By Hifza Shah Jilani:
Religion, ‘opium of masses’ (Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto) deems to be a near truth phrase. Indubitably in the passages of history, we have seen religious warfare starting from the first ever war if you follow Genesis 4:1-12, the Cain’s Anger had been a religious war, not caused by religion but a religious war. While the writings of Josephus and two books of Maccabees claim the first religious war by the Jews in the year 167 BCE against Hellenism. Modern history defines the period of 1562-63 as the first religious war, France.
The whole concept of Holy War, used incessantly over and over by religionists, dates back to a history of a continuous warfare in desperate attempts to justify their version of religion, to fulfill a religious goal or to win a group’s conformity. From the Crusades, French wars, Muslim conquests, Reconquista, Soviet Afghan war, 9/11 attacks, US invasion of Afghanistan and the latest Iran’s claim to waging war on Israel.
Today, the Cyber-age, invites a different debate altogether. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google while serving to be strategic locations has also led the world in to a network centered period. John Arquilla in his article the bend of history takes on as the piece of the times; he plausibly provides a view that network, alliances, groups, non state actors as the major players for articulating the dynamics of the world.
Pakistan, being a safe haven for various contesting ideologies of Islam that foster religious revivals and fanaticism, killing a governor, Salman Taseer, of a province is considered holy, a federal minister for minority affairs is shot, a prestigious doctor, Jaffar Mohsin is killed for his faith, massacring hazaras (a Shia ethnic group) is inevitable, Ahmadis face state sponsored discrimination.
A leap to statistics reveals somewhat adverse figures of intolerance, from 1st January of this year till 27th February around 112 Shias have died at the hands of religious fanatics. The inside networks from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Muhammad to a full-fledged Difa-e-Pakistan council assembly, networks play an important part in authorizing their ‘religious’ actions.
It’s quite predictable that the center stage for contemporary religious warfare would cease to be the massacring of individuals at arbitrary, institutionalizing discriminatory laws, forced conversions and deportation of individuals of other religions would become the norm defining new parameters for religious contestations. Bringing the entire debate to the first sentence of the piece that religion is the opium of masses, relieving thousands many, for their unjust actions hidden behind religious claims justifying the very actions that contradict the whole point of their belief system, the very belief that endeavors to bring a better society for its believers. What Pakistan holds ahead is somewhat predictable, yes.