Enforcing Respect of Ramadan by Ordinance


Protesting Islamic Supremacism in Pakistan

Americans celebrate Christmas still even though America’s Left has made inroads in eradicating the birth of Jesus Christ a holiday by law. Thank God most businesses close on Christmas day. However, largely due to the Constitution’s First Amendment, observing Christian as an act of faith is purely a voluntary decision. Hence even when a majority of businesses close on Christmas days a significant amount of restaurants open for service to take advantage of profiting from the majority of restaurants that close in observance of Christians. No one is jailed or fined for operating any business on Christmas day and neither is anyone tossed in jail or fined for being a consumer.

 

This not the case in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Of course Christmas is not a national holiday; however the Muslim observed month of Ramadan is. AND in Pakistan there is legal punishment involved for breaking the rules of the daytime fast encoded in Sharia Law. Pakistan’s constitution places certain exceptions which I won’t go into but one of those exceptions is that non-Muslims do not have to comply with the Ramadan (Ramzan in Pakistan) rules of fast. NONETHELESS, Christians are often subject to Ramadan enforcement anyway. Shamim Masih reports.

 

JRH 7/17/14

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Enforcing Respect of Ramadan by Ordinance

 

By Shamim Masih

Sent: 7/16/2014 8:51 PM

 

ISLAMABAD: Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a sovereign country in South Asia with a population exceeding 180 million people, came into being as a result of the Pakistan movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It is the second most populous Muslim majority country and has the second largest Shia population in the world. After Islam, [both] Christianity and Hinduism are the largest religious minorities in the country. Religious minorities are around 5% of the total population. Pakistan is a democratic country but the common man remains deprived of the basic human rights, which is a sheer violation of the constitution.

 

During General Zia’s regime the “Ehtram-e-Ramzan ordinance 1981” [Reverence for Ramadan] was introduced and with the rise to power of PML-N, they brought back to some extent, the same straitjacket religiosity of dark years. This ordinance is one of the many incomprehensible laws that General Zia ul-Haq’s unconstitutional and illegal regime [The Islamization of the Legal System under General Zia ul Haq] inflicted upon Pakistan. It is perhaps very similar to the Sabbath laws of Jews and Christians, which at one point enjoyed state sanction in many secular western nations including the US. But most of these states have since then repealed these laws or have made them redundant. But this ordinance is there and the government reminds the public that it is unlawful to eat, drink or smoke publicly during the month of Ramazan [aka Ramadan]. The law states that any person who is under obligation to fast is not allowed to eat drink or smoke in public.

 

Now this in itself creates two exceptions: the first would be a person who is not under obligation i.e. a person who is either a non-Muslim, sick, elderly or is a woman who may be menstruating. However, the application of this law has more often than not targeted non-Muslims because, in practical terms, it is impossible to tell whether a person is ‘under obligation’ to ‘fast’ just by looking at the person. The second exception is for those people under obligation to not eat, drink or smoke in public. So, in other words, it is okay for a person under obligation to fast to eat, drink and smoke so long as he or she does it privately. Now the logical extension of this would be that a person not under obligation can eat, drink or smoke as he or she pleases. It goes without saying that this legal freedom is not honored by the police who target the poorest of the poor in enforcing this law. It is quite the sightseeing laborers being hauled into jail for a mere drink of water during these extremely hot months of June and July. Then there is the obvious question of whether or not the state has any right, constitutionally, legally or morally to determine who is under an obligation to fast or not. Pakistan’s constitution, in terms of its relationship with Islam, is an enabling and not an enforcing constitution. The state is required to enable Muslims to live Islamic lives but not to force them to do so. No article of the constitution empowers the state to force people to pray, fast or live according to the injunctions of Islam. Hence the question of whether a person is under any obligation to fast or not be a matter between him and God, and not between the state and the citizen.

 

Surely time has come for the people of Pakistan plus the government to realize that religious observance is usually personal matter but not insurance plan one. It really is time for you to bury Zia’s legacy along with his remains in Faisal mosque. The 1st step would be to scrap his illegal ordinance given cover from the eighth amendment. 

 

Be Blessed,

Shamim Masih

______________________________

Edited by John R. Houk.

All text and links enclosed by bracket are added by the Editor

 

© Shamim Masih

Special Correspondents

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Snapshot of Human Rights Activism from 2011

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High-handed Leadership


Muslims Persecute Christians banner

Shamim writes about how Islam has transformed Pakistan from a secular State at its founding to a Muslim State dominated more and more by Islamic intolerance. Islamic intolerance in Pakistan has corrupted those who are considered leaders in Pakistan’s ever decreasing Christian population into kowtowing to the Islamic Supremacists that appointed them.

 

JRH 3/9/14

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High-handed Leadership

 

By Shamim Masih

3/9/2014 3:27 AM

 

ISLAMABAD: Religious minorities are widely viewed as beleaguered or under attack since Z. A. Bhutto’s regime. Even then Pakistani Christians follow his ideology. At the time of partition in 1947, around 23 percent population was comprised of non-Muslims citizens. Today, the proportion of non-Muslims has declined to approximately 3-4 percent. Religious minorities such as Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis have been the targets of suicide bomb attacks, several incidents of violence and intimidation were reported including abduction and subsequent forced conversion of girls. Worship places and graveyards of Christians and Ahmadis have not been spared. Regular reports of graves being excavated and vandalized appear in the press and via community reports. 

 

General Zia brought in rules and regulations which were supposed to bring Pakistani law more in tune with the Sharia, or at least the Sharia as interpreted by him and his cohorts. These laws, which included the infamous blasphemy law, had a long term impact on Pakistan’s minorities. Since then there has been a steady rise in incidents involving attacks on both Christians and Ahmadis during the last two decades. Blasphemy law has targeted religious minorities on a regular basis. In spite of the case’s dismissal by the court, Rimsha and her family had to be kept in a safe house to prevent vigilante action against her and finally Rimsha and her family shifted to Canada.

 

During the British era, blasphemy laws were used infrequently and were reserved for prosecution of clerics, authors and preachers who caused inter-communal violence by attacking other faiths. But since 1982, any individual can be charged with blasphemy, leading to vigilantism and frivolous accusations against Pakistan’s minorities, especially Christians. Before 1986, only 14 cases of blasphemy had ever been reported, whereas between 1986 and 2012 around 1300 people had been charged.

 

I believe that all Christians are not saints but human beings and often make mistakes but I certainly believe that there is even limits to telling lie. Bhutto nationalized Christians’ institutions and since then Christian students are out of educational institutions. Even now Christian students are being expelled from missionary institutions due to the lack of sources. But Paul Bhatti’s claimed that he has supported 4000 Christian students and funded 15 Christian students for higher studies abroad and 100 million provided for rehabilitation of worship places. I didn’t see any support for Christians during his time. This huge fund is beyond the total grant to the Harmony Ministry from the government, which is around 20 million per year. During the vigil mark slain minister Shahbaz Bhatti’s third death anniversary, I heard people claiming, and they are promoting his vision; I try to recall, what Shahbaz Bhatti or his followers have done for the community but found nothing but this scandal. Sitting as federal minister in government, if he delivered a statement in the favor of persecuted women is not worthy to take credits. He was elected through the democratic process but was selected by a big Muslim political party. Candidates appointed to reserved seats are not real representatives as they do not get their votes. The selection system adopted for minority members has opened the doors of corruption, says Albert David– Chairman PUCM. Thus he was not a public representative. When a majority of fellow Christians are going through sufferings we are not worthy to take any credits. Nazir S Bhatti, president PCC declared joint electorate conspiracy against religious minorities. The PCC has filed a writ petition in the IHC against this system.

   

Besides flagging the incidents, the HRCP report laments the failure to do away with discriminatory laws including the constitutional provision barring non-Muslims from key government positions. Instead of abandoning the promise of revising and improving the law, the government should create consensus on the need to reform it. Educational institutions, Technical training centers and women empowerment is required to empower the Christian community.

 

If I look around and I could hardly find few passionate Christians, who delighted to extend their hands to all affected areas and people in need. There is a lot of information regarding the recent and past Christian persecutions that sway Pakistan over and over. Scientists say that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can create a tornado in Texas a week later. Clearly, in today’s deeply connected Christian world, truthful unbiased and unfiltered news about realities of persecution is a basic need to address. Christian persecution news coverage is pitiable in Pakistan, but reminding the Christians around to unite, remain prayerful and patient so that we can ripple Christian love and concern through our own individual lives and the consequent lives we inevitably affect around us.

 

But unlikely there are many so called Christian leaders wasting the resources shaking up with Muslim ullmas [Blog Editor: I could not find a reference to “ullmas”. Perhaps in the context of sentence the reference is “ulema,” “ulama” or mullah] and contributing in main political parties. The Islamists are prevailing in the battle of ideas. Secular voices have been either physically eliminated or removed from the mainstream by judicial means. Therefore, it is in the interest of neighbors and the international community to support the minority communities in Pakistan and to support the voices of those Pakistanis who refuse to give up the idea of a pluralist society.

 

Be Blessed,

Shamim Masih

_______________________________

Edited by John R. Houk

Bracketed content is added by the Editor.

 

© Shamim Masih

Special Correspondents

Daily Khabrian (PakBiz.com description) & Channel – 5

Human Rights Activist

 

Snapshot of Human Rights Activism from 2011

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The Two Jinnahs of Pakistan Independence


Muhammad Ali Jinnah 3

John R. Houk

© May 5, 2013

 

Shamim Masih and other Pakistani minorities perceive that Pakistan’s Founding Father Muhammad Ali Jinnah – a Muslim – as championing equal rights for Pakistan’s non-Muslim minority population. On the other hand Jinnah took significant violent steps in pre-independent India/Pakistan to get the British and the Hindu-Sikh leadership to agree to a partitioned India along roughly Hindu-Muslim lines. Jinnah’s call has many names but the predominant title is “Direct Action Day.” On this day the Muslim minority of the Indian Subcontinent initiated acts of butchery aimed at Hindus and Sikhs.

 

On this Direct Action Day the majority Hindus wised up rapidly and back-lashed against the Muslims with an equal action of atrocity. Jinnah’s call to take action that resulted in mutual slaughtering served his purpose. It was agreed upon to separate a Muslim swath from the Hindu-Sikh majority. In cases in which large communities of Hindus resided in the Muslim areas they would re-settled in Hindu India. Muslim communities that felt threatened by the Hindu majority were re-settled in the new Pakistan. Partition led to mutual atrocities with forced population transference.

 

I can see little effort from Jinnah on bringing the atrocities to an end from his side of the partition; however I have no doubt that Jinnah wanted a Pakistan nation that utilized equal rights more than Shariah Law for the remaining minorities. For one thing Jinnah was a member of the Shia minority of Islamic Pakistan. Shamim points out that minority rights was in Jinnah’s mindset from the speeches he made. However, Jinnah’s early death in the first years of the Pakistan government proved to be a coffin nail in the casket of minority rights.

 

JRH 5/5/13

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Pakistani Christian wishes for renaissance of Jinnah’s Pakistan

 

Muhammad Ali Jinnah - religeous freedom quote

 

By Shamim Masih

Sent: 5/2/2013 5:31 AM

 

Islamabad Pakistan (Shamim Masih): It remains a fact that minorities of Pakistan are crippled and damaged under an anarchy system. In the prevailing social scenario of the country the message of the founder of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah appears to be lost somewhere and the continuous hatching of conspiracies by certain elements with vested interests and nefarious designs, seems to have prevailed. Mr. Jinnah, while addressing the concerns of communities in Pakistan, very clearly said, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your Churches or to any other place of worship in the state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

 

Before Election 2013, representatives from different political parties have reaffirmed their commitment to religious minorities and promised to work for a Pakistan where every person, regardless of caste, creed or faith, is treated equally in the day-long national consultation on the “Election 2013, Role and Responsibility of the Religious Minorities” organized by the coalition for the Rights of Minorities (CRM).

 

Earlier South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) arranged group discussion “Awam Chahtey Hain” and Romana Bashir, (a social activist from the Christian minority) among the panelists raised and demanded a clear policy from the mainstream political parities against hate material in the syllabus and anti-human and anti-minority laws.

 

According to the report, the Social Studies curriculum in Pakistan, as the product and propagator of the ‘Ideology of Pakistan,’ derives its legitimacy from a narrow set of directives.

 

The textbooks authored and altered during the 11 years of General Zia ul Haq’s rule are still being taught in schools. They are decidedly anti-democratic and inclined to dogmatic tirades, the report said.

 

It said the country’s education system had nurtured a cadre of religiously conservative youth as the Pakistan Studies curriculum employed a narrow, politicized definition of Islam in the construction of Pakistani nationalism.

 

Local textbooks teach students that the Hindus (of India) are backward and superstitious and given a chance, they would assert their power over the weak, especially, Muslims, depriving them of education by pouring molten lead in their ears. “Pakistan Studies textbooks are an active site to represent India as a hostile neighbor,” the report stated. “The story of Pakistan’s past is intentionally written to be distinct from, and often in direct contrast with, interpretations of history found in India. The report added that students were taught that Islam brought peace, equality, and justice to the subcontinent, to check the sinister ways of Hindus.

 

When I went through the Constitution of Pakistan, I was shaken to see the Constitutional discrimination against minorities. And it’s even pathetic to know that none of our Pakistani Christian leaders raised voice against it. Let’s go back and see the inaugural speech of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah which made clear reference to the kind of the State that he envisioned. He was unequivocal that the new state will be secular as he said that it will not differentiate its citizens on the basis of religion. Founder of Pakistan died in September 1948, way before the Assembly could make a constitution for the new country. The latter leaders pegged the constitution on Islam which many describe as a gross violation of the ideal set by Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 11 August speech.

 

Social persecution and legal discrimination against minorities has reached at the climax point. Nationalizing Missionaries schools and colleges in 1972 was a move by Mr. Bhutto, founder of Pakistan People’s Party, PPP; thus persecution started during Bhutto’s regime. Then a military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq unleashed a wave of persecution in the 1980s, since then violence against minorities has never really ceased. Attackers kill and wound particular Christians and Ahmadis then burn their homes and businesses.

 

Christians and other minorities wish and expect that the reaffirmation of politicians come true and Pakistan becomes the country where all citizens shall be treated equally regardless of caste, creed or faith. Every Pakistani should take this as an initiative to stop the alienation of the religious minorities that are taking place. The government will have to address the situation at a policy level and take steps to ensure the rights of these communities. Hate speeches and exploitation of the masses under the grab of religion will have to be stopped. A combined effort is required by everyone to bring these communities back into the mainstream Pakistani identity. Their apprehensions should be addressed and they should be treated as an equal citizen. This will not only represent Islam’s message of coexistence and peace but will also form an exemplary social structure, for the whole world and fulfill the Quaid’s dream of a prosperous and peaceful Pakistani state.

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Masih

_____________________

The Two Jinnahs of Pakistan Independence

John R. Houk

© May 5, 2013

____________________

Pakistani Christian wishes for renaissance of Jinnah’s Pakistan

 

Editing John R. Houk

 

© Shamim Masih

Christian Rights Activist
Freelance Journalist 

Secretary General

REAP
 

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