Will the fumes of ‘Islamic awakening’ reach Pakistan?

16 Aug

Finally, Egyptians saw that day which they had been eagerly waiting for. Cairo‘s Tahrir square was once again jam-packed, but this time with jubilant supporters of Muslim Brotherhood. To claim that their president is a democratically elected one instead of a dictatorial, self-imposed stalwart is not a trivial pleasure for lips that were muted for almost the past 30 years. The democratically elected president took 51.73% of the votes cast, some 13.23 million votes in total. Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq pulled 12.35 million votes. Mohammed Mursi Eissa al-Ayat couldn’t have given a better Presidential speech. His first message to his country encompassed around the formation of a democratic constitution and restoration of the parliament that had been once mutilated by the Egyptian military. The U.S educated engineering professor rose through the ranks of Muslim Brotherhood and has ultimately constructed an unforgettable history for Egypt to remember.

From Cairo to Washington, Mursi was being congratulated with zeal. Washington was happy at the aversion of turmoil in Egypt, but concerned about a government of staunch Islamic nature. The claim of the democratically elected government to ameliorate its relations with Tehran is a matter of concern for the allies of Cairo. The Asian countries have hailed the triumph of Mursi with ecstasy and at a high note. Russia, China and Iran have expressed their desire to strengthen diplomatic ties with Egypt. The situation in Pakistan was no different, but the landmark elections of Egypt were downplayed by the Pakistani media. However, among the most jubilant ones’ Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) stood ahead in Pakistan. The JI leaders in their speeches said that the victory was a source of inspiration for the Islamic movements across the world. They expressed their optimism for a similar victory of the religious forces in Pakistan. It is interesting to analyse that how compatible is the Pakistani political cauldron with the Islamic political approach.

Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has remained a vital actor at the political stage of Egypt since 1928. With the passage of time it morphed into an irrefutable mouthpiece for those in favour of reviving Islamic values. However, this wasn’t the only purpose which allowed it to penetrate its roots in the masses. It provided services to the people, such as education for boys and girls, inexpensive medical care, financial assistance and vocational training centres. The contribution of Muslim Brotherhood towards developmental projects made it the center of attraction for a large number of Egyptians. This helped it to communicate its vision for Egypt along with the portrayal of Brotherhood’s ability to deliver on social and economic promises to the Egyptian population. The decade of 1930 to 1940, which brought along with it ‘socio-economic crisis’ for Egypt gave Muslim Brotherhood an opportunity to add weight to its popularity. In addition to this, Hasnul Banna (the founder of MB) practised what he preached which made his personality magnetic and charismatic for his supporters. His efforts commenced as propellants for moral reform and spiritual uplift which were later converted into aspirants of political change based on Islamic concepts of polity. The great extent to which MB resided in the hearts of the civil society saved it from political extinction several times. This is the reason behind its win in the elections of 2012 even by a narrow margin of 800,000 votes. MB’s victory is being hailed by some as the starting point for ‘Islamic awakening’.

On the other hand, Islamic forces in Pakistan are continuing their abjured ambition of aligning politics with religion. Maulana Maududi the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami called for the establishment of Allah’s Kingdom considered Muslim League to be an anti-Islamic party. His aim remained to transform Pakistan into dar al-Islam (the land of Islam) although he was initially one of the opponents of the creation of Pakistan. Jamaat was disintegrated after the creation of Pakistan with some of its parts in India and others in Bangladesh after 1971. Since then the self-appointed custodian of Islam has badly lost all the elections it had jumped in. It has been locked into a rivalry with another major Islamic party of Pakistan (Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam). This exhibits their poor political seasoning along with their inability to win the support of the masses. The alliance of religious parties (Muttahid-e-Majlis-e-Amal) managed to get majority in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwaan in 2002. However, the alliance didn’t oust General Pervaiz Musharraf, it also had to join the bandwagon of ‘lawyers’ movement’ in order to achieve this motive. JI’s social welfare projects are large in number, but less efficient. It’s not pliant towards minorities to an extent that it can appoint a Christain Naib Ameer for its party (like MB’s Vice president, Rafiq Habib who is a Christian by faith). Popularity at grass root levels is ensured by coercion. It is a pity that how Jamaat-e-Islami has been involved in politicizing one of the oldest universities at Pakistan, University of the Punjab.

Even if Islamic democracies progress around the world, Islamic political forces will have to take radical measures to sync up with them in Pakistan. Preaching Islam is not sufficient, it requires a well-orchestrated example in a heterogeneous society like Pakistan to spread religious awareness. A major part of the population is youth which won’t be inspired by a political party that politicizes educational institutes. People are already distraught with faltering economy and uncomfortable living conditions. Engendering Islamic principles in a country that is already facing innumerable challenges isn’t an easy task. Fumes of ‘Islamic awakening’ will reach Pakistan only if someone will be available to imbibe them and that isn’t possible until and unless internal Islamic forces win the heart of the masses.

The verbal content of this post was originally published in the August issue of Jahangir’s World Times


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