Friday, February 15, 2013

The New Religion

Anybody who remembers the scene from PTV’s Taleem-e-Balighaan about the three gharray (clay pots) titled Ittehad, Tanzeem and Yaqeen-e-Mohkam (Unity, Discipline and Faith) may remember that students had already destroyed Ittehad and Tanzeem, and only Yaqeen-e-Mohkam survived. Maulvi Sahab reported in his letter to the inspector “Le de ke aik Yaqeen-e-Mohkam reh gaya hai, jiss par kaam chaloo hai. Agar ab bhi ittehad aur tanzeem se sabaq na liya gaya, tou ye qaum yaqeen-e-mohqam ka bhi wohi hashar kar degi”. (In the end, only Faith is left, which allows us to function. If we still do not learn from Unity and Discipline, these people will ensure Faith meets the same fate).
*Reference video below will work if Youtube ever does.

These words, prophetic as they were, did not predict the next step we are about to embark upon.
Certain facts have now been firmly established. The constitution is sacred, and, like all sacred scripture, it is now to be selectively quoted and interpreted as the situation demands. We also now ‘believe’ in democracy, a belief dangerously edging towards faith.
Like all faiths, it has priests and shamans. These are the people who have a special understanding of Democracy. Some even claim they have a special relationship with it, being able to communicate directly with, and interpret the will of Democracy. These are the people who have, in all humility, accepted the burden of acting as Democracy’s representatives in Pakistan.
The overall aim and philosophy of Democracy seems not to make themselves apparent to its staunchest adherents. Most ardent followers restrict themselves to belief in the power of the cyclical ritual of elections. They believe them to have the dual effect of cleansing both their own souls and those of their sectarian leaders. Many conservative believers, having a strong fundamentalist belief in the omnipotence of Democracy see any attempts to regulate or check its will as both innovation and blasphemy. This belief is further strengthened by certain high-priests who not only espouse this view, but have also decreed their own infallibility. As a result, an affront to these priests is an affront to Democracy itself.
There have been more than one pioneer who brought the word of Democracy to the common people. Most of them died for our sins. Even today, Democracy demands sacrifices, though now they are mostly financial. These financial sacrifices are mostly borne by the state the year round, however there is increased fervor around the festival of the election. 
The measure of a good believer is, not surprisingly, his ability to believe. The most pious of these are the ones who accepted Democracy early on, and have never since allowed any sort of doubt to enter their hearts or minds. These are the ones who shall be held in highest esteem upon the establishment of the glorious kingdom of Democracy.
Less pious, and consequently less fortunate, are those who believe, but occasionally falter. Their failure to appreciate that Democracy works in mysterious ways is what often leads them to sin by despair. They sin by doubting the omnipotence of Democracy or by allowing themselves to be tempted into the new-fangled ways of false democracies.
The unbelievers are to be pitied. Their constricted hearts will never truly allow them to understand the magic of the invisible hand of Democracy. They will never see enlightenment or the golden hereafter. In fact, if it was up to them, no one would see it.
Sectarianism in the new faith is somewhat worrying. Since the establishment of Democracy, its adherents have, over time, been divided into several factions. Each accuses the others of straying from the true path and misleading followers in the process. Many hard line followers believe this to be the result of mischief by the unbelievers, meant to divide the true following.
Though conversion rates for Democracy have historically fluctuated in the country, true, hard-line adherents have only recently found a strong base in Pakistan. Whether this upswing continues or whether it will make its way back remains to be seen. One result of this somewhat limited strength is the absence of preaching and crusading. Pakistani believers, unlike some of their first-world counterparts, at the moment simply lack the strength and the resources to bring the good word of Democracy to the heathen parts of the world!

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