Original Articles

Ministry of Religious Affairs of Pakistan: A hard look at the supernatural – by Nadeem Khan

Today, I was amazed to see that the whole website of our Ministry of Religious affairs of Pakistan is as clean, as may be my heart, void of any religious belief (in the insightful eyes of a moulvis). I need to share this ‘vision’ with all and may be with the government as well to snoop out a little to slug out the unwanted acts amongst many.

Pakistan, constitutionally, ideologically and population majority wise, an Islamic state, but really shocked to see a really vacant website. Looks like we have nothing to do in religious affairs or we have achieved the nirvana in Islamic ideology that need not be reflected on the web site of an important ministry. Or may be all our religious matters now are settled on roads, streets, open ground processions, on TV channels through ‘Alims on line’, in stadiums by Zaid Hamid and through Talibanizations to root out the kufr infidels amongst the large masses by exploding bombs and killing the selected few infidels. (Please note that Alfred Noble must be indicted for the development of dynamite in the first place and not the talibans for the later kabooms.)

Coming back to the main point of web site, it is amazing to see that the policies are inexistent in the web site as may be we are living void of any religious policy in the country. This clearly shows that even after 63 years of ideological existence as an Islamic state we have failed to make up policies so far or too busy to fight each other’s belief on matters ‘ what to publicize and what not to publicize ’ on web. Or may be the UTube videos of various national and international Ulemas covers the gap of providing first hand information on Pakistan’s or Islamic religious belief. Yes, I found 10 publications or ten Acts valid for the whole religion. There are no depicted laws or acts on freedom & respect to other religions and sects in Pakistan, which should be shown, at least, in the policy page, symbolizing the government’s stance, as tolerant and open minded for all.

Since, as per responsibility of the Ministry shown on first page, it is their duty to collect, distribute and invest the Zakat & Ushr funds in the Islamic state but the page of web site ‘PSDP Projects’ shows the words ‘no contents available’.
If I fail to access PIA web site for booking, I can access PIA reservations for e-ticketing from the web site of Ministry of religious affairs. It’s so easy.
I found a budget and zakat disbursement ratio among provinces / areas as follows, which shows that Pakistan’s most needy province in Zakat’s definition is Punjab. 2.41% only for FATA, the most poor and needy area of Pakistan experiencing the worst of religious extremism and destruction, wow, thank you ministry for a huge contribution.

Province / Area Share
1. Punjab 55.70%

2. Sindh 23.14%

3. NWFP 13.49%

4. Balochistan 4.99%

5. FATA 2.41%

There is a link for the ‘feedback’, with email address in it. But I dare not to send an email to empty space.

Since the unlucky incident of attack on our minister of religious affairs, Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi, he is no where to be found after the incident, to address the religious threats being encountered by Pakistan. Mr. Secretary, religious affairs must be on different affairs, Agha Sarwar Raza Qazalbash, will be getting fat salary with attractive perquisites including black shinny car(s), is one hell of a lucky person appointed by heaven on that seat.
Yes I found, two tenders floated for vehicle maintenance. Good, which means, something is going on in there and some body is alive, driving some thing. That’s what we are good at. There are no jobs on the web site as much moulvi hazraat are much busy and on jobs on differing each other, so no opening in the ministry till the current lot is consumed. The ministry must have been hiring ‘on rental basis’ external expert Ulemas, for religious advises, like we prefer rental power for power generation and borrowed finance ministers for ministry of finance.

We have not heard any comments, remarks, recognized and accredited Fatwas or beholding announcements at the time when our country needed real contribution from Ulema(s) of this ministry. What we have observed that the interior minister summoned few Ulemas and asked for a fatwa on matters requiring urgent attention. What an interior ministry have to do with religious fatwas ? where as it was a duty of Ministry of Religious Affairs to keep the society alive by issuing valid, acceptable to all, supported by all type fatwas, information, religious literature, for general population. Ministry should have initiated a huge religious campaign by mobilizing fat belly (for their own good) but fair minded moulvis into the society to break the brain wash of extremisms.

Interesting to note that main responsibilities pointed out by the Ministry as their prime duties are as follows;
Hajj pilgrim management
Zakat & Ushr, distribution and investment of Zakat and Ushr funds
Training and education of Ulemas and Khateebs
Research based Islamic Studies
Holding of conferences and liaison with international institutes
Infant and minor adoption laws and various laws that are pertinent to Shariat Court
Council of Islamic Ideology
Ruit-e-Hilal
Madressah Reforms, etc.

Is there any need for this ministry within a state which is already an Islamic state by constitution and by design or we dissolve the selected heads of duties to other relevant ministries of the country, like below;

Hajj pilgrims can be managed by Ministry of tourism, or renamed as Tourism & Pilgrimage.

This will reduce the burden or double efforts of each ministry by identifying the visit of thousands of people as tourism or a pilgrimage. (It is hard to establish that government officials, bureaucrats and much politicians visit Saudi Arabia for a real pilgrim or take it as a tour. Since it is considered as a divine act, we better don’t discuss it)

Zakat & Ushr, distribution and investment of Zakat and Ushr funds can be controlled by Ministry of Finance,

Zakat & Ushr, is basically the system of taxation. The government may reduce the current rate of Income Tax or sales tax by 2.5% and add Zakat’s 2.5% in it, thus pulling in the collection for the main stream of development. Currently where the zakat & Ushr fund is utilized is unknown far and wide, mostly embezzled or may be transferred to ;Other PSDP Projects’.
Holding of conferences and liaison with international institutes, can be done by Ministry of communication or Ministry of Education.

Restricting involvement in any knowledgeable conference in the name of a religion can be avoided. Any knowledge, religious or so called worldly, is meant for every body and must be participated and not only through ministry of religious affairs which is nobody’s affair currently.

Research on Islamic Studies, training and education of Ulemas and Khateebs & Madrissah reforms can be handled by Ministry of Education,

Just like above, research on Islamic studies is a matter of education ministry when every body can take benefit and then the resultant research matter must be communicated to the population at large through maximum general education system & practices and not through or for specific religious centers.
Training and education of Ulemas and Khateebs is the need of hour.

This training and education must not remain confined upon religious education only but other scientific knowledge as well to keep the Alim or Khatib a real social contributor rather than a narrow minded fundamentalist. Each khatib should, at least possess a bachelor degree like it is considered necessary to have a bachelor degree for a political minister.

Infant and Minor adoption laws can be easily handled by Ministry of Law and Justice as there is a separate Shariah Court been active since quite some time.

Islam is a code of conduct and at large a law to practice usually in daily life. The constitution of Pakistan considers the Islamic Law as supreme and other laws subsidiary for the society. A large Ministry of religious affairs is just handling infant and minor adoption law? Uncanny.
Ruit-e-Hilal is a matter of ministry of communication or ministry of Science & Technology

Moon sighting is a technical issue but duly associated with Islamic eventuality. The information can be obtained from ministry of science and technology or can be communicated through ministry of communication. Even now, the Pakistan Metrological Department is used for corroborating the evidence of moon sighting, where as the Pak Met is not at all responsible for such duties. There is simply no need for a battalion of moulvis to see and announce the moon, instead, any one elderly can announce on behalf of the department after confirmation.

Madrissah Reforms

This is basically a task of education department, OK … to keep it in Islamic spirit we always like … head it by a long bearded Alim to keep the Islamic flavor on. Organize a certification of some sort like diploma, bachelors and masters in madrissah to at least identify the difference between a real educated Alim and a simple moulvi in strict sense of knowledge and not based on mere information on religion. Every teacher in madrissah must be qualified and appointed by Public Service Commission.
It took me much time but now I understand. A country, who was established in the name of Islam, have majority of Muslims, have hundreds of blood thirsty sects and religious cults, people killing and getting killed in the name of Islam, spreading the religious scouts in the world to kill infidels in the name of jihad, have independent religious TV channels in electronic media, any body can publish and write any book or literature on any religious belief he like, the ministry of such a country ought to be like this as the work is being long done and there is nothing more to show on the web site. So foolish of me.

About the author

Nadeem Khan

Businessman and part-time/freelance writer

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