The persecution and dehumanizing of minorities has been going on for as long as I can remember. The torching of a place of worship in Faisalabad is the biggest act of violence against a minority group since ‘Naya’ Pakistan came into power. Then we had the sacking of Atif Mian from the Economic Council because of his faith many are arguing.
As a believer in what ‘Naya’ Pakistan is supposed to represent, I would like to think we are at a watershed moment. We have been given the license to stand up for what is right. The fact that so many of us have been afraid to defend our citizen’s shows how far behind we are. The responsibility devolves most on government, the media, and human rights groups to protect, and not rile up.
What’s more shocking is that as an Islamic Republic, we have a very limited understanding of what Islam stands for. Injustice arises out of a deep misunderstanding of Islam by the faithful. For some reason, we have this obsession of hijacking God’s functions. Judgment is for the Almighty, not for us. We have absolutely no right to pass judgement on anyone for what they believe. Islam clearly states that there is no compulsion in religion. I wonder where the confusion is? Answer: It is by the self-appointed clerics of organized religion, in all faiths. By denying minorities their rights, you are not doing God a favour.
For those who believe should know that it was Christian King in Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia) who gave the Muslims of Mecca refuge after suffering horrific persecution. The Prophet (PBUH) invited the Christians on Najran to pray in his mosque before engaging in dialogue with them. These are just two of many examples.
Even as I write this, I feel like I am stating the obvious, which I am, but it is unfortunate that the obvious needs to be stated. This reveals how far we have strayed from the Correct Path. The time has come for all good men and women to stand up and be counted. We cannot stay silent.
Prime Minster Imran Khan’s victory speech was inspired and inspiring. Not only the Khanistans, as they are condescendingly referred to, his critics were also moved by his words. It wasn’t so much about the promises that he vowed to keep, it was the essence of his speech that resonated. His concern for the underprivileged was genuine. Hearing him speak about the rights of minorities in Islam by citing examples of history is an indication that the Prime Minister is well versed and passionate about this. The time is now to put his knowledge and passion into constructive policy. The Prime Minister has earned the respect and adulation of many because of his unshakeable principles and honesty. He must call on those qualities when he is in a difficult situation. If he continues to cave under pressure to greedy politicians and sanctimonious bigots, I am afraid the change that he genuinely wants to bring about is a far cry away.
By: Ali Gauhar