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Pak Tea House » Humor, Islam, Islamism, Taliban » The Mullahs are coming!

The Mullahs are coming!

By Sher Sultan

The Mullas are coming! They are coming in all hues and shades. All styles of facial hair are on display. With close cropped beard, to a totally unkempt one, with heavy moustache accompanying a beard, to a solo beard with clean shaven upper lip – these are not just random fashion statements. Every specific facial hair style represents a specific school of thought, commonly known as a FIRQA. The truth of the school is articulated not just through facial hair style, but through the apparel as well. The close cropped bearded one believes in all secular dresses, and partakes of all secular professions, becoming an engineer, a doctor, or a professor. One of them was teaching me at the Executive MBA classes at I.B.A., and never let go of any opportunity to ridicule modernity, highlight the great conspiracies of the USA, the Freemasons, the Trilateral Commission and curse the outspoken Salman Taseer, and appreciated his killer’s dare, likening him to Ghazi Ilm Din of pre-Pakistan days. He idealized the Brotherhood groups gaining electoral victories in Egypt and other Mid East countries during the Arab Spring, and seemed quite certain that the Pakistan fruit is ripe to fall into his lap very soon.  Rest of the fashion spectrum includes black turban and tunic inspired by the famous Iranian fashion icon, white turban with white tunic, and a cheque scarf hung loosely on the left shoulder, green turban with a tail-piece hanging loose like a long pony tail, and a great variety of skull-caps. The interesting fact is that each one of these groups are trying very hard to look like Mohammad, the Prophet as he was described by his contemporaries in various accounts, as there is no picture of him to emulate.

The Mullas have left very little public space for seculars, whom they dub as LA-DEEN (atheists), and MAGHRIB-ZADA (westernized), conveniently forgetting that the nation’s Great Leader was secular, and westernized (in his education, his eating and drinking habits, his dress selection, and his personal choice of supporting no facial hair). The Mullas understand the reach of the tele, and so a number of cable channels have been occupied by them. Flipping through these channels one finds strange incantations on one, lectures on glory days of Islam couched in combative desires of bringing it back, on the other. Even the secular channels have great many time slots for the tele-mullas who are lecturing the lay people on how the solutions for today’s ills were clearly laid out in various books and accounts written over a millennium ago. People are calling into these programs for all kinds of personal questions, and the tele-mulla, lo and behold, has a solution to every problem, quoting the precedence from accounts written over a thousand years ago! I fail to understand how the post-industrial era social issues can be resolved by pondering over centuries old scriptures, instead of referring them to trained sociologists and psychologists.

You cannot get rid of the mulla effect at the workplace either. The lowly peon with a green turban (which he duly wears at work) would lecture his boss on the hazards faced in afterlife, when the secular Director is found trying to quietly gulp some tea and sandwiches during the month of Ramadan. There is absolutely no cafeteria allowed to sell any eatables during the month.  The Director- poor fellow – is forced to bring some sandwiches from home and discretely consume these in his room when no one is watching.

Even one’s home is no refuge from the Mulla onslaught. My Mom who lives with me, never forgets to remind me when I am leaving for office in the morning on a Friday, not to forget doing my Juma prayers at the mosque that afternoon. On her insistence, I had to hire services of a Mulla to teach reciting of QURAN to my two young daughters at home, which is difficult because it has to be done in an alien language Arabic. It must be one of those freak cases when kids are forced to recite their religious book in an alien language. Again it’s the Mulla version that has been drummed into the whole society without questioning, that the religious book has to be initially taught to Muslim children in its original, Arabic language. Parents inflict the suffering on their young off spring as early as they are four or five year old. The more enthusiastic parents enroll their young ones at the neighborhood mosque, where the Mulla in charge tutors them to recite the whole religious book by heart through rote learning. The Mulla has managed to convince the laity that when a kid memorizes the Book, not only the kid himself (or herself) but his parents too are guaranteed eternal redemption. The few days a week the Mulla comes into my home to teach quranic recitation to my eleven and twelve year old girls, the girls have strange stories to tell about the teacher. Despite that the little girls modestly don a DUPATTA over their heads when learning the recitation, the Mullah warns them that wearing jeans is not permissible for Muslim girls. Despite my convincing the girls to the contrary, the young minds are a bit shaken and insist on changing into shalwar kameez just before their recitation class. The Mulla also chit chats with the girls during the classes about the futility of girls getting an education. When my little one asked me about this, I wanted to terminate the classes immediately, but my Mother would not budge. She insisted that the girls ignore such absurdities uttered by the Mulla and focus on learning the Arabic recitation. I wondered if that kind of selective learning was do-able for the tender young minds!

Then there are the dear relatives! A cousin of mine, who lives nearby, had been insistently inviting me over to his place for a ZIKR gathering for past several weeks. I had been making all sorts of excuses, and this time when he asked I felt pressured and could not design an excuse to decline the invitation. At the gathering that evening a Mulla was the key note speaker and the centre of all reverence from all present. Dressed in an all white shalwar kameez and a large white turban, he was in the middle of narrating the great things he saw when he visited Afghanistan during the Taliban reign. Wistfully he narrated the hospitality offered by the Taliban government officials to this large delegation of Pakistanis. The Taliban coordinating official while welcoming them expressed his hope that the Pakistani group would see for themselves a model Muslim governance set up in Afghanistan; and that inspired by what they see, the official hoped that the members of the visiting delegation who did not support a beard would be supporting one by the end of their visit! That shook me up from my indifferent near-slumber, as I met the eyes of the Mulla, who seemed to be looking around at his attentive audience   with a victorious, paternalistic smirk on his face. Unable to withstand the cocky self-assuredness, I blurted out something to the effect that supporting a beard was not mandatory for a Muslim. As the charismatic Mulla turned his eyes towards me, his manners questioning my audacity to challenge him within his personal domain – the monopoly of knowledge of what a Muslim must or must not look like! A group of youthful Mullas – hangers on to the senior Mulla – also turned their scolding eyes towards me. The Mulla told me with a cold smile that wearing a beard was mandatory for a Muslim. I tried to argue that supporting a beard was optional and not mandatory, but he dismissively brushed me aside and asked me to read one particular book by a tenth century scholar. Of course, since I had never heard about the book, as I was busy with my secular pursuits of working for a living, I could not pull out any ‘holy’ account from history to support my argument. I noticed that my host was also shifting uneasily in his respectfully, seated posture on the carpet flooring. I wanted to shout back at the Mulla that he had also not read Mills’s On Liberty or Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, but held back with great difficulty. Needless to say that that was my last outing to the ZIKR gathering at my cousin’s place.

As a secular Muslim, who works hard to make an honest living but goes to the NAMAZ only twice a year on the two Eids, or as a cultural Muslim – enjoying the land’s poetry and music, and interacting and learning from the world outside – I feel under siege, unable to live and speak freely and rationally lest I be declared a heretic or a social outcast and an agent of the godless west. Islamic color is but just one of the many layers of identity I possess. The Mulla is after me with a big stick determined to strip me of all my identities except the arid Islamic one!

Wait a minute; did I say… The Mullas are coming? Must correct myself…the Mullas have arrived! Does anybody reading this share my predicament? Give me a shout, if you do!!

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16 Responses to "The Mullahs are coming!"

  1. Kamath. Canada Safari iPad says:

    Hi Sher Sultan;

    Now, wait a minute! This writing of yours. Is this a joke or catharsis? Or you an agent of Mossad, CIA or RAW?

  2. Vish United Kingdom Google Chrome Windows says:

    Mate, is this really true or an exaggeration? If true it indicates some kind of obsessive compulsive religion disorder. The psychiatrist is called for.

  3. Ex-Paki United States Mozilla Windows says:

    Unfortunately mullah’s influence is definitely on the rise in Pakistan but we have always been a deeply religious society and never tolerated any criticism of religion, so mullah was bound to gain control, especially due to miserable failure of our state institutions. As you said even the absurd notion of reciting quran in Arabic was accepted as normal, never questioned, taken for granted as required. Many a times I wondered sitting in a mosque during juma prayers listening to imam reciting khutba in Arabic as to why I am listening to this, why can’t the imam say whatever he is saying in a language understood by the congregation, why the prayers are said in Arabic and the flock says amen without even understanding (most of the times) a word of it. But questioning this only brought the same answer ‘that is how it was done by our prophet’, and questioning why we have to copy him in everything was unthinkable, a non-verbal response was almost guaranteed. It is sad though to hear that Mullah garbage has reached even the higher institutes of learning, it was not that bad in my days in Pakistan.

  4. thoughtful Germany Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Mullah results from islam, from islam’s arrogance and finalist fascism.

    Wherever islam becomes strong and dominant, that is the result.

    Why you avoid naming the real culprit.

    Muslims must take to the path of honesty, then islam will collapse and we all will be able to live safer, more decent and more dignified lives.

  5. Break-the-walls Pakistan Opera  Opera Mobi/ADR-1309251104) Presto/2.11.355 Version/12.10 says:

    I really respect the moulvis because they tell us about the teachings of Islam.I hate to admit but it is a fact that most of those men who claim that they are Aalims or moulvis are notorious for torturing and humiliating women of their family.Not all of them but most of them torture their students in Madrassas.Those so called Mullas who call themselves the preachers of Islam should need to learn basic islamic teachings about respecting women & showing kindness and mercy to children.Some of them are also involved in sexually abusing their students which is a great sin.Islam is a religion of peace & it teaches us to respect humans no matter what religion they follow.Hindus,Christians,jews all of them are respectable to us.May Allah show these so called Molvis & Aalims the right way.ameen.

  6. Mohan United Arab Emirates Safari iPad says:

    Sir jhukane se namaze adaa nahin hoti
    Dil jhukana padta hai ibadat ke liye.

  7. kaalchakra United States Google Chrome  GT-N8013 Build/JZO54K) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/31.0.1650.59 Safari/537.36 says:

    Break-the-walls, that’s why Mullahs are so necessary to clarify to all of us the basic requirements and principles of Islam. Brother, you can respect people at a lower level as a human, but at a higher level as a Muslim, you can’t respect worshippers of the Trinity, or worse, of dogs, pigs, or rats, or even unabashed practitioners of Shirk. At best, if they dont challenge your political or social power, you can leave them alone to do whatever they want inside their homes. There can’t and shouldn’t be any question of respect. Mutual respect of ‘religions’ is neither possible nor necessary. Best.

  8. Mohan United Arab Emirates Google Chrome Windows says:

    Saudi senior cleric Saleh al-Fawzan insists that the sun revolves around the earth, regardless of the “Western idea”

  9. tajender Canada Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Mohan says:
    November 30, 2013 at 1:49 pm
    Saudi senior cleric Saleh al-Fawzan insists that the sun revolves around the earth, regardless of the “Western idea”

    mohan,..bewaqook har jagah hot america there is a catholic sect who believe that shaitan was born in 1921.

  10. Tmhs Hong Kong Safari Mac OS says:

    You have the beard-mullahs. And in western countries we have the vaccine mullahs. Thou shalt not ask nor question.. what about you, Sher?

    Do you unquestioningly vaccinate your kids without ever having read about the pros or cons of it? Do you believe that to vaccinate is to ensure health, while not to do so is to fly in the face of death?

    In western countries, the beard-mullahs are syringe-bearing nurses and doctors. And if we dare question the benefits, or suggest avoiding or even delaying one of the many vaccines they propose we give our newborns, we get those same looks of scorn you are talking about.

    And it’s so popular now to be atheist, because the idea of a big man in the sky having made everything is silly (they say). Christians are to be scorned and mocked, although they dare not make the same mockery of Muslims! But Vaccines … that’s the state religion, that must not be questioned.

  11. Mustafa Canada Internet Explorer Windows says:

    @Tmhs: Well said! Bigotry is not monopolized by Relgious clergy nor by the followers of Islam.

    However the author is talking about the basic principles of Islam as being a form of bigotry, which is strange. Praying, and following the basics of Islam is a matter of religion and its not bigotry to suggest following them if you claim to be a Muslim!

    On the other hand its completely ones choice and I do not think anyone is forcing Muslims to pray or follow the basic Islamic principles , we are all free to follow or not follow.

    So I find the article quite confusing, going to Jumma Prayers is what most Muslims do, I do not see anything bigoted if someone is SUGGESTING to go to Friday PRayers but NOT FORCING you to go!

  12. Ahmed United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    Well the father of the nation wasn’t secular. Please read the words he used while referring to Islam, Allah and Prophet(pbuh). You don’t become a secular because of having no beard. Or having a particular outlook.

  13. itsthat Germany Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Father of the nation of Pakistan….

    he was an opportunist, double-dealer, megalomaniac, pretender of the “most-skilled” sort.
    that is his sin for which pakistan has to pay.
    Law of karma.
    even islam cannot escape it.

    censoring is of no use against it.

  14. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Mullahs are not coming. They have already arrived.

  15. Ex-Paki United States Mozilla Windows says:

    The author has written about Mullah’s influence not of Islam’s. Don’t you think there is a difference?

  16. PMA United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    Cracks appear in religious ranks 12/12/2013
    ISLAMABAD, Dec 11: Fissures have appeared in the ranks of the clerics of the Deobandi school of thought over the management of their education board, the Wafaq al-Madaris al-Arabia (Federation of Arabic Schools), and religious extremism. One group, led by Mufti Mohammad Naeem, is openly demanding `structural reforms` in the Wafaq, which controls the thousands of madressahs in the country producing Deobandi preachers. `We want the Wafaq to operate like a board, not as one-man show as it was being run for almost 15 years,` Mufti Naeem said, challenging the authority of the present set-up led by Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhri.
    `There have to be reforms as the Wafaq leaders have been engaged in self projection,` said the Mufti who has been writing notes to the Wafaq executive council for almost a year, criticising its leadership and demanding reforms in the religious board. His words would carry weight as he heads the influential Jamia Binoria seminary of Karachi. Established in 1978, the Jamia is an international Deobandi Islamic educational institute.
    Wafaq chief Qari Hanif Jalandhri, who runs several seminaries and is a member of official Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), refused to comment. Wafaq spokesman Hafiz Abdul Quddus said: `No comments on this topic because this is an internal affair and it should not be discussed in the open.
    Meanwhile, Mufti Naeem is on a mission to gather support of various Deobandi seminaries for his points of view. `Our main concern is that the Wafag should not be politicised, not to the extent that its leadership has gone in meeting political leaders and foreign diplomats. On the other hand nothing much has been done for the welfare of the madressahs,` he said. Interestingly the rift in the ranks of the Deobandi clerics has emerged ahead of appointments in the CII. The prime minister has to appoint the chairman of the CII, and Qari Hanif Jalandhri and the former chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani are said to be candidates for the position.
    Heightened religious extremism and sectarian conflicts in the country are also behind the rift in the Deobandi camp. Senior ulema (religious leaders) of various Deobandi seminaries, who met under Maulana Samiul Haq in Rawalpindi, last week expressed concern over the politicising of the Wafaq. Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, considered a liberal among the Deobandis, alleged that hardliners `have occupied` the Wafaq. `They have been collecting huge donations from locals and foreigners by pretending that they manage madressahs. But the truth is that most among the group of occupiers have links with banned religious organisations,` he said, and named several.

    `That was visible in the Rawalpindi incident (on Ashura day),` added Maulana Ashrafi.

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