Aamir Liaqat, apologies, ‘Dr.’ Aamir Liaqat was, for a brief period, officially banned. That it took so long, from his astonishing leaked videos to his well-known fake degree, from his television antics to his open links with certain ‘outfits’, is indeed more surprising. However, the ban appeared to be a mere antic, a drop in an ocean of intolerance. Can and will the real culprit, our national mentality, ever be brought to task? Aamir Liaqat is representative of a deeply ingrained thought, a way of living, a particular narrative. A narrative that declares all non-Muslims as infidels, all divergent thought as blasphemy and, quite literally, taking a causal photo as idol worship. It is this thought that is the real culprit, and we are its accomplices. Every time we are silent when a Christian home is burnt, every time we nod when Ahmadis are persecuted, every time we back down, or worst, blindly follow, we are responsible. There is no grand conspiracy, no one trying to malign our glorious country and religion, but we ourselves, that have tarnished not only our image, but the image of our great religion. PEMRA stated recently that only the parliament and judicial system have the authority to declare anyone an infidel. Really? Can someone really have that authority, that power, that wisdom? Who has in fact given anyone the right to pass such a judgment? Only God has that authority, and we will only get to know who truly is an infidel and who isn’t, on the day of judgement. Till then, we should learn to keep our judgments to ourselves.

Islam is a religion of tolerance, of peace, of love. It is a religion of colour, of joy, of laughter and of happiness. It should make you smile, not frown, understand, not argue, love, not hate. We have become so rigid in our beliefs, so engrossed in our ideologies, that we have forgotten the basic message of Islam: peace. Every time we declare someone an infidel, are we promoting peace? Every time we justify rape, are we promoting peace? Every time we blindly agree with the local ‘spokesperson’, are we promoting peace? Peace promotes tolerance, and tolerance begets understanding, dialogue and cultural exchange. If we truly believed Islam is a religion of peace, which it most definitely is, we would respect others' way of life, even if different from our own; we would have discussions, debates, dialogue. We would learn to love the other even though he was different, his thinking was different, his way of life was different. Islam teaches us to fundamentally respect all creation, to create bonds of love, not divisions of hate.

What we see in the media is contrary to everything Islam truly stands for. The next time you see a ‘spokesperson’ delivering a sermon in the local mosque, the next time you see a so called anchor speak on television, the next time you hear a friend talking about religion, just try to observe if there is a frown on their face. If there is, you’ll know how much love, and how much Islam, they have inside them.

May Allah guide us all on the right path. Amen.