Hypocrisy in the garb of religion
Hypocrisy is one of a multitude of vices that we consider as being etched in our national ethos. We pretend to be philanthropists, yet hoard charity donations in our personal accounts; we pretend to be patriotic, yet cannot fathom letting go of our provincial and ethical identities; we pretend to be politicians, yet in all honesty we’re illiterate mudslingers at best; we pretend to be journalists, yet sell ourselves out to the biggest bidder; we pretend to be the chief justice, yet blatantly breach a fundamental code of the constitution. We’ve been there, done that, mastered all levels of hypocrisy, this is common knowledge, end of story… err not quite.
Hypocrisy in the garb of religion is one front where we do not have any peers at all, but due to a myriad of reasons this unrivaled excellence has not been fully appreciated as such. Thus, it is worth highlighting that unless we acknowledge the fact that religion in our neck of the woods, unfortunately, has become more of a tool to assert your pretentious supremacy over the rest, we cannot truly cherish our true hypocritical potential.
Take for instance the example of a certain Mr Junaid Jamshed, former pop-star turned fashion designer cum face of the tableeghi mafia on television, who left his career in music because music is ostensibly haram in Islam. Fair enough, that’s his choice, and while the claim is debatable one could still try to understand his transition. However, when the same man performs live on stage in Washington DC at the Islamic Society of North America Convention 2012, with Salman Ahmed with drums and guitars – categorically declared to be haram multitudinous times by Mr Jamshed – being played in the background, anyone with a logical head on their shoulders would be disgusted by this hypocrisy. For, Mr Jamshed – a complete authority on the religious perspective on potato snacks these days– has sat on air for nearly a decade now, with an aura of how he’s the quintessential Islamic scholar who propagates the message of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala (with exaggerated stress on Arabic pronunciation). So basically for JJ, guitars and drums on Aitebar, Hum Tum, Uss Rah Par et al are haram, but not haram at all on Dil Dil Pakistan and Jazba Junoon since they are ‘patriotic anthems’, seriously now JJ? Plus having sleeveless clothes for women in his designer outlet and accepting credit cards from banks indulged in riba, isn’t exactly according the school of thought that Mr Jamshed propagates, now is it? But unfortunately no one sees any issue with all this at all.
With the blasphemy debate becoming a 24/7/365 thing here, it is criminal to note that the whole nation is discussing who does and who doesn’t deserve to live, while conveniently ignoring the sheer hypocrisy of ‘scholars’ whose only qualification is donning the holier than thou persona. Every other person has become a ‘religious scholar’ these days and is wearing their beliefs on their sleeves, oozing a sense of superiority owing to the apparent closeness with the divine deity. Not only is this attitude pretty unbearable for most, in all honesty – since religion and beliefs are a matter of opinion and perception, and cannot be stated as a matter of fact – but when you only follow selective aspects of the school of thought that you follow and preach, declaring things to be halal or haram according to your own tastes, you unfortunately make a mockery of your own preaching.
Talking of selectiveness, why doesn’t any ‘scholar’ make a fuss about the prostitution hub that is next to the Badshahi mosque? Why are there no fatwas on some of our filmmakers and films, which would put the most vulgar of offerings from the rest of the world to shame? Why do we find it hard to wake up at fajr, when no one is watching, but dutifully massacre animals on Eid to flaunt our ‘religious’ side? Why is there public outrage when France bans the niqab and nothing at all when Saudi Arabia doesn’t even let women drive? Why is there furor following American drone attacks, and nothing at all when Taliban attack innocent people? Why does our constitution not grant due rights to the religious minorities and refuses to recognize some other ideological minorities – that have to remain inside their pretty crammed closet – declaring them as wajib-ul-qatal? Why are the only people that have to hide their identity or go in a hiding at all are the ones that express their disagreement with Islamic teachings – are we that insecure about our religion that we have to chop off the head of everyone who doesn’t agree with us? Why do we use hindu and yahoodi with a negative connotation in common discussions and popular literature, disrespect their beliefs and their gods and yet expect everyone else to respect our religious sentiments– and again butcher them if they don’t, because that is blasphemy?
Do we not realize that mocking Hanuman Bhagwan, failing to recognize that Jesus is the son of God, claiming that the Old Testament has been tampered are all blasphemous in the context of other religions – or does it only count as blasphemy if it’s against Islam?
We are selective about religious beliefs and only do what is easy, to fallaciously convince our conscience, and to maintain the aforementioned ‘holier than thou’ persona. Muslims collectively as a whole display the said persona as well, disrespecting other religions but expecting the world to be sensitive about their beliefs. But the question is: why is this becoming increasingly common in our society? And why are we all individually becoming the structural units of a massively hypocritical and intolerant social and religious structure, failing to recognize who deserves to be extolled and blindly following the leads of those that only pretend to be religious connoisseurs? Well for starters, it could be because that book that we believe in and consider as the complete guide to our lives and which has been locked up in our cupboard for ages – we haven’t read it in a language that we understand.
The writer is a staff member and can be reached at [email protected]