A rejoinder on curriculum reform
24 May, 2013
By Asif Haroon Raja
Amidst the hullabaloo of election campaign when all eyes were focused on the outcome of May 11 election results, Dr Fahad Rafique Dogar came out with a bloomer. His article titled 'Curriculum reform' in 'The News' dated May 9, 2013 was out of place with no relevance to the overall environment. However, the message in the article was quite clear and in line with similar articles written on ideology of Pakistan, two-nation theory and secularism. Our electronic media has been holding debates on settled issues to confuse the new generation about the ideals of our founding fathers on the basis of which Pakistan was created.
Quite many secular writers have been writing on Dr Fahad's theme in the past particularly during Gen Musharraf's rule when his concept of enlightened moderation had thrilled the liberals and seculars in Pakistan, India and the West. Under Indo-US-West combined pressure, Musharraf had made quite a few changes in our syllabus of Islamic Studies and history textbooks and deleted some Quranic Suras in Islamiat on the plea that it stimulated hatred in the minds of the youth against India and encouraged Jihad. Other argument put forward was to modernize and to be in step with advanced world. So-called modernization was a step towards secularism. Higher education was to quite an extent secularized. However, seculars in Pakistan want all traces of Islam found in our textbooks to be obliterated.
Fahad objects that our Islamiat focuses more on history of Islam rather than on concepts and teachings. He then cheekily suggests that focus should be on understanding the rationale behind different things rather than ignoring controversial things. What he implies is to re-open settled issues and get involved in unending debates to make them controversial. He castigates blind followers of Islam and the institutions which teach blind obedience to injunctions of Holy Quran and Hadith. Fahad in a roundabout way appreciates those who drag Islamists imbued with total faith in their religion in undesirable and unproductive debates and cornering the ones not well-versed with tenets of Islam. He strongly recommends controversial Javed Ghamdi to be listened to and his secularist thoughts adopted. He also places another highly controversial figure Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy on the higher pedestal, inadvertently missing out Hasan Nisar, which gives a fair idea of the writer's mindset and agenda.
Doctorate degree holder from Carnegie Mellon University Fahad somehow forgets the hate-filled anti-Islamic literature taught in Indian schools. He doesn't take into account persistent anti-Islamic bashing by the West under the flimsy excuse of freedom of speech. This excuse is sheathed when it comes to holocaust of Jews. Caricatures and films ridiculing Holy Prophet (pbuh) and undermining Islam are ignored.
While Musharraf was busy preaching enlightened moderation to show soft face of Pakistan to the West, in USA an anti-Islamic course was being taught at Joint Forces Staff College at military base in Norfolk Virginia from 2004 onwards to senior officers of US military. The course encouraging war against Muslims was prepared by Strategic Engagement Group. Five courses were run each year with 20 officers in each course. The contents taught were objected to by one of the students in April 2012 and the matter came to the notice of Pentagon. The course was immediately discontinued and Lt Col Mathew Dooley conducting the course was removed from teaching staff. By then, in eight years 800 US officers had got indoctrinated in anti-Islam concepts. The course was counter to repeated assertions by American officials that the US is at war against Islamic extremists and not the religion.
The course suggested threatening Saudi Arabia with starvation, reducing Islam to cult status and Mecca, Medina destroyed. It was stressed that radical true Islam professing Shariah was the real threat to USA and the western world and it was strongly recommended to change the barbaric ideology of Islam, or else facilitate self-destruction of USA. The course advocated total war against Muslims suggesting that Geneva Conventions were no longer relevant when fighting against Muslims. Dooley who started teaching this course in 2010 was the chief proponent of the idea of obliterating two Holy cities of Mecca and Medina on the pattern of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or allied firebombing of Dresden without caring for civilian casualties so as to counter Jihad?
Hate against Muslims is becoming endemic in the American culture. One of the presidential candidates Herman Cain had vouched that if elected to power he would not appoint any Muslim in his cabinet. FBI counter terrorism training materials consist of anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim contents. Law enforcement officials across Florida have been taught to malign Prophet Muhammad. Sam Kharoba imparted hate lessons from 2005 onwards to over 20,000 officers.
If Fahad had glanced through Indian history, he would have learnt how crudely it has been altered. Muslim rulers of India suiting Hindu mythology are eulogized and others censured or excluded from history books. Hindu writers in 19th and 20th centuries spat venom against Muslims of India and distorted Muslim history by glorifying Hindu leaders of ancient era as well as Hindu religion and portraying Muslim rulers in poor light. They asserted that ancient period of Ram-Raj was India's Golden Age in which there was 'justice and plenty'. Romesh Chandra Dutt was the architect in germinating pro-Hindu attitudes among school children through his biased write-ups. He said that Hindus spent seven centuries of national lifelessness under the Muslim rule. Narandranath Datta said that Hinduism was the only faith that could save the world.
Bankim Chatterjee's provocative books gave birth to extremist Hindu groups who translated his thoughts into reality. Anadamath written by Chatterjee in 1882 was the first manifestation of militant spirit of Hinduism against Muslims. Abominable Vande Matram, the hymn of Mother India was part of this book which became the national anthem of Bengali Hindu nationalists. Later it became the national anthem of India. Chatterjee's book preached hatred against Muslims of India and instigated the religious sentiments of Hindus to rise against them, terrorize them into submission and merge them in Hinduism or annihilate them. He portrayed them as interlopers in the land of Hindus.
Jadunath Sarkar, author of 'History of Bengal' willfully contorted and defaced facts that his book is retained in Dacca University as the most authentic reference material. Trend of distorting Muslim history and Bengali language continued after 1947 and is prevalent in Bangladesh even today. To get an idea about the widespread misinformation campaign launched by RAW, I recommend the book 'Rape of Bangladesh' written by Zainal Abedin.
I am sure Fahad must be aware of the concerted efforts that had been made by Hindu Yogis and priests to merge Islam in Hinduism. They befriended Muslim mystic Sufis, Saints and Pirs since they found Pirism, and mysticism innovations resembling Hindu customs and traditions. Both believed in saint worship. Their inter-action degenerated Sufism into heterodox mysticism. They yielded to concept of yogism, Bhakti cult and Vaishnavism. Pirism gave birth to ritual of sanctification of graves of Pirs and Sufis. Faraizi movement led by Haji Shariatullah in 19th century was a reformist movement to protect Islam from negative influences and idolatrous customs of Hinduism that had permeated into Muslim culture.
During the two year's draconian rule of Congress from 1937 to 1939, it was made compulsory for all students including Muslims to sing Vande Matarm in schools and to salute the portrait of Mahatama Gandhi. Syllabus of schools was sanskritized and efforts made to undermine Islamic culture and heritage. Constitutional rights were denied to the Muslims. Sensing that another gruesome model of extinction of Muslims of Spain was in the offing, the Muslims under Quaid-e-Azam got together under the banner of All India Muslim League and launched Pakistan movement.
After Partition, war mongering Hindu leaders never reconciled to the existence of Pakistan. They incited animosity instead of friendship. To teach Pakistan a lesson, minds of Muslims of East Bengal were polluted in a systematic manner. Secularism and Hindu culture was promoted under the garb of Bengali culture. Bengali intellectuals, journalists and writers duly cultivated by Indian agencies played a big role in undermining Islam. They urged the youth to liberate themselves from the bondage of joyless Islamic way of life and instead adopt modern Bengali culture espoused by Tagore. The academicians joined by Hindu teachers and professors were instrumental in inculcating hatred in the minds of Bengali youth against West Pakistanis and instilling affectionate feelings for India.
Once the BJP, political face of RSS, assumed power in India, it began to work upon its program of Hindutva in real earnest and incited hatred against Muslims and other minorities in India. In all the states under BJP's rule, Hindutva is in practice and Indian Muslims lead a wretched life. They are told to either get assimilated in Hinduism or quit. Hindu religious extremism has grown into a Frankenstein monster and none in India can dare castigate hate mongering practices and violence against Indian Muslims by armed Hindu extremist groups.
All the hard line Hindu terrorist groups operate under the patronage of BJP. Those working on the agenda of Hindutva are biggest enemies of Pakistan and want its decimation, but the Congress wearing the mask of secularism has all along looked the other way to terrorism of Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, RSS, Durga Vahini, Vishwa Hindu Prashad and dozens of other terrorist groups. In Shiv Sena's philosophy, a good Hindu is the one who hates Muslims and is ever ready to attack them. Late Bal Thackeray, notorious for his revulsion against Muslims and for fomenting communal riots was revered by Hindus. It owes to hate-filled syllabus taught in Indian educational institutions that the whole society start jumping and baying for Pakistan's blood on the slightest provocation.
In Pakistan, 38 religious extremist groups supposedly espousing violence have been banned and their members hounded and persecuted since 2002. In India, no Hindu religious extremist group has been reigned in and no Hindu terrorist indicted and punished. Only suspected Muslims like Maqbool Butt and Afzal Guru are hanged to death. To top it all, the biggest Muslim hater and terrorist Narendra Modi responsible for the slaughter of 3000 Muslims in Ahmadabad in District Gujarat has been tipped by BJP to take over as next PM of India.
While India pursues a belligerent policy against Pakistan, the latter pursues policy of appeasement and is always apologetic and defensive to keep India in good humor. One of the ways suggested by Fahad to please India is to secularize our curriculum. To be in good books of India, Fahad callously suggests that Pakistan spends most of its budget on defence. One can only pity his naivety and poor knowledge. While even worst critics of Pak Army have lauded its conduct, Fahad mocks at the widely held impression that Army is the only honest institution in Pakistan. He also laughs at the idea that India initiated all the wars against Pakistan but doesn't say a word about the bone of contention Kashmir which became the primary cause for 1948 and 1965 wars. I have gone at length to highlight history of the subcontinent to make Fahad and his ilk to see the other side of the picture and then draw their conclusions.
The writer is a retired Brig, a defence analyst and columnist. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org