Thursday, January 17, 2019

Interaction between Hindus and Muslims in the Indian Subcontinent


A former Facebook friend, Mr Kushal, once commented that Jejuri (Hindu) Temple seemed more like an Islamic piece of architecture than a Hindu building. This was my reply to him:

--- Nasir Khan

Both Hindu and Islamic architecture have influenced each other in many ways. By its appearance, Jejuri Temple seems to be a clear example of this interaction in architecture.

Regarding your views on the division of Hindus and Muslims, my reply is: If these people, Hindus and Muslims, regard one another as human beings first where people's religious beliefs are left as their personal matters and nothing more, then a common human and humane bond will emerge that will allow cultural diversity but wherein all people will stand for common humanity and common political, social and economic rights and obligations.

But in India and Pakistan things are working in the reverse order. In these countries, the first consideration is towards religious identity while what is obviously common, our common humanity and our oneness as human beings, is pushed out of sight! The result is fanatics and fundamentalists in Hindus and Muslims have made living for ordinary people difficult.

The Hindutva fanatics in India have poisoned the minds of vast numbers of Hindus and have made them anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan by their continuous propaganda. Many feel that is the only way to make India a purely Hindu state by preaching the mantra of Akhand Bharat. There is so much hatred against Muslims and Islam in Indian right-wing Hindus, which I find hard to believe.

In Pakistan, the right-wing religious and political parties have equally viciously poisoned the minds of millions of people for establishing a theocratic state instead of a modern democratic state.

Consequently, their continuous indoctrination and misleading information against the non-Muslims has relegated religious minorities in Pakistan to a secondary status. The victimization of some innocent people for having violated the so-called blasphemy laws of Pakistan under concocted charges is a living proof of the cancerous fanaticism and primitive mindset that once flourished in the early middle ages.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan and Religious Minorities


-- Nasir Khan

On January 4, 2011, Pakistani politician and governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by an Islamist fanatic. Mr. Taseer opposed the infamous blasphemy laws and stood for the rights of the underprivileged, socially downgraded and politically powerless Christians in a predominantly Muslim country, who have been frequently targeted by anti-social Muslim religious extremists. For his bold political stand and public views, his life was in danger; he was apprehensive of an attempt on his life at the hands of any misguided extremist. As we know, a vicious and brainwashed extremist goon killed him. His death reminds us of the deplorable fanaticism, intolerance and apathy in Pakistan.¨¨

But the best way we can pay our respects to this noble son of Pakistan is that all democratic, revolutionary and politically active people unite on some common points and struggle against miscreants and religious extremists who personify evil and inhumanity. They are not only a constant threat to the level-headed and just people who dare to speak against the injustices inflicted upon the people under the blasphemy laws but also an affront to the basic principles of human fraternity and respect towards the followers of other religions under Islam.

The so-called blasphemy laws of the brutal dictator General Zia strengthened the hands of religious maniacs in Pakistan. We demand that all these barbaric laws be annulled and all people of Pakistan irrespective of religion, creed, or ethnicity be treated equal in law and in society. This should happen not by pious wishes but in practice. At present religious persecution, oppression and religious discrimination in Pakistan is growing. This destructive and insidious phenomenon violates basic human rights of the citizens of Pakistan and also violates the UN Charter.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

On Martin Luther's prescription to inculcate the Bible on the youth


-- Nasir Khan

"I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.”

― Great church reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546).
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The great church reformer, Martin Luther, would be glad to know if someone can pass on this information to him, no matter wherever he may be at present, or in whatever form he may be, that schools and the educational systems in many European countries have faithfully followed his 'pious prescriptions' for many centuries. However, some independent thinking was also allowed in European educational system because of the great struggles in the last century by educationists and thinkers.

Meanwhile in other parts of the world - especially in Asian and African countries - people have followed the age-old teaching methods where children and youngsters have been taught in their old dogmas and stories as eternal truths. Such a schooling had and still has a lasting effect on them that can’t be shaken off. Because of such a traditional indoctrination, for most people dogmas and dogmatic thinking are more like their second nature; they cannot liberate themselves from such ways of thinking. Any dogmas internalized at a young age take a permanent hold on the minds of the people.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Ideology Behind the Extremist Violence in Pakistan

The following article I published on 31 March 2016 after an Islamist bomber targeted innocent people in Lahore. I am posing it again because the mainstay of violence in Pakistan has roots in an ideology which gets all the nourishment and patronage for its abominable crimes.
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--- Nasir Khan

A suicide bomber belonging to extremist group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, associated with the Pakistani Taliban, attacked a large park in Lahore where people were celebrating Easter Sunday. His powerful bomb caused the deaths of at least 70 people, mostly women and children, and injured more than 350 people. The bomber seemed to have targeted the Christians but the people taking part in the celebration were of all faiths, including Christians and Muslims. Most of the victims were Muslims. This bomber blowing himself up in a crowed public place was following the commands of his extremist mentors. In fact, such brainwashed suicide bombers are also victims of their own right-wing organizations that send them to commit such acts.

Yet, the events of Easter Sunday in Lahore did not come as a surprise to the people who know about the politicization of Islam in Pakistan that produced Islamist militants, willing to attack religious minorities as part of their religious mission.

It is important to keep in mind that such religious fanatics did not emerge in a political vacuum. They are a natural growth of the exploitation of Islam that Pakistan’s political elites had assiduously cultivated right after the death of Mr. Jinnah in 1948. A milestone in the regressive political scenario was reached in 1956 when the new country was baptized as the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’. Thus Islam and Pakistani State had become one; this union was the beginning of the theocratic state where religious establishment and Islamist parties were free to propagate their versions of Islamic State and its political direction.

From now on, religious parties and clerics became even more vocal champions of an Islamist state in which only the Islamic law, the Sharia, was to prevail, thus excluding any man-made laws based upon modern western legal principles and codes. The full introduction of the Sharia was to be the firm foundation upon which a paradise on earth was to be built, where peace and justice would prevail.

As many ignorant clerics and their supporters had scant knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence, they visualized the model of the Islamic state strictly according to the Sharia as they wished. Apparently, many people have heard that under the Sharia laws, a thief’s hands are chopped off and a woman accused of adultery is stoned to death. As a result, millions of indoctrinated people are jubilant about the bright prospects of a truly Islamic order and its quick dispensation of justice. The women charged with adultery or some other sexual transgression would be readily sent to the next world; thieves with chopped off hands would prove a warning to any prospective offenders of the consequences of stealing. Such things would kindle the light of righteousness on the heavenly structure set up in Pakistan. No more worries. Worries would become a thing of the unholy past.

What the Pakistani Islamists and extremists have set their sights on are not confined to the borders of their country. Theirs is a universal call for all the ‘true believers’, everywhere. They have a sacred task ahead of them. They should move forward and do what their Islamist leaders tell them to do. In fact, most Pakistani Muslims, who are otherwise quite gentle and kind people in their dealings in their daily lives, support the idea of a such a truly Islamic state that is on the model of the caliphate of the seventh-century Arabia. The call for sharia laws has become the rallying cry and the heartbeat of these people.

How has religious orthodoxy and extremism affected the people of Pakistan can be illustrated from the case of Mumtaz Qadri. By all accounts, he was an ordinary man, certainly an indoctrinated poor soul, who was in the squad of the personal bodyguards of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab. He killed Mr Taseer in the most gruesome manner by shooting him with 28 bullets at close range. He committed this ghastly crime because Mr Taseer had opposed the notorious blasphemy laws and tried to speak on behalf of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, who was languishing in prison after her trial and conviction under the blasphemy laws on concocted charges.

On Qadri’s arrest and subsequent trial, large crowds held public demonstrations in the country in his favour. He was the hero of Islam. The role of thousands of lawyers in this sad story was equally alarming. They were over-zealous and were in the forefront of such demonstrations. These ‘educated’ people like uneducated or poorly educated people also saw and see the blasphemy laws vital to protect the name and honour of Almighty God, the Holy Prophet and the Qur’an. Therefore, when we discuss widespread indoctrination, a person with common sense or ordinary intelligence will soon realise the havoc caused by uncritical thinking and morbid indoctrination.

When Qadri was eventually executed for his premeditated murder, hundreds of thousands Pakistanis in many cities in Pakistan demonstrated in his favour, naming him the ‘hero of Islam’ and a ‘martyr’. Moreover, he received the same passionate support from the Pakistani communities living in Europe and elsewhere. Many ordinary people of European origin were simply amazed at what these people were saying and doing in free democratic countries.

In addition, the objective of Islamic parties and their indoctrinating clerics was to fight against what they regarded as western values, such as democratic forms of government, gender equality, freedom of expression and belief. Under this system, religious minorities have only a secondary status in Islamic Pakistan. A change of religion from Islam to any other faith is out of question. Those abandoning Islam run great risks; they become apostates and their punishment is death. However, there is a lot of goodwill towards any non-Muslim who converts to Islam. By such an act, a convert to Islam becomes the member of Islamic community and can have unlimited divine favours here and hereafter.

To sum up, the phenomenon of Islamist terror, whose recent example was in Lahore, is not some incidental aberration but rather a result of a politically and religiously motivated world-view that has an ideological background. It is safe to say that most Pakistanis favour an Islamic order and the introduction of the sharia laws in their country because that will lead to a prosperous present and a virtuous future. However, they do not necessarily support the terrorist methods and bomb blasts of the extremists. They would love to see a peaceful transformation to the Islamic order without the terror of the Taliban and other militant groups they have seen for many years. The support for such an outlook is not limited to ordinary, uneducated and indoctrinated people either. Many well-educated people also stand with the upholders of Islamist ideology and the champions of the sharia laws. The call to turn to ‘real Islam’ echoes the feelings of a country of 200 million people. Where things are heading in Pakistan gives no room for complacency.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Maintaining Institutionalized Ignorance


-- Nasir Khan

Renowned American writer Saul Bellow (1915-2005) says: "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance." This pithy saying speaks volumes if we analyze it at greater length. But I will offer only a few fleeting remarks here.

It may surprise some if I say that ignorance is not a simple matter. In fact, a complex phenomenon serves various social, political and religious interests. It is directly related to influence common people and their consciousness of the social reality that surrounds them. However, the task of the brainy purveyors of ignorance is not to inform, but to raise the barriers that would not let any truth slip into the masses! That means if the particular interests are to be protected and masses duped then ignorance has to be institutionalized, fortified and perpetuated by the powerful and the influential people who are at the helm of affairs.

Who can buttress the citadel of ignorance better than the people who are dubbed as intelligentsia, intellectuals and the ‘educated’ ones that separates them from the ordinary people? There is no doubt, they do an excellent job when they have rich and resourceful people to patronize them and institutions to hire their services. They are closely attached to upholding the interests of the ruling elite and justify their actions and policies. I call them modern-day gladiators!

On Proletarian Internationalism


--- Nasir Khan

When the workers of all countries unite for the common cause of a creating a society where the capitalists and owners of the means of production do not control the lives and destinies of the 99% of human beings in the world, any such unity in Marxist thought is known as proletarian internationalism.

The goal of the struggle of the working masses including the peasants and landless serfs is primarily to defend themselves against the power and domination of the owners of means of production that they mostly use for augmenting their own wealth and upholding their privileges. The ideas about the unity of working classes to create a humane world has been the focus of theoretical and practical activities of generations of socialists since the founders of Scientific Socialism formulated their economic and political theories in the 19th century.

The first major step in creating a socialist society took place in Czarist Russia where the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin overthrew the old dynastic rule and introduced the Soviet system.

The success of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was a catalyst for revolutionary activities of the working masses in many countries and also a clarion call to the colonized people to overthrow their colonial masters. As a result, anti-colonial struggles became a powerful force in many Afro-Asian countries. Many countries, big and small, succeeded in throwing off the yoke of European masters.

But in many instances the local ruling classes that emerged had their roots in privileged classes or groups. The struggle for political and economic exploitation became their sole interest. While such leaders plundered their own people and used the political system as a camouflage for furthering their interests, the plight of the poor people remained a non-issue for them. In any case, it is little consolation to the working class, poor or starving people that their “glorious” saviors and leaders have hundreds of millions of dollars stacked in secret banks accounts in Switzerland, France, Britain and America!

However, such exploitation and downright plunder is not incidental. It is endemic, and closely related to how the capitalist political and economic system works. As long as capitalism lives, such exploitation will have its sway. In the third world countries, the problem of institutionalized brainwashing coupled with the exploitation of religion and cheap deceptive slogans at the hands of the ruling elites will continue to play havoc with the people of many Afro-Asian countries.

No doubt, capitalism is wonderful for a few but a disaster for many. To address such issues, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels advocated socialist democracy and a socialist system in place of capitalism. To achieve that goal, political education of working class people is the first step and that education is part of the political activity that is expressed by the unity of the workers.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1552064004881600&set=a.338633589557987&type=3&theater

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Are Socialists Non-Believers?


--- Nasir Khan

Socialists are not non-believers. The people who believe in social justice, social equality of men and women, believe in a just and non-oppressive social, political and economic organization of society in the interest of all, believe in the advancement of knowledge free from the power of the ignorant people who keep society back, and who stand for humanity and human values for all without showing favour to any one religion, one special colour or race are believers on a higher level than the followers of dogmas and superstitions beliefs, worshipping stones and all sorts of natural or man-made objects.
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A former Facebook friend of mine (she is no longer on my friends' list) and some other readers have come up with some strong criticism of Communists and their crimes under Communist leaders. In fact, her views are quite common in many parts of the world. I am adding my reply to her for other readers to see as well:


Dear XY: My piece is not about Stalin or Hitler and their actions. In it, I clarified in a summary form that socialists are also believers, and not non-believers as some people falsely assert. How are they believers that I’ve discussed. It is about the principles on which socialism is based and the principles which are the core of socialist thinking.

If a socialist or a communist has committed such crimes as you mention, then the fault does not lie with the principles of socialism but with any person who misuses the principles of socialism. In the same way, as Hitler, Franco, Pinochet, George W. Bush killed millions of innocent people; these leaders were Christians. The principles or dogmas of Christianity or even Jesus Christ did not stop them from killing millions of people for their political objectives.

The conquistadors in the New World (America) wiped out millions of the native Americans. All these killers were Christians from Europe. The same thing happened in Australia. The people who wiped out the native populations were Christians. But as a socialist, I do not blame Christianity for what these killers did. I can add to the list a lot more. But I wanted to give you only a short reply.