Where does Pakistan’s religious identity stand in the era of globalization and communications technology? In the present age of globalization and communications technology, Pakistan faces a much bigger challenge socio-politically. Pakistan is pushed to redefine its identity in the global village as many nations embrace the impact of globalization and communications technology. Because new global ideologies have emerged, mainly specified by the economic and political order, it has challenged the old views, cultures, traditions, and religious identities. This has raised the high potential of internal and external conflicts as a result. The nation has not been able to successfully define its nationalistic and religious values. Two groups thrive in Pakistan. Those who feel too patriotic fall on the side of nationalism and those who find meaning of Pakistan in a mixture of Islamic values, which I argue are now innovation of many sects fall on the dangerous side of spreading falsehood in the name of Islam. Globalization and the result of advancement in communication technologies both have been the driving force for Pakistan to lose its identity. Pakistan is in need of redefining its nationalistic identity that I proclaim is merely based on Islamic monotheism, termed as Tawheed.
Pakistan is officially known as the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” but it has not been able to stand as an Islamic Republic in meaning or practice. The founders of Pakistan defined the symbolic meaning of Pakistan as “La ee la Il-lalah,” meaning “There is no deity truly worthy of worship except Allah.” This is the core of Islamic monotheism yet Pakistan is a sanctuary to many deviant sects and a hub of shirk, polytheism. By allowing such deviant factions and their movements to spread throughout the land, Pakistan fully welcomed the impact of globalization rather than repelling it. Globalization, a complex concept consists of political, economic, and socio-cultural order created new global ideologies. This is now a social reality that promotes secularism while it carries the religious denotation.
Secularism and secularist thought mixed with falsehood faded Pakistan’s religious and traditional identity. The publication of “Nazariya-i-Pakistan” by an anonymous author in the Dawn News heavily reflected on the identity of Pakistan in his suggestion that, “Pakistan attempted to build a national identity and ideology on the basis of religion.” The author misinterpreted the symbolic of Pakistan with his assertion that Islam created Pakistan, but his aim was closer to defining the actual symbolic meaning of Pakistan. The nation’s native population cannot perceive a secularist state or any other state than an Islamic Republic that implements the core principles of Tawheed and continues to shape Pakistan’s cultural foundation. What Pakistan was back then, since its existence and presently, one main element passes the test of time, which is its Islamic identity, the only identity still shaping some of the cultural values. Had it not been for Islam or the concept of an Islamic Republic behind Pakistan, the nation would be just another reflection of the West. Pakistan is now in more need than ever to implement the standard principles of Tawheed to stand as an Islamic Republic in its true essence to restore political and economic order. What is more definitive of Pakistan as an Islamic Republic is its open declaration of Tawheed, hugely inscribed on the outer part of the parliament, “There is no true God but Allah and Muhammad is the true Messenger of Allah.” There is still the breath of East that continues to define Pakistan, and it comes from its religious identity that has been shaping the cultural thinking.
For Pakistan to thrive in a world that is swiftly changing because of globalization and information technology systems in addition to the spread of political ideologies of dominant Western powers, Pakistan’s religious identity and cultural identity has shifted to a more dangerous ideology than secularism, which in effect is continuously weakening Pakistan. This is the reason perhaps that Pakistan is not able to bring about cultural and religious reformation effectively and efficiently. Since communication technologies are known as the blueprint of Western modernization or Western modernity that is integrating newer technological advancement every day through various means of storing and transmitting information, the information communication technologies have, as M.R Neyestani and Pat McInturff so brilliantly point, “changed people’s relations and relative meaning of time and space, reducing communicative distance, demolishing physical boundaries, while increasing relations between people, governments and cultures.” Such is the reality and deeply rooted force of globalization.
Pakistan is in identity crisis because it is lurking on the edge of confusion and cultural demise, and confusion is leading to many internal conflicts for the nation. Freedom of speech, if employed rightly to differentiate right from wrong is marked blasphemy by misguided individuals. This misguidance has been far more dangerous than secularism. The fallacious claims of self-proclaimed “scholars,” self-appointed “sheikhs,” peers, and spiritualists who have mainly gathered under the sect of Shia, Braveli, Deobandi, Sufis or Naqashbandi, and many other sects are now employing the masses rapidly via use of many communication and information technologies in a society that lacks proper Islamic scholars. No Islamic scholar is found to guide the Sunni-majority country under the core principles of Tawheed. Self-proclaimed and media-made scholars such as Ghamdi, Aamir Laiaqat, Junaid Jamshed, Fazzal-ur-Rehman and alike have taken the stage to guide the nation to Islam and remind the nation of its cultural identity. These men are no scholars, yet they have been given the press and media channels of communication to lead the masses.
Similarly, the country allows any deviant sect to assemble in the streets and recruit followers for further misguidance. The different sects that fail under the core principles of Tawheed construed cultural and religious identities within Pakistan and abroad. The negative effect of the communication globalization in words of cultural scientists Neyestani and McInturff has been that it has, “modified many political, economic, and social factors which have increased the basic conflict between the old cultures and the new cultures, between secularism and religion, between the West and the East.” A wave of verbal and physical confrontations has been brought before the entire nation via communication and information technologies. From the nationally televised programs to self-recorded clips on the smartphones have shown the gravity of the socio-cultural issues haunting Pakistan. The very tools that are tearing apart the country are being used to show the absurdity of such matters.
Pakistan is no stranger to individuals sitting many miles apart from the land who are controlling the issues of a province, local streets or a village. How is that an individual or a group of individuals many miles apart from Pakistan able to write the daily history of a nation and shape the identity of its people? Information is being received and transmitted continuously via powerful communication technology or social media platforms where people have virtually gathered under different socio-religious banners or groups. The national identity is being molded to something newer each day. Internally, Pakistanis define each other as Sindhi, Punjabi, Bolachi or Pashtoons, but all assemble under one flag internationally and under the banner of Islam mainly. These identities are blurred at an international level but questioned internally as Pakistan is split by the deviant groups that have been highly affected by the ripples of globalization and communications and information technologies. Such groups spread their manifesto by attaching the name of Islam; however, such groups deliberately spread innovation and dangerous ideals. To highlight each group and their ideologies, it would take more than few pages. Nevertheless, the names of such groups have been noted above.
What is amiss by such socio-religious, socio-political groups is the whole of cultural globalization, an instrument of the West, which Samuel Huntington described as, “the clash of civilizations.” The cultural globalization’s manifesto that is dictated by the dominant Western powers is to civilize the rest of the world, pushing the Eastern world to questions its ways, ideologies, and call to abandon the socio-cultural identities. The sages of the Eastern tradition rests on religion mainly, and if Islam that stands on the principles of Tawheed is to disappear from Pakistan, Pakistan will always remain a weak nation, succumbing to its own moral decay and final destruction.
Why is the implementation of Tahweed’s principles so crucial to Pakistan and how it could have it repelled some negative impact of the globalizations and communications technology? How can Pakistan achieve the social stability and maintain its generic identity? The fundamentals of Islamic monotheism have to be rightly introduced to the public, and such principles must be standardized throughout the land to give the nation a strong identity of an Islamic Republic. The great noble eminent scholar, Dr. Saleh Al Fawazan, a professor of Islamic Jurisprudence places high emphasis on knowing the perquisites of Islamic monotheism since awareness of such knowledge leads one to filter out false teachers. According to Dr. Al Fawzan, one of the key perquisites of understanding Islamic monotheism is to fully investigate the proof of the action’s permissibility. If any Islamic act is performed, an individual must question whether or not such was the practice of the righteous Muslim Salaf or not. Spreading and implementing the right set of Islamic values means stronger cultural identity, two inseparable concepts.
In Pakistan, the false and self-proclaimed sheikhs and peers show no proper merit nor they show any proper traceable proof of the material they disperse to the public. Moreover, their followers do not take the time to investigate the permissibility of an action that is taught. It is incumbent upon individuals to first question the qualification and credibility of the sheikh or the peer and fully take time to research what the sheikh or the peer is teaching. If the authenticity of the knowledge and the credibility of such a scholar is in question, then one must abandon that source instantly. This methodology is missing in Pakistan because no proper measure is taken from governmental level to private educational organization to change the methodology in question. An action to bring about a change is suppressed under the bar of sensitivity and fear of the deviant sects because the deviant leaders run to the street to stir the chaos. Great number of cases have been shared in the public sphere where an individual listened to the ill advice of his sheikh and ended up committing an act that fell out of the folds of Islam and cultural values defining the Pakistani identity.
Right knowledge is based on correct creed, which is what Quran, practice of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH and the righteous Salaf demonstrated since they upheld the correct principle of monotheism. Correct creed does not teach one to pick and choose knowledge to gain large following nor Islamic monotheism supports those who allege that the truth is in the practice of the dominant majority of people. Islamic monotheism needs to be introduced to all ages, starting from the 1st Grade when Islamic Studies are first introduced meanwhile a greater step is to destroy all mizars in Pakistan, flatten all graves of peers and false sheikhs, and suppress all religious activity of Shias, Braveli, Deobandi, Sufis, and sub-sects that fail to uphold the principle of Tawheed on a national level. These groups have streamlined shirk to such an extent that the acts of polytheism are rendered Islamic, which is why all the noted groups have taken the liberty to misguide the masses. The larger public entrusts the deviant sheikhs and peers because they have promised to answer individuals’ prayers through their physical touch, through offering a green veil over the grave of a lifeless person, tying knots on the mizars and trees in addition to demanding people to ask for intercession through the lifeless body or the deviant acts of a peer, which are all acts of polytheism. Another key condition of upholding correct Islamic creed is to attain full trust in Allah by giving up incantations and cauterizations. A total and complete trust in Allah, the Exalted He be, is the key foundation of Islamic monotheism. This idea is now missing in Pakistan because the deviant sects and their sub-chapters used all means of communications technology to make sure their business is regulated tightly, so any individual who questions them is condemned to blasphemy.
Notably, one group amongst all the deviant sects in Pakistan did much damage to the psyche of individuals and diverted people from learning the correct creed. The Sufi sect has streamlined their belief system via media and poetry spread to all ages. People took the Sufi philosophy as correct knowledge of Islam, and added it to their practice of Islamic rituals. Their representatives appear to larger public via many means of communications and use of communications technology. The recently proof of spread of such wrong ideology is through Coke Studio, Pakistan that brought Sufi poetry to the forefront of the society. Under the correct creed of monotheism, the concept of Zuhud is not clear to the general public because it has not been introduced to the larger public. It is to leave off anything that Allah, Exalted He be has made haram and to do that which Allah has made obligatory. This concept is of tremendous importance in Islam to draw a comparison between the proper and upright Zuhud of the Salaf to the extreme and deviant practices of the Sufis. The righteous Muslim Salaf best understood and practiced this noble principle. They had reached the pinnacle of sincerity and devotion to Allah, and Allah alone with strict adherence to the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), performing all acts of worship in precise accordance to the legislated texts. The Sufis introduced such absurd innovations, the extremity in their “ibaadah”, out of their acclaimed piety, that many of their beliefs and practices fell out of the folds of Islam. Tawheed calls for a propagator of Islam who is well versed and in possession of comprehensive knowledge about what he enjoins or forbids in accordance to the proper teaching of Quran, Sunnah, and the practice of pious predecessors (the Salaf). One who calls to Allah should sincerely call without any personal yearnings or desires. He should not be representative of a certain sect, or a doctrine, but follower of truth and the ways of pious predecessors who followed the way of Quran, the Prophet PBUH, and his righteous companions. Again, such concept is missing in Pakistan as many deviant sects did no service to public but introduced shirk by show of their practice and yearning for mad followers who fund the ways of deviant callers. With the advent of globalization and major changes advanced by communications technology, the loss of cultural identity has been through the introduction of many practices, rituals, beliefs, and ideologies enforcing individuals to lose the blue print of their identity. Pakistan will remain weak as long as it does not reaffirm its standing as an Islamic Republic through spreading Tawheed and eradicating all deviant sects that make the roots of polytheism stronger. Perhaps, Allama Iqbal was speaking to the Pakistani nation long before to uphold the foundation of Tawheed in Pakistan when he said:
Ye Dour Apne Baraheem Ki Talash Mein Hai
(This Era is in search of its Abraham,)
Sanam Kadah Hai Jahan, La Ilaha Illallah
(The whole world is Polytheist, only “No god but Allah” can save it.)
The call for Tawheed in Pakistan is to everyone within Pakistan’s border and to Pakistanis abroad to be free from any act of polytheism and to disown the polytheists gathered under Shias, Bravelis, Sufis, and their sub-sects. On a national level in Pakistan, the principle of Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah, Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah, Tawheed Al-Asmaa was-Sifaat must be implemented to guide individuals who are accustomed to grave worshiping, polytheist rituals, and slaves to deviant leaders who teach by fear but no merit. All mizars throughout Pakistan must be flatted and current literature must shun the names of what Coke Studio has re-introduced. By doing so, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan can truly render its identity and preserve its culture to repel the negative impacts of globalization and communications technology that are shattering cultural and religious identities as both forces emerged from the Western world to civilize the rest of the world in its own way. Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a Muslim majority country awaiting to build its foundation on truth and righteous actions under the wing of Tawheed.