Home » All My Posts » Among Dogmatic Slumberers (II): Failing to Read the Intended Texts

Among Dogmatic Slumberers (II): Failing to Read the Intended Texts

malalaBy now there would be hardly any Pakistani who haven’t witnessed the purist and self-righteous pseudo-intellectuals ripping apart their vocal cords over national media, criticizing Malala Yousafzai, the 16 year old girl who was nominated for Nobel prize earlier this month.

The sanctimonious brigade in land of the pure is known for creating a hysteria for eliminating, banning and victimizing the other by declaring him impure. Sadly, with the ever-reducing space for decent and objective intellectual discourse, it has now become impossible to even voice one’s considered opinion without being targeted by the purist camp, which has been fed persistently with fallacious and concocted ideologies.

Consequently, its pretty much futile to forward an objective critical discourse. Disagreement is simply not an option any more. To disagree, one has to keep quiet, look down and give way to stronger vocal cords; and since reason and persuasive dialogue is overpowered by the rhetoric and bellowing, there is no use extending any counter-arguments to baseless claims.

Therefore, when your fulminating interlocutors give damn to someone like Syed Ameer Ali or doesn’t consider it an enough casual rejoinder that Iqbal didn’t care to suffix salutations of peace be upon him after Prophet Muhammad’s name in his famous lectures, it is perhaps waste of time to indulge in critical discourses.

In fact, it seems like a bad dream to live in such times where we are witnessing a book being critiqued for not interjecting salutations within the script. I am sure its nature’s way of narrating a gag to let the universe have a good hearty laugh on us and throw us in the dustbin of history. It seems like we are undergoing a proverbial Copernican revolution where a minority is insisting that universe is heliocentric. 

However, we must not let hope be the casuality, and no matter how little, we must try to create a space to extend a discourse. I would request all cynical purists who are making the book controversial through over-sensationalized and misplaced religious, social or political critiques to please:

  1. Remove the lenses of bigotry and prejudice and read the book in a casual way. Its not a great book so comparisons with Anne Frank’s diary are perhaps out of proportion. However, I would hate to speculate that it might be considered a great classic if Pakistan continues on its usual disastrous course and experience a people’s tragedy comparable to holocaust. This, in my humble yet optimistic view, is impossible, God willing.
  2. Not even a very well-written work either; understandably so, since its from a young girl, take it as an ad lib commentary by a 16 year old kid which is most probably composed by Christina Lamb in readable language. To our so-called second grade media intellectuals who have issues with Lamb’s reputation: Yousafzai is not synonymous with Lamb.
  3. At least try to add a minimum possible of degree of objectivity in your criticism and don’t read the book as a contentious well thought-out academically assertive work of literature. Moreover, if your argument is that one sheds away her academic credentials if one is seen in party with some Baloch tribal chief, there can be no possible counter-argument which you should expect. This is not even an ad hominem; its simply shameful.
  4. When you quote, please do so with the purpose of discussion and critique rather than ridicule or cause agitation and shock among the masses who haven’t read the book. Please learn to read and understand the texts. They are meaningless and misleading without a context. Those who are calling it interpretation of her father’s ideas, well what, if I may ask, is wrong with that? All 16-year old kids think their fathers are cool. We, as fathers and mothers, have right to impart our version of goodness into our children. We may disagree with each others’ views but disagreeing with other’s interpretation of history, politics, religious or social issues doesn’t make one anti-Islam or anti-Pakistan.
  5. It might be a very interesting work for western audience, specially when Lamb ostensibly lets Yousafzai speak (in my view Lamb has added historical and political bits to it where necessary for coherence of discourse), but have very little for Pakistani reader in terms of engagement with the text. However, you must understand that you are reading a very brave girl who can stand eye-to-eye with adversity and horrors in conditions where most of us would end up compromising our liberty or would simply run away. She is a brave girl, mentored and taught life by an audacious father. We must be proud of her and listen her carefully since we have a young hero towards whom we can point our children to look-up to.

Lastly, lets try to read the same book which the author has intended to write; please don’t end up reading the book which you intend to criticize, apriori.


11 thoughts on “Among Dogmatic Slumberers (II): Failing to Read the Intended Texts

  1. Sir, I see that you are also reading a book with a lens, that she is a hero and need to be respected and valued. No different than a person who considers her a fake celebrity like Kim kardashian and therefore reads the book skeptically

  2. I don’t deny that as there is a minimum possible limit to human objectivity and I am not super-human. However, I am not being prejudiced here, that I can ensure. Its important to dig the authorial intention while reading texts and authors are not super-human either; they too pass their subjectivities into the texts.

  3. For the sake of objectivity I guess , while making our argument, we should try to avoid using classy adjectives for the ‘other’ like the ‘pseudo intellectuals’ and their ‘fallacious and concocted’ ideologies…that’s passing judgements in a not so objective manner…lets not commit the same crime we r pointing in others…now this is not to say that I disagree with your argument…what you are pointing out is unfortunately very true but I am hopeful that voices like yours will bring change…the high pitched voices seldom have a lasting impact..

  4. I wholehaertedly agree, but I have a right to consider anyone a pseudo-intellectual who gives a damn to Syed Ameer Ali on public TV. I think the adjectives are polite otherwise we should also give damn to them, but that of course would be against objectivity. As far as concocted ideologies are concerned, well you can view the link beneath that remark to gauge my contention.

    Thank you for commenting and I do agree with you however exasperation has to be vented out through adjectives rather than abuse. I am just managing my stress as well. Take care.

  5. You are true that some people are really over reacting in this matter and creating needless fuss. But I will never want our children to look up to her, because she has got fame at a very young age and now it seems that she is enjoying it more than spending time on her own education. And because I believe that those who prefer fame at a young age to any other values mostly lead shallow lives. This is my personal opinion and if I disagree with your opinion it doesn’t mean that I am a “self-righteous pseudo intellectual.” I am not an intellectual and I will never like to be in future either.

  6. بخشی صاحب۔
    بڑی گوڑھی انگلش لکھتے ہیں آپ ماشاءاللہ۔
    سواد آگیا۔
    میں سوچ ہی رہا تھا کہ جستی ٹرنک میں پڑی رضائیوں کے نیچے سالوں سے دبی ہوئی اردو-انگلش ڈکشنری جھاڑ کے دو چار دفعہ کھنگوں، دس پندرہ نِچھیں ماروں اور پھر ڈکشنری دیکھ دیکھ کر آپ کا آرٹیکل پڑھوں۔
    لیکن پھر سوچا کہ یار چل پندرہ منٹ سر درد ہی ہوگا نہ، چل پڑھ لیتے ہیں ایسے ہی۔
    ماسٹر بشیر صاحب اس طرح کے انگریزی آرٹیکل ترجمہ کرنے کو دیتے تھے دسویں جماعت میں۔

    یقین کریں آپ نے کوزے کو دریا میں بند کردیا ہے۔
    کئی ساری باتیں تو ایسی تھیں کہ ایسے لگا کہ آپ نے میرے دماغ کو ہیک کر کے لیک کردی ہیں۔
    اللہ کرے شورِ قلم اور بھی زیادہ۔
    آپ بہت زبردست لکھتے ہیں۔

    ایک ذاتی گزارش۔
    ایک بلاگ “لکھنے” کے فن پر بھی لکھ دیں۔
    کہ کیسے خیال مجتمع کرنے ہیں اور کیسے ترتیب دینے ہیں۔
    وہ بات یہ ہے کہ ماسٹر بشیر صاب نے بس سوٹیاں مارنے پر زور رکھا، اسی لیے لکھائی کمزور ہے۔
    آپ کے ماسٹر صاحب واوا محنت کروانے والے لگتے ہیں، اُن کی ٹپس ہی شئیر کردیں کچھ۔
    رب راکھا۔

    آئم سیریس بائی دا وے۔

    • اب ٰآپ نے مجھے عجیب مخمصے میں مبتلا کر دیا ہے کہ آپ کی تعریف کو طنزیہ پیراۓ میں لوں یا سچ۔ مگر حقیقت یہ ہے کہ تعریف چاہے مبالغہ ہو یا طنز ہر انسان کو، چاہے ایک لمحے کے لیے ہی سہی، ایک چھوٹا موٹا غبارہ تو بنا ہی دیتی ہے۔ سو میرا دل بھی یقیناً بڑا ھو گیا۔ اگر سچ تھا تو شکریہ اور اگر نہیں تو بھی تو چلیں ایک غبارہ تو میں پھر بھی بن گیا۔

      مگر جو آپ نے نہیں کہا میں نے بین السطور وہ بھی پڑھ لیا۔ سچ پوچھیں تو تمام مشکل پسند روحوں کا یہی المیہ ھے۔ وہ ساری زندگی سہی سوال بننے کی جستجو میں رہتے ہیں اور ان کے سامع سمجھتے ہیں کہ جواب دے رہے ہیں۔ نتیجہ مزید گنجلک عبارت اور مزید مشکل خاکہ۔ ان حالات میں اگر ایک اور اپنے ھی قبیل کہ روح سے ملاقات ہو جاۓ تو کیا کہنے۔ ماسٹر بشیر کے لیے دل سے دعا ہی نکلتی ہے۔ میرے جیسا کنفیوزڈ آدمی بھلا آپ کو کیا ٹپس دے گا۔

      میں شاید ایک کلاسیکل بلاگر نہیں ہوں کیونکہ میں فی نفسہٖ لکھنے کے لیے نہیں لکھتا۔ چونکہ میرے پیش نظر اولین مقصد سوال ہے، سو جب سوال ذہن میں ہو تو اس کی مختلف جہتیں اپنے آپ پر واضح کرنے کے لیے کچھ لکھنے بیٹھ جاتا ہوں۔اگر کسی کو پسند آ جاۓ تو مطلب وہ سوال اس کے بھی زہن کے کسی گوشے میں تھا۔ یا وہ خاکہ شاید وہ بھی بنانا چاہتا تھا۔ میرا ایمان ہے کہ اگر ھم سوالوں کے خاکوں پر متفق ہو جایٔں تو معاشرہ، جناب جون ایلیاؒ کے بقول، بونوں کا معاشرہ نہیں رہے گا۔ فی الوقت مشکل یہ درپیش ہے کہ ہم اجتماعی طور پر سوالوں سے زیادہ جوابوں کے حصول کی دوڑ میں لگے ھیں۔ نتیجہ جواب ہی جواب اور سوال ندارد۔

      اس لیے میں تو کہوں گا کہ آپ سوال پوچھیں اور ایک ھی سوال نت نۓ زاویے سے بار بار پوچھیں۔ اللہ آپ کی عمر، عمل اور سوچ میں برکت دے۔ آمین۔

  7. I agree with your sentiments and your assessment of what is going on. This trend is disturbing.
    Our beloved Pakistan has been turned into a terribly repressive environment where people do not have the courage (even if they have the knowledge) to speak the truth. I only have happened to hear the “objections” about the book on a Pakistani media channel, like not saying “peace be upon him” with the name of the prophet Mohammad every time. That is so cheesy. Of course they cannot back up any such requirement anywhere in Islam. If those Pakistanis objecting to that are taken to the muslims living in the masjidalharaam, they will start calling them blasphemous too for not doing so. They keep inventing new things and feel good while forgetting all the requirements that were actually there in Islam.
    Looks like I’ll have to read poor Malala’s book.

  8. I’m so glad you are optimistic. There are many, many days when I cannot find the ability to be optimistic about our surat-e-haal.

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