Posts Tagged ‘Extremism’

First published in english daily The Islamabad Dateline [28th April, 2010]

Ugay na maut Zamin par tou aur kya hoga / Key beej zehar key bantay gae kisano’n mayn!

I was born in 80’s. I grew up in 90’s, in a Pakistan with school curriculum preaching religious intolerance, state organs that colored geo strategic interests of our establishment in ‘holy’ flavor, Intelligentsia that fathered militant organizations, right leaning media that propagated conspiracy theories and a public sentiment that endorsed militancy, by open call for ‘Jihad’ in other countries.

I was more interested in Tom & Jerry then, but as I grew older and skimmed through unbiased political and religio-political history of Pakistan, I realized why our youth exhibit symptoms of being radicalized easily.

By radicalization I mean intolerance to others opinions (political, social or religious) and having a militant or extremist answer instead of agreeing to disagree peacefully. Many of us born in 70’s and 80’s were already pre-radicalized by constant bombardment and brainwashing by establishment, media and right wing political parties.

Many analysts of contemporary times believe socio-economic conditions and lack of education leads to radicalization but I beg to differ; Osama bin Laden is a civil engineer, Al-Zawahiri a surgeon, Omer Sheikh (famous for kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl) studied from London School of Economics, Faisal Shahzad is a financial analyst and in fact top leadership of all militant organizations are reasonably well-educated and come from rich families.

I witness three stages of radicalization in Pakistan. Pre-radicalization, radicalization and post radicalization. Endorsing a radical discourse is pre-radicalization. Radicalization is joining an extremist organization and blatant activism for the same. Post-radicalization is after joining a radical cause, now living a normal a life.

Madrassas have obviously played a vital role in providing a regular stream of radical minded youth. I had the pleasure to meet a senior official at NACTA (National Counter Terrorism Authority) who revealed that time of summer vacations in these religious schools is very crucial as it is the time when they are taught the art of ‘takfir’ (judging  as kaafir) and militancy. A 2008 estimate puts the number of madrassas in Pakistan as over 40,000 with an approximated 2 million youth enrolled. Every religious militant in Pakistan and from Pakistan spent time in a madrassa.

No one can deny the three stages of radicalization in Pakistan. The intensity of which unveiled when Governor Salman Taseer was murdered and almost 80 % of ‘educated’ youth were cheering for the assassin, on religious grounds.

What to do now? We have a huge youth bulge, many of them silently support radical causes and many exhibit high potential for joining radical causes.

Bear in mind here that every radical is not a terrorist but every terrorist is a radical.

Only counter and de-radicalization can serve to be the anti-dote to the venom of radicalization in Pakistan. Counter-radicalization on national level, like Zia’s radicalization programs, we ought to initiate counter-radicalization grass root initiatives spreading tolerance, peace and interfaith harmony. Countering radicalization should also involve reforming madrassas, keeping a strict check on religious discourse even in mosques where religious hatred is fed like en masse. This would mitigate the pre-radicalization mindset prevalent in masses.

De-radicalization for those already radicalized, like the famous rehab facility of would-be suicide bombers caught in Pakistan.

We cannot close our eyes to this monster when only in last years, 35000 Pakistanis lost their lives including top notch generals, politicians and ordinary citizens. We have to disrupt the extremist infrastructure, militant outfits, condemn biased journalism and instigate a multi-faced counter-radicalization strategy to prevent further abuse of our religion for political ends and stop following myopic U.S. policies and denounce Saudi/Iran sponsored intolerant religious discourse which have played a pivotal role in radicalizing Pakistan.

Key policy reformation is required in immediate future, hovering a broader objective, specifically targeting the younger generation else we will not move forward, but revolve in circles.

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi


Read Full Post »

Mystifying is the turn of time, indeed. The same Allama Iqbal who was given fatwa’s on, by his contemporary “Mullahs” is now quoted by well-reputed Mullahs of the same school of thought.

The same Bulleh Shah, who had been refused by the mullahs to be buried after his death in the community graveyard because of his unorthodox views, today enjoys worldwide reverence and is quoted by contemporary mullahs. The tomb of Bulleh Shah in Qasur and the area around it is today the only place free of collective refuse, and the privileged of the city pay handsomely to be buried in the proximity of the man they had once rejected.

Maulana Rum (aka Rumi), who was condemned as a kaafir, is not only the top selling poet across the globe but is held in high reverence by people of all religions.

I have written on this topic previously, the verses of Bulleh Shah force me to write again. Every word that was misinterpreted by mullahs, can serve a cure for all the ills we are facing in our times.

Chal Way Bullehya Chal O’thay Chaliyay
Jithay Saaray Annay
Na Koi Saadee Zaat PichHanay
Tay Na Koi Saanu Mannay
O’ Bulleh Shah let’s go there
Where everyone is blind
Where no one recognizes our caste (or race, or family name)
And where no one believes in us
Masjid Dha Day, Mandir Dha Day
Dha Day Jo Kujh Disda
Par Kissay Da Dil Na Dhawee(n)
Rub Dilaa(n) Wich Wasda
Tear down the Mosque, tear down the temple
Tear down every thing in sight
But don’t (tear down) break anyone’s heart
Because God lives there
Hindu na nahi musalmaan,
Baheeye tiranjan taj abhimaan.
Sunni na naheeN ham sheeya
Sulha kuhl ka maarag leeya.
Neither Hindu nor Muslim,
Sacrificing pride, let us sit together.
Neither Sunni nor Shia,
Let us walk the road of peace.


Props to Junoon, Rabbi, Abida Parveen, Saeen Zahoor and other musicians of our times for helping the new generation in rediscovering the message of Bulleh Shah. Junoon started the trend and was labeled as “Sufi Rock Band” – The message that pierced my heart was through them, when I was 12.

This first aspect of Bulleh Shah’s poetry and philosophy that strikes upfront is his bold and almost arrogant critique of the religious orthodoxy of his day; specifically the Islamic religious orthodoxy. His poetry is filled with direct attacks on anyone claiming control over religion.

Mulla tay mashaalchi dohaan ikko chit
Loukan karday chananan, aap anhairae vich
Mullah and the torch-bearer, both from the same flock
Trying to give light to others; themselves in the dark 


Bulleh Shah’s poetry portray him as a humanist. Someone providing solutions to the sociological/political/cultural problems of the world around him, describing the turbulence his homeland of Punjab is passing through, while simultaneously searching for God. His poetry highlights his mystical spiritual journey through the four stages of Sufism – Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union). He starts from the rules as laid down by Islam, and eventually ends up at a point where he accepts the existence of God, everywhere, with no discrimination between different religions, finally becoming one with God.

Pointing at someone else’s faith would only unveil how weak your faith is. Picking up guns, instead of pens to enforce your way of thinking would never have an effect that the likes of Bulleh Shah had through his soul-searching and heart-melting poetry.

Islam was never spread by sword. It wouldn’t be the fastest growing religion on earth if that were the case. Islam is spread by the message of love and by deeds, not the way Taliban “ENFORCE” it.

Lord Almighty Himself says:

There shall be no compulsion in religion – [2:256]

I cannot help pasting the verse below:

Bulleh-a aashiq hoyiyon Rabb da, Hoai Malamat Lakh
Tenon Kafir Kafir aakhdey, toon aaho aaho aakh

O Bulleh, just love your God and ignore the chidings
When they say you are an infidel, say “yes I am one”


Read Full Post »

The recent blurt of French President Sarkozy reminds of Mullah Omar’s dawn to power in Afghanistan, where his first sermon on radio made it mandatory on Muslim women to wear ” Taliban-Style ” burqas. The trend continued and where-ever Taliban took over, strict rules were defined for women who were ordered to wear shuttle-sock/ninja type burqas and advised not to roam in streets or markets, get educated or do anything at all – outside their homes!

The West protested and human/women rights activists across the globe went nuts.

How can the “enlightened” French, who are extremely tolerant to nearly-naked women walking on their streets, be so intolerant to Muslim girls wanting to wear burqas in France? Isnt this extremism? The recent head-scarf controversy was a shameful unveiling of how intolerant West can be towards other nations and their ideals.


Here, I am pasting two news briefings for your enlightened mind.
Dawn – Girls wear burqa after warning by Taliban
Dated : November 21, 2007 


The News – No place for burqas in France: Sarkozy
Dated : November 13, 2009 



Read Full Post »