Original Articles

The blasphemers of darkness

“If you wish to be a ghazi, Take up your sword : Before killing the Kafir, You must slaughter the swindler.”Those were the times of turmoil and religious intolerance in Punjab when Bulleh shah emerged as a major voice against orthodoxy. A voice against the rigid and hardliner policies and views of Aurangzeb and Sheikh Ahmad Sirhandi who believed: The non-Muslims should be kept at a distance like dogs. They must not be given any consideration or humane treatment.” As Bulleh shah started openly taking to the orthodoxy and clergy to the task, he was termed as heretic and boycotted socially. Bulleh shouted back: “A lover of God?  They’ll make much fuss; They’ll call you a Kafir, You should say -yes, yes.” For being an outright critic of status quo and shabby values of society Bulleh was refused by the mullahs to be buried after his death in the community graveyard. Mullahs were reluctant to offer the funeral prayers. Today, there are not even the ruins left of that community graveyard but the shrine of Bulleh attracts myriads from every corner of the region.

“The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die and you to live. Which is the better, only God knows”.  Plato refers to Socrates as the “gadfly” of the state (as the gadfly stings the horse into action, so Socrates stung various Athenians), insofar as he irritated some people with considerations of justice and the pursuit of goodness. Claiming loyalty to his city, Socrates clashed with the current course of Athenian politics and society. Rather than upholding a status quo and accepting the development of what he perceived as immorality within his region, Socrates questioned the collective notion of “might makes right” that he felt was common in Greece during this period. Socrates was condemned to death by drinking a mixture containing poison hemlock by the Athenian Ecclesia as a result of conspiracy contemplated by Oracle of Delphi. He was charged that he worshiped gods other than those sanctioned by the Polis. During his trial, as described in Apology by Plato, Socrates said: “For if you think that by killing men you can avoid the accuser censoring your lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honorable; the easiest and the noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves”.

Matthew 26:63-66: “Then the high priest said to him, ‘I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God,’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘He has blasphemed!’ What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy, what is your opinion? They said in reply, ‘He deserves to die!”. Pilate seeks to release Jesus, the priests object and say: “Every one that makes himself a king speaks against Caesar . . . We have no king but Caesar.Pilate then writes “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” as a sign to be affixed to the cross of Jesus. Jesus was crucified. As of the early 21st century, Christianity has around 2.1 billion adherents. The faith represents about a quarter to a third of the world’s population and is the largest religion in the world, with approximately 38,000 Christian denominations.

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.”- Galileo. Eppur si muove” (And yet it moves) said to have been uttered by the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei in 1633 after being forced to recant his belief that the Earth moves around the Sun before the Inquisition. Galileo’s championing of heliocentrism (Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun) was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism (Earth is the center of the universe). Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture (Psalm 104:5 says, “the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”). He was required to “abjure, curse and detest” those opinions. On the following day this was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life. His publications remained banned for many years to come. At last In 1939 Pope Pius XII had to confess: “Galileo was among most audacious heroes of research… not afraid of the stumbling blocks and the risks on the way, nor fearful of the funereal monuments”.

“If you do not recognize God, at least recognize His sign, I am the creative truth -Ana al-Haqq-, because through the truth, I am eternal truth.” Mansur Hallaj believed in union with the Divine, that God was within him, and that he and God had become one and the same. Mansur was cut into many pieces because in the state of ecstasy he exclaimed Ana al Haq “I am the truth”. He was executed in public in Baghdad at the orders of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir after a long, drawn-out investigation. . His eccentric views were suspected as heresy by the hardliners of that time who believed in the literalist interpretation of religion. His method was one of “universalist mystical introspection: It was at the bottom of the heart that he looked for God and wanted to make others find Him. He believed one had to go beyond the forms of religious rites to reach divine reality. Thus, he used without hesitation the terminology of his opponents, which he set right and refined, ready to make himself hostage of the denominational logic of others.” (Massignon: “Perspective Transhistorique,” p. 76) Even beyond the Muslim faith, Hallaj was concerned with the whole of humanity, as he desired to communicate to them “that strange, patient and shameful, desire for God, which was characteristic for him.” His death is described by Attar as a heroic act, as when they are taking him to court, a Sufi asks him:”What is love?” He answers: “You will see it today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.” They killed him that day, burned him the next day and threw his ashes to the wind the day after that.

“Kuj unj vee raahwaN okhyaN san, Kuj gal wich GhamaaN da tauq vee si; Kuj shahar de lok vee zaalam san, Kuj saanu maran daa shoq vee sii” (Not only, the path was full of obscurities. But also I had cross of anguish around my neck; Beyond just, city fellows were blood-thirsty.  I, myself, was benevolent to death) . The verses exhibit the traits of Malamtiyyas that were personified by the late Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. Against all odds, Taseer came out openly in defending a Christian woman, Asia BB, who had been booked under the notorious Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan. Despite having been come under the virulent criticism from most, if not all, factions of a hostile society, Taseer remained defiant until one of his own security guards emptied the magazine of gun in his body. Not far away are the times when history shall give her verdict about yet another Blasphemer. Here are some words from the blasphemer: “I was under huge pressure to cow down before rightist pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I’m the last man standing”.

History dictates the human race on her own terms. The only enduring thing in the universe is the ‘change’ itself. Clinging to the decadent notions, exploited by the adherents of dark, ends up in complete devastation of civilizations – history is the testimony to that. Oracles may toe the lines of hierarchs, Churches may be subservient to oligarchs, Mosques may parrot the narratives of despots; but history has her own way to deal with the things. History hails those standing up to the values of hatred, bigotry and orthodoxy; and snubs those siding with the forces of dark and decadence. The blasphemers of status quo and darkness are the jewels of humanity – the pride of human race who exalt the Homo sapiens to humans.

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Maisam

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