In his Friday Sermon of 11 May 2018 (24 Shabaan 1439 AH), Hadhrat Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius gave a profound discourse on the significance of the Holy Month of Ramadan to the fortunes of the Muslims. Drawing on episodes of sacred history, Hadhrat Khalifatullah (atba) surveys the great obstacles early believers had to confront to establish Islam in its Arab heartland, especially in Ramadan of the years after the Hijra. Indeed the narratives of history testify that the companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) were fasting in Ramadan even as they were winning critical battles against the forces of evil and oppression in the land. Hunger, thirst, sex- no basic human needs could come in the way of great striving in pursuit of lofty responsibilities.
Only those who know the past can shape the future. Through the vital lessons in sacred memory, Hadhrat Khalifatullah (atba) calls our attention to the grave responsibilities of today. To confront the challenges being mounted by anti-Islam forces in the world and to create a just world where the Muslim Ummah as a whole can flourish, Hadhrat Khalifatullah (atba) provides important advices and insights for the Muslim leaders of today. The spiritual discourse underscores the need for fostering the spirit of unity within the Ummah. This unity can only be forged by showing healthy respect for the diversity of thoughts and ideas among the various strands of Muslims today, especially by their States in their administrative and governance frameworks. Fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech and expression should be institutionally protected, with no one being allowed to sit in judgement over the faith/beliefs/convictions of others. Pointing to the prevailing scenario of bewildering disunity, deepening sectarianism and intolerance, creeping injustice and social strife in the ‘Islamic’ world, Hadhrat Saheb (atba) exhorts the Muslims and their influential leaders to rise above their sectarian perceptions/ ‘majoritarian’ prejudices against their brethren in faith and to ensure justice for everyone regardless of their identity or personal beliefs.
Illustrating his point, Hadhrat Saheb (atba) notes the searing irony of a State (Pakistan) claiming to profess ‘Islamic’ values in its Constitution and the Laws and yet denying the freedom of conscience and of expression to its own citizens. Unfortunately for the hapless people of Pakistan, the deadly poison of competitive politics over religious/sectarian identity has cast its long shadow over the integrity and fairness of the nation’s governance structures. Of late, the national criminal law is being wantonly and rampantly misused by thuggish/fascist elements in society to curtail human rights in the land- they seek to intimidate religious minorities- including the ‘Ahmadis’; arrest and imprison contrarian individuals for their personal opinions. Nasir Ahmad Sultani, the Pakistani Muslim citizen of Ahmadi sect who claims to be a recipient of Divine revelations in this era, has been arrested by the authorities under the notorious ‘Blasphemy Law’ and he remains imprisoned even after a year. This is a clear case of abuse and excess of the legal process. For, the State and the Law should have no business curtailing the freedoms of thought, belief, conscience, speech, expression of any individual. It is indeed the responsibility of the State and the Law to protect the various manifestations of free speech so long as there is no direct incitement to imminent violence. How should we look at a Law/State that behaves like a predator than a protector of human rights?
In a society that has politically sanctioned the murder/lynching of innocents in the name of ‘Allah’/ ‘Honour of the Holy Prophet’, etc., the imprisonment of a man for his opinions might seem trifle. The administrative/judicial measure of a period of imprisonment for the accused in ‘Blasphemy’ cases was apparently to ‘protect’ the ‘accused’ from the blood-thirsty Mullahs who are baying for human blood in public meetings! Such is the dire state of affairs in Pakistan that the country sits on the brink of losing its original moorings.
Hadhrat Khalifatullah’s timely appeal for justice and respect for human rights also contains within it a Divine warning for the Pakistani society. A society that does not tolerate religious diversity and respect freedom of conscience of individuals only ends up challenging Allah’s Grand Order of Things. In the name of their mundane power to define ‘legitimate religiosity’, they are playing ‘God’ and denying justice and rights of people! When a nation’s leaders exceed the bounds, they ignore common sense and the lessons of history, only to write its destiny in bloody conflicts and thereby they finish peace (‘Islam’) in the land with their own hands- see the fate of ‘Islamic’ nations in our times- Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc. Indeed it is for the righteous people-sincere believers- to stand up for the type of society they want to be, in Pakistan and beyond.