Why the West craves materialism & why the East sticks to religion

My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British. The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan. Despite gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis.

I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal — the national poet of Pakistan. The class on Islamic studies was not taken seriously, and when I left school I was considered among the elite of the country because I could speak English and wore Western clothes.

Despite periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I considered my own culture backward and religion outdated. Among our group if any one talked about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a Mullah.

Because of the power of the Western media, our heroes were Western movie stars or pop stars. When I went to Oxford already burdened with this hang up, things didn’t get any easier. At Oxford, not just Islam, but all religions were considered anachronism.

Science had replaced religion and if something couldn’t be logically proved it did not exist. All supernatural stuff was confined to the movies. Philosophers like Darwin, who with his half-baked theory of evolution had supposedly disproved the creation of men and hence religion, were read and revered.

Moreover, European history reflected its awful experience with religion. The horrors committed by the Christian clergy during the Inquisition era had left a powerful impact on the Western mind.

To understand why the West is so keen on secularism, one should go to places like Cordoba in Spain and see the torture apparatus used during the Spanish Inquisition. Also the persecution of scientists as heretics by the clergy had convinced the Europeans that all religions are regressive.

However, the biggest factor that drove people like me away from religion was the selective Islam practiced by most of its preachers. In short, there was a huge difference between what they practiced and what they preached. Also, rather than explaining the philosophy behind the religion, there was an overemphasis on rituals.

I feel that humans are different to animals. While, the latter can be drilled, humans need to be intellectually convinced. That is why the Qur’an constantly appeals to reason. The worst, of course, was the exploitation of Islam for political gains by various individuals or groups.

Hence, it was a miracle I did not become an atheist. The only reason why I did not was the powerful religious influence my mother wielded on me since my childhood. It was not so much out of conviction but love for her that I stayed a Muslim.

However, my Islam was selective. I accepted only parts of the religion that suited me. Prayers were restricted to Eid days and occasionally on Fridays, when my father insisted on taking me to the mosque with him.

All in all I was smoothly moving to becoming a Pukka Brown Sahib. After all I had the right credentials in terms of school, university and, above all, acceptability in the English aristocracy, something that our brown sahibs would give their lives for. So what led me to do a ‘lota’ on the Brown Sahib culture and instead become a ‘desi’?

Well it did not just happen overnight.

Firstly, the inferiority complex that my generation had inherited gradually went as I developed into a world-class athlete. Secondly, I was in the unique position of living between two cultures. I began to see the advantages and the disadvantages of both societies.

In Western societies, institutions were strong while they were collapsing in our country. However, there was an area where we were and still are superior, and that is our family life. I began to realize that this was the Western society’s biggest loss. In trying to free itself from the oppression of the clergy, they had removed both God and religion from their lives.

While science, no matter how much it progresses, can answer a lot of questions — two questions it will never be able to answer: One, what is the purpose of our existence and two, what happens to us when we die?

It is this vacuum that I felt created the materialistic and the hedonistic culture. If this is the only life then one must make hay while the sun shines — and in order to do so one needs money. Such a culture is bound to cause psychological problems in a human being, as there was going to be an imbalance between the body and the soul.

Consequently, in the US, which has shown the greatest materialistic progress while giving its citizens numerous rights, almost 60 percent of the population consult psychiatrists. Yet, amazingly in modern psychology, there is no study of the human soul. Sweden and Switzerland, who provide the most welfare to their citizens, also have the highest suicide rates. Hence, man is not necessarily content with material well being and needs something more.

Since all morality has it roots in religion, once religion was removed, immorality has progressively grown since the 70s. Its direct impact has been on family life. In the UK, the divorce rate is 60 percent, while it is estimated that there are over 35 percent single mothers. The crime rate is rising in almost all Western societies, but the most disturbing fact is the alarming increase in racism. While science always tries to prove the inequality of man (recent survey showing the American Black to be genetically less intelligent than whites) it is only religion that preaches the equality of man.

Between 1991 and 1997, it was estimated that total immigration into Europe was around 520,000, and there were racially motivated attacks all over, especially in Britain, France and Germany. In Pakistan during the Afghan war, we had over four million refugees, and despite the people being so much poorer, there was no racial tension.

There was a sequence of events in the 80s that moved me toward God as the Qur’an says: “There are signs for people of understanding.” One of them was cricket. As I was a student of the game, the more I understood the game, the more I began to realize that what I considered to be chance was, in fact, the will of Allah. A pattern which became clearer with time. But it was not until Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” that my understanding of Islam began to develop.

People like me who were living in the Western world bore the brunt of anti-Islam prejudice that followed the Muslim reaction to the book. We were left with two choices: fight or flight. Since I felt strongly that the attacks on Islam were unfair, I decided to fight. It was then I realized that I was not equipped to do so as my knowledge of Islam was inadequate. Hence I started my research and for me a period of my greatest enlightenment. I read scholars like Ali Shariati, Muhammad Asad, Iqbal, Gai Eaton, plus of course, a study of Qur’an.

I will try to explain as concisely as is possible, what “discovering the truth” meant for me. When the believers are addressed in the Qur’an, it always says, “Those who believe and do good deeds.” In other words, a Muslim has dual function, one toward God and the other toward fellow human beings.

The greatest impact of believing in God for me, meant that I lost all fear of human beings. The Qur’an liberates man from man when it says that life and death and respect and humiliation are God’s jurisdiction, so we do not have to bow before other human beings.

Moreover, since this is a transitory world where we prepare for the eternal one, I broke out of the self-imposed prisons, such as growing old (such a curse in the Western world, as a result of which, plastic surgeons are having a field day), materialism, ego, what people say and so on. It is important to note that one does not eliminate earthly desires. But instead of being controlled by them, one controls them.

By following the second part of believing in Islam, I have become a better human being. Rather than being self-centered and living for the self, I feel that because the Almighty gave so much to me, in turn I must use that blessing to help the less privileged. This I did by following the fundamentals of Islam rather than becoming a Kalashnikov-wielding fanatic.

I have become a tolerant and a giving human being who feels compassion for the underprivileged. Instead of attributing success to myself, I know it is because of God’s will, hence I learned humility instead of arrogance.

Also, instead of the snobbish Brown Sahib attitude toward our masses, I believe in egalitarianism and strongly feel against the injustice done to the weak in our society. According to the Qur’an, “Oppression is worse than killing.” In fact only now do I understand the true meaning of Islam, if you submit to the will of Allah, you have inner peace.

Through my faith, I have discovered strength within me that I never knew existed and that has released my potential in life. I feel that in Pakistan we have selective Islam. Just believing in God and going through the rituals is not enough. One also has to be a good human being. I feel there are certain Western countries with far more Islamic traits than us in Pakistan, especially in the way they protect the rights of their citizens, or for that matter their justice system. In fact some of the finest individuals I know live there.

What I dislike about them is their double standards in the way they protect the rights of their citizens but consider citizens of other countries as being somehow inferior to them as human being, e.g. dumping toxic waste in the Third World, advertising cigarettes that are not allowed in the West and selling drugs that are banned in the West.

One of the problems facing Pakistan is the polarization of two reactionary groups. On the one side is the Westernized group that looks upon Islam through Western eyes and has inadequate knowledge about the subject. It reacts strongly to anyone trying to impose Islam in society and wants only a selective part of the religion. On the other extreme is the group that reacts to this Westernized elite and in trying to become a defender of the faith, takes up such intolerant and self-righteous attitudes that are repugnant to the spirit of Islam.

What needs to be done is to somehow start a dialogue between the two extreme. In order for this to happen, the group on whom the greatest proportion of our educational resources are spent in this country must study Islam properly.

Whether they become practicing Muslims or believe in God is entirely a personal choice. As the Qur’an tells us there is “no compulsion in religion.” However, they must arm themselves with knowledge as a weapon to fight extremism. Just by turning up their noses at extremism the problem is not going to be solved.

The Qur’an calls Muslims “the middle nation”, not of extremes. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was told to simply give the message and not worry whether people converted or not, therefore, there is no question in Islam of forcing your opinions on anyone else.

Moreover, we are told to respect other religions, their places of worship and their prophets. It should be noted that no Muslim missionaries or armies ever went to Malaysia or Indonesia. The people converted to Islam due to the high principles and impeccable character of the Muslim traders. At the moment, the worst advertisements for Islam are the countries with their selective Islam, especially where religion is used to deprive people of their rights. In fact, a society that obeys fundamentals of Islam has to be a liberal one.

If Pakistan’s Westernized class starts to study Islam, not only will it be able to help society fight sectarianism and extremism, but it will also make them realize what a progressive religion Islam is. They will also be able to help the Western world by articulating Islamic concepts. Recently, Prince Charles accepted that the Western world can learn from Islam. But how can this happen if the group that is in the best position to project Islam gets its attitudes from the West and considers Islam backward? Islam is a universal religion and that is why our Prophet (peace be upon him) was called a Mercy for all mankind.

By Imran Khan

History Repeats it self—>Comparison between Iraq-Saddam and Pakistan-Musharraf Situation(Part 4)

A real threat during that time emerged was BLA
(Balauchistan Liberation Army) lead by Late Balach
Mari. It is now confirmed by many sources that he was
backed by the Indian and Israeli intelligence
(remember Kurdistan movement in Iraq) and obviously
India and Israel cannot do it without American support
and permission.

There are more than ten consulates and information
centers of India operating in Afghanistan and one
can easily understand the purpose keeping in mind how
many Afghans are interested in going to India or what
is population of Afghanistan?

One more thing to consider Balach mari died in an air
attack in Afghanistan recently by NATO forces.

Also if you look at their media you will realize the
intensity of the propaganda against terrorist activities
in Pakistan and its nuclear assets and they don’t need to
find much material on their own our beloved dictator
provides them all in his justifications to remain in power.

Now just look why these forces are playing this whole
game?

1) To accomplish their Zionist goals in the Middle
East and Pakistan is a real hurdle because of its
Islamic foundations, friendship with Arabs and nuclear
capability (Search Terms: Greater Israel, Armageddon).
2) To cater China’s growing power and influence
in the region (search terms: String of pearls, Gawadar
port, China).
3) To de nuclearize Pakistan, the only Islamic country
to have it.
4) To strengthen the hold on the natural resources in
the region.
5) To stop the re emerging threat of Russia as power
center.

But there are certain challenges these forces are
facing like Pakistan is not a small country like
Afghanistan, it has a real strong military, it is a
nuclear power and also it has some sort of a solid
ideological foundation so to overcome these challenges
they have first decided to weaken the country
internally and so far the things which are supporting
them are that Pakistan has a power hungry elite,
discrimination between ethnic and sectarian groups is
getting wider (in fact they are using it really
efficiently), institutions are getting weak, power is
centered to one man (who is a patriotic person, I
believe but his lust for power and his own political
and ideological agenda is very damaging for the
foundations of Pakistan), military and people are
fighting with each other in northern parts,
involvement of military in politics (General Kiyani is
taking some good initiatives to reduce the role of
Army in civil affairs) and high illiteracy rate.

I still believe that our nation has the strength to
overcome these challenges, we just need to take
actions in the right direction and for that right
leadership is required which I have no doubts in
saying that Mr Musharraf is not able to provide. Most
of the challenges we are facing (in fact he is facing
them more) are the result of his wrong policies which
he thinks are the best possible options and
that’s what Mr. Saddam was doing.

People who believe that nothing can happen to us
because we are a nuclear power so sit and relax, they
need to look at the history and learn from the
destruction of the great Soviet Union.

May Allah unite us and show us the right path.

History Repeats it self –>Comparison between Iraq-Saddam and Pakistan-Musharraf Situation(Part 1)

History Repeats it self –>Comparison between Iraq-Saddam and Pakistan-Musharraf Situation(Part 2)

History Repeats it self –>Comparison between Iraq-Saddam and Pakistan-Musharraf Situation(Part 3)

History Repeats it self—>Comparison between Iraq-Saddam and Pakistan-Musharraf Situation(Part 3)

In this so called war against terrorism the biggest sin Musharraf did was to make the country’s own army to fight with the people (the fight in northern Pakistan and later Lal Masjid etc).

In doing so they violated several constitutional points and it lead to a confrontation between the Supreme Court and the dictator (specially in the missing person’s case) and because of this (along with the issues of sugarcane, steel mills and other financial and constitutional issues) which lead to the action of 9 March by the dictator.

But the real thing which disturbed the dictator and the imperial power US is the rise of the Pakistani Civil society specially lawyers, students and the middle class who started nationwide protests against the actions of the dictator but to the disgrace of the government who meanwhile conquered ‘Lal Masjid’ by killing innocent children and women, the decision from the full court bench under Justice Ramday reinstated CJP Iftikhar Chaudhary.

After the reinstating of the CJP the judiciary and the lawyers community felt that they should now seriously think and do something for the supremacy of law in the country which Musharraf and his pet politicians named ‘judicial activism’.

After that the real hurdle Musharraf faced was to legitimize his illegal elections so to do that he imposed Martial Law in the country on 3rd of November (because there was a case under hearing against the illegal election of the dictator and he was sure that he will lose it on the grounds of merit).

Meanwhile the US support for the dictator and his illegal actions continued (only some surface statements were passed to please the US civil society and also to keep some points for making the future case against Musharraf as they did with Saddam, first encouraged him to do wrong actions and then made those actions the reason to invade a country and to kill thousands of innocent people).

To be continued……..

History Repeats it self –>Comparison between Iraq-Saddam and Pakistan-Musharraf Situation(Part 2)

History Repeats it self –>Comparison between Iraq-Saddam and Pakistan-Musharraf Situation(Part 1)

Imran asks parties to sort out exit strategy for Musharraf

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday asked all political parties to sort out an exit strategy for Musharraf over his failure in controlling affairs of the government, which is posing a serious threat to the sovereignty of country.

“It is too late now, the country has already been going through worse economic, political and law and order crisis due to wrong policies of President Musharraf and all political parties must work out an exit strategy for Musharraf in the greater national interest,” Khan said.

“I intend to call a meeting of All Parties Democratic Alliance (APDM) to discuss options available for building national reconciliation on a common agenda and also I would contact parties outside the APDM including PML-N and PPP to bring them on board,” Khan said.

He said, “Deteriorating law and order situation in the country, heavy human losses due to army operations, increasing suicide attacks on personnel of law enforcing agencies, unemployment, skyrocketing prices of daily commodities, load shedding and negative statements by western officials about nuclear programme were posing a serious threat to the sovereignty of the country.”

To a question he suggested formation of a popular government (Awami) to hold free and fair elections in the country, and said that polls were not the solution for the prevailing national crisis, but transfer of power to civilian government according to will of people.

Khan alleged that West had been exploiting Pakistan for its own vested interests and wanted to roll back the nuclear programme by using these tactics.

Presenting a solution, Khan said that he would discuss his proposal with Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Co-Chairman during his visit and suggested an APC of APDM was a good platform to initiate towards facilitating Musharaf in his transfer of power to civilian government.

Khan criticised statement made by IAEA Chief Elbaradei on Pakistan’s nuclear assets and said, “Baradei hands are tainted with innocent Iraqi blood and statement about Pakistan only reflects hidden agenda of West against its nuclear programme,” Khan said.

He also said the coming elections would not be free and fair and public would not accept results and feared a massive public reaction in form of riots throughout the country.

History Repeats it self—>Comparison between Iraq-Saddam and Pakistan-Musharraf Situation(Part 1)

History repeats it self because nobody seems to learn from it and that’s what is happening with us.

Our leaders specially and nation in general are repeating the same mistakes we did before or made by others like us in the past. Now I come straight to the point which I want to discuss (my brain storming is not allowing me to write any more starting lines).

In the 80’s Iraq was a key American ally and Saddam was the best friend America had in the region. Saddam’s regime was fully backed militarily and financially by the Americans specially during their conflict with Iran but what we saw on December 30th 2006? Saddam hanged by the American sponsored Iraqi government. We have lots of things to learn from this, during Saddam-US love patch US was making Saddam stronger and stronger and making Iraq weaker and weaker by using it against Iran and also by encouraging him to take actions against Shia Iraqis and Kurdish Sunni Iraqis and it is also to be noted that Kurdish movement is being supported secretly by Israel and also the American investment was there for other Saddam opposing forces so what America wanted to achieve from that?

By strengthening Saddam Iraq and weakening Iraq America successfully made Saddam the main power centre also during that time the US-CIA was able to start Iraq-Kuwait War and after that America started to attack the Iraqi power centre i.e. Saddam (and his government) by calling their best friend a dictator, a tyrant and …

Then with the help of US sanctions and support of anti-Saddam forces they were able to weak Saddam’s forces and government hold (making no fly zones etc) and after 9/11 during their course of modern day crusades (The so called War on Terror) they attacked Iraq and toppled Saddam’s government on the charges that they have developed WMD and called the Operation Enduring Freedom (Because US hates dictatorship, loves democracy, rule of law and freedom).

To be conitnued…