A Waco in Pakistan
Islamabad's Red Mosque was indeed red with the blood of some 85 Muslim's when the operation to flush out terrorists and extremists ended violently on July 12, 2007. It was a tragedy that could have been avoided. It was an unwarranted bloodbath. The government could have given more time to negotiations. It could have waited more for a peaceful outcome. After all, it had allowed the situation to reach this far by allowing the clerics at the Red Mosque to pile up ammunitions with the full knowledge of some influential people in the government as has been alleged by many news reports.
The precedence set by the Musharraf government was a bad one. The use of overwhelming firepower to force extremists to change their ideas will only lead to more violence; as we have already seen with the recent suicide bombings in different parts of Pakistan. Bloodshed only breeds a prolonged and inherited vehemence and the Red Mosque incident will lead to a fresh new wave of unbridled violence in the coming weeks, months, and years.
Un-doubtlessly, it was wrong on the part of clerics at the Red Mosque to promote violence to seek change in their country. Places of worship including Madrasas are not the places to promote killing or abduction. They are the sanctuaries of peace and the centers for a civil dialogue with all members of society. The clerics have every right to promote their understanding of Islam so long as they do not force their opinion upon others and advocate the use of violence to achieve their objectives. Extremism is an elusive term. President Bush can be described as an extremist for his murderous policies in Iraq. Saudi monarchs can be categorized as extremists in their efforts to keep monarchy in tact within their country. The Labor party in the UK can be described as an extremist group bent on defending its policies in Iraq and so on so forth. Groups and individuals do tend to go to extremes in pursuing their goals as is clearly evident in modern history. It is the use of force by such groups and individuals that lead towards un-tolerable situations. Hitler offers the best example of intolerance followed by the leaders of the former Soviet Union.
The clerics of the Red Mosque surpassed all bounds of logic and decency in demanding to implement their own personal version of Islam while killing and abducting security force members and average citizens, or when they took the law into their own hands by burning CDs and musical instruments. Instead of intimidating people to accept their version of Islam, they should have tried to gain a correct and balanced understanding of the Quran while consulted knowledgeable and clerics deemed qualified by the majority of the Muslim world. Islam does not recognize individuals or groups but rather it promotes credentialed and learned pupils who gain their education from a well-recognized institution.
The clerics and other religious leadership in Pakistan turned this into a political circus creating circumstances where every mosque and every madrasa became on object of suspicion in the eyes of all those who still find it hard to believe that Islam is a religion of peace not only in its ultimate objectives but also in the means to achieve them. It would have been wise on the part of the clerics of the Red Mosque to seek a negotiated settlement rather than issuing statements suggesting that there was no room for an alternative to violence.
The blunder of Red Mosque clerics, however, did not supersede the blunders of the Musharraf government. The government was in a position to flush out all those inside the Mosque in weeks if not in days. The government had already cut electricity and water and certainly, these tactics would have worked effectively if it was a given a chance to succeed.
If one set of negotiations had failed, the second and third rounds of negotiations could have been sought. The army's motive should have been to end the situation with peaceful means rather than ending with a pre-emptive blood bath. The government acted in panic and in a hurry to eliminate those whom it described as extremists. The Musharraf government must be held accountable for the deaths of the 85 people as should the clerics be held accountable for the deaths and destruction in Islamabad before this last episode.
Once again, the entire incident raises the question that Muslims have been confronting in modern times. Should violence be a legitimate method to bring out changes in society. No matter what the clerics say or religious leaders assert, the simple fact is that Islam prohibits the use of violence as a legitimate means to bring about change in society. Islam does not believe in imposing its principles on those who are not ready to accept them willingly. The Prophet Muhammad did not impose Islam on non-Muslims when he entered Makkah after an absence of 10 years. On the contrary, he allowed people their religious and social freedom after cleaning the House of God from all idol statutes and symbols that had been placed there for centuries.
Muslims have to take a very clear stand on the issue of violence. They have to declare clearly and loudly that there is no place for violence in a society. Those who do not practice Islam are entitled to live and believe in whatever they wish so long as it does not cause harm to other members of society. However, Muslims are bound by a higher code of ethics and their stance on violence must be very clear. Even when they are responding to violence perpetrated by those invading their lands or committing acts of oppression against them such as in Iraq. Muslim Authorities cannot transgress the limits of policing and warfare which has been set by God Almighty in the Holy Quran. The Red Mosque incident can be equated with the Branch Davidian in Waco, Texas in which the US government slaughtered many innocent followers of David Koresh in 1993. How many more Waco's are we going to continue to suffer as a society? The world may never be rid of such injustices, however the answer can be found in the idea of gaining understanding and letting people be heard so long as our ideas do not promote hatred and violence towards governments, groups, individuals and ideologies. It is time to start letting people "live and let live," and this is what Islam originally proposed in its inception.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor in chief of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada and recently appointed director of programs at the Lahore based International Iqbal Institute of Research, Education and Dialogue. He can be reached at [email protected]
to make it short and easy for you:
musharraf is a dictator with soldier mind. there is no problem about it because he is killing moslems who are equal to terrorists, in the mind of the hypocrites world wide.
we wish from Allah to change the conditions of the moslems everywhere and in Pakistan to better than this, Ameeen.
it is very easy for Allah to do it but hard for us. we can only see what is happening but we can do nothing about it: the world depend on the language of the B2, F16, missiles, Nukes... they are the true tools of what we refer to as democracy...
soon we maybe lock up about speaking the truth online!
if you believe you are oppressed, do nothing other than seek Allah to take your right with good heart. He promised that to you. don't be involved in oppression and later wish Allah to stand for your right alone? that, doesn't make you 100% oppressed.
wa Allah knows the best
For your information Mulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi was not poorly educated clerics. He was post graduated with distinct numbers from Quadi-e-Azam University.
"When any one of you sees anything that is disapproved (of by Allah), let him change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his heart, though that is the weakest (kind of) faith." [Muslim]
May Allah Guide us all. Ameen!
CUZ what Ghazi now Shaheed and his brother Abdul Aziz the co Imams & Chancellors of the Mosque / Jamia Hafsa Fareedia (University) were also working to point out and or take steps to check the brothels and pornographic trade in Islamabad. where as Br. Abdullah being used to the capitalism reigning supreme has no qualms to make a living being the director of the Islamic center of the Sin City USA in the neighborhood of casinos, bars or sex trade though legal. For him it is job that is about it but that doesn't jive according to the Quraan--3/104 "Let there arise a band of people inviting all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong ; they are the ones to attain felicity"
For Aslam the silence would be golden instead of talking about operation silence by the killer dictator Mush to please Bush!!
God Bless You
that Mullah have hijacked Islam. They do not represent me and hiding behind women in Mosque are not jihadist but murderers and blowing themselves around the country is undermining the cause what they are fighting for..I will not accept extremism no matter where it is and Islam was never spread under the sword whc these days have become norm
of Muslims everywhere. I love Pakistan and I will
stand against every writing that promotes violence.
Where were you when Mollahs in Pakistan were preaching Jihad in Afghanistan when the Russians were there?
Are you one of those who thinks jihadist and islamist are words only applicable after 2001?
A spade is a always a spade!
What a shame that this beautiful country is run by a horrible dictator; who is against Muslims. The sad part is that some people actually support him; I would think these would be mainly secular Pakistanis. But this incident has shown how ruthless this dictator is, yet no one does anything to stop him, since he is a friend of the US. Alhamdulillah, the only one that has lost is him; for the brothers that were martyred there could only be good.
Female students kidnapped prostitute women (which is bad act) for only teach lesson but didn't hurt single person. They kidnapped them in request of neighbors and some police officers. They burnt CD shop having blueprints. What is punishment of these wrong acts?? 3-4 years prison in jail but army martyred hundreds (not 85) of female students and burnt their bodies.
They didn't promote violence only requested govt. to move forward in establishing shariate (any version) in country. They have only 14 guns but army found brand new clean weapons of all types after operation. People of G6 observed only one sided firing in last days.
They had only one demand Shahadat or Shariate.