Can Islam be Enforced Through Coercion?
English Essay on “Can Islam be Enforced Through Coercion?”
Most ulema believe that public observance of certain rituals of Islam is compulsory and should be enforced. The compulsory deduction of zakat was hindered by the Shia community and was later made voluntary by the Supreme Court under the Principle of equal treatment.
Most of us believe that there is no “compulsion” in Islamic, but in public observances the element of compulsion has always been on the increase in Pakistan as an Islamic state. Some of it has come through exclusion of the alternative view. Some of it has come through in the shape of “duties” to be performed by a Muslim in public life. But by and large public life has been free of the kind of coercion used by the Taliban in Afghanistan with respect to the “duty” of keeping beards. With regard to “hijab”, the view in Pakistan sometimes inclines to compulsion . The same view has been expressed with regard to the observance of “namaz”.
Quoted in “Jang” (October 28, 2002), leader of Tabbleeghi Jamaat Haji Abdul Wahab said on the last day of the Tableeghi congregation that the Taliban had enforced Islam through coercion. That was why their Islam had disappeared after their departure from the scene. He said Islam spread through invitation and willingness. The great hunter of blasphemers, lawyer Ismail Qureshi wrote in “Nawa-e-Waqt” (October 26, 2002) that General Musharraf had allowed certain changes in the Penal Code that only the legislature was entitled to carry out. He said the new dispensation was that the decision to register a case of blasphemy should be made by two gazette officers well-versed in Islamic law. If these two officers felt, they could ask a neutral scholar of Islam to join in the inquiry.educationsight.blogspot.com If after this inquiry the officers were not satisfied, they could reject the registration of the case. According to “Nawa-e-Waqt” (October 28, 2002) after the MMA victory in the NWFP, the elected MNAs and MPAs and their supporters had taken to wearing black turbans and long hair, the style associated with the Taliban. When these gentlemen appeared on the scene, people shouted “Taliban Agayay”, which pleased them greatly and made them smile.
The claim made by Haji Abdul Wahab can be contested by other ulema who already disapprove of Tableeghi Jama’at’s voluntary isolation from politics. The truth of the matter is that voluntarism in Islam is becoming less and less popular although there are Quranic references to freedom of religion which the ulema today understand as references to religions other than Islam. Most believe that public observance of certain rituals of Islam is compulsory and should be enforced. The compulsory deduction of zakat was hindered by the Shia community and was later made voluntary by the Supreme Court under the principle of equal treatment. The ulema of many schools of thought think that namaz should be made compulsory and abstention from it should be punished directly or indirectly by the state. The Council for Islamic Ideology (CII) in fact asked the government to penalise its employees for neglecting the duty of namaz. At least one religious party declared in 2001 that it will enforce hijab (veil) and closure during namaz in public life in selected cities of Pakistan. Despite declarations to the contrary by the leaders of the MMA, the programme of “tightening up” the observance of Islamic rituals is still being asserted by the clergy in their statements. The Taliban became popular in Pakistan because they used force to make people observe what they thought Was true Islam. Hard line activists like Ismail Qureshi do not believe that conscientious and correct procedures should be in place to avoid victimising citizens under the Blasphemy Law. Unfortunately, the Islamic reform today is associated with coercion and extremism.
According to “Jang” (November 1, 2002), JUl in Faisalabad took vigilante action against “fahashi” (obscenity) on Samundari Road in Faisalabad where a circus was allegedly violating rules. The circus management offered resistance as a result of which famous JUI “alim” Mufti Muhammad ZiaulHaq and his two sons were seriously injured. A banned offshoot of the JUl took another “action” against an exhibit ion on Jaranwala Road on the plea that there was “jua” (gambling) going on there. What ensued was “hatha-pai” (scuffle) in which many were injured and the exhibition was wrecked.
This is what might happen in the coming days in provinces where the MMA forms governments, not because the governments will adopt a policy of this kind of action, but that the ulema will feel justified in acting under the doctrine of “amr” and “nahi”. When and how should a Muslim “approve” that which is ordained arid good and “prevent” that which is not ordained and is not good. This has never been clear even after the creation of the state and the adoption of a penal code.
Ex-IB chief Masood Sharif told “Jan” Magazine (October 27, 2002) that the PPP government was not responsible for creating the Taliban and that it was in fact the army. The army also vetoed the proposal sent to Ms Benazir Bhutto by Afghan president Najibullah that Kabul and Islamabad talk about the creation of a new government in Kabul. He said ISI was run by army officers who were not loyal to civilian prime ministers. Nasim Rana as ISI chief sat in with the government but did not tell Ms Bhutto that her government was to be shortly dismissed. An army officer heading the IB, Imtiaz Billa, could get away with anything, even getting Maulana Samiul Haq photographed in an objectionable condition. He said Waheed Kakar was the best army chief as he refused an extension offered him by Ms Bhutto and Farooq Leghari.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. When the PPP interior minister, a retired general, took the initiative with a nascent Taliban force in Afghanistan, the ISI was caught unawares. An ex-ISI chief General (Retd) Hameed Gul thought that the Taliban was a British-American conspiracy. The Urdu press gave vent to its anger against this new PPP-supported formation, disapproving of its abandonment of the Hekmatyar option in Afghanistan. But once the shift of policy was complete, the ISI embraced it and saw in the Taliban an opportunity to impose its own “peace” in Afghanistan, a policy that was later coupled to the idea of “strategic depth” against India. The intelligence agencies, because of their mode of recruitment, will be, by and large,’ against a party they perceive as liberal or wishing to diversify policy on India. As a rule all armies are right wing and conservative and will not support a neoconservative party. Waheed Kakar was aware of the circumstances in which he was chosen as army chief and did not want an internal debate in the army by opting for an extension.