http://pakobserver.net/200904/07/Articles01.aspDisgusting girl flogging in Swat
Dr Samiullah Koreshi
Overwhelming majority of Pakistanis has reacted strongly in condemning the incident said to have taken place in Swat. In joining this expression of disgust over the incident, I would like to make some observations on the incident. The Commissioner of Swat has cast doubts that this incident took place in Swat. Wherever it took place it was condemnable. True the releasing of the video so late after the incident is not without significance, and even if some foreign interests have coincided with the publicity of this incident, that should be counted secondary, the main point is that if this did take place, and the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry have done the commendable thing to take suo motu notice of the incident, the incident is a slur on Pakistan’s majority , on which there should be no two opinions at all.
While the ignorant in the West have a foolish view of what Pakistan is, an insulting propaganda against Pakistan, because they do not know the levels of evolution in Pakistan in some areas and the majority, that there is a dichotomy. We are no less civilized, if not more, than the most civilized Western societies. But in some part of Pakistan there is an obscurantist view of values which is a minority. This is why one sees a crowd of male on-lookers watching the flogging. May be they were terrorized by the Gun-trotting Taliban and at least quite a few watched the gory incident with disgust. In the area from which my family came, that region which was counted as the last word of sophistication no crowd, Hindu or Muslim, would have watched an incident of woman flogging or even beating . They would have intervened to say “ If you are a man go and fight with a man . Are you not ashamed and the crowd would have rescued the woman. They would have rushed to rescue the girl, abusing the men indulging in that Sadistic exercise, although I should recall , as recorded in my book “ Diplomats & Diplomacy: Story of an Era” that I witnessed one afternoon in Place de Cliché Paris a man beating a woman and the woman running in a circle made by onlookers saying nothing . This was long ago when I had been sent to Paris to learn French., but we are talking of cultural level among various circles in any society in which many decades are a twinkle of eye.
However, this incident has done great damage to the image of Islam globally. These days when there is a clash of civilizations- a fact denying which is to deny reality- between Islam and the West, and the clash is very intense, this one incident would have given Islam the image its enemy want to give it. One look is better than hundred reports as they say. Hundred seminars cannot wash this spot from our fore-headed. What a great disservice the Taliban have done by flogging the woman accused of what ever it was. How do they want to defend their action. First for a na mahram man to touch a woman is haram in Islam. Here there were two holding her down for receiving the lashes. This is absolutely haram (forbidden) in Islam ; secondly where was the man who was supposed to have done the “crime”. Why was he not given double the punishment for ignoring the hudood of a mahram and the alleged act? . Third thing is why the modesty of a woman flouted by public flogging? A woman is entitled to sanctity of her modesty in Islam in all cases.
There are other points : Are persons not qazi take the implementation of law in their hands. Law is a very complicated thing. No layman can decide what is the law? Only a Qazi or Islamic Judge can do so. To know in a general sense what is the law is not to be expert to apply it in a particular incident. I read in History of Tibri- that classic in Arabic of the earliest Muslim history that a very honorable man and a woman friend of his were together alone in a room for long time and they were accused of Zina. The Qazi declined to accept the charge on the ground that there were no witnesses to the alleged act.
These are technical flaws in the case of flogging of a girl where ever it took place , in Swat or else where, and whether in January this year or now, the objection remains that the punishment cannot be given by any person except a judge or a Qazi. Otherwise the law become a law of jungle or something like the judgments in the Days of Terror in French Revolution. Law is not law without certain requirements. This is the line between the Civilized Law and the Law of Jungle. This incident underlines the necessity of implementing the laws-whatever they be- only through the trained judges.
Only properly qualified Judges can be appointed Qazi and not any bearded person who has gone to a madressah.. This incident would work against the Federal Government accepting the demand for implementation of Sharia in the Tribal areas, for it seems to violate the accepted norms in the modern age world , even in the Muslim world. The points this incident has raised are which Sharia laws , and implemented through whom, a trained judge or any bearded Taliban , two is there need to look up its practice in Malaysia and (Northern) Nigeria also or not? . Iqbal has spoken of ijetehad in sharia in his Six Lectures delivered in 1930.
In my book “Western Fundamentalism in Action” published in 1995, on “ Ijma” is stated:” Mohammed Abduh holds that the jurisprudential views of the earlier fuqaha( jurists) are time bound and are thus not applicable to Muslim community for eternity. Because otherwise it would mean that the earlier fuqaha had more knowledge and brains than the latter day generations. Also it would mean the soci0-eceonomic conditions have remained statis, which is not true” … Dr Anis Ahemd is quoted in that page as saying : For Islam does not view life as a stagnant stream cesspool , but a tream which in its flow can come across new places . “ The debate is touched at p 181, Applying Sharia is not such a simple matter as ordinary student of a madressah thinks.
If the obscurantist approach is adopted and ijtehad and ijma are ignored we will not have a modern society in Muslim countries but an outdated middle ages one. In any case, the implementation of the law should be done only by the trined civil judges, and not by laymen of generalist knowledge about sharia. Otherwise the concession the Government had granted to Swat will end here. Iqbal, Abdouh, Rida etc are the modernists who cannot be relegated to the dark corner of libraries. Lest in this debate the point has gone in the background, it should be reiterated that the Swat flogging of a girl was most condemnable and should not be repeated. Middle Ages were over long ago.