The recent ban on the niqab (full face veil) in France has created a furor in almost entire Muslim world. Most of the reaction that has appeared in Print as well as electronic media has condemned the French enactment. It is unfortunate that the Muslim world, more or less, has lost the propensity to analyse issues in their true perspective. Reaction on ban on niqab is a typical example. France has, in fact, has banned niqab and not hijab (covering head with scarf). Full face veil has never been an uncontroversial issue among Muslims. Interestingly, during Haj and Umra (pilgrimage to Mecca) no Muslim woman is supposed to veil her. The ban on niqab should have provided food for thought to Muslims.
They should have analysed the reasons of their massive immigration to non-Muslim countries. I remember last year, Arab women organised a rally in Sydney. The speakers attacked on "flawed western secular values" and termed Australia too decadent for Muslims. The pitiable paradox is that not a single Muslim country, out of fifty-four, offers what the countries with "flawed secular values" provide to Muslim immigrants. The figures are eye opening: There are 36,500 Muslim immigrants in Australia, 28,000 in Belgium, 65,700 in Canada, 3,554,000 in France, 4,026,000 in Germany, 946,000 in Netherlands, 650,000 in Spain, 1,647,000 in the UK and 2,454,000 in USA. Millions are living in Italy, Greece, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Austria, Japan and New Zealand. Millions more are struggling to follow. There is hardly any Muslim country which is not witnessing long queues in front of embassies of western countries. The irony is that economic forces are not the only factor behind this great wave of transfer of population. Many have left their birthplaces in search of personal and intellectual freedom, democratic rule, law abiding society and better educational prospects for their next generations.
It is pathetic that there is lot of hue and cry against ban on niqab but there is no soul searching as to why Muslims are constrained to Blasphemy law, currently a major controversy in Pakistan, is yet another example of muddling the matters and obscuring the truth by confusing the issues. This law, introduced in Zia regime, requires no evidence if a person is accused of blasphemy. Scores of personal enmities are settled with this law. A medical practitioner declined to meet a representative of a pharmaceutical company. The agent barged in and thrust his visiting card. The doctor, obviously annoyed, threw the card away. He is now in jail because the card contained a sacred name. There are numerous examples of such high handedness. Many are rotting in jails without committing any blasphemy. Those who demand amendment in this law maintain that those who accuse falsely should also be punished. Unfortunately the man made law is defended by the bigots as if it is part of a divine revelation. It may not be out of place to emphasize that no Pakistani in general and no Muslim in particular can even think of disrespecting the sacred personalities of any religion.
Will Muslims ever analyse the factors behind their present degeneration and unenviable place in the area of science and technology?