Original Articles

The Facebook Heat – by Bahadar Ali Khan

Back in 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq conducted a referendum to legitimize his rule. The referendum was based on one question: “Do you want to continue the process of Islamization in Pakistan ?”, and the polity was given choices to tick either Yes or No. Now who could say ‘No’ to that kind of a question, but if they said ‘Yes’, which 99 percent ticked, that meant a license for Khadim-e-Islam Gen. Zia-ul-Haq to ‘serve’ the nation for five more years. This was a sham exercise but left a deep scar on the psyche of the nation. Successive times kept on giving similar choices to besieged public. Till this day Pakistanis are struggling between the choices of heaven or hell-fire on similar themes as and when it is deemed fit by the right wing establishment through their surrogates.

Questioning the motive of any similar ‘sacred’ move would promptly disqualify you to be a Muslim. And as with the increasing audacity of the Pakistani religious class nurtured with bigotry, hatred and contempt for fellow human being, any effort for reasoning may not only end up in declaring you as an infidel ( or Jewish friend ) but also in some cases ‘vaijb-ul-qatal’ too. There we are again, back to square one. We are again confronted by the similar situation, when popular social networking web site, the FaceBook, initiated a controversial and condemnable act by one of its members. It sets a stage for all the extremists on the other side of the Islamic divide to come up with a “Drawing Muhammad (PBUH) Competition”. Naturally it wasn’t an effort to patronize the art and the artist, rather intent is openly to ridicule the feelings of 1.2 billion humans. The ostensible backdrop of this effort were the threats hurled at South Park Studios by some extremist Muslim organization and individuals. That too was a similar exercise but they stopped-short of depicting Muhammad ( PBUH ). After those threats sizzling opinions expressed in the global media, which triggered to this uncalled for development at Facebook.

The Islamic world as usual is up in protests. But Pakistan tried to circumvent the situation in a slightly more un-orthodox way, they stepped up and banned the Facebook access for its subscribers over the orders of a provincial High Court. The more recent development is banning of another popular video sharing website YouTube. The Pakistani internet generation is now grappling with a similar situation as were the voters of 1984 Zia’s referendum put in. They cannot openly say that ban will not help and at the same time they cannot reason it. I cannot see, any good coming out of this decision either. It is like burying your head in the sand instead of facing the situation. Don’t we know that internet offers everything, from the online lessons of Holy Quran to the blasphemous material, as deemed under the blasphemy law of Pakistan? It offers every range of information, only user’s imagination is the limit. Why we cannot focus that it is upto the user to watch/read whatever he/she wants. Do we really think that this ban would stop the caricatures to reach their intended audience? Are we going to block internet if the same material starts flowing in the email? This is a futile attempt, only encouraging the perpetrators of such unholy attempts to ridicule us more in the future. Right now whole Islamic world is just offering a theater to watch our spectacles of fury and rage every now and then.

The best approach to deal and to achieve reasonable pause in an effort to dilute the impression that we are intolerant. That instead of logic and reasoning we believe in hostility. But even mention of this approach would develop frowns on the foreheads of many. On one side we claim to be the harbingers of the world’s best civilization, with an educated and a very intelligent past, on the other side we have shun the habit of rational discourse and always utter emotionalism on top of our lungs. At one end we feel pride to be the follower of Mohsin-e-Insaniyat, Hazrat Muahammad ( PBUH ) and in after every prayer we pray to be guided by uswa-i-husna ( Rasool’s footsteps ) and Sunnah. Then why do we forget that Holy Prophet (PBUH) visited the same sick women of Makkah who would throw garbage on him everyday? But I think we have long forgotten these lessons of morality under the noise of Jihad and Petro-Islam which has ruptured our moral and ethical fiber. We have impressioned the harbingers of cruelty and vengeance to be Islamic messiahs while they are just masquerading Islamic trivia to fool us. No this is not the Islam which Rehmatul-lil-Alamin ( PBUH ) has told us. Following this kind of Islam has just made us the laughing stock of the world.

On the current onslaught, emotionalism wouldn’t yield anything. Don’t count on the Jihadis, as their Jihad needs constant financing, no matter where it comes from, in the form of US Dollars, Saudi Riyals or last but not least bank robberies. Intellect and knowledge can be our only weapon. Rational arguments can fetch way more than Kalashnikov bullets. And remember those who can make Facebooks, first they have made weapons, far lethal to protect theirself and in this field too, we are a no match to them. The first thing is to step out of the tunnel mentality and self-aggrandizement. Then face the reality. I know it would be painful and heart breaking to visit those pages, but do visit and make them ashamed of what they are doing. Offer them the alternatives, engage in a dialogue, read them out the Khutba-e-Hujjat-ul-Wida ( The last sermon of holy prophet). Make them know that the personality who they are trying to make fun of, is the greatest personality of the entire human race. Read them aloud Michael Hart’s the ” the 100″ book and tell them why the non-Islamic author picked Hazrat Muhammd(PBUH) as the number one of all the influential human beings among all the living and dead. Quote them the countless world leaders of the past and present who were always inspired by this great personality. Convince them that in their political expediency they are insulting someone who is the most revered one, not by coercion, but by his (PBUH) teachings.

This is the only approach that will result in some solid gains otherwise we would keep on dancing to the tunes of those who trigger the Muslims and then watch the rest of tamasha Muslims make up of our own whereby we go the extent of violent protest that eventually results in the death of few protestors every here and there. I still cannot forget the scene of 1989 protest infront of American Centre in Islamabd, where six people were shot dead by the law enforcers during a protest against Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”. Enough of it now, ask those who lost their loved-ones. The time of wrestlers and warriors are long gone, right now we are riding the brain wave. The massive and more muscular the brain is, the power goes that way. If you dislike Facebook, don’t visit it, make your own, but please on that don’t let realism slip from your hands.

About the author

Taimoor Kashmiri


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  • I have a question, which may get me banned from this forum.
    Why is feeling hurt because of what someone wrote or said a reason to ban that writing or speech?

    As I understand it, your Holy Book teaches that the other holy books are either corruptions of the original message or else outright false. The (6 minus1.2)billion souls of the world who are not Muslim could choose to feel “hurt” at this disrespect to their scriptures and try to outlaw your Holy Book.

    So what you are in essence arguing is that:
    1. Freedom of speech is your value, and so you have no grounds for banning our Holy Book even if it hurts your feelings. You would be betraying your values.

    2. Freedom of speech is not our value, and our feeling hurt is sufficient grounds for banning anything. When you feel hurt you shouldn’ t ban anything, but when we feel hurt, you must ban whatever we insist you ban.

    3. Further, we are in no position to force you to ban anything (“And remember those who can make Facebooks, first they have made weapons, far lethal to protect theirself and in this field too, we are a no match to them.”) so we’ll use reasonable persuasion for now. The one thing we will not do is embrace free speech as a value.

  • Arun

    It is a fundamental belief in Islam to respect and believe in all the Holy Scriptures that were sent before the Holy Quran. Thjere is no question of a mUslim Ridiculing other Holy Scriptures. Anyone who does it is not under the fold of Islam.

    It is a fundamental belief in Islam to Believe in the teachings and values of all other Prophets, Jesus, Moses Abraham etc and hold them in as high esteem as we hold Mohammad (PBUH).

    The difference is that all other scriptures or Holy books have either completely vanished from the face of the earth or they have been adulterated to a great extent as is the case with Bible. Muslims believe in the teachings of the Bible, but the thing is that over the years, Quran is the only remaining Holy Book that is in its purest form since all these years.

    Jesus Abraham Moses all conveyed the message of the coming of the last Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in their teachings and the Bible clearly mentioned the advent of the last Prophet Ahmad, the name Mohammad was given by his mother.

  • hi
    Arun very good question & M.Usama Bhutto nice answer only thing i want to change in this answer is…… purest = Unchanged.

  • Arun, your comments are welcome and don’t worry about being banned because at LUBP, at least, we believe in free speech.

  • The difference is that all other scriptures or Holy books have either completely vanished from the face of the earth or they have been adulterated to a great extent as is the case with Bible.

    M. Usama Bhutto – does it occur to you that the belief quoted above might be hurtful to others?

  • Arun,
    Your comments are welcome.
    Divine book. non-divine books, holy scriptures, alterations it is a vast subject and I think goes beyond the scope of this political web site. However, if you think that if certain people don’t beleive in other religion’s books or don’t accept those as alteration-free, I guess it is natural. That is why we have so many religions, creeds, sects and isms. If the unanimity of view had existed then I guess everybody would have been following the same religion.

    And your point that because followers of one religion find doubts in the books of other/rival belief-set which might be blasphemous or insulting to other. Answer, this is how the world is composed of. If we extend this discussion, then we might reach a point where every rebuttal even in common day conversations too might seem as insulting. We are born with the prevaling beleif set of one geography and we accept it as the truth and then lines are drawn between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Like our parents assets, we also inherit their beliefs, and not only beliefs, we go as far as to inherit their political affiliations too. The chances that in a Republican family, some democrat might grow up, are slim.
    Thanks for your comments.

  • Islam calls, Jesus is just a prophet and not a son of god.
    Christians believe he is son of god.

    However much islamic followers respect him as a prophet, they are insulting christian beliefs and hurt them
    but christians live with this insults and do not go and kill those propapagators of islam and ask to ban Koran.

    It is not the question of respect.
    it is basic disagreement, that god sent his son to earth..

    so either christian nations should ban Koran, or muslims get over these peurile “i am offended all the time” cries..

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