A bomb explodes in a market, some 80 people die and 100s get injured. Can anyone tell me the identity of those who lost their lives? Do bombs differentiate when they explode that I am only going to hurt the person belonging to this faith, this ethnicity or the one who speaks this language? Energy crisis is the worst ever in our history, is it differentiating between who is going to get more blackouts in the day, Sunnis, Shias or Hindus? Did floods stop to check which areas they were particularly interested in drowning, in the province of Sindh or Balochistan? Or when the earth-quake engulfed quarter of our country, I am pretty sure it also didn’t pre-plan which people were more worthy of its destruction.
Next time while hearing all such news that have become a normal part of our everyday routine, stop for a moment and think who else is fighting these daily battles along with you? Is it a Muslim from Jordan, Egypt, India or a Christian or Sikh from Pakistan?
Enough have been written about the plight of minorities in our country but why is it not shaking anyone? To be honest, it’s not because people are apathetic, it’s deliberate. People choose to look the other way because in their minds, superiority of religion is so embedded that it supersedes any commonality among us as Pakistanis. Talk to anyone about Babri Mosque and see the emotions run wild, but mention Gojra and see the blank look on their faces (What happened at Gojra?). Why is it that a destruction of mosque in a neighbouring country arouses more emotions but live burning of our fellow citizens and destruction of their holy books and places is not worthy of any outrage just because they are not Muslims? When does a person’s religion become so important that we fail to understand the basic concepts of right and wrong? Why is it that Pakistanis constantly shout about being discriminated and demand equal rights when they immigrate to other countries yet squirm like earth worms if Ahmadis ask for the basic right of calling themselves Muslims (waiting for comments how it is perfectly safe for them to practice their religion but they cannot call themselves Muslims because that’s just too much to ask!). The best response that people come up with is that we “tolerate” minorities (how nice of you).
The problem is that Muslims haven’t been able to get over the memories of Islamic empires or the so called “golden era” (despite the fact that during such golden eras, Muslims were butchering each other for the control of power and money). Study objectively the history of Ummayads, Abbasids, Ottomans or Mughals, and tell me if any of them were “Islamic”? They were always concerned with power and expansion of their empires (Ottomans and Mughals didn’t even hesitate to kill their own family members to get to the throne!!!!). However, even hard facts of our history won’t change our minds because since they were Muslims, they cannot do anything wrong. The true Islamic Caliphate was abolished long before 1924. After that, it was just nominal allegiances to a leader, along with power struggles between the central government and its various subjects. Not to mention Shias were always persecuted under most of the history of Sunni empires (a tradition that we proudly carry on).
Now people need to understand and accept that times have changed. Today we live in an era of nation state where religion does not and should not determine your loyalty to a country and your rights as a citizen. The Ummah (that never was united in the first place) is long gone. Just look at the states of other Muslim countries and tell me how many of them actually care about Pakistan? My point is not to malign other Muslims around the world. They are our brothers and sisters in religion but the truth of the matter is that each Muslim country is dealing with their own unique history of colonialism and authoritarian regimes. They have enough problems of their own to deal with and its time that we do the same. Moreover, our love for our Muslim brother or sister in Iraq or Palestine should not blind us to the atrocities that are happening right under our noses to our fellow citizens. Their grievances should at least have the same importance in our minds, if not more. Doesn’t Islam also teach you to care for your closest neighbour first, irrespective of religion?