The First Comment
The problem is that you might convince some or even a good number of already peacefully inclined Muslims, but will this “automatically” lead to change? No, if everyone waits for somebody else to take up political action then very little will be done and the field is still left to those who act politically, often the radicals.
And for all this time the innocent still suffer.
For example, the pro-life movement in the US does both, teaching and campaigning politically for the right of the unborn. I think when you make this not only a teaching issue but an issue for change, people will be forced to discuss the teachings. Until you really confront them with the demand for change they won’t feel much need to take you serious.
Yes, teaching is important, but it can also be an easy excuse for not doing what is a lot more dangerous and uncomfortable.
I would not hope that all Muslims will come to your understanding, and unless you make this a public issue for change, not many will even pay much attention to it. How many more have to die until somebody makes it a public issue?
Not “campaign instead of teaching”, but teaching and campaign for one particular issue will in combination have a lot more effect. I agree, only campaigning without giving solid teaching and the reasons for your campaign will do little. But that was never my suggestion.
A concrete campaign against injustice and unislamic laws will give you the platform for doing a lot more teaching on issues that cannot be so easily solved with campaigning. This one is a very concrete issue that can be changed easily when the right people are won. “cultural vices” that are ingrained in how families work etc are not so easy to be changed and need long teaching of many people. The Blasphemy issue is not of the same kind.
Those are some of my questions on the issue.
May the Lord give you wisdom and courage.
The Second Comment
In regard to your response to “What are We Doing About Unjust Laws in Pakistan” posted on 21st June.
I agree that the implementation of the blasphemy laws as done in Pakistan in the name of Islam is due to a gross misunderstanding of the true laws of Islam. I also agree that to end these laws education is needed. In the mean time though, it is up to every Muslim to help stop the persecution of the Christians living in Pakistan. While the education of the country and goverment is progressing, not only are innocent people being be killed and imprisoned in the name of Islam but also Islam is being smeared in front of all the people of the world. It is up to the Muslims of Pakistan to ensure that this stops *WHILE* the education process is happening.
Please, Please stress that while learning and educating others are very important aspects of Islam, living and acting on your religion is the most important. To sit idlely by and allow innocent people, whether Christian, Muslim, Jew, Indi or Pak, to be persecuted and killed in the name of Islam can’t be tolerated and must be stopped. If the people of Pakistan allow the persecution to continue, they are announcing to the world “This is Islam” and it is not.
I do appreciate your concern over the grave issue of unjust laws in Pakistan. The point that I had tried to make in my previous response was that unless a correction is made in the understanding of Islam and Islamic tenets and directives, no movement shall be considered by the Muslims with any degree of empathy. The Muslims, in all probability, shall perceive and label all such movements to be sponsored by the West to distort the image of Islam.
Unjust laws, promulgated in the name of Islam are a grave concern for us, we try to speak against them and to educate people of the true directives of Islam whenever possible for us. But our concentration is on convincing the society, regarding the true directives of Islam. If we succeed in doing so, the practical reformation shall soon, automatically follow. But if we do not succeed and then change our course to influencing the system without bringing about an intellectual reform, it is only likely to result in taking a clash with the religious circles. Such a clash is not only undesirable from the point of view of propagating our ideas regarding the directives of Islam but is also likely to be lethal from the point of view of acceptability of our thoughts and achievements of our ideals and aims.
I might surprise you but my aim is not to bring about any change in the society or its social or legal set up. It is to present the unblemished face of Islam to the world, so that those who feel convinced of its being the truth may accept it and the burden of those who do not is not placed on me on the Day of Judgment. If any practical change occurs due to my work, and a foundation is laid for a better world, I shall consider it a bonus from the Merciful. If it does not, my aim shall be achieved, in any case.
Moreover, there are a number of human rights activists already working in our society. We are always open and willing to help their cause whenever the time so requires. I request my brothers not to compare our small structure with bigger ones working elsewhere in the world. If we have the resources and manpower available to them, we shall also plan for adding more sting to our movement, but as things stand today, we are not in such a position.
I assure my brothers who have been kind enough to express their concern that in my opinion, doing what I am, is not sitting idle in response to the gross inequities that we hear of every day. I am doing what I think I can do best. If at any time I am convinced that whatever I am doing is not enough, I assure them that I shall be open to reconsider my whole plan from beginning till end.
I thank my brothers for expressing their thoughts.
26th December 1998