24 Sep, 2018 · 5516
Vice Admiral (Retd) Vijay Shankar, through the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan's anthem, discusses the impact of organised religion on Pakistan
Vice Admiral Vijay ShankarDistinguished Fellow
The impact of organised religion on nations has historically been a sense of contrived significance, but in essence has neither refined society nor elevated power status. The case of civilizational encounters is curious. The vanquished wontedly looked backwards for spiritual succour while succumbing to the influences of the aggressor; in the process, dogmas and rituals replaced inventiveness as the spirit that propelled development calcified (Toynbee, 1957). This state is symptomatic of a society in the throes of derangement. A failed response to the challenges of plurality and vigour of competing belief systems is thus marked by religious masquerade and a despairing choice inspired by fundamental ideologies. In the past, the Egyptiac world, Judaism and Christianity have succumbed to this fanatic impulse. Ironically, primitive Islam was spiritually tolerant of civilisations that it considered allied to as 'People of the Book'. It is no coincidence that this very period saw Islamic civilisation flourish. Contemporary political Islamic movements are, however, marked by failed responses; the more radical, the more savage towards the idea of plurality and renewal.
In the recently concluded elections to the Pakistan National Assembly, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik (TLP) polled nearly two and a quarter million votes (Election Commission of Pakistan), making it the fifth largest political party in that country. While this may not have readily translated to seats in the National Assembly, what it stands for is 'street power' of the radical Islam variety. Regaling the event, their chief, Allama Khadim Husain Rizvi narrated a grisly electoral episode from Nawabshah, a district in Sindh. "We were singing our anthem Deen Aaya, when the Peoples Party (PPP) camp started playing their electioneering jingles; we asked them to stop because our hymn was in veneration of Allah, but their leader spurned our entreaty." Imagine 'Allah
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