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Islamic or a Secular State in Pakistan?
Author/Source: Muzaffar K Awan  Posted by: admin
Hits: 4024 Rating: 0 (0 votes) Comments: 0 Added On: Thursday, November 17, 2011 Rate this article

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Talking about Islam-state-secular-democracy issues in a country with a constitution that clearly mandates that all laws of the country must be in line with the Quran and Sunna. Secular in some Muslim countries like Pakistan and Egypt is unfortunately translated incorrectly as ladiniyyah ( without religion) , thus, it is not easily understood by the common man, but It can open up lively constructive discussions with keen intellectuals interested in the sacred and the secular. It is not questions of Secular verses Sacred .We humans are both secular and sacred (earthly and heavenly or this worldly and hereafter-worldly). Secular certainly does not mean anti-religious unless it is radicalized and is distorted to a radical secularism. My basic contention is that a human rights friendly passive Anglo-Saxon secularization could provide a wider framework to Muslims to practice their religion comfortably where other religious minorities could also benefit from human rights. We cannot and should not think that we are better Muslims than the Prophet (peace be upon him), who founded the umma (a community of communities) explained below in this writing.

It is nice to see Imran Khan as a decent and honest human being, a former famous cricketer and now a politician since 1996. Many are glad to see him in politics with altruistic heart-mind approach desperately needed in Pakistan. Increasing number of people of Pakistan would wish him success in an attempt to help uplift Pakistani masses out of misery and robberies of corrupt mafia of political /military leadership over 60 years .Military’s direct and remote control over the decades has been most devastating to Pakistan while politicians have been also utterly disgusting and disappointing .Will Imran khan gather other like-minded and men/women of integrity and honesty in his party in significant numbers? It will be a long term project of creating a new and golden generation over 30-40 years like Turkey and AKP--- a genuinely popular democratic Turkish political party rooted in Islamic principles that started winning over the “deep state” only in the last decade. Pakistan, I believe has still a “deep State” may be even deeper than Turkey had.
In Pakistan, we have been dealing with the result of a martial culture. Without making changes to military mindset, we will not be able to lift the military elephant from the room that has been blocking the progress of democracy in Pakistan. Asserting that the greatest gift a military can give to the people of Pakistan at this juncture would be for the people to rule themselves and for military to making a permanent pledge to not ever involving in politics again but help gear in the right direction. Pakistan was founded on the principles of democracy but the fact has been that the same principles are being trampled under the foot every day from the very beginning. No nation in the world ever has been able to achieve true civilization under a military tutelage.

My biggest concern is thus the Pakistani ‘’ deep state’’ and how Pakistan‘s toddler and shaky democracy even under (Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-E-Insaf) PTI party will defeat the deep state? It took over 80 years for Turkey to overcome the “deep state” and it has been only during the last decade that AKP has been able to neutralize the ‘’deep State’. Turkey has had multiple military coups as did Pakistan but whenever Turkish military coup overthrew the civilian government , it allowed immediate elections for a new civilian government rather than military government even if military had always remote control over the civilian governments (sham democracy) until a decade ago. In Pakistan, whenever a military coup came, military actually ruled and out of 64 years of Pakistan’s existence military directly ruled for over 30 years and to this date Military still has remote control of politics being the strongest and the richest institution in Pakistan. Military has been the strongest political party in Pakistan and remains so even today even if Mafia now politically supervises Pakistan; military still has the remote control and Pakistan could remain a sham democracy for a long time.
How Turkey has been slowly but surely neutralizing the “deep state” and how has Turkey brought about genuine democracy over the last decade? This has a long history in Turkey that spans over the period of about 60 years and the tremendous contributions were made by two of the greatest and enlightened Muslim scholars, Beddi-uz-zaman Said Nursi (1877-1960) and Fethullah Gulen( born 1938-- ) now living in the States for about 10 years. Nursi’s Nur movement and Gulen’s (Hizmet) social movement started by them respectively have changed Turkey forever over the last four decades particularly in the realms of Turkish Public sphere with multiple institutions, creating public awareness , instituting superior education (cradle to grave) , bringing up a golden generation ( young dedicated volunteers to serving humanity estimated now to be over 10 millions ) and bringing about Islamic revival that changed Kemalist radical secularism to softer secularization compatible with Islam . Nursi earlier and Gulen presently did not serve religion utilizing politics as they both understood that the Muslim scholars must reject top-down approaches and focus on the individual and societal transformation with a vision of developing both the human and social/spiritual capital in the public sphere( and that is what they exactly did).

Imran Khan’s PTI must have a companion social –public transformative bottom-up and grass-roots movement (guided by enlightened Muslim scholars in the likes of Said Nursi and Gulen) to really achieve successful outcome in three to four decades.

Yet in Turkey, the politicians/military leaders were always suspicious of Said Nursi and Gulen and never left those alone fearing return of Caliphate or formation of an Islamic state. Nursi spent almost all his republican life either in exile, in total isolation or in prisons in severe conditions. [1] Gulen has been living in the U.S. for over a decade and underwent similar ordeals for decades but has successfully inspired not only Turkish masses but also now masses of the world in an effort to make this world a better and peaceful place for the entire human family. Nursi and Gulen certainly have had indirect impact on Turkish politics that too has been changed forever through the present AKP leadership inspired by the thought and practices of these two Muslim scholars. AKP has had Islamic roots, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his team in my view belongs to the Golden generation being talked about around the world including the Western World.

Gulen movement since late 1960's has gradually evolved and grown in various areas of social and global life. The Gulen community has over 1000 schools, called "Gulen Schools", including about 10 universities, and operates in over 100 countries including Pakistan. In addition to schools, Gulen movement is the main inspiration behind dialogue institutes such as the Rumi Forum(with a branch in Islamabad Pakistan), a dialogue institute which has over 40 counterparts in the United States, as well as other throughout Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, Southeast/central Asia, and Africa. The Gulen community has its commitment to dialogue of civilizations through academia, interfaith dialogue and cooperation from the writings of Said Nursi, but this commitment has been renewed and given new impetus in the writings of Fethullah Gülen himself.

Turkey has now a soft secular (religiously) neutral and popular democratic state like prophet’s Muhammad’s (PBUH) Umma of democracy in Medina, where state gave equal citizenship and equal rights/privileges under the law to all signatories (Muslims, and non-Muslims) under the compact of Medina. The Umma in Medina ( a community of communities) had two parts to it, the Islamic umma ( Islam / sharia in civil society ) and political Umma ( that included all the non- Muslims and Muslims as part of prophet’s political community ).Thus Turkish state (not unlike Prophet’s state of Medina) is neutral religiously but in public sphere there is religious freedom for all faiths. And thus Turkey being Muslim majority country has Islam flourishing in the Public sphere.

In a recently published book, “Muhammad and the Believers” an eminent historian Fred Donner has clearly defined an original vision of how Islam evolved historically. [2] He argues that the origins of Islam lie in what Donner called the “Believers movement” begun by Prophet Muhammad----a movement of religious and political revival emphasizing harmonious community with strict monotheism and righteous behavior in conformity with God’s revealed law. This revival movement included righteous Christians and Jews in the Umma of democracy in the first century of Islam, not unlike the Quranic believers, Christians and Jews were accepted as monotheistic and they had agreed to live righteously in obedience to their revealed law. [3]
The residents and members of numerous (state like) tribal regions in the western Arabia neighboring the city state of medina shared a common sense of community and pledged not to wage wars with one another under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad abiding by the constitution of Medina ( a written constitution ) to which they were signatories.

The constitution of Medina also clarified the relationship between the revelation and a constitution. Muhammad (PBUH) did not project the revelation (Quran) as the constitution of Medina or the sole basis for the new community or insist in any way this revelation upon non-Muslims or non-believers. God forbid, if he had done so, he would have ruled Medina and tribal regions with heavenly authority behind him but without the consent of those under his rule. Muhammad (PBUH) in his greatest wisdom demonstrated a democratic spirit quite unlike the authoritarian tendencies of many of those who claim to imitate the prophet today. He chose to draw up a historically specific constitution based on the eternal and transcendent principles revealed to him and sought the consent of all of the neighboring communities who would be affected by its implementation.

The Constitution of Medina also established the importance of consent and cooperation of all for governance. According to the compact Muslims and non-Muslims were equal citizens of the state, with identical rights and duties. Communities with different religious orientations enjoyed religious autonomy that was essentially much wider in scope than the contemporary idea of religious freedom. The constitution of Medina established a pluralistic state -- a community of communities (umma of democracy). It promised and gave equal security to all and all were equal in the eyes of the law. The principles of equality, consensual governance and pluralism were beautifully integrated in the constitution of Medina.

It is amazing to see how Prophet Muhammad's own interpretation of the Qur'an and the objectives of sharia were so democratic, so tolerant and compassionate, while contemporary so- called Muslim factions’ interpretation of the same Sharia is so distorted, so authoritarian and so intolerant. I hope this discussion will invite Muslims and non-Muslim intellectuals to further look at the example of Prophet Muhammad’s umma of democracy and community-based model, more closely. We must learn from the prophet not only the principles for believers but also human virtues of mercy, compassion, equality, justice and tolerance for even non-believers. The constitution of Medina is an excellent manifestation of the Prophet’s virtuous personality and servant leadership.

This Turkish Model will be the most compatible politically in all Muslim countries in my opinion. All Pakistani intellectuals(secular as well as religious) , political and military leaders in the likes of Imran Khan and Genera l Ashfaq Parvez Kayani must seriously study Nursi’s Quranic interpretation and particularly Gulen’s thought and practice .It is a serious commitment and it does take quite some time to understand thoroughly .It is not that Pakistan must copy what turkey did ,but it is a tremendously useful example for the Muslim world and for the Islamic Renaissance in the modern world .I further believe that the West and the rest is also beginning to benefit from the Hizmet global social movement and will benefit much more in the decades to come God Willing .

[1]. Ihsan Yilmaz, ‘Allah’ın Sadık Kulu’ (Allah’s Devoted Servant); Today’s Zaman; 04 November 2011
[2].Fred M. Donner, Muhammad and the Believers, At the Origins of Islam. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, and London, England 2010.
[3]. Jonathon W. Moses, the Umma of Democracy; © 2006 PRIO, www.prio.no

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