Imran Khan Gave Us Quraysh's Mecca Instead Of Riyasat-e-Medina

Imran Khan Gave Us Quraysh's Mecca Instead Of Riyasat-e-Medina
Prime Minister Imran Khan is enamored with religious symbolism. His overt use of a rosary, the religious jargon in his speeches, his appeal to anti-elitist populist sentiments, and his repeated referencing of Riyasat-e-Medina (state of Medina), all point towards a person who is turning religious in the autumn of his life, to quell how he feels about his colourful past.

The pattern is similar to that of many individuals who turned religious after enjoying a significant part of their 'sinful' life. These people enjoy their youth, and in the later stages of their lives, grow long grey beards to wrestle with their inner demons. In Urdu, the apt phrase is “Nau sau choohay kha ke billi hajj ko chali” [After killing 900 mice, the cat goes for pilgrimage]. This essentially means that after committing every sin in the rule book, people look to God for atonement. In truth, far from creating a Riyasat-e-Medina, the prime minister seems to be creating a Qurayshi Mecca.

All humans have the right to develop a moral framework for themselves. Indeed, religion is about looking into the past and developing a consistent narrative for how one wishes to live. Different people weave this narrative differently. The narrative one weaves often tells us more about that person than the religion itself. For example, where the late Junaid Jamshed branded the use of music as haram (forbidden), the Azeri British singer Sami Yusuf bluntly responded in an interview that music is beyond jurisprudence.

Similarly, there is a difference between those for whom Islam is about instituting a khilafat (Caliphate) instead of democracy, and those like Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for whom Islam is predominately about tazkiyya nafs (purification of the soul). Therefore, the prime minister’s sentiments, statements, and actions, all reveal the particular narrative he upholds on Islam. In his article, Nadeem Farooq Paracha (NFP) nails it when he writes that the prime minister is: “A person with political notions shaped by badly digested ideas of men such as the intellectual Edward Said, the political Islamist Abul Ala Maududi ... Add to this an admixture of contemporary populism and the increasingly absurd narratives of so-called ‘identity politics’ that has more relevance in the West, and you have what Khan is.”

Thus, the religious narrative of the prime minister rests less on an Islam that emphasises personal development and more on a reactionary west-centered political Islam. It rests less on the adab (etiquette) inculcated by classical Islam and more on the shrill in-your-face identity politics of post modernists in the West, who make for strange bedfellows with the Islamists. The example of Michel Foucault comes to mind. Foucault wanted to remain on the margins of society with multiple risky homosexual encounters but who also supported the Islamist revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The prime minister’s support base comes from the youth whose worldview is shaped by a reactionary Islam and post-modernist sensibilities. In this understanding of the world, self-entitlement and self-centeredness hold sway over old-fashioned values of ajazi (humility), sabr (patience) and shukr (gratitude). And all this feeds into the prime minister’s vision of Riyasat-e-Medina.

The prime minister’s vision of a Riyasat-e-Medina is more like a Qurayshi Mecca. Jewish, Christian and other minorities were deemed part of the ummah (community) in Article 2 of the Constitution of Medina. The Prophet strongly admonished against the usurpation of their rights. But under Imran Khan, the government capitulated to medieval clerics by not passing the bill against forced conversions.

Similarly, Article 12 of the Constitution of Medina states that believers will not leave anyone hard pressed with heavy debt and offer relief. But under our prime minister, many Pakistanis earning Rs30,000 as junior employees despite having college degrees, find themselves in perilous economic circumstances with a skyrocketing cost of living. Many young people have to moonlight two or even three jobs to make ends meet.

Finally, Article 13 of the Constitution of Medina states that believers will rise up against those who cause mischief or rebellion. Additionally, the Qur’an is clear on amruhum shura baynahum (settling affairs based on consultation) (42:38). But under Imran Khan, the government unilaterally moves to “pardon” Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and make deals with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan. Both groups are guilty of fisad fil ard (anarchy), which Qur’anically merits the death punishment (5:32).

All of this confirms that far from implementing the ethos of a Riyasat-e-Medina, the prime minister is creating a Qurayshi Mecca. Here, minorities are subjugated, the common person is economically oppressed, and fanatical puritans run amok.