In Pakistan, it is an established practice to let the preachers of morality be judged by one set of ethical code and the lay people or – in the case of religious preachers – the commoners, by another set of ethical principles. The one at the pedestal and the one sitting on the rug are extended completely different treatments when it comes to ethical behavior and social practice. The commoners are judged notoriously for any innocuous act which in any way deviates from the rigid, inflexible, stagnant and often misogynistic and retrogressive set of ethics and morality. However the guardians of this morality, who ensure through any means that the “lesser” people observe it, feel themselves over the strict and delimiting aspects of the preached morality. The morality in which lies the secret of betterment, spiritual bliss and worldly progress of the society, should exclude its preachers, so that they may be able to serve the cause of the morality in a more effective way.
One example in the matter is the double standard internalized by the darling of proselytization movements, Maulana Tariq Jamil. Who is not aware of the tales full of horror that he recounts and the evils that are wrought by any slight deviation from the true path of Islam. The prescription that he proposes often ends in observing true sharaee pardah. The blessings of humility and of avoiding exhibitionism of one’s virtues are some of his other prescriptions for a better world and brighter hereafter. Yet, at even a cursory glance, he stands to be in stark contrast with what he avows to preach. He has the celebrity cravings to be in the spotlight in the garb of preaching morality, religion, humility and modesty but his own lifestyle and his actions stand in stark contrast with what he claims to preach.
For one instance, he considers himself apolitical and this is why when scores of people were lynched and burned in the name of blasphemy he opted to stay out of it. A person of high public following and authority on the matter can have done much for public good but he opted to be silent. But when his friend, who supplies fashionable kurtas to him and his circle, committed blasphemy, he at once broke his silence and realized how savagery was being committed by calling him blasphemous. He forgot all his vows and cried sheepishly for his friend's life forgetting that his friend is a confessed blasphemer, while the rest who have been lynched have never confessed to the crime.
This time around, we saw him in news for having iftar with Imran Khan and his wife while the ‘diabolical', 'seducing' and 'immodest' females were sitting with him while not observing the “sharaee pardah”. Ironically, he cries while addressing the faithful while recounting the evils of 'Be-Purdah Na-Mahram' and enjoins the faithful to take good care of not mingling with females. Yet when it came to his luxurious dinner and chance to enjoy the spotlight, he chose to sit at the side of a TV anchor who does not mind wearing skirts.
His followers, who are kept in awe of any blasphemy committed against his name, argue
that meeting with celebrities is furthering the cause of his preaching and is making the society a better place to live. Well, to that I can say that there are more social causes that he can canvass for and can make a real change in the lives of the downtrodden. He recently said that he advised Imran Khan against the dharna and instead advised him to focus on his province. This proves that he takes interests in political matters and tries to influence politicians. He can have used his influence and personal charisma to help the cause of IDP’s who are rotting in camps with no access to basic health facilities or even food. Imagine if he had done one iftar, in an IDP camp and had emphasized his followers to contribute to the ‘Aftaar fund’, which he could have easily established, for providing sufficient iftari for the hapless, disparaged, homeless people form Waziristan who are in the camps for the second consecutive Ramzan. But, his priorities lay elsewhere: in the spotlights of cameras and in the chance to carve a political niche.
Let’s turn to another of such preacher of high and sharee morality, Juanid Jamshaid. It will take more than one blog to recount his contradictions and his unabashed disregard in what he does, of what he preaches when he is upon the pulpit. But one of his recent ‘display’ of deviation from his preached morality will do here. Not long ago, he pontificated that don’t let your women learn driving; otherwise they will elope with someone else. Sounds like an utter myopic, right? But the myopic sense one gets from such pontifications suddenly turns into serendipity, when he is seen clad in ultra-stylish kurtas on the TV screen, alongside a beautiful young woman whose face is bare and her hair covered by a loose dupatta. With an artificially calm voice, he calls others to bask in the virtues of Ramzan. One wonders where his previous declarations about wives’ elopement go when he is mingling with another woman who has driven to the set all by herself?
Judging others to be sinful while they attend to perusal civilized demands, and then in complete disregard to those judgements doing those very sinful acts is the norm for these modern-day evangelists of true morality. This claim to exclusivity from their own set of moral practices, all in the name that they are in some way better Muslims than the rest, is a point in narcissism and elitism. Do away with the righteous pronouncements of judgments for it is the right of all to act in a way their conscious and will allow. Morality evolves and the static, decadent morality you preach is never in keeping with advances of the human civilization. However, if you are adamant in your obscurantism and there are people who, out of their own free will follow you, then have the decency to abide by the moral standards you preach yourself. No matter how much you excuse yourself from the judgments of others, you should at least know, at heart, that you should be judged according to the standard that you want to entrench in the lives of others.