Lack of tolerance seems to be one of the challenging issues in Islamic societies. Intolerance stems from parochial mindsets and results in violence which will be a serious threat to democracy. Based on democratic views, man is born with fundamental rights – i.e. rights to life, liberty and property. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states in article 1, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” People should be able to exercise their rights and freedoms, including freedom of thoughts and expressions, without illegal barriers regardless of their race, color and beliefs. When one is not able to tolerate the beliefs, race or simply the thoughts and words of others, they will resort to violence.
Believe it or not, the two violent cases – the death of Farkhunda in Kabul on March 19, 2015 and the death of Mashal in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on April 13, 2017 – were out of intolerance. In both cases, no evidence was found regarding blasphemy and they were lynched by angry mob based on rumor.
Regarding the recent death of the 23-year-old student Mashal at Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan (AWKUM), Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued a strongly-worded condemnation and said, “I am shocked and saddened by the senseless display of mob justice that resulted in the murder of a young student, Mashal Khan, at Wali Khan University, Mardan.” He added, “The state will never tolerate those who take the law in their own hands.” Sharif also ordered action against those found involved in the incident, directing police to arrest those who were responsible. However, the prime minister's condemnation came two days after the episode, with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Imran Khan taking the lead in condemning the brutal episode a day earlier.
Mashal’s death provoked strong condemnation in and outside Pakistan. Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai used strong words to criticize the murder. “This is an incident filled with terror and fear,” she cited as saying and added that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had never advised his followers to “be impatient and go around killing people.” The US also condemned the case and asked Pakistan to bring the perpetrators to justice.
It is really outrageous to see that in democratic countries, be it Pakistan or Afghanistan, a number of people flagrantly lynch individuals without an iota of mercy. Based on theory of “social contact”, the public have submitted their authorities to the state to have their rights and liberty protected in return. People do not have the authority to implement the law, but it is the executive power to enforce it through legal process.
It is believed that warring factions resort to violence and bloodshed out of religious intolerance, parochial mindsets and radical ideology. They excommunicate people based on their own limited knowledge. In short, if we do not practice tolerance and treat one another with the “spirit of brotherhood”, we will have a perilous future ahead.
The rights and dignity of mankind is held in high value in national laws, international instruments and religious tenets. Nonetheless, life has turned so cheap and one’s dignity is devalued in our era. For instance, tens of people lose their lives on day-to-day basis. Streams of blood are shed and families are saddened by the death of their dears. Dignity carries no meaning since women are raped or harassed sexually or simply lynched by mob such as Farkhunda.
Since the Islamic societies are particularly left at the mercy of terrorist networks and their fundamental ideology, there is a crying need for exercising tolerance and promoting democratic bases. We fear Islamophobia in western countries. But the question is that who spread this panic? It is due to not practicing Islamic tenets properly. Just imagine killing a university student by students based on a rumor! Students are considered as future intellectuals to lead the society. When our would-be intellectuals resort to indescribable violence, what do you expect of simple individuals?
University text books should be adjusted if they pave the ground for radicalization. The contents of the books at schools/universities are highly significant. It is beyond doubt that books form the students’ worldview and very especial heed must be paid in this regard. According to public belief, the teenagers who show tendency towards fundamental groups are trained in radical environments such as terrorists’ hideouts.
Such tragic incidents reflect two negative facts. First, the state is not able to implement the law properly. In both the aforementioned cases, the police were not able to save the victims from the angry mob which is really disappointing. Secondly, a number of people show tendency towards violence. Decades of war in Afghanistan and unmitigated militancy in Pakistan have put adverse effect on the minds of people. The states will have to eliminate the grounds for violence and radicalization so as to protect the rights and dignity of citizens. Incidents of such ilk are a stain on the collective conscience and it is hoped that states prevent from the repetition of these scenarios. Exercising tolerance and acting “towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood” will play key role in minimizing violence.