Why using state machinery against Dr Qadri is counterproductive
The business of the nation state system has been a troubled one, especially in the Islamic world. Muslim scholars, even those educated in the west, gave varied responses to a system of governance quite alien to them. Many decried the system based on borders, a concept alien to Muslims, otherwise destined to rule the entire world, which they didn’t due to a lack of jihad and distance from religious practice. Others proposed a more balanced model by terming the nation-state Islamic and advocated Islamic teachings within its bounds.
Since the mid-20th century, when the nation-states were carved out in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, there has been a constant tension between the Muslim rulers of these countries and the scholars advocating revival of the caliphate—a truly Islamic system of governance according to them. These advocates, eminent religious scholars and thinkers, even sanctioned use of violent force against their rulers, which they believed had no right to rule, citing precedence from Islamic history.
Pakistan, being no exception, has also been facing this identity crisis, with the state itself, at some instances in history, employing the religious doctrine to rule beyond borders — a concept itself a corollary of the nation-state. However, once the friends-of-the-state have now turned against it and its institutions, all remnants of the ‘infidel’ British rulers. Even the edict ‘Muslims-don’t-kill-Muslims’ is not effective anymore, as mosques, markets and shrines resound with bloody explosions. These new interpretations being slowly and gradually infused into the collective mindset of the Muslim youth across the world, is a challenge, not just for Pakistan or the Muslims, but for the world at large.
It is in this scenario that Dr Tahir ul Qadri issued a 106-page fatwa (religious edict) against terrorism and suicide bombing. By terming the nation-state Islamic, he chose reconciliation over violent uprising and killing. At a time when sectarian hatred is ripping apart Muslim societies, scholars of both Sunni and Shi’a sects are seen sitting in the audience during his large religious gatherings. Despite there being a well-rooted tradition of madressa system of education in the subcontinent, he prefers opening schools and colleges where IT and English language are taught besides other modern disciplines. It was daring of Dr Qadri to issue an edict against terrorism in a country where even political leaders shy away from publicly denouncing it for fear of losing votes or life.
With the Pakistan army busy dealing with the epicenter of global Jihad in its tribal belt, the use of force by the incumbent rulers against a religious scholar publicly supporting the military against terrorists is nothing less than a shot in their own feet.
With the Pakistan army busy dealing with the epicenter of global Jihad in its tribal belt, the use of force by the incumbent rulers against a religious scholar publicly supporting the military against terrorists is nothing less than a shot in their own feet. There is no dearth of fatwas against the soldiers fighting militancy; remember the Lal Masjid clerics? When billions of dollars are being poured into a concerted global effort to contain what has become for them a Frankenstein, the incumbent rulers contained Dr Qadri and his followers for a week at his residence after using brutal police force, which killed 15 of his supporters, including women.
Dr Qadri might have some flaws, or many, as the government claims. He does have a Canadian passport, a document (or a vice), which the government believes, should snatch from him any right to point any wrong in the polity. His fanciful accounts of meeting religious figures from history have been mocked by many and are still taken with a pinch of salt. But there is nothing illegal about narrating dreams and having dual nationality. None of these are offences big enough to warrant police action so ruthless that finds no comparison in the country’s chequered history.
The geo-political situation of Pakistan demands that the government think big. It is after all, for whatever reasons, in the thick of things, globally. It might even surprise the rulers, but they are the ones who will be remembered for saving a political dispensation, which can ensure fundamental human freedoms. Not out of sympathy, but for political expediency and greater good the government should refrain from using state’s force against Qadri and his supporters. After all, both Qadri and the rulers are pro-nation-state and against terrorism, aren’t they?