Pitfalls of wearing faith on the sleeves

The contrast between the peoples inhabiting the two neighbouring countries in the subcontinent can’t get starker: Whereas those in one country are rooting for a ruler who is divisive, communal and incorrigibly self-seeking, those in the other country are up in arms against someone who has shown himself to be people-friendly, peace loving and one who is keen to reform the society away from the obscurantism it is seeped into.This is in total contrast with his counterpart back home who has been single-minded in his lust for power by encouraging, promoting and propagating a medieval, regressive and a backward looking worldview where reason, rationality and scientific temper stand relegated to the background. Which is why hordes of religious groups owing loyalty to the Brutal Party have been on a rampage against certain religious minorities through acts of lynching, murder and mayhem while remaining secure in the belief that they have the license to do so on the strength of their religious fervour and aided by their proximity with those who merely use them to promote an utterly devious, divisive agenda  to continue to stay in power.

Not to lag far behind, those across the border who, unlike their counterparts back home dont enjoy proximity with the seat of power there, are closely following into their footsteps by holding the whole country to ransom over the past few weeks. The reference is to the TLP – Tehreeki Labaek Pakistan – who have announced a long march of their procession to Islamabad which has already claimed as many as 27 lives, including both of those among  the TLP activists and the police personnel. The underlying reason for such acts of insanity and hooliganism derive from a supremacist mindset fed to them by their ill-informed cabal of leaders/preachers that they have the license to get away with such acts of aggression and transgression simply because they are doing so in the name of gods who they owe their fealty to and who they seek to propitiate, albeit in such utterly insane and inhuman ways. Religion and religious fervour shorn of their real essence and spirituality are no more than tools of exploitation and oppression rather than an agency for lifting the human existence from the level of farce and accord it the grace of spirituality and transcendence as the apotheosis of true religious injunction.

In the case of Quran as a divine scripture which is supposed to provide a road map for a morally robust and spiritually fullfilling individual character, the Muslim community looks at it as a drab aggregate in chapter and verse which is merely to be recited, and memorised, without the need to see it as a dynamic, interconnected text. It’s a tragedy of startling proportions that the Muslim masses led by their religious leaders tend to look at Quran as a static text which is frozen in time, rather than as a beacon of light that encourages change, evolution, progress and that exhorts us constantly to adjust to change. An important aspect of Quran that is lost on a great majority of our islamic scholars involves an unwillingness on their part to connect one segment of the text to the next, or to many other segments throughout the sacred text. The underlying message becomes clearer when these connections are probed, discovered and put in context, thus leading to a new dynamic of the meaning which evolves, develops and changes as more and more connections are made. 

That may probably be as true of other religious scriptures as well. Incidentally, this is redolent of the mathematical enterprise where the underlying unity of the huge edifice of mathematics helps to get a view of the ‘big picture’ involving a certain mathematical idea or a phenomenon and thus to make better sense of what’s actually going on over there. 

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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Written by M A Sofi


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