Thursday, December 7, 2017

MapleTV Talk with Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy - In response to Ms Tazeen Hassan’s Blog on

No doubt Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy’s academic area is nuclear physics but his talk in Calgary and particular interview was about the role of civil society to bring alternate narrative to help Pakistani society to get out of growing extremism. Readers can watch his talk from following link). And the interview Ms. Tazeen is talking about is not yet released by Mr. Jamsheed Qureshi of MapleTV.
Extremism: Alternate Narrative - Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy

As I remember the format set by moderators of that session was - after anchor’s talk with guest - in second part audience supposed to ask questions. Regardless of that Ms. Tazeen interrupted discussion number of times. I guess labelling Dr. Hoodbhoy as ‘media darling’ and audience of that session as “pseudo liberals” is nothing but showing frustration and bashing. I was not expecting that low from her.
I meet first time with the author of this blog Ms. Tazeen Hassan during under question talk with Dr. Hoodbhoy in Calgary, Canada. I got impression that she is strong opinionated personality with open for discussion. After the recording, I had conversation with her and comprehended same issue with her as most of the followers of Islamism (political Islam) are struggling – and that is lack of comparative study of political and legal system lay down by traditional and radical Islamic clergy/scholars/authors. During her discussion, she was keep quoting one or two references from Quran in favor of respect for human life and when I brought the question of the rights of women, minorities, slavery and Jihad/Qatal in traditional and radical Islamic literature of Fiq and Tafseer, I got the answer that these are from illiterate Mullahs and then I asked what scholars we suppose to follow to understand real Islam and answer was read Quran. I remember giving her quotes from Quran, normally given by Taliban and other Islamist, in contrary to collective human wisdom of 21st century on Slavery and the rights of women and minorities (in this case none Muslims in Islamic state). I was glad to see that she was also not agreed on parts of these issues as those Islamist believe. No doubt this wave of terrorism and extremism in Muslim countries have strongest links with American foreign policies and proxy wars in the region but the justification and multiplication to accelerate the problem is coming from Islamist interpretations of scriptures. Jihadists are exploiting that with full strength, ignoring that side by persons like Ms. Tazeen is also a part of biggest problem.

One of her argument: Western civilization did lot of atrocities with indigenous aboriginals in North America and Australia also – I acknowledge and I asked does that give Muslims a justification for doing the same on the name of faith/Allah? Isn’t tragedy for brining this type of counter argument to justify atrocities committed by Taliban and ISIS type Islamist groups in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya etc? I ended my discussion with Ms. Tazeen with promise to having another session with her on these issues. InshaAllah one day we’ll sit and discuss again to clarify our point of view to resolve some of the questions that arise in our and in every Muslim’s mind.

In this blog in one side author is apologetic about Maulvi sb and in the same time giving her opinion that most of the Maulvis are ignorant they don’t know about Islam. The question is not rather Maulvi is ignorant or knowledgeable the issue is directly or indirectly clergy contributed significantly to spread extremism and violence in Muslim society and apologetic rhetoric like under question blog are also a part of problem. This is undeniable fact that most of the Maulvis in Pakistan are spreading hate and dividing humanity by exploiting scriptures. Criticizing Dr. Hoodbhoy or anybody is freedom of expression but I would suggest to build your argument based on facts not on emotions and labeling like ‘media darling’ ‘pseudo liberals’ etc. People like Dr Hoodbhoy are putting their lives in danger to set the narrative that may bring Pakistan back to normal and peaceful society and we should acknowledge them instead of wrongfully labeling them.

Regarding Maulvi’s power in society – I want to share two facts: in last 10 years Jihadi maulvis killed over 70,000 innocent Pakistanis in terrorist and sectarian violence, material losses are immeasurable. Most recently they besieged capital of the country for three weeks and beat up law enforcement personnel and in the end state went on knees to accept their demand, this is the power of ‘maulvi bechara’.

Regarding the issue of population without planning – I guess Ms. Tazeen forgot the legislation and efforts China did to control the population bomb and India is all together different story where large number of population is living under poverty without necessities of living. No doubt uncontrolled and unplanned population is biggest issue for all sectors of Pakistani society.
Asjad Bukhari, Canada

P.S. Link to Ms. Tazeen’s Blog:

Monday, April 3, 2017

Poem for Disappeared Bloggers - Asjad Bukhari

In Pakistan, a new brigade of activists is emerging from the waves of extremism and terrorism. These progressive and liberal activists are trying to set the narrative to combat extremism and keeping the debates about rationality, place of religion in the public domain, civil military relationship alive on social-media and significantly influenced public discourse in the last couple of years. This narrative is much needed for struggling state to encounter extremism. In January 2017 five of those activists / social media bloggers disappeared (kidnapped). Following Urdu poem, I wrote for them.

Sawali Utha Liay

Bhokon ka samnay sa niwalay utha liay
Pyason ka samnay sa piyalay utha liay
Karnay ko qatal koi na qatil ko jab mila
Kuch rahgeer bholay o bhalay utha liay
Roshni ko tergi mein rakhnay ka ha azam
Dil ko laga sawal tu swali utha liay
Ahlay qalam ka hath mein jab dekha hay qalam
Sab Oryanon nay hath mein bhalay utha liay
Asim, Waqas Haider ko khush hein utha kay aaj
Aawaz a haq uthanay hee walay utha liay

Thursday, March 16, 2017

God and State: a dangerous mix – Asjad Bukhari

In these days in some of the Muslims dominating countries question about the relation between state and religion is burning issue. Some consider this as war of rhetoric between liberal VS fanatics. In reality in Muslim societies it is fundamental question of our time to decide the domain of religion - rather state can dominate the narrative for or against religion OR it is personal matter. For example if somebody is wearing hijab or growing beard or wearing any religious symbol or practicing any ritual or prayer as per his/her believe that individual should have free option without “big brothers” interference. Same goes with religiously motivated personal morality - as long the person is not breaking the law of land or not hurting or forcing others they should be allowed but state should not make the laws as per somebody’s religion or religious interpretations.

We need to understand that religion by its spirit is voluntarily scheme to setup morality, spirituality and social interaction between individual and society; it can’t be forced by power of government or by militant groups. If God’s plan was to send religious scriptures to force on people by power then he would be appointing kings/warriors and other dominating people as prophets.

Let’s go back to current situation in some of the Muslim countries.... due to variety of reason and predominantly global imperialistic agenda and regional proxies there was political vacuum in countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and tribal areas of Pakistan..... and when religious ambitions and narrative become leading agenda in that vacuum then we saw atrocities and complete devastation by religious groups and that was as per their interpretation of Islam. If we are sincere with Muslim majority countries like Pakistan and its people then we have to oppose spreading religious narrative by power of state or by Jihadi militant groups. If state stays neutral about religion and don’t have any religion then state can treat every citizen equally. State should allow all citizens to practice their religion as long they don’t force on others or don’t break the law of the land.
Professor Abdullahi Ahmed an-Naim’s book “Islam and the secular state: negotiating the future of Sharia” is great reading on this debate.

We should have this debate on all levels to resolve this conflicting point of mixing of religion and politics once and forever.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dr. Tariq Ramadan – from Islamist to Reformist - Asjad Bukhari

Tariq Ramadan is prominent Islamic writer and professor of contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University.  He is from high profile religious family with excellent academic credentials. Founder of Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al Banna was his maternal grandfather. His father Said Ramadan was a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood and went into exile during Gamal Abdul Nasser’s time from Egypt to Switzerland where Tariq was born.
As part of his Canadian tour 2017 organized by CJPME (Canadians for Justice and peace in Middle East) he delivered his talk in Calgary under the title “Creating Thriving Societies in Troubling Times” on 18th January 2017.

Highlights of his talk:
One should not oppose humanity by using spirituality; Don’t accept what is unacceptable; Challenge your politicians as Canadian not as Muslim or some other ethnic or geographic identity;  Muslims should join mainstream politics, raise voice for all injustices whether it is for blacks or for aboriginals or any one; Raise your concern to your elected leaders and argue them not to support dictators and military rulers in other parts of the world; Don’t accept double standard, if human life is important in Europe or North America it should be important in other parts of the world as well. He criticise west for supporting Gulf States and completing ignoring their human rights records.

His talk was full of appealing sentences that would help multicultural society like Canada to come together. My focus was looking for his views about political Islam or in other words Islamism.  Then there were two relevant questions where he touched that:

Answering the question regarding apologetic behavior from Muslims after terror attacks, he said we should condemn those acts as it goes against the basics of Islam but we should put in perspective the motives and causes of those acts of terror as well. For me this sounds typical “but” and this answer would bring us again into apologetic narrative.   

I asked the question: In my view other then imperialistic agenda political Islam is another reason for the uprising and trouble in Muslim World, how important it is to encounter the narrative of political Islam and how we achieve that? He suggested regarding political Islam we have to be careful, we should not classify all of Islamists or political Islam under one list.  Some are reformists and some are legalist. Some want to change into Islamic system peacefully and some are violent. We have to differentiate them. With this answer I comprehend that in his view nothing wrong with political Islam as long the movement is peaceful. 

In my view this is the point where Muslim societies need clear vision to separate religion from power politics. Narrative from Islamists is: Islam is a complete system of morality, justice and governance, whose sharia laws and principles should be the sole basis of governance and everything else in life. Establishment of Islamic state is the ultimate goal of message of Islam.  Until this point every Islamist group is on the same page but when it comes to develop the module and implementing Sharia then every sect and school of thought has its own interpretation and every group is too charged then it is inevitable to avoid armed conflict. That is another debate rather that so called sharia law that allows slavery and too many other controversial things is applicable in this DNA age or not.

Since the Afghan jihad of 80s the destruction of Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq and parts of Pakistan made it very clear that using religion as political ideology is gateway to exploit religion - once you allow the exploitation of religion then nobody has full control on that. This is the most slippery road for societies.  In this regard it is important to recognise that the narrative created by the founders of Muslim Brotherhood and Jamat Islami of Pakistan made huge influence on Islamic insurgence and terrorist groups like Taliban, ISIL etc. Ayman Zawahiri was Muhammad Qutb’s direct student and he was the mentor of Osama bin Laden and other leading members of al-Qaeda and Taliban. Lines between violent and none violent Islamists is very thin and it is only a matter of opportunity and situation and all can jump into violent jihadi armies.

 Tariq Ramadan as Reformist:

In Tariq Ramadan’s writings and lectures one can see two different standpoints and prospects. One for Muslims living in the western world and other about Muslims world and political Islamic movements in that part of the world. For some critics it is double standard that is creating confusion and giving excuses for extremist Islamist groups to exploit Muslims for political and personal agendas. But in Tariq Ramadan’s point of view most of the issues involved religious texts that Muslims take seriously, so simple act to condemn would not change anything in Muslims societies but opening the debate on these issues can lead towards reforms in those rules.
In terms of interpretation of Islamic theology he is reformist. These are the significant areas of difference between his views to traditionalists: He rejects binary division of the world into the ‘house of Islam’ (dar al-Islam) and the ‘region of war’ (dar al-harb). He is against all forms of capital punishment but suggests that Muslim countries could remove such laws after wining popular narrative on this issue and without foreign pressures.  He sees hijab as an Islamic prescription, but he suggests it is against Islam to compel a woman to wear hijab. He is also tolerant about music. He condemns suicide bombing and maintain that terrorism is never justifiable, even though it can be understandable in terms of political resistance.

No doubt Tariq Ramadan is most influential reformist in today’s Islamic theology with large following around the globe.  I hope he realise that the problem with Islamists (political Islam) is: Once they take the power then these reformist ideologies will supersede with classic Shari law that is mostly based on 7th and 8th centuries tribal desert culture and it clearly contradicts in several areas with 21st century’s basic human values. We witnessed this in Afghanistan of 90s and parts of Iraq and Syria. Separating power politics from religion is the only way to resolve this conflict. Make religion as personal matter for spirituality and morality and public law should made on secular ground.

Monday, December 12, 2016

16 Dec 1971

16 Dec 1971 and fall of Dhaka is one of the most tragic and painful chapter in the history of Paksitan. Tragedy within that great tragedy is even after 45 years still officially state of Pakistan never told our coming generations about reasons and factors that lead to that tragic end. There is no doubt since the creation of that nation India and Pakistan are hostile and enemy to each other and India did what enemies normally do. Indian attack on East Pakistan in 1971 and training of Mukti Bahini was one chapter of the story. Pakistan as a nation still keep ignoring its own mistakes and only highlighting enemy’s contribution.

Following are essential readings on this subject for the folks they are in search of truth (most of these sources are available online):
1. Witness to surrender by Siddique Salik
2. Kitna Qareeb Kitna Door by Mahmood Shaam
3. The Great Tragedy by Z. A. Bhutto
4. One of the prime source on that tragedy is “War Enquiry Commission Report” known as Hammoodur Rahman Commission. The Final Report also called Supplementary Reports is still remained classified in Pakistan but from time to time the parts of that leaked to media.
5. Shahabnama by Qudrat Ullah Shahab (chapters relating to early years of Pakistan)

We should always remember: If we do not learn from the mistakes of history, we are doomed to repeat them.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Turkey - Unsuccessful Military Coup and Aftermath

In modern history we learned from several events that military intervention and rule is not the solution to any problem rather it is greatest problem by itself, great to see Turkey never went on that road again. Now it is also important to investigate the real motive and culprits behind that bloody military actions. Looking to the track record of this type of events in Turkey, maybe we would not able to find the truth behind the bloody episode of unsuccessful military coup of July 15, 2016, but that is clear Erdogon is/will use this as opportunity to penalise his political opponents. I am afraid political victimisation and human rights abuse will rise in Turkey in coming weeks and months. We saw in recent years that Erdogan style of rule is bit of totalitarian and we should not forget that Hitler was also democratically elected.

Dismissal of over 2700 judges across Turkey in the blink of eye is strong signal in that direction and that is dangerous for the rule of law and democratic values in the country. Looks like hit lists of undesirable judges was ready even before recent bloody events. When that unsuccessful military cope was in progress, Fethullah Gulen and the followers of his reforms movement were the first to condemn that and they called that action absolute danger for the country and unacceptable. Fethullah Gulen’s call for investigation to probe into this unsuccessful coup allegations is reasonable demand. Contrary to that Erdogon regime put all of the blame on Gulen and large number of activists and followers of Gulen movement are arrested. Looks like human rights situation and political victimisation will rise in Turkey in coming days.

If we look at the background, Fethullah Gulen was Erdogan’s political ally until corruption allegations surface in 2013 on president’s son and on top government officials. Later on Erdogan put all of the blame of those charges on Gulen and his Hizmet movement and called that unsuccessful civilian cope. Interestingly in response to those allegations, instead of investigation on corruption charges government crackdown on judges and storm Hizmet offices. Erdogan government had said that the corruption investigation and comments by Gulen were the long term political agenda of Gulen's movement to infiltrate security, intelligence, and justice institutions of the Turkish state. These charges were almost identical to the charges against Fethullah Gulen by the Chief Prosecutor of the Republic of Turkey in his trial in 2000 and he had previously been tried in absentia in 2000, and acquitted in 2008 from these charges.

Gulen movement’s religious views and practice of Islam are based on Hanafi Suni School of thought with more emphasis on interfaith dialogue. They also follow Turkish Sufi traditions. One can find several similarities in Fethullah Gulen’s reformist views of Islam with Javed Ahmed Ghamadi of Pakistan (although Ghamadi is not into sufism). In past Gulen has criticized secularism in Turkey as "reductionist materialism". However, he believe that secular approach that is not anti-religious and allows for freedom of religion and belief, is compatible with Islam. He also said in one of his press release, in democratic-secular countries, 95% of Islamic principles are permissible and practically feasible, and there is no problem with them. The remaining 5% are not worth fighting for.
In practical politics we can see Erdogan regime is more leaning towards Saudi Arab and Wahabism, opposing to that Gulen movement has firm stand against Saudi Arab’s policies to spread wahabism/extremism among Muslims. Similar difference comes on Syrian issue. Gulen is strongly against Turkish involvement in the Syrian Civil war. While rejecting the Turkish and Saudi government's desire to topple President al-Assad.

It is bit early to come to some conclusion. Coming weeks and months are important to see where Turkey is heading for – rather progressive democratic republic or going towards the kingdom of Erdogon the magnificent.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

جنت ونت - Janat Wanat - Asjad Bukhari

جنت ونت

جنت ونت بہت سنی ہے آو دوزخ کی بات کریں ہم جس میں ہونگے مجھ سے تجھ سے آو اپنی بات کریں ہم وہ پیارے ملا جی ، بچوں میں جو نفرت پھونکیں اس بہشتی روح کی بات کریں ہم ملا جی نے فرمایا ہے رقص موسیقی دوزخی میوہ دوجے دھرم کے واسی سے جو یاری رکھے الله کا پھر یار نہیں جو الله کا پھر یار نہیں جنت کا حقدار نہیں یوں ملا جی کے فرمانے سے میں دوزخ کا حقدار ہوں ٹہرا پھر میں نے ابلیس میاں سے پوچھا کیا کوئی صوفی دوزخ میں بھی ملتا ہوگا ابلیس نے مجھ کو دھیان دلایا جنت تو ہے ملا جی کی ملا صوفی کی لڑائی کیا تم کو نہیں معلوم؟ بے فکر رھو تم وہیں پہ ہونگے بلہے شاہ اور سچل سائیں وہیں ملینگے خسرو اور بھگت کبیر وہیں بنے گا تیرا ڈیرہ اور ڈیرے میں ہو گا مستی کا پھیرا

اسجد - 2015 دسمبر
Janat Wanat
Janat wanat bahut suni ha
Aoo duzakh ki bat karian ham
Jis mein hon ga mujh sa tujh sa
Aoo apni bat karian ham
Wo pyara mula ji, bachoon mein jo nafrat phonkein
Us baheshti rooh ki baat karian ham
Mullah ji na farmaya ha
Raqs mosiqi duzakhi mawa
Dujay dharam ka wasi sa jo yari rakhay
Allah ka phir yar nahein
Jo Allah ka phir yar nahein
Janat ka haqdar nahein
Youn mula ji ka farmana sa
Mein dozakh ka haqdar hon tahara
Phir mein na Iblees mein sa poocha
Kia koi sufi duzakh mein bhee milta hoga?
Iblees na mujh ko dhein dilaya
Janat tu ha mula ji ki
Mula sufi ki larrai kia tum ko nahee maloom?
Bay fiqar rahoo tum
Wahian pay hon ga Bulleh Shah aur Sachal sain
Wohian milangay Khusroo aur Bhagat Kabeer
Wohian banay ga tera dera
Aur deray mein ho ga masti ka phera
Asjad - Dec. 2015