The Profane Defenders of the Sacred

  Last week thousands of defenders of the faith descended on the Pakistani capital to mourn the execution of a convicted, and self-declared, murderer. 

In the process of their protests these valiant warriors set fire to a couple of metro stations, threw slippers at the army helicopters (to scare them away it seems) and then used interesting profanities against the Prime minister and his family while asking for the implementation of Shariah. Trust me, I am not making this up: all of this really happened!

Only in Pakistan can public sanctimony be two-faced: pious and profane at the same time. And of course leading this sadly comical spectacle was, yes you guessed right, a few hot blooded maulvis. 

One would find this whole situation aptly comical, if the ramifications of their demands and actions were not so dire. Just like the other dharnas, this one also ended but not before a lot of damage was done to the public property and, of course, to the general morale of a nation beset by maulvis. 

So, if these valiant defenders of our faith can’t even speak politely and without using curse words, what kind of a public discourse can we expect from them if they were actually running the country. I guess we will have to invent a totally different parliamentary language to accommodate the richness of their minds and the power of their political zeal. 

Meanwhile, I wait for some other such march on the capital and I can already guess that it would also be led by some maulvi who would like to change Pakistan. 

Would it be too much to ask of these stalwarts to let Pakistan and Pakistanis breathe a little before we all die of this serious malaise of false piety and empty sanctimony. 

Masood Raja

Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of North Texas and the author of "The Religious Right and the Talibanization of America" (Palgrave, 2016). 

  2 comments for “The Profane Defenders of the Sacred

  1. mark.adams@sjsu.edu'
    Mark Adams
    March 31, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Another great reaction to the toxic narratives like these misguided souls who praise murdering of politicians who criticize blasphemy laws. Here in the U.S. we need to push back (with competing narratives of inclusion and kindness) against the Trumps and Cruzs and their ilk who are becoming like the American Taliban (another great title of Dr. Masood’s writing!) I see a similar thread around the world–the use of religion by manipulators and thugs in faith leadership positions to justify all sorts of horrors. Along with directly contesting these actions when they occur, we need an alternative vision of what religion can be, and of a compassionate based way to be in this world, something that inspires people–especially young men–to do good for others. That used to be a role of religion. To soothe, inspire to kindness, to charitable actions. Where are these kind of religious leaders and their narratives now? The irony is so well said by the title of your article: The PROFANE Defenders of the Sacred…How can we take that role back and redefine it to be defending the weak and practicing loving kindness instead of suicide bombing?

    • March 31, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      Thank you Mark for your thoughtful comments. Yes, I believe it is imperative on us to figure out a more loving and compassionate way of life and human interaction. My hope is that in Pakistan the silent majority opposed to such hate would become active in defending the pluralistic and tolerant Pakistan that I grew up in and that still exists!

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