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    Posted May 4, 2014 by

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    Pakistani Christians – All Saints Church to Egypt’s St. Catherine Church

    Every day, events transpire around us that affect the course of individual lives. Such an incident recently took place in Peshawar on September 22, 2013, when a suicide attack on All Saints Church killed more than 83 people and wounded several hundreds. This tragic incident has sent shock waves of sadness and anger among the Christians of Pakistan.

    Repeated attacks on the minority community have escalated the situation of chaos and fear, while no significant measures have been taken by authorities to protect the life and property of Christians in Pakistan. The government has failed to safeguard minorities in Pakistan, despite its past assurances of protection. With the passage of time, religious zealots and militant organizations have become more powerful due to the government’s leniency. They have held the entire country hostage and compelled the government to negotiate with them. This perturbing situation is further complicated when criminals are not brought to justice but rather granted concessions which acknowledge them as equal to the government, thus shielding their crimes beneath the cover of religion. No doubt, it’s getting harder and harder to get rid of the term “Islamic terrorism” as opposed to just “terrorism.”

    In response, many argue that the Muslims are also victims of terrorism themselves. They point out that Muslim mosques have also been attacked by terrorist organizations like Tehreek-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP). But they forget that the attacks on their mosques are the actions of other Muslims and not of Christians. Others, in an effort to save the honor of Islam, emphatically deny the Muslim beliefs of terrorists by saying, “They are not Muslims.” Subsequently, many good Muslims reach out to victims in various forms of compensations as if diluting the value of God-given sacred life. “Who is a real Muslim and who is not,” is none of non-Muslim business. It is indeed an undeniable fact that if a certain sect of Muslims propagates talibanization by abusing Islamic tenets, it becomes the responsibility of Muslim scholars (and Muslim Ummah at large) along with Muslim governments to clean up “this act.” By just brushing off that “They are not real Muslims,” neither justifies the perpetrators nor appeases the victims. After all, the bombers do declare their motive, and that is, to enforce strict Sharia Islam in the country. Other blame-shifting excuses for terrorist attacks include foreign interferences, like a) an act of rival India, and b) US drones. Such assumptions fail to explain how a Hindu India so easily convinces a hardline Muslim towards suicide act, and why the “Islamic terrorism” continue to be harbored in countries where US drones are non-existent.

    In our global village of today when terrorism is discussed, all roads lead to Pakistan calling it a “terroristic state.” Pakistan did not get this ‘title’ overnight. Historically speaking, Pakistan’s constitution was gradually Islamized by annexing “religious hot coals” like Objective Resolution and Blasphemy Laws. The hot coals have now ignited into a full-fledged religiously fueled fire. It’s time that Pakistan’s government cap this terrorism with the thumb of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by annexing his covenant into the constitution which he had made with non-Muslim Christians. This document of 628 AD hanging in St. Catherine’s Church in Egypt, stamped with Muhammad’s thumb, speaks volumes as to how non-Muslims must be treated in Muslim lands. It states: ”This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”

    Hate begets hate and wars breed misery without changing of the hearts. The word “Taliban” itself has become now an ideology and an ideology can only be countered with another ideology. Taliban consists of many factions and only God knows which faction actually attacked the Christians in Pakistan. But in a post-attack statement, they stunned the world by endorsing the attack and claiming its compliance to Sharia Islam. Strict Sharia Islam is very much based on the interpretations of traditions as narrated by others who knew others who have heard from the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), but a document decreed and thumbed by Prophet (pbuh) himself must take precedence over all tell-tales and traditions. Pakistan, being the epicenter of self-destructive religious tussles and tensions, could benefit significantly if such a covenant be included in our constitution, in our school textbooks, and be widely distributed throughout country as a peace making gesture to citizens of all faiths. Perhaps this small step could bring a sigh of relief to those who differ in belief from within the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

    [The above article was also printed in Pakistan Today http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/10/25/comment/tackling-terrorism/ on October 25, 2013 under the title " Tackling Terrorism - Taliban’s ideology needs to be countered, with an ideology"]

    Victor V Gill is a Pakistani Christian and can be reached at victorvgill@gmail.com. Salma Peter John (salma.peter.john@gmail.com) also contributed to the above a
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