Religious Attitudes of Pakistani Society

Dr Mufti Saeed-ur-Rehman Awan
Dr Mufti Saeed-ur-Rehman Awan
Jul 07, 2020 - Articles of Significance
Religious Attitudes of Pakistani Society

British intrigues, narrow mindedness of Hindu leadership and dismal economic situation of Muslims were a few significant factors that played their part in the run-up to Pakistan’s creation. During these times, the emotional approach of Muslim community towards their religion has also been very conspicuous. They fell a prey to the beautiful slogan of Islam’s implementation, spellbound, they turned a blind eye to the Colonial patronage of the same leadership and did not ponder on the future plight of the Muslim minority that they would create in India.

Later on, when Pakistan came into being, many distorted and misinterpreted versions of religion appeared on scene which overshadowed the actual importance of religion in society. In this manner, religion, which had been the animating power of the masses earlier, became the most exploited genre later.. In social matters some gave more importance to materialistic needs and made religion a private concern; some interpreted a version which reflected narrowness instead of openness; some propagated it as mere religiosity converted it into another form of distorted Christianity & Judaism which have nothing to do with social matters; some portrayed the political aspect of religion which allowed one to pursue a policy of political opportunism in the name of religion. There are, basically, four types of religious attitudes prevalent in our society:

1) Ritualistic religion
2) Sectarian religion
3) Pessimistic religion
4) Political religion

Ritualistic religion:

Most of our society follows this type of religion, particularly the affluent class, as this version permits them to insensitively fulfill their desires. This religion considers performance of certain rituals at someone’s death the ultimate objective of it. Generally a religious person is hired to perform these rituals on a nominal wage. Similarly, on a certain occasion, food is distributed at popular shrines; a religious representative delivers a sermon during marriage ceremony.

If the people belonging to this group have greater religious inclination then they will give alms to mosques and other charitable institutes as well. The alpha and omega of this brand of religion is this ritualistic aspect which has nothing to do with other aspects of life.

This religion is devoid of that driving spirit which motivates a person towards action. The followers of this religion are inspired by different superstitions. They give ample importance to magic and other activities of this type. This clan believes in superstition and throng shrines where its practitioners are found. To them charms and magic are more important than the basic principles of Islam. Furthermore, they worship strangeness. Wherever they find something strange, considering it mystical, they form a cult around it. This is the reason why their practical lives are marked by manifestations of disbelief lack of faith. Dominated by greed and instead of believing in the Almighty they rely more on their efforts. This deprives them of courage and turns them into cowards and hence they lead their lives on false and undue expectations. They lose strength of their character and fall a victim to extravagance.

The followers of this religion basically give importance to their personal and family gain and are ready to employ any tactic for it. They have no concern whatsoever with the betterment of the society at large.

Another attribute of this lot is that they use religion’s name feverishly but sneer at and reject any rational interpretation and those who present it. While they themselves continue to profess social, economic, political and ethical values that run contrary to Islam.

Most of political parties, elite, landlords and capitalists follow this religion and their slogan "Islam is our religion" veils their evil design to adopt west’s anti-humanity principles. When the system which protects their interests is facing any challenge they start raising the ‘Islam is in danger’ slogan. To them, Islam is another kind of Hinduism where mosque replaces temple, maulvi replaces pandit and a few rituals replace poojapaat. In other aspects of life there is no difference between them and Christian, Jews and Hindus.

Sectarian Religion:

Persons belonging to this group develop a certain set of beliefs and only entertain those people who possess the same set of beliefs. They consider rest of the people non-believers.

Preachers of this religion concentrate more on criticizing prominent figures of other sects instead of spreading their beliefs. They talk about them in a provocative tone.

Those who profess this religion are in fact bigoted and believe in savage notions of discrimination against those who do not share their understanding. Hatred, division and issuance of decrees against their rivals form the pillars of their religion. Individuals of not very sound mental health normally are passionate followers of this creed. It is heart wrenching that the practice of these adherents in matters of everyday is no different from those whom they consider their rivals or foes. But in sectarian matters they are willing to go to any violent extent .

Followers of other religions are considered untouchables by them. Along with the use of provocative language against their rivals they are always willing to even use force against them. This leads to disharmony in society.

Here, it should be kept in consideration that preaching of sectarianism and that of true religion are two separate things. While the motivation for spreading sectarianism lies in establishing one group’s dominance over and insult of the other; that of true religion comes from compassion and betterment of humanity. A proponent of sectarianism adopts harshly critical and uncivilized tone, while a true preacher adopts a softer, encouraging and a rational style which will make a listener accept the message because of the love and sincerity shown by him. Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was advised to use a softer tone even with the hypocrites and thus appeal directly to their heart.[2]

This group does not analyze good and evil on the basis of faith and right deeds but only on the basis whether someone is part of their sect or not. Instead of constructive effort, these sectarian groups foster hostility towards each other. Insults and slurs aimed at one another are lumped under the title of ‘religious service’.

Another motivation for propagation of this sectarian brand of religion is financial gain. The preachers of this religion deliberately ignore principles and basic facts, and spend their whole lives explicating and debating a few insignificant and outdated problems.[3]

Pessimistic religion:

The followers of this religion consider themselves firm in their faith. They devote all their energies ensuring performance of specific prayers in religious places and have nothing to do with the world outside. They encourage asceticism and view social activities with pessimism. They consider every such activity non-religious which is not in line with their self-formulated routine. They have nothing to do with worldly matters, even if it is the betterment of humanity. The prevalence of lies, dishonesty, economic exploitation, and hypocritical politics do not bother them at all. They are solely concerned with the purification of their own self and disregard a simple fact that individuals can best improve themselves if they strive to improve the society in which they live. To them, sincere effort to change society, its economics and politics is equivalent to the pursuit of worldly desires and hence at odds with religion and is not the duty of a Muslim, whose religious obligation, they think, is just to ‘perfect’ his beliefs and prayers. That prayers of a person must translate into improved social deeds is an established religious fact. This is the reason why striving for the right means of livelihood is obligatory in Islam,[4] while adverse implications of earning dishonestly are not only widespread but also dissolve the essence of a prayer.[5]

Thus these followers of pessimistic or ascetic religion segregate life in mutually exclusive ‘worldly’ and ‘religious’ circles and portray themselves as exclusively ‘religious’. This attitude, prevalent in our society, is in line with Israelites who disregarded certain part of the Book and accepted some. This attitude of was condemned and whosoever will follow them will face similar disgrace in this world and face even graver consequence on the day of judgement. [6]

Hence limiting religion to prayers and segregating it from social matters is an indication of complacency. The renaissance of religion in worldly matters demands consistent struggle in which one need to oppose desires and evil forces. The evasion of this element of struggle inevitably leads to pessimism. That is why lives of so-called religious people of our society are full of compromise and complacency; and are an integral part of pessimistic religion.

In this religion faith in the Almighty and the role of fate are misinterpreted. As Maulana Muhammad Taqqi Ameeni states that this erroneous interpretation hampers their ability to play a proactive role in society and renders them socially unproductive. Despite this, they consider themselves God’s loved ones and dream of entering portals of heaven in the life hereafter. Without any diligence and hard work, they remain desirous of praise.

Thought process of the followers of pessimistic religion turns rusty with time and they do not have the courage to adopt available means of progress. They fall a prey to Satan’s deceit who convinces them of their ‘piety’ and they remain complacent with whatever they have.[7]

During middle ages, when this religion was dominant in Europe many people decided to join part of Church so that they did not have to fulfill societal obligations and some became ascetics to get food without any effort.[8]

Abandoning all-encompassing understanding of religion and promoting abhorrence of politics is considered the most dangerous imperialist weapon by Shah Saeed Ahmed Raipuri. This, in his opinion, is done to fail mosque and make way for ‘non-religious’ groups, which were created in the first place to strengthen imperialistic system and culture.[9]

Although pessimistic religion is at complete odds with politics yet it serves the political agenda of entrenched groups. Shah Saeed Ahmed Raipuri comments on this dismal situation that those who negate the importance of politics tend to feel proud of their leaders who formed Pakistan but they cannot comprehend a simple fact that Pakistan was liberated with political activity. Have the scholars, with titles of Shaikh-ul-Islam, Shaikh-ul-Tafseer and Shaikh-ul-Hadees, who played an active part in Pakistan movement committed "Sin"? Why is it so that politics emanating from Aligarh and Sir Syed's school of thought is considered Islam and Jihad while that arising from Shah Wali Ullah's school of thought is condemned and considered out of line with religion?

On the one hand it is said that the congregation of Makkah and Arafat should be free of politics, then why does the preacher there tacitly assents to American interests? Is it not that he is also is doing something that is forbidden.[10]

Political religion:

The followers of this religion give prime importance to political objectives and are ready to adopt any means to achieve it. They are more concerned with gaining political power than with implementing Justice and Shariat. So quite often then are seen indulging in political gimmicks.

If they feel dissatisfied with the authentic version of religion they are ready to distort it. In order to promote their vested interests, English imperialists encouraged formation of ‘Qadiani’ religion which was purely a political religion. Many evidences in this regard can be gleaned from Qadiani texts. For instance, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani stated that he had written so many books against Jihad and in favor of English that they can fill fifty bookshelves.[11]

Besides this version, there has also been another branch of political religion which was obsessed with West’s political dominance and sophistry. They presented such a version of religion which advocated materialism of West and destroyed the political and jihadi (struggle to promote justice and peace) spirit of Islam.

This school of thought was reinvigorated in Pakistan by Ghulam Ahmed Pervez who presented worldly life as the most significant and this analyzed every basic principle of religion materialistically. Thus he preached obedience to the Prophet, not because of his prophethood but because of his central significance for the Ummah. The implication thus is that the prophet’s words and deeds can no longer be obligatory to follow once he leaves the world.

This school of thought was also represented another prominent religio-political of Pakistan. This party’s political, economic and historical interpretations reflect materialism and inspiration from Western thought. This is the prime reason that the figure head of this party could not accomodate the spiritual impact of Deen in his philosophy.

An alumnus of this afore-mentioned school rightfully propounds that this interpretation of Islam exists due to complete dominance of Western philosophy on us and has inculcated materialism in our perspective.[12]

The dual standards of followers of political religion are deciphered by Maulana Waheed ud Din Khan. He writes:

Such people will be negligent of themselves but will never falter to comment on matters of the world. They will not be ready to implement the system of Namaz but will raise slogans to achieve political dominance over the whole world. Their own lives will be full of empty space but they will discuss strategies to fill voids of the world. Their own house will be inspired by materialism but they will initiate movements to eradicate materialistic leadership from every other country. They themselves will not remember God but will discuss strategies to control Broadcasting stations to spread the word of God. They will not follow principles required to achieve their objectives but will present dozens of methodologies to bring improvement in the national system and also UNO. If you read their paper interviews you will be amazed to see their concern for Muslims residing in any part of the world but if you observe closely you will find out that they do it just pretentiously. They will be leading irresponsible lives in spheres of their present influence, yet they paint the contours of their wide sphere of influence after the success of their revolutionary movement in such a manner than one wonders if the golden era of Khilafat-e-Rashida is about to return. [13]

In this version of religion, the implementation of religious rituals is done half-heartedly and with lack of interest. The Holy Quran describes this attitude of hypocrites who offer Namaz with laziness, and take God’s name just for the sake of pretension.[14] Getting work done through telling lies and by not keeping promises is considered a skill by the adherents of this group and thus becomes an integral part of it.

There is no place of spiritual development in political religion and fulfillment of desires and greed is the dominant ethic.

When religion becomes a tool of achieving political motives, it compromises with human and social weaknesses and backs economic imbalance in society and hence promotes the mindset of extravagance. This is the prime reason why half of the feudal landlords of West Europe in eleventh and twelfth centuries were representatives of the church.[15]

The various forms of religion described above undermine the efforts of those true and dedicated believers (Ehl-e-Haqq) who are fully committed to implement genuine spirit of religion in society. It is essential to analyze these religious attitudes and unveil their ulterior motives.


[1] For details see Maulana Taqi Ameeni’s Lamazhabi Doar ka Tareekhi Pas-e-manzar (pp 15-35). (1956). Dehli: Nadwat-al-Muslimeen
[2] AlQuran, Surah Al Nisa, Verse 23
[3] For details see Maulana Taqi Ameeni’s Lamazhabi Doar ka Tareekhi (pp 15-35) Pas-e-manzar. (1956). Dehli: Nadwat-al-Muslimeen
[4] Ab-ul-Wafa Mustafa al Mutaghi Allibab fi sharah ashbab (Qahira lijanata ta’reef bilislaam) (1970) (p 22)
[5] Wali-ud-din Muhammad bin Abdullah al khateeb al umari Mashquaat-ul-masabeeh. 2nd Edition. Lahore: Maktaba Rehmania. (p 1) Bab-ul-kasab wa tib-al-halaal
[6] AlQuran. Surah Al Baqra Verse 58
[7] For details see Maulana Taqi Ameeni’s Lamazhabi Doar ka Tareekhi Pas-e-manzar (pp 15-35).
[8] For details see Maulana Taqi Ameeni’s Lamazhabi Doar ka Tareekhi Pas-e-manzar (pp 15-35). (1956). Dehli: Nadwat-al-Muslimeen. Also page 37, Tareekh-e-Ikhlaaq-e-Europe pp 3-103
[9] Muhammad Usloob Qureshi (Nigraan-e-A’la) Azm series no 74,75. Lahore: Aziz Publications
[10] Ibid
[11] Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani. Tiryaaq-ul-quloob (Qadian, Mutaba Zia-ul-Islam 1900) Page 27
[12] Syed Abul A’la Maudoodi, Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Hind aur Musalman. Hissa-e-Doam. (Lahore Islamic Publications. Fifth Edition 1981)Page 32
[13] Dr Israr has used these titles for himself in regards to Maulana Muhammad Ismael Gujranwalwi. (Monthly Hikmat-e-Quran,Isha’t-e-Khusoosi (Lahore daftar markazi injuman-e-khuddam-ul-Quran) Model Town, January, February 1990) Jild 9 Shumara 1-2 page 130
[14] Dr Israr Ahmed. Mahnama Hikmat-e-Quran. Jild 9 Shumara 1-2 Pages 45,46
[15] Maulana Waheed-ud-din Khan Ta’beer ki Ghalti. Lahore (Almaktaba-tul-Ashrafia, Ferozepur Road, Taba-e-Sani 1986.)Page 276

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Dr Mufti Saeed-ur-Rehman Awan
Dr Mufti Saeed-ur-Rehman Awan

Professor Dr. Mufti Saeed-ul-Rehman is the Patron-in-Chief of Rahimia Institute of Quranic Sciences (Trust) Lahore and one of the disciples of Hazrat Aqdas Shah Saeed Ahmad Raipuri. In 1978, he bowed his spiritual allegiance to Hazrat Aqdas Shah Abdul Aziz Raipuri, the then head of Esteemed Rahimiya Monastery situated at Raipur. He completed his course of Dars-e-Nizami and later on specialized in Islamic Jurisprudence from Jamia Uloom Islamia Allama Banuri Town Karachi. In addition to his father Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Badi-ul-Zaman who himself was profound scholar, he got the opportunity to get educated by eminent teachers like Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Banuri and Hazrat Maulana Mufti Wali Hasan Tonki.

Afterwards, he obtained LLM Sharia degree from the International Islamic University Islamabad. For thirty-three years, he taught at Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan. He received his PhD in Usul Fiqh from the same university in 1996. He served as the chairman of the Department of Islamic Studies, Bahauddin University, Multan for a period of over seven years.

Currently, he is working as the Head of the Department of Islamic Studies at the Institute of Southern Punjab, Multan. He is also the patron of the Monthly “Rahimia” Magazine Tri-Monthly Research Journal “Shaoor o Aagahi”. For the past 40 years, he has been engaged in the education and training of youngsters, especially those associated with the Monastery of Raipur, based on the philosophy and teachings of Shah Waliullah and his devoted disciples.