The God of Many Trumps the God of Few
On the 14th of August, 1947, Muslims of the South-Asian subcontinent saw an end to persecution on religious grounds. The tireless efforts of Jinnah and the Muslim league had given birth to a homeland where Muslims would no longer have to worry about being overwhelmed in every government decision by the Hindu majority.
If there’s one thing that the pre-1947 era has taught us, is that democracy is never as black-and-white as saying, “Majority is authority”, because that’s comparable to two wolves and a sheep trying to decide what to have for lunch. Jinnah, a staunch secularist himself, was well aware of such a conundrum.
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” – Jinnah, Address to the Constituent Assembly
But then things changed. Jinnah died, and Pakistan found itself being hijacked by Islamists exploiting the same majoritarian system of rule that had driven Muslims out of the united India in the first place. We became that which we have been vilifying throughout our history. About how Muslims, being a minority in the subcontinent, were constantly having their voices drowned out by the majority of Hindus, failing to notice how their own actions aren’t much better.
Pakistanis Muslims, quite unconvincingly, attempt to rationalize their fear of equality and egalitarianism by claiming that Islam defines the best system of governance, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike…and that it must be imposed upon non-Muslims for their own good, whether they like it or not. According to them, the problem isn’t Islamization of the constitution, but rather the incorrect implementation of Islam.
What they fail to realize is that not everybody shares their belief about Islam being the most wonderfully wonderful system in the world. The religious minorities have their own dreams, aspirations and ideas which cannot be cast aside so coldly.
So for those of you who believe that Islam is a fair system that provides equal rights to non-Muslims, think again. All of the following laws have been borrowed directly from shariah. Fellows, I give you the 1973 constitution:
Article 2: “Islam shall be the state religion of Pakistan..”
Why not a “Christian” Republic? Or a “Hindu” Republic? Since when did it become fair to impose the religious beliefs of the majority upon the minority through the state constitution? This clause alone is highly discriminatory, because no matter what the government does from this article onwards, does not change the fact that Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis etc, shall be the non-Islamic elements of an Islamic Republic, or in other words, second class citizens.
Article 227: “No law repugnant to Islamic injunctions can be enforced..”
Muslims would likely find nothing wrong with such a stipulation. But the problem is that a lot of things offend Islam. Islam views non-believers with contempt, believing them to be fodder for the fires of hell. And any laws appeasing the non-Muslims are just as abominable in the light of Islam.
Jew (or “yahud” in Urdu”) is almost shot forth as a common abuse among Muslims. So is the word “kafir”. Sexual liberty has no place in Islam, regardless of whether the act of congress is/is not against the personal morals of the ones indulging in it (so inevitably, what a man does with his penis or woman with her vagina, through mutual consent, subsequently becomes a business of the state government). Alcohol is banned, which is just as ludicrous.
How absurd is it that many Pakistani Muslims need to avoid sex and alcohol not out of fear of their God, but out of fear of man and his constitution! Does that really help make them better Muslims?
Article 41 and 91: “The President of Pakistan (41) and Prime Minister (91) must be Muslims”
In other words, you may very well have a nobel-prize winning, triple-PHD holder, philanthropic Atheist struggling to run for the the position of Prime Muslim, but he’ll get kicked aside to make way for a considerably less competent, and possibly corrupt, Muslim.
Article 203 D:Sharia Courts and their verdicts superimposed on the country’s elected institutions
Article 295 (A, B, C): The Blasphemy Laws
This law’s a veritable nightmare for non-Muslims due to it’s high abuse potential. All that is required for a person to be hanged for blasphemous actions is the word of one “reliable” witness. Ever since the law was first instated by Zia-ul-Haq, it has been exploited on many an occasion by Muslims to settle personal scores with their non-Muslim enemies.
Also note that there’s no corresponding law for the protection of minorities against blasphemous remarks. You’re free to laugh at Hanuman, just as you’re free to make fun of the religious icons of Sikhs…but a peep out of you about Muhammad can have you killed.
Qanun-e-Shahadat (Law of Evidence): The testimony of a single Muslim man is considered equal to that of two Muslim women or two non-Muslims.
No unprejudiced person can look at that law and still deny that the constitution discriminates against the religious minorities.
Those are only a few of the major problems faced by non-Muslims in Pakistan under an Islamic rule. At the moment, I won’t go into details about the horrors faced by women. The condition of Pakistani women has improved somewhat since the Women Protection Bill was introduced in 2006 (despite fierce opposition by Muslim clerics), but they still continue to be openly discriminated against not just on the community level, but by their very constitution.
Pakistani non-Muslims, throughout Pakistan’s history, have faced forced conversions, marriages forcefully annulled, death threats (and even killings) for converting out of Islam, and clear discrimination in court houses where the Law of Evidence holds sway.
And what’s worse? The most oppressive law-makers are also the ones most thoroughly convinced that they’re being unduly magnanimous when it comes to dishing out rights to the religious minorities.
Pakistan’s “reason” was to allow Muslims a separate homeland where they could practice their religion without fear of persecution. A secular state won’t change that. The only difference it would make, shall be the glorious fact that all citizens of state, regardless of their religious convictions, would receive equal rights.
Perhaps that scares the selfish, egoistic Muslim minds of this country who seek dominance instead of equality, but secularization is precisely what humanity expects from us.