The Farahi school

What distinguishes it in its outlook

The noise made by our liberals belies their comparatively small numbers considering the overall national population. Especially on the social media, one could easily be excused for overestimating their percentage. That is because they consistently punch above their weight on the social, and now on the traditional media as well. Last week’s brouhaha on the media over the unsympathetic reception of the news of the first pig-to-human transplant was therefore typical.

Last week also saw Javed Ahmad Ghamidi finally getting on the wrong side of liberals. Knowing our liberal friends and their propensity to quarrel with anybody and everybody, it was only a matter of time. Not that Ghamidi would have done it on purpose, any more than he would earlier have tried to go out of his way to please the liberals. It probably took so long for things to come to a head because Ghamidi’s unflappable temperament, calm demeaner, calculated expression and the tone of his voice often act as a foil for his firmly independent views. Be that as it may, even if the liberals were never exactly enamoured of him, they had traditionally found his opinions much more palatable than those emanating from the more traditional religious quarters. But all that went down the drain last week. They are calling Ghamidi a Muslim apologist now. One emerging liberal opinion-maker went as far as wondering how they (‘we’) could have ever been so blind as not to see him as anything other than the traditional mullah that he is.

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To understand why Ghamidi’s views on the pig-to-human heart transplant have so irked the liberals, it is necessary to examine the Farahi school’s understanding of Islam and why consumption of some animals is forbidden to Muslims. Islam, according to this understanding, is all about purification of self. This purification has three domains: purification of thoughts (which includes articles of belief and the modes of worship), purification of the body, and purification of food and drinks. The last category consists of certain prohibitions; for example, animals of prey are forbidden to eat. Pigs have traditionally received a lot of bad press from the Muslims. The Quran had singled it out, not because there was anything especially wicked about eating pig meat, but because many peoples, who had never shown any inclination of eating lions and tigers, had started eating pork. The Quran therefore interfered where it saw a mistake being committed. For the Muslim therefore, lion meat is as forbidden as is pig meat. So much for pig’s ‘special’ status or lack thereof.

Ghamidi argues that if animals of prey are forbidden (whether it is because consuming them could potentially make men ferocious or considering the unwholesome feeling one would have upon eating them), it stands to reason that their organs should not be made part of the human body either. Mind you, there is nothing wrong, according to his understanding, of using their skins etc for clothing or ornamental purposes.

While one may agree or disagree with this line of reasoning, one must give it to Ghamidi that in the best tradition of Imam Hamiduddin Farahi and Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi, he takes a completely Quran-centric, holistic view of religion.

While one may agree or disagree with this line of reasoning, one must give it to Ghamidi that in the best tradition of Imam Hamiduddin Farahi and Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi, he takes a completely Quran-centric, holistic view of religion. The uncompromising stance on the governing position of the Quran (not merely in words but in practice as well) in all religious discourse, and the emphasis on the application of fundamentals to specific issues (as opposed to dealing with individual questions as isolated problems on a case-by-case basis) are the distinguishing features of the Farahi school. So, it is that not only on the matter of pig-to-human heart transplant but on any other issue as well, anybody who feels inclined to disagree with their opinions has two legitimate avenues open to him: either disprove the principle (fundamental) itself; or demonstrate that while the principle is sound, its application to the problem at hand is faulty. Those belonging to the traditional religious schools of thought have typically struggled to successfully take either route. That is because they are so used to thinking of religion as a combination of isolated dos and don’ts that any integral, comprehensive view of religion based on a small number of fundamentals whose application spans the whole religious domain is alien to them. They rarely have the capacity to comprehend such a view, and do not know what to do when confronted with one. So, it was the traditional religious folks who first had a problem with the Farahi school.

Now it is the liberals’ turn to have similar problems. Interestingly, their reaction to the situation, much like the mullahs before them, is to resort to insults and name-calling. Tells you how fine a line separates the two, apparently diametrically opposed, camps.

Hasan Aftab Saeed
Hasan Aftab Saeed
The author is a connoisseur of music, literature, and food (but not drinks). He can be reached at

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