One wonders if the floods were wrath of god, why grill Asif Ali Zardari or the provincial governments? Also, if the floods were god's punishment of sinners, wouldn't the relief efforts be tantamount to challenging god?
“Natural disasters are actually not violations of the laws of nature, but rather are part of the inevitable fluctuations within them, but they have always been used to overawe the gullible with the mightiness of god’s disapproval. Early Christians, operating in zones of Asia Minor where earthquake were and are frequent, would rally crowds when a pagan temple fell down, and urge them to convert while there was still time. The colossal volcanic explosion at Krakatoa in the late nineteenth century provoked an enormous swing toward Islam among the terrified population of Indonesia,” Christopher Hitchens writes (1). As was the case after the earthquake in Kashmir back in October 2005, televangelists are busy invoking the wrath of god in the wake of the deluge that has submerged one fifth of Pakistan since last July.
A case in point is ‘Hayya al Falah’ aired by Geo TV (Aug 19) with Junaid Jamshed as the anchorperson. Once a star singer, Junaid is a leading born-again Muslim playing the poster boy for Tableeghi Jamaat (since, due to bad performance and fixing charges, Tableeghi cricketers are not sexy any more). A leading Tableeghi figure, Maulana Tariq Jamil, was answering Junaid’s questions on the telephone. Asked about the flash floods, Maulana cited a verse from the Quran that meant fasad either on the earth or oceans was of man’s own making. Another verse he quoted meant that a tragedy befalling human beings was caused by man’s own actions. He advised the nation to go for Tauba Istakhfar (begging god’s forgiveness for one’s sins). The entire clip is available on Youtube. See notes below (2).
One wonders if the floods were wrath of god, why grill Asif Ali Zardari or the provincial governments? Also, if the floods were god's punishment of sinners, wouldn't the relief efforts be tantamount to challenging god? In that case, not only the PPP’s infidel corrupt government but Saudi Arabia’s puritan government would also be culpable. Most importantly, the Pakistan Army is being lavishly credited by the media for making heroic relief efforts. Are they not challenging god by rescuing flood victims whom god wanted to punish for their sins? A fatwa regarding flood relief would indeed be interesting. Let us hope Junaid Jamshed asks about this contradiction in his next Hayya al Falah!
Burkas for flood-hit women
According to daily Jang (online edition 04-09-2010), “on the occasion of International Hijad Day, burkas, chaddars and Islamic literature were distributed to women at a camp for flood victims in Karachi under the auspices of the Women Wing of Jamaat islami. Former Member National Assembly Ayesha Munawar and other Women Wing office-bearers were also present on the occasion. They lectured the women at the camp, set up in Karachi’s Sachal Goth area, on the importance of hejab in Islam. Ayesha Munawar said hejab was a woman’s national dignity and her shield. She said the act to conceal herself is what makes Muslim woman special and proud”. For the original text in Urdu, see notes (3).
On reading this item, Manto comes to mind. In his play Parday kee Ba’taiN (Talk about Hijab), he describes a scene as follows:
“On a wall there is a poster of an ad saying
The first Islamic madrassa that teaches how to walk safely wearing an abaya
We have opened a school for teaching the women of the villages or the ones who are not used to of wearing an abaya, how to walk and ride a bicycle safely on the streets wearing an abaya. We guarantee to make a woman an expert in wearing an abaya in just one month. Trial is the condition. Fee is totally reasonable. During the course of education the school will provide a free abaya’’.
Science is revelation
In his regular column, Harf e Raz, for daily Express (28-07-2010), Orya Maqbol Jan has endeavoured to philosophise the myths and realities about intuition, Wahi (revelations) and true dreams (4). In his bid to rationalise the irrational, he resorts to religion. Most of the columnists in the vernacular press ----often lacking a journalistic background----nowadays attempt to reconcile their opinion with religion to sell themselves in a society increasingly becoming dogmatic. Intellectual attributes like critical thinking, investigation or reasoning are carefully avoided. A standard style is to quote a verse or Hadith, cite an anecdote from the life of a real or imaginary sacred personality, and pass the verdict.
In the column under discussion, Orya claims that when Newton saw the apple fall and discovered the gravitational force of the earth, or Stephenson saw steam coming out of kettle and invented the steam engine, it was only possible because god somehow revealed truth to these scientists.
Oraya does not answer why a scientific truth was revealed only to a scientist like Newton or Stephenson and not to a poet or a priest or a peasant. Since the invention of the steam engine, human beings have become able to manufacture super-sonic jets. Revelations dear Oraya? This evolution from the steam engine to super sonic jet has been only possible as a result of mind-boggling advancements in various fields of engineering. Incidently, this evolution took place in the West. Will Oraya explain why since the invention of steam engine, not a single scientific truth has been revealed to a Pakistani?
This column is in fact another attempt to assign the present wave of floods to the wrath of god but a more concealed one.
Orya refers to Newton and other scientists only to prove that there were already a few chosen people warning against such impending catastrophes as floods or planes crashing in the Margalla Hills. One wishes these heartless chosen people had intimated this to the 150 luckless passengers who died in the plane crash. At least, they must let us know about future flights heading for a crash.
Farooq Sulehria is working with Stockholm-based Weekly Internationalen (www.internationalen.se). Before joining Internationalen, he worked for one year,2006-07 at daily The News, Rawalpindi. Also, in Pakistan, he has worked with Lahore-based dailies, The Nation, The Frontier Post and Pakistan. He has MA in Mass Communication from Punjab University, Lahore. He also contributes for Znet and various left publications in Europe and Australia.