MOSQUES. – IT DOESN’T END THERE
Earlier today, I read a fellow bloggers post, titled: “In Malaysia, I visited a mosque – In Pakistan, I can’t” by Dilaira Dubash. Mosques – it wasn’t a topic I had really thought much about, but after reading such a powerful opinion I couldn’t help directing my attention to it.
On that note, my dear readers, let me warn you that opinionated articles and blogs can vastly be misinforming – and here I was thinking only news articles have a tendency of displaying bias. Now, let me begin by admitting that I have never really thought of Malaysia in any comparison to Pakistan. As a Pakistani, Malaysia comes to mind when you think of going on quick little family vacation. A place you tour around, because Europe seems too far away or way too expensive, or in all honesty, because you know that the visa process will be far to troubling for other countries. Now, allow me to point out why comparing the freedom of “visiting mosques” in both these countries is just...just not a good comparison at all.
As stated, the Muslim population in Malaysia is 61.3%. In contrast, the Muslim population in Pakistan is between 95-98%. A country like Malaysia opts “for a conscious uncoupling of religion from culture” because it has a population of roughly 40% non-Muslims, in addition a variety of tourists that help bring a bunch of money into their country and endorse the economy. Let me tell you why no one openly talks, dresses, breathes or broadcasts their faith in public – because when you have diversity of faiths and cultures, it becomes taboo to talk about religion and publicize your faith. What I am trying to underline is that, it is easy to see diversity when 40 out of a 100 people have a variety of different cultural beliefs. On the hand, it is very hard to to find diversity in cultural beliefs when 95 out of a 100 people are of the same religion. You can’t go looking for “conscious uncoupling of religion from culture” in a place where almost EVERYONE IS OF THE SAME RELIGION.
Speaking of different religions, I’m sure living in Pakistan as a non-Muslim must be a little tough, but living Pakistan in general, can be quite challenging. Yes! Hindu’s and Muslims have fought their battles but in Pakistan’s current state, Shi’a Muslims and Sunni Muslims are battling constantly as well. Therefore, to make the claim that, it is hard to envision a peaceful coexistence between Hindus and Muslims in Pakistan, is frankly quite ignorant since Hindu’s are not even 2% of the current population, respectively. Moreover, unlike Malaysia, Pakistan is an Islamic Republic which is why most Islamic religious holidays are also public holidays – Eid for example.
Now, in terms of following a certain dress code and partying – I do agree that Pakistan is conservative. However, there is a saying: when you go Italy do as the Italians do. A similar concept applies here. There are no formal laws in the constitution against how women and men should publically dress, but there are certain social norms that frown upon specific westernized dressing – and those social norms need to rightfully be accepted and tolerated. When it comes to partying – the Islamic Republic law needs to be considered – alcohol is not permitted under Islam and therefore the selling and buying of alcohol – even though, it is so very common – is not done publically. And, since alcohol is an under-the-table pleasure so is all the partying.
I agree that Pakistan has a lot to learn about how to make full use of all its potential and value its own home bound beauties such as Hunza Valley, Swat Valley and The Murree Hills. But I strongly believe that it is important, when highlighting the short comings of the country, to offer a complete perspective of laws, social norms and in this case a majority population of religion.
Link to the blog being referred to is below: