A front page newspaper item on June 16 carried a statement from a national political figure that the state, nation and constitution in Pakistan were notably dysfunctional and at the mercy of the hidden hands. As a matter of natural curiosity, a scanning of subsequent leading English dailies failed to reveal any signs of interest in the issue. This discovery in itself serves as a reliable test for the validity of the statement under review. For the apparently vitalised national media can be taken as the index of the nation to the extent of the latters dysfunction due to the influence of the hidden hands. Any misperception about the reference to hidden hands in the sense of secret agencies can be excluded from the evaluation in the present context. Islam is a rational religion and the renowned historian Toynbee acknowledged its gift of rationalism to the modern West. Another famous historian Gibbon, author of the classic Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire admired Islam as a revolutionary religion. As a faith, in its completed form among the major revealed religions, the Islamic belief system centres upon the distinction between good and evil, and the Quranic terms for these are khair and shur, respectively. This fundamental distinction indispensably relies upon the thinking faculty of human beings as a responsible moral agent, and the Quran exhorts the believer to utilise this essential faculty. Therefore, it is a precondition to retain this faculty in order for the criterion of right and wrong - or the Furqan, as the Quran denotes itself - to be availed of (xxv:1). It is on this basis that Islam is rightly deemed to be a religious code for homo sapiens, the generic title for the existing species of human beings, endowed with reason or wisdom. In the evolutionary scale of being, the immediately preceding species of human beings is identified as homo erectus, who were devoid of autonomous thinking. As a point of far-reaching significance, it is obvious that the suppression of thought - a rather well recognised entity in psychiatry - instantaneously reduces an individual, or species, into its earlier historical form, namely, homo erectus. The Quran testifies to the fact in terms of God converting certain tribes, or people, into apes, that is, the homo erectus form, or into swine, that is, in addition to lacking reason, to have an extremely repulsive and degenerate behaviour (v:60). Such, of course, as indicated in the same source, becomes the fate of those who breach their covenant with God, as was the case with the tribe of Israelites. In Islam, the noted breach of covenant with God (Allah) is the association of any other source with Him, characterised as shirk, for it contravenes the Islamic affirmation of faith, or Kalma-e-Tauhid. The fact is in need of vivid apprehension, the shirk or association with God is the worst and inexcusable sin, or wrongdoing (iv:48). A critical observation is due here: Islam is a religion, as is its God (Allah), meant for homo sapiens. From the critical appraisal of the Quran, it becomes obvious that more common type of association is the adoption of taghoot as divine substitute (v:60). The noted Quranic concept means false god and it falsifies the essential revealed precepts. The form it is likely to adopt is to be in communion or intimate relationship with the individual and direct his or her choices and actions on ad hoc or subjective basis. With reference to this pre-eminent Islamic doctrine of tauhid, that outright excludes shirk, various authoritative observations are due here. A former JI Amir, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, during the mid-90s noted that taghoot was dominant in Pakistan. An even more stringent expression was used by the late Dr Israr, a renowned Quranic scholar. The philosopher-poet Dr Iqbal in his enlightening Answer to the Complaint has underlined the cause of Muslim decline in their abandonment of the Quran. On this critical issue, let it be categorically stated that, in this day and age of Islam, no other disproportionately larger cause to the outcome of decline is ascertainable than the described phenomenon of taghoot. If Bertrand Russell maintained, and it can be inferred, that similar phenomenon is posing existential threat to mankind, then, William James characterised the Deity as mumbo jumbo. The original and modern concept of 'common unconscious, ascribed to Sigmund Freud, has a similarity - if not the sameness - with the concept of taghoot. A former Chief Justice of Pakistan during the combined constitutional petition hearings observed: Evil is dominating in our society (January 8, 1998). Surprisingly, the same fate fell upon its societal appeal as became the lot of the unsettling observation recorded in the beginning, for the media sidestepped this vehement and wise observation. The state under the control of hidden hands is a challenging issue in need of the illustration for the sake of its due impact. The episodic paralysis of the state security apparatus, as the common denominator in the eerily, recalled three national instances that can be cited. During the 1971 debacle in the former Eastern province, in the presence of capabilities and means to continue the war, the defence was abandoned, as reported by the Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission. Inconceivable is such a happening from a people with glorious traditions of history in the subcontinent. Following the assassination of former premier Ms Bhutto, complete mayhem with total breakdown of law and order reigned supreme in the cosmopolitan city of Karachi and interior Sindh for three days. And during the clandestine raid by the US Special Forces on bin Ladens abode for 40 minutes, any involvement of the state security resources was conspicuous because of its absence - a happening that blatantly defies logic to say the least. The universally acclaimed primary function of the state is the national security and protection of life and property of the citizens. In addition, the Islamic concept of state aspires to maslaha, or welfare of the populace, which is also deemed a principle of legal reasoning as well as the end of law by Al-Shatibi. Assuming hidden hands to be a reference to the evil, which is anti-good in its malevolent function, a vigorous and conclusive national discourse ought to be held on this issue of critical national significance. Under the light of great religion of Islam, such an affliction of society as to be its source of decline should not be allowed to exist. Since the age of Greek genius, it is recognised that in the case of societys basic belief - or value - system is unsound, it is accessible and vulnerable to revolution. According to eminent Ibn Khaldun, once taghoot or evil dominates in the society, deterrent justice is the sole solution. With this in perspective, credit is due to former premier Nawaz Sharif for the particular observation that was the subject of review during this discourse. n The writer is Chairman, Pakistan Ideological Forum. Email: suhrabaslam@hotmail.com