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Dr.Akmal Hussain
Newspaper: The Express Tribune
Dated: Monday, 8 April 2013

The process of scrutinizing the nomination papers of various candidates in the election process has in some cases manifested the lacunae in Article 62 of the Constitution dealing with the qualifications for membership of Parliament. This Article is a remnant of the amendments made in the 1973 Constitution by military dictator General Zia Ul Haq. It can be used to disqualify a candidate by political opponents or a Returning Officer on grounds of being a sinner or having “inadequate” knowledge of Islam. The relevant clauses 62 (d) and (e) respectively are: “ he is of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic injunctions” and “he has adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from major sins.” In a situation where adequacy of knowledge of Islam is not defined and the distinction between major and minor sins not clarified within the terms of the Article, there have been reportedly cases where candidates have been asked questions pertaining to formal aspects of religious observance and in some cases advised to wear a beard. This approach signifies the dogmatism and divorce of religion from its spiritual basis that characterized the cynical use of religion as an instrument of tyranny by General Zia Ul Haq. It also underlies the intolerance and violence of the extremists in the contemporary period. Bereft of love that is essential to religion, the extremist finds no contradiction between intoning words of prayer and wearing a beard while killing innocent human beings.

Suheyl Umar, scholar and religious leader, in an important paper in a forthcoming publication has argued how dangerous the misuse of religion can be: “Each of the wisdom traditions of the world or world faiths identifies idolatry as the most radical distortion and corruption of human life….. the most insidious forms of idolatry are explicitly religious, distorted ways of identifying God or trying to harness God to one’s own cause.” He goes on to suggest that Iqbal considered love, tolerance and humanity as vital to an individual’s journey to God. He quotes a verse from Iqbal’s Javed Nama:
 “…The disbeliever and the believer are alike creatures of God.
 Humanity, human respect for human reality:
Be conscious of the station of humanity:
The slave of love who takes his path from God,
Becomes a loving friend of both disbeliever and believer”

One of the great sages in the Islamic tradition Jalal Ud Din Rumi, says (in a rendering by Andrew Harvey),
    Tell the night our day has no night
    Our religion no law but love
    Love is this shoreless sea
    We drown in saying not a word

Martin Lings the great Muslim scholar and Shaikh has argued that religion (containing the letters lig) is the ligament with God. He suggests that in both the Western and Eastern religious traditions the heart is the instrument of experiencing the transcendent. So it can be argued that the ligament with God is established through the loving heart.   In fact every Sura of the Holy Quran starts with the Bismillah: “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.”  Allah’s Mercy is manifest in all of His creation and the numberless blessings He has bestowed upon humankind. The Mercy of Allah comes not from pity but love, as Syed Reza has argued in his brilliant commentary on Sura Fatihah.
 In Sura Al An’am, of the Holy Quran the following lines show that the very mode of governance by God is Mercy:
 “..He hath inscribed
      For Himself the rule of Mercy.”

So it is that God connects with humankind through love. Humans in turn can connect with God through adoration. God says in the holy Quran, (Surah Al Baqarah):
O ye people !
Adore your Guardian Lord,
Who created you
And those who came before you,
That ye may become righteous

 If a person is in a state of adoration of God, righteous action in society will flow naturally from such a sensibility. Thus love is a means of experiencing the transcendent as well as a form of being in this world. The state cannot intrude into this intimate connection between the individual and God. 


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