Half Muslim, half…?

Daily Times; Yasser Latif Hamdani
Eating pork in Pakistan is not a criminal offence. Yet hardly anyone consumes swine flesh in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the use of alcohol by Muslims in Pakistan is a criminal offence and yet alcohol is freely available and its use is widespread in Pakistan. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just the elite that like a stiff drink in Pakistan. If an honest survey is undertaken, it will show usage transcending class boundaries like never before. Much like the great Mirza Ghalib, though not in creativity, most Pakistani Muslims are only half Muslim (that is if you do not count Ahmedis as Muslims, which by law you must not under any circumstances) with the notable exception of the country’s founding father. Read what you will into that.

Half Muslims or not, Pakistanis have embraced Islam over the last decades like never before or at least that is what we are told. Consider for example Islamic banking — the new in thing in Pakistan. You see Pakistan is a completely ‘interest-free’ society because we charge ‘mark-up’ instead. We have sale and buy back agreements — where loans are called ‘sale price’ and the sale price plus mark-up is called purchase price. Then we have several different Islamic sounding financial alternatives, i.e. the Ijarah, the Modariba, the Musharika and so on and so forth. It is a sort of a religious placebo effect that placates the true Muslim.

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Categories: Asia, Pakistan, Religion

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1 reply

  1. Yasser Latif Hamdani raises the issue of double thinking by quoting a novel by George Orwell. This is perhaps genuine criticism of Pakistani society. But, in my opinion another major malady that the religious society in Pakistan is suffering from is myopic thinking. They know and acknowledge the human information created by the revelation of the Holy Quran but in one stroke disregard the human information created in the spheres of politics, finance and judiciary in the world during the last 1400 years. They are not honoring the human experience and contributions of the scholars in the West in the last several centuries. Europe in the 11th through 14th centuries learnt from Muslim civilization but did not acknowledge it. The religious societies are neither benefiting nor acknowledging the information created by human experience and social experiments in different spheres in different societies of the world in the last so many centuries. This in some ways is tantamount to going back to seventh century Arabia and a total disregard of the Prophet Muhammad’s saying:

    The word of wisdom is the lost property of a Muslim, so that wherever he finds it, he should take it, as he is the most entitled to it. (Tirmidhī)


    Adequate synthesis of reality by combining wisdom from both revelation and human experience is badly needed. We need generalists who are truly masters of secular knowledge as well as religious knowledge. One who masters only one source in my opinion is blind in one eye.

    To open the eyes of religious zealots we could call their behavior as blasphemous and an insult to the Prophet, punishable by death? Tit for tat!

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