Imran Khan’s Journey into Religion

This article was originally published in Arabnews

By Imran Khan

Imran Khan a Pakistani Cricketer and now a Politician

My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British. The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan. Despite gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis.

I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal – the national poet of Pakistan. The class on Islamic studies was not taken seriously, and when I left school I was considered among the elite of the country because I could speak English and wore Western clothes.

Despite periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I considered my own culture backward and religion outdated. Among our group if any one talked about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a Mullah.

Because of the power of the Western media, our heroes were Western movie stars or pop stars. When I went to Oxford already burdened with this hang up, things didn’t get any easier. At Oxford, not just Islam, but all religions were considered anachronism.

Science had replaced religion and if something couldn’t be logically proved it did not exist. All supernatural stuff was confined to the movies. Philosophers like Darwin, who with his half-baked theory of evolution had supposedly disproved the creation of men and hence religion, were read and revered.

Moreover, European history reflected its awful experience with religion. The horrors committed by the Christian clergy during the Inquisition era had left a powerful impact on the Western mind.

To understand why the West is so keen on secularism, one should go to places like Cordoba in Spain and see the torture apparatus used during the Spanish Inquisition. Also the persecution of scientists as heretics by the clergy had convinced the Europeans that all religions are regressive.

However, the biggest factor that drove people like me away from religion was the selective Islam practiced by most of its preachers. In short, there was a huge difference between what they practiced and what they preached. Also, rather than explaining the philosophy behind the religion, there was an overemphasis on rituals.

I feel that humans are different to animals. While, the latter can be drilled, humans need to be intellectually convinced. That is why the Qur’an constantly appeals to reason. The worst, of course, was the exploitation of Islam for political gains by various individuals or groups.

Hence, it was a miracle I did not become an atheist. The only reason why I did not was the powerful religious influence my mother wielded on me since my childhood. It was not so much out of conviction but love for her that I stayed a Muslim.

However, my Islam was selective. I accepted only parts of the religion that suited me. Prayers were restricted to Eid days and occasionally on Fridays, when my father insisted on taking me to the mosque with him.

All in all I was smoothly moving to becoming a Pukka Brown Sahib. After all I had the right credentials in terms of school, university and, above all, acceptability in the English aristocracy, something that our brown sahibs would give their lives for. So what led me to do a ‘lota’ on the Brown Sahib culture and instead become a ‘desi’?

Well it did not just happen overnight.

Firstly, the inferiority complex that my generation had inherited gradually went as I developed into a world-class athlete. Secondly, I was in the unique position of living between two cultures. I began to see the advantages and the disadvantages of both societies.

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7 replies

  1. Aoa,

    I met him in 2009 Berlin Germany I gave him 3 Books of Hazrat Kalifat-ul-Massi Rabe, Mirza Tahir Ahmad (ra)

    Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues.
    Gulf Crisis and New World Order
    Murder in the Name of Allah

    May Allah guide him To Right Path. Ameen

  2. In the Name of Allah theMost Gracious Ever Merciful
    Jazakomullah Awansahib well done. ImranKhan further needed “Islami uosool kee philosophy” The philosophy of the teachings of Islam If any one could do this service to deliver this book as well as basic introduction to Ahmadiyyat. May he is not influenced by Extremist shcolar like Maudoodee, and May Allahguide him to the true path, with that He is Pleased with. Aameen
    Zarif Ahmad

  3. An Ahmadi friend of mine has told me that Imran is close to Jama’at islami. I could not believe that but he gave good reasons:
    2. Imran was against any attack on Taliban, same as Jama’at Islami.
    3. Imran was blocking US containers same as Jama’at islami.
    4.Somehow, I felt that friend was right.

    Anyhow, Jama’at Ahmadiyah, I am told, keeps away from all politics and political persons. They Let them fight it out and rule the people. Ahmadis have no wish to rule over any one.
    I believe politics is the dirtiest game every where. May Allah guide Imran and Qadri sahib to the proper peaceful Islam.

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