritanism, religious intolerance and sectarian violence are the outcomes of widely misunderstood rationale for the creation of Pakistan.
— The writer a retired Brig, is professional educationist based in Islamabad.