314. It’s the number of people that were burnt alive on two separate incidences. One, in Lahore, where the lives of 25 people were brought to an abrupt end after a shoe factory erupted into flames and the second in Karachi, where a textile mill also caught fire bringing with it the end of 289 workers. Both the tragedies took place on the same day: September 11; the day when Quaid-e-Azam died. The workers of those factories were innocent people, and they had families to support. Some families lost more than one member in the fire. I’m usually indifferent to all of the chaos in this country, but this time I couldn’t help but shed a tear of two. To no effect, though.
1. By this I mean the Prophet(p.b.u.h). A man who lived 1400 years ago, who lifted Arabia out of endless vendetta and allowed multiple generations to flourish under the banner of the ‘One God.’ His idea wasn’t revolutionary. But it was effective to the extent that Muslims would go on to lead in terms of science, education, arts, literature and other fields, though not to the extent that some would like to believe. Many of his policies wouldn’t be implemented in Europe until the 16th-17th century. He was a man ahead of his time. But he has left this world.
Why do I note all of this? Because it speaks to a pertinent issue. A man who claims to be an Israeli has made a movie that spoofs the life of the Prophet (s). And, as expected, the Muslim world responded in its trademark knee-jerk fashion. Embassies were attacked, people were killed, car were burnt and more. These embassies and people had nothing to do with the movie. The U.S. embassy in Tunisia or the 3 people that were attacked on Tunisia today had nothing to do with the movie. Nothing. But they were automatically infidels because they were Americans, and hence killed. Same goes for Pakistan. Rallies, protests and marches were conducted today all over the country to show how vehemently Muslims condemn such pathetic acts of spreading hate and demeaning religious beliefs. These Muslims are surely men (because I’ve never seen a woman protesting on such occasions) of principle and values.
But then I see that after the factory fires, not a single protest was conducted against poor working conditions, pathetic governance or corruption by these very groups. Not a single protest. Why? Is it not important to these religious organisations that we save the lives of hundreds of workers that are currently at risk because factories like those in Karachi exist? Or do they need a religious stamp on everything to be outraged? Why don’t I see the same reaction by all groups of society against the incidents such as the factory fires, the worst industrial fires in Pakistan’s history, that I see to a single blasphemy case?
Somehow, we’ve developed the idea that love for our religion is only manifested when we’re outraged at things that challenge it. God is only pleased if we burn cars or kill people in his name, all to protect the Prophet (s). But surely God has no concern with his people getting burnt alive or being subjected to torture in the form of working below minimum wage and pathetic working conditions. That, truly, is a cause that is to be left to the left wing, candle waving secularists who are more concerned with this world than the hereafter. They can deal with saving people. It’s not the job of the men with rosaries.
I believe everybody has the right to protest against religious hate. Everybody. I believe that the man who made the blasphemous film is an moron. And I believe the religious organisations should come out on the streets to protest against their religion being demeaned. But they must ask themselves, what kind of religion and prophetic values are they fighting for when the lives of innocent people is less of a priority than the protection of the identity of a man that existed 1400 years back?