A couple of days back I had an opportunity to listen to Ghazi Salahuddin (a senior journalist-cum analyst) discussing Pakistan’s current political scene with Kamran Khan. He was particularly critical of Pakistan Peoples Party and Muslim League Q being branded together as enlightened forces.
“If ideology is to be the basis for any political alliance,” argued Ghazi Salahuddin, “the logical political parties to get together are PPP, MQM &ANP. I don’t see Muslim League Q making any convincing pretense to being enlightened and liberal.”
It is hard for any realist to disagree with Ghazi Salahuddin. When one talks about enlightenment and liberalism, the implied meaning one has in mind is ‘secular politics i.e. a political process which separates statecraft from religion.
In my younger days I was a fervent follower of the PPP thought which revolved around a three-dimensional manifesto.
“Democracy is our politics,” the authors of the PPP doctrine declared. “Socialism is our economy. And Islam is our religion.”
At that time, this doctrine really thrilled me. It sounded so intensely revolutionary.
Decades later I am in a position to analyse this doctrine coolly and realistically.
The said formula of conducting politics implied that Islam was simply a religion and it did not incorporate within its teachings the quintessential principles of democracy and socialism. Meaning thereby that Islam alone was not enough, and it needed the re-enforcement of democracy and socialism, in order to be relevant as a political factor. Also meaning thereby that Islam had to be treated as separate from politics in order to comply with the requisites of western secularism.
Those who are emitting full-throated cries of enlightenment and liberalism, are fundamentally challenging the philosophy of making Islam our path as well as our goal. There is no doubt that such groups and parties do exist which want the society to go back a thousand years, and get frozen in those times. All in the name of Islam!
But their presence amidst us does not mean that we should discredit Islam and abandon the path that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) chose for us.
Islam happens to be all-inclusive. It is the path, the goal and the meaning of life. What theocrats however preach in the name of Islam is nothing but theocracy which has no place in God’s final message to mankind. When the Holy Prophet declared that “Islam is the prescribed faith for all peoples and all ages” he was endorsing the dynamic spirit intrinsic in the Islamic way of life.