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To the victims of tyranny: Islam Vs. Islam KARACHI….. The Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Senator Azam Khan Swati, says that no Muslim could have been involved in the flogging of a 17-year-old girl in Swat and that such incidents were part of the conspiracies by anti-Muslim world powers to create hatred against Islam, the beard and the turban. The Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Senator Azam Khan Swati, visited the Council for Works and Housing Research in Karachi and talked to the officers of the organization and urged them to improve the performance of the organization. On this occasion, talking exclusively to Geo News, he said that the world powers, through planning, are engaged in conspiracies to portray non-Islamic ways as a symbol of Islam. He said that such incidents have nothing to do with any Muslim. Azam Khan Swati said that anti-Islam forces are using such tactics to defame Islam.” The above is a translation of a story published in the Internet edition of the Daily Jang on April 4, 2009. Mr. Swati’s remarks, when read carefully, suggest the following: That the flogging of a 17-year-old girl is a non-Islamic practice and is not a symbol of Islam. That the people who did it were not Muslims. That the incident was staged by the world powers to portray flogging, incorrectly, as an Islamic practice. That the incident was preplanned as part of a conspiracy of the anti-Islam world powers to create hatred against Islam, the beard and the turban. That the incident actually never happened, at least, in the context it appears in the video. That the beard and the turban are the symbols of Islam. Mr. Swati does not say the following: How did he come by the information that the incident was staged How did he come by the information that the players were not Muslims? Who, exactly, does he mean by world powers? How did he come by the information that these world powers of his have a planned conspiracy against Islam? Speech, especially Mr. Swati’s speech, was invented by man to conceal his thoughts. Mr. Swati’s comments represent the general tendency among Muslims to lie defiantly and deny every wrongdoing committed by the Muslims; never accepting the truth and never identifying and discussing various conflicting interpretations of Islam which in turn are in conflict with the modern concepts of crime and punishment. The ways the Muslim mind adopts to deny the reality are diverse, devious and deceptive to the point of being devilish, so to speak. A common trend, especially among the liberal, self-styled Muslim defenders of Islam, is to disclaim any part, version, belief or practice of Islam or the Muslims which may be indefensible against the modern ideas. Yes. Flogging a girl in public is Islam and those flogging the girl believed that they were the most pious and the holiest of the holy Muslims. Yes. There are untold millions who proudly believe that this is the most pure and the most legit version of Islam and are willing to kill and die for it. Many are proudly practicing it and are being video-taped. Yes. Chopping off hands and heads, stoning to death and digging up dead from their graves and hanging them from lamp posts is Islam. Many are practicing it proudly, are being video-taped and would love to chop off Mr. Swati’s head for calling them non-Muslims and for declaring their acts as not Islamic. Mr. Swati does not realize, they just can’t wait to catch him and punish him according to their Islam. The liberal Muslim ostrich is too embarrassed to acknowledge these facts and thus goes back to another centuries-old Muslim tradition of dealing with the religious dissidents; expulsion from Islam. The Urdu-speaking Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent have a term loosely translating as the fold of Islam. The followers of one Muslim sect would consider their set of beliefs and ways to be the true Islam and declare the rest of the sects as untrue and deemed expelled from the fold of Islam; meaning the version of Islam of the former. This fold of Islam, sometimes a butt of jokes among liberal Muslims, was a very convenient, effective and popular way not only to identify a sect with a certain set of beliefs but also to distance from, denounce and reject the beliefs of the other sects. Mr. Swati, under some subconscious impulse of altruism, appears to be trying to distance himself and his fellow Muslims from these particularly violent but very Islamic practices either by invoking this fold-of-Islam tactic or, through sheer denial. The first time in history, a real soul-searching has begun among Muslims around the world. The communications big bang has brought the Muslims in direct contact with the Western ideas like the violent deluge from two huge broken dams set across from each other. The obsolete ways of Islam are being drowned and devoured by this churning, turbulent collision of the two surging tides of the old and the new. When the flood recedes, the Muslim knows, the old would have have been swept away by the new. This awareness of the impending and definite obliteration of the old, the fear of being proven wrong by the history and the ensuing humiliation and, the sense of total defeat are the factors shaping the attitudes of the Muslims around the world. Thus the denial. The leader of the Islamic Party of Pakistan, Mr. Munavar Hassan, in a television interview, was asked to comment on the flogging of the girl. He ducked the question by retorting that why was this incident being considered such a big story. He suggested that there were other important issues he would rather be talking about. Mr. Hassan’s reaction was typical of a Muslim who finds himself cornered on a public platform unable to either own or disown the practice of flogging. His party is a staunch ally of the people who flogged the girl. His party believes in the ways of the Taliban Islam. His party believes in the same version of Islam the Taliban are practicing in the wild. Mr. Hassan just could not say it on television for he still has to maintain his party’s cover as a civilized political outfit. If he owned the flogging, his party would have lost that cover and some of its following and would have invited the wrath of the rival parties. Thus, he wanted to change the subject. This fear, this deliberate refusal to engage in a conversation on the issue on a public platform is a sign that the violent versions of Islam now stand indefensible even by their stalwarts; and that the murderous versions of Islam could now be practiced by their followers only in the wild. The process of retreat and ultimate defeat of the violent Muslim is already on the roll. The chaos in Afghanistan, Swat and Chechnya are just the death throes of the old concepts. Even the enforcers of Mr. Hassan’s Islam in the wild have to stay armed 24/7. Even out in the wild, they hide their faces under hoods like criminals for they fully know that they are criminals and are thus afraid. Then there are Muslims who do want to dump the old versions of Islam. They want an Islam which allows their children to make doctors, musicians, dancers, actors, singers, scientists and artists of all sorts, male and female alike. They want an Islam which is looking the other way when they drink or visit a whorehouse. They want their own version of a flexible, forgiving Islam; not the rigid, punishing and violent Islam. That tender, gentle Islam already exists. It had always existed throughout the history, though semi-closeted. The followers of this soft Islam had always been in majority but had always suffered from a sense of guilt and the fear of admonition from their peers. They always acknowledge that they are sinners and at the same time believe, firmly, that their god would forgive them for their sins and would probably put them in paradise for he is merciful, benevolent and generous. However, this partying Muslim, pretty much like the conservative Mr. Hassan, does not like to be confronted by a Christian or a Hindu or even by a fellow Muslim for that matter, pointing out flaws in Islam. He doesn’t like his religion to be ridiculed or, himself being laughed at. He feels humiliated in a situation like that and he doesn’t like the feeling. For his reasons, he too like Mr. Hassan, does not want to talk about it. He wants to make a quiet transition from the closet to the open. These liberal Muslims do not carry guns nor do they wear any hoods. They do not chop off heads nor do they flog anybody. They do not kill their daughters for getting pregnant out of wedlock. They just do not want to advertise it. Now is the time that people and the rulers in Pakistan and other such countries let the fact sink in that starting from the French Revolution, the idea of the separation of church and the state has been in practice for over two hundred years and that the modern state has to be a hundred per cent secular one. To be a modern state, they would have to wake up and remove the word Islamic from the official name of Pakistan; otherwise, their state would perish as many have perished before at the unforgiving hands of history. They would have to amend Pakistan’s constitution to delete the sections which make the state an arbiter in the matters of the beliefs of its citizens. They would have to bring back the rule of law to the level of the British colonial days. Mr. Swati, as he accuses the world powers of staging the flogging, should know that these powers write his paycheck. The senator, the federal minister, the democratically elected representative of the people of Pakistan that he is, should know that he lives off the charity of these very powers for his country is bankrupt as the world knows. Being a defender of his faith, he should know that he should not bite the hand that feeds him. No wonder that these world powers now want to monitor how their charity is spent and is not used to buy palaces out in the West. Catholicism retreated in the face of the French Revolution. Spain eventually gave up the Inquisition. Islam would give up jihad. As the world grows smaller, the exchange of ideas turns into a violent collision. The old versus the new. The rigid Islam versus the flexible Islam. Islam versus the rest. The outcome of this collision may not necessarily be the total destruction of the antiquated. A clash of ideas eventually leads to a synthesis. A life-loving Catholicism. An inquisition of the self by the self. A soul-searching Islam. A smooth, quaint merger of ideas flowing like a peaceful river through the vales of history and the mankind.

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