Upon learning that Imran Khan and his most recent wife have been implicated in violating Sharia law in their marriage, my emotions were conflicted. On the one hand, I felt empathy for the elderly couple. On the other hand, there was a sense of satisfaction in witnessing Imran Khan personally experiencing the impact of Islamic law on women. Reflecting on the past, around 12 years ago, when Imran Khan’s political ascent began, I purchased a ticket to attend one of his events. Seated in the back, I listened to the presentations, and that day marked a realization for me – these individuals seemed incapable of instigating meaningful change in Pakistan. It became evident that their lack of understanding of the root causes of the country’s issues would hinder their ability to address and improve anything. Despite my initial support, that $100 contribution to his campaign turned out to be the only one, ultimately benefiting my own education.
Pakistan is undergoing a phase reminiscent of the Dark Ages in Europe, characterized by elements such as witch hunts and a rejection of rationality.
Even Saudi Arabia is awakening from a prolonged period of women’s oppression and the dissemination of the Wahabi version of Islam to various nations, which has contributed to economic, social, and political declines in these countries. Initially partnering with the US to spread jihadi literature and radicalize youth against the godless Russians, Saudi Arabia eventually realized that religious tourism income would not provide long-term economic stability. This realization prompted a shift in the kingdom’s approach, symbolized by inviting Bollywood celebrities to entertain, a departure from decades of promoting the idea that music and dance are considered haram for all Muslims worldwide.
When considering Islam in South Asia, it often brings to mind the absurdity of a law still on the books in Oklahoma stating that whaling is illegal. Anyone acquainted with the region’s geography recognizes the impracticality of such a law, given that Oklahoma is a landlocked state without any oceans. This serves as a humorous example of the consequences when languages and religions are imported to distant lands and times, leading to incongruities like the Oklahoma whaling law in a region where it is entirely irrelevant.
Most individuals worldwide acquire knowledge about their traditions through observations and the influence of role models in their immediate surroundings. Our lives unfold like moments captured in a photograph, while the universe’s history resembles an extensive video. Grasping this concept is challenging for many, leading to innocent questions such as why the process of evolution may not be readily apparent in our daily experiences.
What attracts human beings to the concept of gods and goddesses? Why do people establish religions? This inclination is not unique to humans; certain animal species, including monkeys and elephants, also display spirituality and engage in rituals. Forming arbitrary groups based on physical traits or imaginative narratives is inherent in human nature, and these groups often compete for resources. The allure of deities and the creation of religions seem to be embedded in both human and certain animal behaviors, reflecting a shared inclination towards spirituality and communal rituals.
Most people worldwide are not scholars of their faiths, yet they earnestly aspire to be productive and valuable contributors to their societies, striving to lead virtuous lives. It is not widely known that Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Baha’ism are continuations of the same religious tradition. The patriarchal structure inherent in the Abrahamic faiths, focusing on the heavens above and looking down upon the Earth, stands in stark contrast to the spiritual concepts of Native American indigenous religions, as elucidated by Dr. Vine Deloria in his book “God is Red,” or the philosophical ideas of African and South Asian spirituality.
An illustration of the general lack of awareness is seen in an incident involving Dr. Deloria on the radio, where a caller posed a question: “How was Christmas celebrated in North America before the settlers arrived on this continent?” This highlights the naivety prevalent among many individuals regarding the historical and cultural diversity of religious practices.
Enlightenment doesn’t guarantee happiness; rather, it transcends both joy and sorrow, encompassing everything in between. In the state of enlightenment, one connects with the true Self, an infinite, immortal consciousness. Consider the life of Mark Twain, who distanced himself from society, dedicating substantial time to writing and reading. His desire for posthumous publication stemmed from a shared human desire to belong and avoid causing unhappiness. However, there’s a crucial role for individuals to bravely convey the unvarnished truth, even when it might be uncomfortable, ensuring a commitment to honesty amidst the complexities of human connection.
The characteristics ascribed to gods, goddesses, or devils are inherent within each of us. Ancient religious texts and narratives resonate because they explore the shared human experience, encompassing universal concerns, desires, sorrows, fears, strengths, and weaknesses. All human beings share equality in rights and responsibilities, and the mistreatment of any individual is unjustifiable. Acceptance of might as right is not a valid principle. Gender equality needs to be emphasized, recognizing that women are not inferior to men and acknowledging the existence of more than two genders. Native Americans acknowledged the existence of five genders, referring to a homosexual person as someone with two souls. Secularism and democracy should guide the governance of nations, ensuring freedom for everyone to practice their faith and exercise autonomy over their bodies and minds.
There are no unique recommendations for Pakistan; the same guidance is applicable universally. Abolish the state’s support of religion and become secular, put an end to child marriage and polygamy, and ensure comprehensive education for every individual regarding their bodies and the physical world. Make education and healthcare universally accessible to all citizens, fostering a society that prioritizes knowledge, equality, and well-being.