Image Courtesy Lahore Nama

"Kaafir", a word we hear a lot these days, is directly associated with the concept of blasphemy that dates back to the 1800s, which is still in practice with new amendments and additions in Pakistan and India. Although, the definition of “infidel” doesn’t include anything related to blasphemy but according to Islamic concepts, committing “blasphemy” is tantamount to infidelity. 

“Infidel” literally means not faithful or a non-believer, and translates in Arabic as kaafir. According to some sources, it came from the Turkish word gavur meaning the one who covers or conceals. A couple of other words associated with the term are Mulhid and Murtid. Religions loosely translate the word as someone who does not believe in a particular religion or doesn’t believe in religion at all. Islam has the same view about infidels.

It is easy to declare someone as an infidel, a practice that comes with no responsibilities whatsoever. Just a couple of days ago, Abdul Sattar Edhi mentioned in an interview that religious and political groups call him an infidel because he does not offer prayers. Of all the open hate speeches, religious terrorism, blasphemy and murders going around in Pakistan, these groups chose to pick on a humble humanitarian, who is practically feeding and sheltering most of Pakistan’s needy indiscriminately. 

This is not something that we have started to experience recently, it has just escalated to its current insane level in past few years.  The message that when you premeditatedly murder an innocent and unarmed man for publishing certain content that hurts your religious feelings and ego, you will be respected more, is now a part of our schools’ curriculum. Ilm Deen, in 1929 killed a Hindu publisher Mahasay Rajpal who published “Rangeela Rasool.” Jinnah defended him hopelessly and reportedly lost only this single case in his entire lifetime, and Iqbal laid Ilm Deen to rest with teary eyes. What was Mahasay’s crime? He was a publisher. Whereas, Bhagat Singh who fought fearlessly against the British Empire as a revolutionary freedom fighter and stood against the discriminatory treatment by the government even in the jail where he went on a 116 day hunger strike, is labeled as an infidel by the religious thugs because he didn’t want to identify himself with any religion.  He was hanged in the heart of Lahore in Central jail where now Shadman chowk is.

Last year on the 23rd of March – the death anniversary of Bhagat Singh – civil society and peace activists stood at Shadman chowk and demanded that its name be changed to Bhagat Singh chowk. A few self-proclaimed religious upholders threatened and tried to intimidate those peaceful protestors, calling them the traitors of the country, and telling them that they will not let them succeed. These disruptors called Bhagat Singh the denier of God, which is why he was deemed unworthy of remembrance. They didn't consider him a freedom fighter because he was the “denier of God.”

Similarly, Mumtaz Qadri murdered Salman Taseer in cold blood in broad daylight. What was the most voiced opinion? Qadri is a hero, Prophet Lover and Taseer was an infidel who deserved to die. The most disappointing situation in this scenario was when lawyers showered Qadri with rose petals in the courthouse. What was Taseer’s crime? He was helping a Christian woman who had allegedly committed blasphemy, to get out of jail. The same thing happened at Taseer’s most recent vigil: religious thugs thrashed it, harassed and assaulted its peaceful participants and the filming crew, spraying themall with profanity.

Dr. Abdus Salam was labeled an infidel and his grave was defaced just because he was an Ahmadi. A human rights lawyer helping a professor fight the allegations of blasphemy and an Ahmadi doctor providing treatment to people who cant afford it were murdered because they were Ahmedis– the “infidels.”

I can sit here and quote examples of all the victims of the infidelity mafia but it will just be redundant. Everyone knows about it all but only a few choose to challenge this nonsensical attitude.

The way the religious mafia is suffering with and propagating the infidel syndrome, it has turned into an epidemic. They are openly teaching children that human life has no value but, being a “Muslim” only “Muslims” can be the most precious human beings of all; only “Muslims” can be the most moral and only “Muslims” deserve to live on this earth. Everyone else is just too unworthy and insignificant to continue living. What constitutes a “Muslim” is another long debate for another discussion. For now, let’s just say that the louder I can accuse someone of being an infidel, the better Muslim and of course, by definition, the better human being I am. 

Pakistani priorities are not Pakistani, they are religious. Heck they refuse to accept Bhagat Singh as a freedom fighter who fought for their freedom despite being irreligious. Edhi is doing their God’s job and taking care of the poor and needy, providing them with food and shelter.  All that these religious thugs need, is a plate full of halwa, a couple of wives, a free home, hujra behind the mosque, a salary provided by the Government, some kids to beat the crap out of for not learning the Quran properly, a basement to store weapons and some followers ready to put the mob together to kill an “infidel”, and they are in business set for life.

A couplet by an unknown poet very accurately depicts this situation. In Urdu, it goes:

Janay kab kon kisay mar day kaafir keh kar

Shehar ka sherah Musalmaan hua phirta hai


Who knows when someone will kill another,calling him infidel;

The entire city is playing Muslim.

It's a new “weapon of mass destruction” and the rate at which human kind is being killed, we will not have to wait a billion years to go back to the Stone Age.

As Christopher Hitchens said: “This is an enemy for Life, as well as an enemy of life”.