State-Sponsored Sufism – The power to salve? Why are U.S. think tanks pushing for state-sponsored Islam in Pakistan?

Once certain ideas go mainstream, it often takes a pretty big flop to disprove them. The United States was supposed to be hailed as the liberator of Iraq, just as it was going to be easy to turn Afghanistan into a democracy. Well now, according to commentators from the BBC to the Economist to the Boston Globe, Sufism, being defined as Islam’s moderate or mystical side, is apparently just the thing we need to deal with violent Muslim extremists. Sufis are the best allies to the West, these authors say; support them, and countries as diverse as Pakistan and Somalia could turn around.

The Sufi theory has a lot of variations, but at its core, it’s pretty simple: Violent Muslim extremism, rather than having material and political bases, is caused by certain belligerent readings of Islam usually associated with Salafism, a movement that attempts to resurrect the Islam of the prophet Mohammed’s time, and Wahhabism, a similarly conservative branch. If Muslims can be indoctrinated with another, softer, interpretation of Islam, then the militants, insurgents, and guerrilla fighters will melt away.

Well, these pundits have gotten their wish. Pakistan just announced the creation of a seven-member Sufi Advisory Council (SAC) that is meant to combat the Taliban insurgency by spreading Sufi “thoughts and teachings.” The SAC’s predecessor was a Musharraf-era PR stunt called the National Sufi Council that was headed by a rather feudal Punjabi politician — the group did little more than print a few calendars and hold a musical gala in Lahore. It is not yet clear whether the seven-member SAC, which met for the first time June 9, will be independent of the country’s Council of Islamic Ideology, a body outlined in Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution that advises whether laws are consistent with sharia. But if the SAC does become an official organ, it will add yet another layer of religious governance to a country wracked by religious conflict.

The creation of the SAC is not good news. It signals an increase in the politicization of Islam in Pakistan — if a higher level is even possible. Now, even the pietist and welfare-oriented groups that have traditionally abstained from overindulging in government affairs will be tempted to become mouthpieces for corrupt political actors. For evidence, look no further than the SAC’s new head, a former minister from the regime of ultra-Wahhabi dictator Zia ul-Haq, whose promotion probably has nothing to do with mysticism and more to do with the fact that he has called for Sufi Mohammed of Swat to be tried on charges of mutiny. It is exactly the sort of politicization of religion that has led to so many problems in Pakistan since independence in 1947.

The usual response by supporters of the Sufi solution is that thanks to the extremists, Islam has already been politicized, and therefore propagandist measures promoting Sufism are the only way to fight back. But that’s precisely the problem: Propaganda is inherently discrediting. Besides, state-sponsored Sufism (which the SAC is) gets everything backward: In an environment where demagogues are using religion to conceal their true political and material ambitions, establishing another official, “preferred” theological ideology won’t roll back their influence. Minimizing the role of all religion in government would be a better idea. Only then could people begin to speak about rights and liberty.

The opposite is now happening in Pakistan, fomenting an ongoing religious civil war. The SAC will undoubtedly embolden extremists by giving them ideological motivation: They now have evidence to provide young recruits and foot soldiers that the “war” they are fighting is, in fact, about the integrity of Islam. Far from reducing extremists’ influence, the SAC is doing them a favor.

This is quite apparent in the types of cases — or rather, spats — that the Sufi Advisory Council will now adjudicate. Take for example a recent accusation by Syed Munawar Hassan, the head of the fundamentalist organization Jamat-e-Islami, that Sufi Mohammed, the man behind the recent imposition of sharia law in Swat, is “a little infidel.” Substance is hardly at the heart of this debate.

It’s not that Sufism in and of itself can’t help. In the private sphere, it is welcome, laudable, and indeed quite beautiful to behold. But the SAC did not spring out of an internal debate among religious scholars in Pakistan. It came instead from American think tanks — like Rand and Heritage Foundation — intent on exploiting sectarian divisions in various Muslim countries, because they insist on addressing the war on terror in religious terms.

Interestingly enough, another early advocate of this approach was none other than Benazir Bhutto. Despite having a Shiite heritage, she became a member of a traditionally Sufi — and Sunni — Pakistani organization called Minhaj ul-Quran (check out this YouTube video of her meeting with Minhaj leaders, in which she doesn’t have enough cash on her to cover the fees).

I believe that her reasons for joining Minhaj were part of a larger plan — laid out in her book, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West — to use religious forces to her political advantage. After all, that impulse is precisely what led Bhutto to give the stamp of approval to the Taliban in the mid-1990s — and led her father to declare Islam the state religion of Pakistan in 1973. Today is no different. As Ayesha Siddiqa, a leading Pakistani commentator, has presciently noted, beginning a “faith war” between Sufi and Salafi in Pakistan would simply drive more youth toward fundamentalism.

In short, after years of bemoaning official Saudi sponsorship of Wahhabism, and condemning official Iranian sponsorship of milleniarian Islam, we are now being asked to celebrate a state-sponsored brand of Islam in Pakistan. We are asked to believe this is “different” from those other cases solely because it’s a version of the religion that looks benign. But not only is this unprincipled — it is going to backfire, leaving Sufism discredited and more religious resentment among the numerous peaceful Salafis in the world.

Written By:Ali Eteraz

Readers may form their own opinion.

Worship none but One God – Christianity and Islam

The Ten Commandments / The Fateha
Qur’an 17:23. Also 2:163,255; 3:2,6,18,62; 4:87; 5:73; 6:102,106; 7:59,65,73,85,158; 9:31,129; 10;90; 11:14,40,61,84; 13:30; 16:02; 18:110; 20:8,14,98; 21:25,87; 23:23,32,116; 27:26; 28:38,70; 28:88; 35:3; 37:035; 38:65; 39:6; 40:3,62,65; 44:8; 47:19; 64:13; 73:9
Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him

Exodus 20:3 – You shall have no other gods before me.

Qur’an 22:12 – They call on such deities, besides Allah, as can neither hurt nor profit them: that is straying far indeed (from the Way)!

Exodus 20:4 You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

Qur’an 7:180 And Allah’s are the best names, therefore call on Him thereby, and leave alone those who violate the sanctity of His names; they shall be requited for what they did.

Exodus 20:7 You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Qur’an 16:124 The Sabbath was only made (strict) for those who disagreed (as to its observance); But Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment, as to their differences.

Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Qur’an 17:23 Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour.

Exodus 20:12 Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Qur’an 17:23 Nor take life which Allah has made sacred.

Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder.

Qur’an 17:32 Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).

Exodus 20:14 You shall not commit adultery.

Qur’an 2:188 And do not eat up unjustly the property of each other among yourselves nor convey their cases to the authorities for devouring unlawfully some portion of the property of the people knowingly

Exodus 20:15 You shall not steal.

Qur’an 2:42 And cover not truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is).

Exodus 20:16 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

Qur’an 4:32 And in no wise covet those things in which Allah Hath bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others

Exodus 20:17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

ہمارے دفاتر کا ماحول

حسرت موہانی صاحب نے کم از کم چھ سات دہائیاں قبل کہا تھا

خِرد کا نام جنُوں رکھ دیا ۔ جنُوں کا خِرد
جو چاہے آپ کا حسن کرشمہ ساز کرے

مندرجہ ذيل پر کلِک کر کے یا اسے براؤزر میں لکھ کر پڑھيئے دلچسپ آپ بيتی “سرکاری تابعداری يا غداری”

Health Tips

Drink plenty of water.

Make habit of reading useful books.

Must do some physical work daily
Try a 10-30 minutes walk every day and, while you walk, give rest to your mind.

If tired of continuous working close your eyes for 5 minute and give complete rest to your brain
Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.

Sleep daily for not more than 8 and not less than 6.

Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and less that is manufactured in plants (factories).

مندرجہ ذيل ربط پر کلِک کر کے یا اسے براؤزر میں لکھ کر پڑھيئے دلچسپ آپ بيتی “سرکاری تابعداری يا غداری”

In Napoleon’s footsteps

History has dealt the Islamic world a terrible hand. From the 13th century onward, the defining moments in the world of Islam were the Mongol invasions and the imperialist intrusion of the west and the advent of colonial dependency. It is significant how little the western approach to the Muslim world has changed during this period. The modus operandi is the same. Praise Islam as the religion of peace and love but carry war and destruction to weak and defenceless Muslim countries if they refuse to toe the line. Praise the Holy Prophet (PBUH) but unleash the hounds of war against his followers, bomb innocent men, women and children, occupy their lands, change their government by force of arms and replace it with client regimes.

The new president of the United States, Barack Obama, unites within himself American and African Muslim heritages. On the day that Obama became president-elect, his paternal grandmother, Habiba Akuma Obama held a cerebration in her village. In his Cairo speech, Obama vowed to bridge the rift with Muslims, imploring Americans and the Islamic world to drop their suspicions of one another and forge new alliances. His overture to the Islamic world reminds me of Napoleon Bonaparte. Before embarking on his Egyptian expedition, he presented himself to the Islamic world as its greatest champion and a great admirer of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). On June 22, 1798, he set out to conquer Egypt, a country he described “as the first theatre of civilisation in the universe”.

“Soldiers”, Bonaparte proclaimed, “You are going to undertake a conquest, the effect of which, upon commerce and civilisation, will be incalculable. The eyes of mankind are fixed upon you. The Mameluke Beys, who tyrannise over the unhappy inhabitants of the banks of the Nile, will no longer exist in a few days after our arrival. The people among whom you are going to live, are Mahometans: the first article of their faith is, ‘there is no other god but God and Mahomet is his Prophet. Do not contradict them. Treat their Muftis and their Imams with respect”.

After establishing his headquarters at Alexandria, Bonaparte issued the following proclamation in Arabic:

“In the name of God, gracious and merciful. There is no god but God; he has no son nor associate in his kingdom. Inhabitants of Egypt! When the Beys tell you the French are come to destroy your religion, believe them not: it is an absolute falsehood. Answer these deceivers, that they are only come to rescue the rights of the poor from the hands of their tyrants, and that the French adore the Supreme Being, and honour the Prophet and his Holy Quran.

“All men are equal in the eyes of God: understanding, ingenuity, and science, alone make a difference between them. As the Beys do not posses any of these qualities, they cannot be worthy to govern the country. Yet they are the only possessors of extensive tracts of lands, beautiful female slaves, excellent horses, and magnificent places! Have they, then, received an exclusive privilege from the Almighty? If so, let them produce it. But the Supreme Being, who is just and merciful towards all mankind, wills, that, in future, none of the inhabitants in Egypt shall be prevented from attaining to the first employments, and the highest honours. The administration, which shall be conducted by persons of intelligence, talents, and foresight, will be productive of happiness and security.

“The French are true Mussulmen! Not long since they marched to Rome, and overthrew the throne of the Pope who excited the Christians against the professors of the Mahometan religion. Our friendship shall be extended to those of the inhabitants of Egypt who shall join us, as also to those who shall remain in their dwellings, and observe a strict neutrality; and, when they have seen our conduct with their own eyes, hasten to submit to us; but the dreadful punishment of death awaits those who shall take up arms for the Beys, and against us: for them their shall be no deliverance, nor shall any trace of them remain”.

Accompanied by his staff and the members of the National Institute, attended also by a powerful guard, and conducted by several Muftis and Imams, Bonaparte commenced the following interesting conversation with Suluman, Ibrahim, and Mahumed, the chief Muftis.

Buonaparte: “Glory to Allah! There is no other god but God, Mahomet is his Prophet, and I am his friend”!

Suluman: “The salutation of peace to the envoy of God! Salutation to thee, also, invincible warrior, favourite of Mahomet”!

Buonaparte: “Mufti, I thank thee: the divine Quran is the delight of my soul, and the object of my contemplation. I love the Prophet, and I hope, ere long, to see and honour his tomb in the Holy City; but my mission is first to exterminate the Mamelukes”.

Ibrahim: “May the angels of victory sweep the dust from thy path, and cover thee with their wings! The Mameluke has merited death”.

Buonaparte: “He has been smitten and delivered over to the black angels, Monkir and Quakir. God, on whom all things depend, has ordained that his dominions shall be destroyed”.

Suluman: “He has extended the hand of rapine over the land, the harvest and the horses, of Egypt”.

Buonaparte: “And over the most beautiful slaves, thrice holy Mufti! Allah has withered his hand: if Egypt be his portion, let him shew the lease which God has given him of it; but God is just and merciful to his people”.

Ibrahim: “Oh! most valiant among the children of Issa! (Jesus Christ) Allah has caused thee to follow the exterminating angel to deliver his land of Egypt”.

Buonaparte: “Has not Mahomet said, that every man who adores God, and performs good works whatever maybe his religion, shall be saved”?

Suluman, Muhamed, Ibrahim (inclining themselves): “He has said so”.

Ibrahim: “Glory to Allah and his Prophet! Who have sent thee into the midst of us to rekindle the faith of the weak, and to open to the faithful the gates of the seventh heaven”?

Buonaparte: “You have spoken my wishes, most zealous Muftis! Be faithful to Allah, the sovereign ruler of the seven marvellous heavens, and to Mahomet, his vizir, who traversed all the celestial mansions in a single night. Be the friends of the Francs, and Allah, Mahomet, and Francs, will reward you”.

Ibrahim: “May the Prophet himself cause thee to sit at his left-hand, on the day of the resurrection, after the third sound of the trumpet”.

Buonaparte: “The hour of political resurrection has arrived for all who groan under oppression. Muftis, Imams, Mullahs, Dervises, and Kalenders! Instruct the people of Egypt, encourage them to join us in our labours, to complete the destruction of Beys and Mamelukes: favour the commerce of the Francs in your country and their endeavours to arrive at the ancient Land of Brama. Let them have storehouses in your ports”.

Suluman (inclining himself): “Thou hast spoken like the most learned of the Mullahs. We place faith in thy words: we shall serve thy cause, and God hears us”.

Buonaparte: “God is great, and his works are marvellous: the salutation of peace be upon you, Thrice Holy Muftis!”

The snake, it is said, covers its prey with saliva before devouring it. Before launching the attack on Afghanistan, President Bush visited the Islamic Centre in Washington DC and addressing the gathering quoted from the Holy Quran: “In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule”!

Obama’s speech was impressive, but he delivered it in a country where an aging dictator is passing power to his son, where the country is crumbling to dust because of repression and stagnation. So words are not enough. What is needed is action, not just fine rhetoric. The Islamic world would judge Obama not by his intentions, not by his words, but by his deeds.

By Roedad Khan, a former federal secretary.
Published in “The News” on Saturday, June 13, 2009