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Pakistan: Between Civility and Fanaticism, by Salim Mansur (Gatestone Institute)

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Jan. 31, 2015

A country made for Muslims has turned into a nightmare for Muslims.

The wish of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, was that the country evolved into a modern democratic state where Muslims, as a majority population, could feel at ease.

But the modernizers who succeeded the colonial authorities in taking power aroused expectations that were simply beyond their abilities to deliver.

But religious authorities were agitating, warning the bewildered masses that these defeats were divine punishments for betraying the true message of Islam by not faithfully abiding by its requirements.

Qutb in his writings recast the division in the world from the classic Muslim one between the House of Islam and the House of War, to one between Islam and jahiliyya, a condition of paganism that preceded the coming of Islam to Arabia. Jahiliyya has now become all-pervasive in the modern world, supposedly sparing none, including Muslims, except for that small coterie of Muslims who took flight [hijra] from the corrupted world and prepared for jihad [armed struggle].

Together, Hasan al-Banna, Abul A’la Maududi and Sayed Qutb fashioned political Islam as a closed system, in opposition to all other competing ideologies.

The theology of takfir — declaring other Muslims apostates or unbelievers; excommunication — obsessed with “unbelief,” has provided the politics of jihad [armed struggle] with the theological justification that arms any Muslim to freelance as a soldier of Allah.

The strategic requirement for advancing global jihad was to convince Muslims that they are liable to be found committing heresy if they support non-Muslim or infidel authorities, such as the United States and its allies, or if they wage war against Muslims, such as members of al-Qaeda.

The theology of takfir and jihad has now come full circle. Many Pakistanis, when they disagree, now find themselves trapped in denunciations that they are unbelievers.

It is from these madrasas that the jihadi fighters come forth as cannon fodder for an endless jihad that has become a growth industry in Pakistan. The entire political elite in Pakistan has profited, just as the Iranian elite continues profiting by doing the same.

For many, being “pure” required separating oneself from non-Muslims.

“The Taliban were not providing strategic depth to Pakistan, but Pakistan was providing strategic depth to the Taliban.” — Ahmed Rashid, foremost scholar of the Taliban.

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