Because we are hypocrites.
It’s not really our fault. We’ve been thrust into this land of the pure which is founded on principles we don’t necessarily adhere to. Pakistan only exists because the Muslims of the subcontinent needed a place of their own, or so a few wise men thought. But how Muslim are we really? As a people, our Islaminess is fatally entwined with our South-Asianness. We follow that religion, but we have these customs. We believe in those things, but we relate better to these rituals.
We will pray 5 times a day with our faces pointed to Saudia but our weddings will be long drawn, decidedly South Asian affairs with dances and music and all the desi bells and whistles. And a ceremonious Nikkah thrown in for good religious measure.
We will observe piety, modesty, sharaafat, yet we all revel in Bollywood movie experiences with their goofy dance sequences and exposed navels and sensual thumkas.
We will expect honor, temperance, honesty, righteousness from ourselves and others yet we will continually engage in deception, barter, cheating, lying, manipulating – whatever it takes to get what we want.
We will fast during Ramadan, yes we will, but we will be angry, abusive, disgusting human beings because this ritual is stopping us from stuffing Jalebis down our gullets.
The list goes on. There is a duplicity here which runs through most every vein of the country. We should be that, but we really are this. Our history books and the weight of the partition itself tells us that we must be different from the Hindus, that we are the wonderful devoted Muslim qaum so that is how we should behave.
But we aren’t that. Not really. And this fissure between what we want to be and what we really are makes us hypocritical in our daily dealings.
This is why people like Aamir Liaqat and Veena Malik get to tell us about Ramadan and religion. Because we can relate to them.
This is why the Taliban are secretly supported by so many people, even in some ‘upper class’ circles. Because we have no fuckin’ clue what it means to be Muslim.
This is why we take an extreme worldview filled with Yahoodi saazishes and Intelligence agencies all conspiring to stop us from being the sort of Muslim we would really like to be. By doing so, the onus is no longer on us to have to be pious and we can go back to being sleazebags guilt-free.
Everyone is in on it, from the Friday prayer Molvi who can’t stop watching mujras to the upper class businessman who must pretend-pray to conform so that his business can remain successful.
And the worst part of it all? We are completely illiterate about both sides of ourselves.
The brand of Muslims we are now is not the same as the brand of Muslims we were during partition. A crazy General in the seventies changed the entire ideology of this country, and we’re now trying desperately to keep up.
So now we are rabid, frantic, overcompensating. And it’s ugly.
Women have acid thrown on their face if they wear sleeveless. Old men are beaten up if they eat before Iftaar during rozas. Speaking ill about anything religious – or the nature of it’s practice here – can get you locked up, knocked about, or killed. Little children are sentenced to die because burnt pages of the Quran are found in their bags. Vigilante gunmen are celebrated for murdering a respected man who dared to speak out against the Blasphemy law. The blasphemy law is used to fuck over anyone from another tribe, anyone from another religion, anyone you don’t like really. Minorities are worse than dogs and killing them, sacking their communities, destroying their places of worship, all is good because it partially and temporarily reinforces our shaky “Muslimness”.
We are ‘Muslim’ with a vengeance, roaring and pushing and fighting and clawing and trying to convince ourselves.
Although there was a time when Pakistan looked like this. But recently it’s become way uglier, way nastier.
And we can blame external forces all we want and continue playing the hapless victim. But the solution can only be found through some serious introspection, not just individually, but as a nation. The only way to move forward is to first find out who the fuck we are beyond the green and white slogans we barely adhere to. I just hope we wake up to this realization soon.