Are we becoming the land of the impure?
The spot-fixing scandal has broken my heart. I’m a die-hard Pakistan cricket fan. Yes, I’d long heard about the corruption in our team, including by some of our greatest players in the 1990s. But I never wanted to believe it.
So when I saw the no-ball video evidence last month, it shook me. I was disgusted by our players, and even more so by the Pakistan Cricket Board. Whether or not anyone is convicted of a crime, if the video wasn’t a fake (and there’s no reason to think it was), then it and the horrifying behaviour of our officials in response are all I need to be convinced that our national cricket administration is rotten to the core.
In recent times Pakistan cricket has seen increasingly overt displays of religiosity. We’ve had conversions, sudden changes in appearance (with beards sprouting on many a formerly clean-shaven chin). We’ve had group prayers led by captains and (if rumours are to be believed) secret, sacred oaths sworn to unseat captains. We’ve had after-match press conferences prefaced by invocations of the divine.
Why, then, are we confronted with endemic cheating by our players and the unsavoury sight of our administrators seemingly scrambling to hide what has been going on? Why is our cricket infrastructure in as sorry a state as our political infrastructure?
For me, a large part of the answer has to do with the politicisation of religion.
I have always been a strong believer in Pakistan’s potential. And despite the terribly difficult times our country is going through, I’ve never accepted that our future needs to be bleak. But it is clear to me that Pakistan is being bled by a terrible enemy. That enemy is not America or India or any other external power. No, our enemy is within. Our enemy is our own hypocrisy.
To an extraordinary degree, we Pakistanis have a culture of hypocrisy. We condemn corrupt officials but cheat on our taxes. We have little evidence for conspiracy theories but spout them anyway. Our police take bribes. Our champion sportsmen throw matches. Our state both fights militants and supports militants. Our People’s Parties steal from the people. Our Muslim Leagues wink at those who kill Muslims.
Our hypocrisy is so rampant that one would think it’s a state-sponsored ideology.
And, in fact, it is. In moving from the secular state envisioned by Jinnah to the so-called religious one brought into being by Bhutto, Zia, the Sharifs and the Bhutto-Zardari dynasty, Pakistan has created a political template that makes hypocrisy essential.
Religion, like love, is at its core about sincerity. Saying you love your spouse or your child in public as loudly as possible does not make it true. But imagine a state where everyone was encouraged, indeed coerced, to do this. By law, no one would go to work on their child’s birthday. Wedding anniversaries would be marked with televised speeches. In order to be issued with passports, childless couples and the unmarried would be forced to fill out special declarations to the effect that their status was not of their choosing.
What would happen? People would lie. In order to be accepted and get ahead, they would say one thing and believe something else. And by so doing, they would devalue truth (and indeed love) in their society. They would create an environment of hypocrisy in which those who love and those who don’t love both claim to love, where those who don’t love would be denied the chance for honest self-assessment, and where those who do love would find the words they use to express their feelings drained of meaning through rampant misappropriation. The result would be a society utterly toxic to love and to its own people.
The same is true of religion. A state that mandates religious practices, as Pakistan does, is a state that mandates hypocrisy, because the law can only govern outward behaviour. It can say that such-and-such behaviour is prohibited, but it cannot say that such-and-such belief is prohibited. And as the gap between belief and behaviour widens, hypocrisy sets in. People with beards still kill. People who cover their heads still steal. People who thank God for their victories still cheat. And because so many people do these things, the split between religion and morality becomes profound and widely accepted.
Secularism need not be anti-religious. A secular Pakistan could be a Pakistan in which the religious life of its citizens is enhanced, just as love is enhanced in a state that does not seek to legislate love. We need to re-evaluate the notion of politicised Islam that has worked its way into our politics, our constitution, our culture and our sports teams.
There is no hiding from our hypocrisy. We have to confront it. It lies at the heart of our state. The choice between an Islamic republic and a republic with a Muslim majority is ours, and it is not merely a matter of words. There is a reason why religions say there should be no compulsion in matters of religion. The reason is that compulsion leads to hypocrisy.
And hypocrisy leads to the crises Pakistan faces today.
There was a friend of mine at college who fancied himself as a playwright. He was always writing these ‘activist’ plays for the Marxist student organisation that I belonged to in the late 1980s. He was into ‘socialist symbolism’, but I remember we kept rejecting his symbolic plays.
However, the other day while going through a couple of articles written in an English-language daily by some passionate ‘patriots’, who were angrily ranting away at columnist Fasi Zaka, actually calling him ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘liberal fascist’ for taking to task the many brutes who have given us such wonderful things as suicide bombings, lynching mobs and hate-mongers, reminded me of one particular play that my playwright friend once wrote. I do not remember what the whole ‘symbolic play’ was about, but I remember one startling scene. Who knows what he meant by the scene when he wrote it (in 1987, I think), but twenty-plus years later, that scene makes perfect sense now. It was about this bright, smiling and upbeat woman who has thrown a party at her house.
The party begins to turn a bit rowdy when the guests (while talking politics and religion) start arguing among themselves and some pushing and shoving also begins. The lady keeps smiling and praising the animated intellect of her arguing guests. One of the guests, who is mostly quiet, comes to her and tells her to do something about all this rowdy behaviour before someone gets hurt.
She hushes him up and tells him to stop being a spoilsport. “That’s the way we are, and I am proud of my guests.” As the arguments between the guests get louder, and abuses begin to fly to and fro, another quiet guest approaches the lady and pleads her to control the bickering. He gets the same answer and is told to leave if he didn’t like what he saw. The lady keeps smiling widely, and shooing away (sometimes in disgust), the few guests who warn her that the party may get out of control. Then, the door bell rings. It’s a couple of cops who tell the lady that her guests are making too much noise.
“This is not a police state!” She shouts. “We are all good citizens. How dare you come in here?” Meanwhile, as the cops are dealt away, the arguing guests (each one thinking his version of politics and religion was right), begin to indulge in fist fights. Things begin to break, the shouting gets louder, crockery begins to fly, but the lady keeps on smiling and dismissing the concerns of the few more sober guests.
Then a neighbour rings the bell and complains. “My children can’t sleep. You people are making too much noise. Is there a riot going on in there?” He is at once taken to task by the lady: “It’s none of your business. Stop poking your nose in our affairs. It’s because of people like you that we have to keep quiet!”
As the lady goes back in, the house has now become a mess. People fighting, things broken, some guests lying on the floor badly injured, moaning and groaning. But she keeps smiling and lauding her guests.
One of the quiet guests reproaches the smiling lady: “I told you it will get to this.”
“What will come to what?” the lady asks, still smiling, as if totally oblivious of the human and material wreckage around her. “It’s a lovely little party. What have you been drinking? Please leave, if you can’t fit in.”
Now, exactly what my friend meant here I don’t know. But to me this scene today is like an ingeniously far-sighted take on Pakistani society. A society in which terrorist attacks by extremist organisations are at once followed by the usual knee-jerk reactions: “It can’t be us.” The denial stands, no matter how many from among us are caught red handed indulging in all kinds of brutalities, sometimes in the name of religion, sometimes sect, sometimes morality and sometimes good old patriotism.
The disgust of watching human beings blow themselves up in the presence of men, women and children soon converts itself into anger that babbles its way across numerous fantastic theories about imaginary villains. In the process terrorists go blame-free, while most of us are left busy wagging our fingers at treacherous outsiders (‘foreign hand’), ‘unpatriotic Pakistanis’ and our failure to follow ‘true Islam.’
In other words, just like in the play, the bickering, violent guests who were tearing one another apart to prove that their version of the faith was correct, symbolise the extremists and their apologists; most of our ‘patriots’ are like the smiling lady, who would accuse anyone for the debacle, but never the violence and self-righteous mind-sets of her destructive guests because that may amount to bad manners (unpatriotic behaviour).
She’s a liar and one in denial. But more than anything else, she is first and foremost lying to herself, even when her own house becomes the wracking ground for all those who are quite clearly mad.
As for my friend the playwright, well, he migrated to New Zealand in 1995, where he is today (and not surprisingly) a successful child psychiatrist. Smart fellow. I guess he knew what was coming to this ‘land of the pure.’
The land of the pure has been farting scum into the west where you and fp rightfully belong. Better stay there.
Naseem by the will of Allah all you munafiqs will soon face the wrath of Allah. Its time that mazhab key namn per dukan chamkana comes to an end.
We know you shitheads are away and not in Pakistan. Come back and we would settle scores.
your score will be settled soon, trust me you will not survive Allahs azab that is about to fall upon you soon. You munafiqs will pay for abusing Islam and innocent humans, by threats. No one fears you munafiqs.You should only fear what Allah has in store for you.
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Sorry guys. The land of the impure is next doors. Bahrat it was then but now it is India since the british left in haste.
We Pakistanis love our Pakistan.
@Not Possible: Does creation of this thread mean, you want to return to Islam's way of life ?
Is it your 'agreement' to our/MULLAH's/Imam's/Muslim's statement that non-Muslims, that the west fooled you, engaged in deceit against you (i.e., the Muslims who sideline/abandon Islam, in your 'greed' of a 'better'/'materialistic' life) and you'r now ready to return to life of 'goodness', 'betterment' ?
..or is this yet another instance of hypocr|sy from you ?
"But to me this scene today is like an ingeniously far-sighted take on Pakistani society."
Stup!d example. Certainly does not fit...
"The land of the pure has been farting scum into the west..."
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It is good luck for Pakistan that scum from mainland Pakistan seeks and is granted refuge as naturalized western scumbags.
@ haris khan
I have been studying religion since I was 12, I am 35 now, I have kept a beard since I was 20, You think I am not religious??
I abhore liberal left, but I equaly abhor intolerant, fantical, hardline, fasadi, jihadi, hardcore munafiq nuts.
you are the hypocrtites who do so many ills in the name of Islam, you have strayed away from Rasool Allah(SAW) sunnah and incorporated the ways of Islamic badshahs in your version of Islam.
u have no right to tell who is munafiq nd who isnt
u say u r a muslim
but a true muslim is that from whose hands and tongue other muslims are safe
@Not Possible: How do you substantiate those claims ?
which claims? can you be more specific?
I agree a true muslim is one from whos hands and tongue other muslims are safe...thats eaxctly what I am saying today muslims are the ones who are abusing other muslims the most, either by calling them kafir or killing them or by cheating them
Muslims are subject to abusive hands, tongue and all indirectly by those who as immigrants to the west are their tools now acting on their behalf right in the forefront.
Kuffar are Kuffar well identified as per our Holy Book the glorious Quran.
"I have kept a beard since I was 20, You think I am not religious??"
Now that's proving it. Babar Awan has a beard (hell he even has a tv show about Islam). Maulana Diesel has a beard too. And so do most Sikhs and Orthodox Jews. ;-)