President inspires Ulema

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THE joint declaration that a representative gathering of religious scholars of different schools of thought adopted after a brainstorming session with President Dr Arif Alvi is a clear testimony that sky is the limit for finding solution to the problems and challenges facing the country and the society provided there is a will and determination to contribute one’s share for the purpose. Inspired by the President, who urged them to play their vibrant role to sensitize and guide the masses on social issues taking advantage of their closeness to the people and grasp on the religious knowledge, the religious scholars vowed to jointly work for clean and green Pakistan, creating awareness about getting both religious and modern education, health awareness, motivating people to obey laws and to playing role to stop fake news.
The issues that the President discussed with the religious scholars are intrinsically linked to socio-economic progress of the country and due cooperation of Ulema to help them address effectively can bring about a real change in the society. Many of the problems have much to do with the societal attitude and a mere change of attitude can produce the desired results without spending even a single additional rupee on their resolution. This is because administrative mechanisms to tackle them are already there and what we need is the active cooperation of the citizens to make a change. Take, for example, the issue of cleanliness for which there are proper mechanisms for garbage collection and disposal but still we witness heaps of trash littered here and there because of lack of awareness among people about benefits of hygienic surroundings and harmful impact of the dirty atmosphere. President Arif Alvi deserves credit for taking practical steps to enlist cooperation of the most powerful segment of the society – i.e. religious scholars and leaders, who are in an enviable position to motivate people to act as responsible citizens. Cleanliness has been described as part of our faith and religious leaders can hammer out this concept to motivate people for improvement in not just personal hygiene but also in the overall surrounding environment. The delegation also acknowledged the need for improving the environment by way of supporting the campaign for tree plantation. Water is among the great blessing of Allah Almighty but we are in the habit of its thoughtless loss and, therefore, the commitment of the religious leaders to sensitize people about preservation of this precious resource is also very significant. Population explosion is also one of the issues that impede economic growth and, therefore, the readiness expressed by the representative delegation of Ulema to speak in favour of healthy individuals, healthy families and healthy society is a positive development. Modern education is not forbidden in Islam, which exhorts its followers to explore the universe but there are some circles that create obstacles in the way of plans aimed at reforming seminary education. The joint declaration also takes care of this issue with religious scholars emphasizing that acquisition of both religious and contemporary education was equally important for personal and societal development. Pakistan’s most of the problems stem from absence of rule of law or selective application of laws. The scholars made a pledge to obey the law themselves and also motivate people to do so. They also committed to playing their role in addressing another menace – spread of fake news especially in the backdrop of use of social media. Ulema have contacts with the people five times a day besides an opportunity to address bigger gatherings on Fridays and Eid congregations and, therefore, they can surely do what the Government cannot despite resources at its disposal. Approach of President Alvi to inspire the religious community, which has its presence all over the country, to play its role in tackling crucial issues is laudable and we hope he would remain in close contact with its leadership to produce the desired results. It would be in the fitness of things if a standing committee of the Ulema is formed to monitor progress on implementation of the points agreed to in the joint declaration. Similar sessions may also be held with teachers who can also contribute effectively in motivating the young generation to become productive citizens.