Our older generation had been slaves and had an enormous inferiority complex of the British. The school we went to was similar to all the elite schools in Pakistan, despite becoming independent, we are, and still are, producing replicas of English public school boys rather than Pakistanis. We read Shakespeare which is fine, but no Iqbal.
The Islamic class is not considered to be serious, and when we leave school we consider ourselves amongst the elite of the country because we could speak in English and wore western clothes. Despite periodically celebrating and singing national songs on Independence Day, we consider our own culture backward and Islam an outdated religion.
Amongst our group if any one talks about religion, prayed or kept a beard he is immediately branded a Mullah or extremist for that matter who is misguided. Because of the power of the western media, all our heroes are western movie or pop stars or for that matter bollywood.
Now slowly we are entering an era where not just Islam but all religions are considered as anachronism. Science has replaced religion and if something couldn’t be logically proved it did not exist. Moreover, if one reviews the European history, conclusion would be that they had an awful experience with religion. The horrors committed by the Christian clergy in the name of God during the inquest had left a powerful impact on the western mind. To understand why the west is so keen on secularism, one should go to places like Cordoba in Spain and see the various methods of torture applied during the Spanish Inquisition. Also the maltreatment of scientists as heretics by the clergy had convinced the Europeans that all religions are regressive.
But opposite to this if we observe why current and upcoming generations are moving away from religion is the selective Islam practiced by most of its preachers i.e. Mullahs. . In other words, there is difference between what we practice and what we preach. Also, rather than explaining the philosophy behind the religion, there is emphasis on rituals. We humans are poles apart to animals whereas the latter can be drilled; humans need to be rationally convinced. That is why the Quran constantly appeals to reason. The worst of course, is the exploitation of Islam for political gains by various individuals or groups.
In western societies, institutions are strong while they are collapsing in our country. However, there is one area where we were and still are better and that is our family life. One can observe the solitude of the old-age pensioners at different places built specially to accommodate old people. One cannot imagine even of sending parents to Old Peoples’ Homes. Western society on this point completely misses out on the security blanket that a joint family system provides. However one if studies western society closely would notice that the biggest loss which western society suffered was trying to free itself from oppression. While doing this they removed both God and Religion from their lives. Doing this created a vacuum in their society. And two questions always remain unanswered in such society. What is the purpose of our existence and what after we die? Both these unanswered questions have serious psychological impact in society.
After the event of 9/11; it looked like the whole world had turned against Muslims. And it was then many Muslims living abroad and also in Muslim countries realized that we are not equipped with even basic knowledge of Islam which could be adequate to solve our daily problems. If we look into what really Islam is about; Quran on this matter states clearly that “Those who believe and do good deeds.” But in our society and other Muslim countries the main problem is two extreme groups that exists. None of them are ready to accept the other. One is more tilted towards westernized outlook whereas on the other end we have religious fanatics who have labeled themselves as defendants of faith.
But if one carefully studies what Islam really is about, it would be humanity along with fulfilling religious obligations. And to arrive at this given both extremes need to engage in dialogue. Dialogue not to label each other as infidels or fanatics but to understand and follow what was the right path. Group which is in majority and spends more on education should spend more time and resource in order to understand Islam. There is no forceful following in religion but one should arm itself with basic knowledge of religious beliefs to stand up against extremism existing in our society. Extremism could not be wiped off if we turn.
If our educated class starts to practice Islam, it would not only help in fighting extremism but would also help in nipping other societal evils. World would also realize how progressive religion Islam is. After all Prophet (pbuh) was known for his mercy for all mankind.