Friday, March 9, 2012

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions!

I was sent an e-mail about another heart-breaking story about two women condemned to death as part of a resolution to a conflict. After hearing news like this, outrage is usually followed by discussions of women’s education and empowerment. Activists and citizens are wringing their hands in frustration. If only our system was geared towards protecting our women. If only they knew their rights. If only... but then a random comment in a random conversation took me in a totally different direction. It’s not the women who need education and empowerment, it’s the men who need education and enlightenment.

No matter how educated and powerful women become, the truth of the matter is that the entire world is male-dominated. We have to accept that as the cold, hard truth. The injustices perpetrated upon women are mostly by men who are the self-appointed judges, juries and executioners. It is said that to truly understand an act, we have to understand the motivation behind it. In their own misguided way, these people are actually trying to purge their society of evil and mischief. They feel guided by the hand of God and end up doing the Devil’s work. Intoxicated by their righteous delusions, they ride roughshod over everyone who stands in the way of their distorted version of Allah’s Utopia.

The Panchayats and Jirgas are mostly lead by men who do not have an enlightened education. They have never had the experience of understanding the Qur’an through Tafseer. Even those who have been educated grow up so steeped in tradition that they have a hard time separating it from religion. In their misguided way, they are trying to uphold the laws of Islam as they understand it. No one is there to tell them that Islam has no place in their version of the world, where cruelty trumps kindness every time, where forgiveness is just a word and where injustice is the law of the land.

The icing on the cake is that we have political leaders, educated in the most esteemed establishments, who by not condemning these practices, condone them. We have government officials who add insult to the injury of illiteracy by stating that a degree is a degree whether earned or forged.

I feel that Punjab is taking a step in the right direction in making the study of the Qur’an and the Arabic language mandatory in schools.  My hope is that these subjects are taught by learned and progressive teachers who can separate culture from religion and nurture a generation of men and women who not only know their own rights, but also the rights of others so that we do not end up paving our road to hell with good intentions.


  1. Another excellent blog. Totally agree with your sentiments.

    1. Thank you for reading! I appreciate your comments. Please feel free to share your own ideas, I would love to hear them!

  2. Very true. We have to educate ourselves to understand the difference b/w Culture and religion right from mother's Lap to School, Colleges, and Universities

  3. We need more people like you, Malik Sahab, who understand. The difference between culture and religion is so blurred at times that even the best of us cannot separate them. The solution is not just the right education but also, as you pointed out, the enrichment we get from our homes. Thank you for your comments!