Muhammad Ahmad Saad
Imran Khan took the oath to the office of prime minister in 2018 with the promise to change Pakistan and address its image problems. Keeping the promise, he in October this year come up with an avant-garde idea of establishing the National Rehmatul-lil-Aalameen Authority (NRA) to promote research on the blessed way of life and teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and guide the Muslim youth about multiple aspects of the noble character of the prophet.
Among other things, the prime minister has tasked the authority to monitor the schools’ curriculum while sponsoring research through university students about various dimensions of the teachings of Islam and the blessed way of life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the backdrop of needs and requirements of 21st century. He has also stressed the need to undertake research on the life and the strong role of Muslim heroes to sensitize the Pakistani youth about their golden past.
The establishment of such an inventive organisation is a welcome step as both Pakistan and the religion of Islam are facing perception issues in the world while its arch-enemy India has already been caught spreading fake and fabricated news material against Islamabad as revealed in the EU DisinfoLab’s detailed 2020 report titled ‘Indian Chronicles.’
The global media’s practice is to portray Islam as a global threat while ignoring RSS-sponsored Hindutva – a move to transform India into a Hindu state while vanquishing Muslims, Christians and other minorities through torture and coercion. Islamophobia is their favourite punching bag to hit Muslims time and again since there is no vibrant institution or organisation to counter the spate of venomous propaganda and disinformation warfare aimed to poison the nascent minds. Indian National Congress (INC) supreme leader Sonia Gandhi is attributed to have remarked in the 1990s that India had culturally conquered Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Palestinian-American author Edward Said – a public intellectual and professor of literature at the Columbia University deplorably narrated an instance in his book The Politics of Dispossession that he desperately attempted to convince Arab diplomats posted in the US in the last century to invite their governments to buy Random House – the largest publisher in the world – for promoting the Muslim cause but nobody showed any interest and the entity was ultimately purchased by the Jews. The rest is history.
When in 2016 members of the foreign service class at Oxford University were asked to mention three things that instantly come to their minds about Pakistan when they hear the name, the majority of respondents cited nuclear arsenal, terrorism, security, Islam and the Taliban. This public perception is the result of the power of subtle propaganda and mind-influence techniques to achieve specific objectives of maligning Pakistan- the lone nuclear-powered state.
While Pakistan continues to face daunting challenges, the biggest task being faced by the PTI government is to restore the nation’s lost credibility through concrete foreign policy measures that portray Pakistan as a responsible state at the international level. The recent OIC conference on Afghanistan is a step in the right direction that would help Pakistan to shoulder its Afghan burden.
West’s double standards on civil liberties and human rights of the individuals, when it continues to defend attempts of blasphemy against the Prophet (PBUH), can be best judged from its response to the Holocaust in Europe. 16 European countries, as well as the state of Israel, have enacted laws against the denial of the Holocaust – systematic persecution of around six million Jews by Nazis from the 1930s to 1945 in Germany and other European countries. The Jewish community have managed to enact laws in Europe and USA to disallow any criticism of their supposed persecution by Nazis.
They have also managed strict control over global media outlets to control freedom of speech and freedom of expression. There is a lesson for Pakistan in it: influence countries with a narrative that supports your position.
One way to change this blurred perception is to highlight the true face of Islam in the light of the blessed way of life and sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). This Authority could also help transform the lives of the 220 million people according to the Holy Prophet (PBUH). This Authority could perform best if available options – digital media and social media platforms – are best utilised by it to educate the local and global communities about Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The NRA can globally spread its message through digital media and social media platforms as there were 61.34 million internet users in Pakistan at the start of 2021 while 46 million Pakistanis were actively engaged with different social media platforms. This number is equivalent to 20.6 per cent of the total population. It should make small audio, videos message, clips and animated films in different languages to highlight the teachings and most blessed character of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Such material could be disseminated through cell phones as 173.2 million people have had mobile phones in January 2021. This number was equivalent to 77.7 per cent of the total population.
It should also motivate the provinces to include lessons about the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and how present-day youth could benefit from it. Islam is a strong bonding force that can bind united the federating units while countering the centrifugal designs of the parochial forces in the media. This Authority could also hold the nation together as all Muslim sects are united about Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Quran. If performed well, the NRA could also spread the message of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) across the globe through different means including sponsoring research on Islamic principles so that the world could become a better place to live.
—The writer is a public policy analyst based in Lahore. He can be reached at [email protected]