It is sad, indeed, when political manipulations and disinformation manage to convince people that bad decisions are actually good. It is sadder still when the public - 'educated' people among them - accept these distortions because they choose to look at matters superficially, even when it could have a deep personal effect on them. A case in point is the recent Women's Protection Bill. Claimed as a victory (or, at least, a step forward) by a vast majority of liberals and the moderately enlightened, it is nothing short of pulling the wool over people's eyes.The Hudood Ordinances need repealing!
Period! They came into being as a one-man initiated order by military dictator and should be removed in the same manner. But that's not what President Musharraf would ever
do. “I think those who had been calling for the repeal of all the Hudood laws are also extremists”, he has said. The reason? He said, according to the 'Dawn', it was not possible for him to do so as it would have unleashed all kinds of problems, including the lifting of prohibition from drinking. A sobering thought, indeed. Actually I'd rather have a couple of people drunk than people stoned to death through a debatable interpretation.
I think, after
repealing the ordinances, it would be perfectly okay to table new motions and propose new laws, in keeping with the Qur'an and Sunnah. (I would prefer a separation of Church & State, but this is
a constitutional requirement). The people's representatives (or, more accurately, those that go by that description) should debate - and, openly
, please - each implication of the bill, making sure it is clearly understood, and establish the following: Is it Qur'anic? Is it derived from the Hadees? Are all the conditions (and pre-conditions) for its enforcement being met? It is also important to know, if only as an academic excercise, if Ijtehaad
allows for Qur'anic punishments to be amended, in certain cases, as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and - later - Allama Iqbal, had suggested. (Read Iqbal's Sixth Lecture on Reconstruction.) The will of the people, or some semblance of it, could then
decide and the new laws can be promulgated, as is expected of a civil society.
The official and
opposition hoohaa, choreographed to accompany this manipulative (and negotiated) move, confuses the issue by making the people believe that it is now in keeping with the Qur'an & Sunnah (according to the Government) and not
so (according to the MMA members, who chanted "the bill opposed to Quran and Sunnah is unacceptable" for some time before actually walking out of the proceedings). Surely it does not take rocket science to understand that it cannot be both. One of them must be able to prove this, simply, by quoting the relevant verses from the Qur'an. Or even some irrelevant ones (considered Zaeef
) from the Hadees. But let's not beat around the bush (like Bush and his evidence of WMDs) and see some hard evidence.
Does it make sense that the rapist (in a crime in which the victim is totally innocent) will be punishable with 10 to 25 years of imprisonment but adultery (where there is mutual consent for the same act) is punishable with stoning to death?
And while we are at that point in the discussion, can anyone
show an aayat
that supports stoning to death? What? It isn't there???
Ohhh. So isn't the Qur'an a mukammal zaabtaé hayaat
Code of Life)? Of course, we need to go to the Hadees, you'll say, taking the debate to another and more difficult level: There is far less consensus on which Ahaadees to accept or reject than there is in the interpretations of the Qur'an. Surely, before doling out death we should make sure that such texts mean what we understand beyond reasonable doubt
The President will also be asking elected members to bring in more laws "to end the anti-women customs of vani*
, marriage with Quran
.” Considering that many of the 'elected members' condone and even enforce such practices in their own families (one of them has 3 of his sisters married to the Qur'an), this is going to be a real challenge. Or just another hypocritical, political, meaningless law that considers the powerful to be above it.
* = The custom of giving away female relatives to resolve disputes is called vani, and at its most extreme, in 2004 a three year old girl became betrothed to a 60 year old man. This led to vani and honor killings being officially outlawed, though in practise, this rule is rarely observed in village communities.
What many view as a positive amendment in the bill - (the new amendment moved on Wednesday provides for an imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of 10,000 rupees for the offence of fornication, or consensual sex of the unmarried) - has drawn angry criticism from a maulana, who has expressed that this would turn "Pakistan into a free sex zone". Haah! As if he always pays for his!
Labels: Activism, Politics, Religion