I am numb with grief, anger, hopelessness and helplessness, watching the carnage and mayhem on the streets of Pakistanon all the TV channels. The religious establishment is basking in the glory of its street power; political leaders don’t want to lose “the moment” and are cashing in; and average moderate Pakistanis (if there are any left) are afraid to speak up.  We are a nation of hypocrites, opportunists and cowards!  

Killing, burning, and looting to proclaim the love of the Prophet (PBUH)? Acting like barbarians and hooligans in the name of religion?  Day of love is being celebrated with expressions of hate.

In my last article, I said: “While the response of Muslims is understandable…....”, I must admit and apologise to my readers that I misspoke.  It is ‘not’ understandable by any stretch of imagination.  I think theUSAdid not have to spend billions of dollars on drones and other war machinery.  They could easily make some cheap films, draw some cartoons and put other such material on the net and watch us destroy ourselves, leaving all the oil and gas to them, anyway! 

We have to understand that we are not just Muslims; we are also human beings and citizens of this world.  As a Muslim, I am saddened when my faith is disrespected; as a human being, I abhor the death and destruction in any shape or form; and as a citizen of the world, I have to be sensitive to others’ point of view.  Reconciliation of these three positions demands patience, cool mindedness and empathy for others; traits that we sadly lack!

 Muslims revere the Holy Prophet (PBUH) more than anything else (they just have a violent way of showing this) and would like everyone else also to extend, if not the same degree of respect to him, at least some courtesy to their feelings.  When this deep-seated conviction is attacked, whether real or perceived, factual or concocted, they go crazy.  The West, on the other hand, believes that freedom of speech is an equally sacred and inviolable rule of their society and is not willing to compromise on that.

While many Muslims accuse the West of double standards when it comes to applying the freedom of speech rule, the West also sees Muslims as hypocrites for demanding respect for their faith but not extending the same to others; wanting unrestricted right to practice their faith when in minority, but unwilling to grant the same to others when in majority; insisting to preach Islam all over the world, but banning others from doing this in their lands; proudly embracing new converts in their folds, but issuing death sentence to those who want to leave the fold of Islam; expecting equal citizenship rights as a minority, but denying  this to minorities when in majority themselves are just a few examples. How can we expect that others will make concessions to our demands, while we stay oblivious to theirs?

As Muslims, we are only a small part of this larger mass of humanity with all its divergent views, conflicts, belief systems, and dogmas shaping each group’s own worldview. If we want to change the world, we have to change ourselves first.  To think that by creating death and destruction we can have our way is a sheer folly.  Can we kill everyone in the world who does not think like us, does not prescribe to the same belief system as we do? 

Well, haven’t we learnt from the war on terror that even the USA, with all its military might, has not been able to annihilate its every enemy?  People can be killed, but not their ideas. In fact use of force backfires, creating more enemies, as theUSAshould have learned by now.  Its use of force has only resulted in making more enemies, increasing resistance to its mission manifolds, draining its resources in the process and loss of many lives.

Can a mob of unorganised illiterate, poverty-stricken and malnourished Muslims overpower the world?  Do Pakistani people, who steal electricity; do not pay taxes; hoard food even when poor are dying of hunger; sell contaminated food; tainted medicines; and kill each other on ethnic, religious, linguistic,  and sectarian lines (which in my opinion is blasphemy of the highest degree), have the moral authority to tell the world what is right and pious?

Oh, and yes, we dream of the governments of the Muslim countries to stand united against the West. Are we kidding ourselves? Most of them cannot even survive a day without handouts from the IMF and World Bank and cannot even take care of their own citizens afflicted by natural and manmade disasters (sometimes created by the leaders themselves).

Will not the world laugh and scorn, if the Muslims leaders, who are corrupt down to the core, act pious and ask for some respect for their faith?  Isn’t this a blasphemy in itself? You see the world does not compartmentalise righteousness into religious and non-religious. 

We have become totally blind to hypocrisy because we live it every day: praying five times a day when stealing from the Haj funds; preaching morality and acting sinfully; making millions through criminal practices and then donating to charity; and speaking of God and acting like the devil.

So, though we blame Hindus, Christians, Jews and now Buddhists of killing Muslims, we are doing a pretty good job ourselves.  In fact, we will not be outdone in this; we will burn in our own rage, while the world watches in utter astonishment and amusement. The epitaph on the headstone will read: “Here lies the inflammable nation…....”

 The writer has been practicing Family Medicine in Florida since 1983. She is one of the founding members of the Pakistani American Association of Tampa Bay; was on the board of PAKPAC, which is a lobbying organisation for Pakistani causes in the US; and former president of the Fatima Jinnah Medical College Alumni. Email: shahnazk@gmail.com