Friday, December 28, 2007

The Pull of Political Orthodoxy

I’m reminded this morning of a great decision of mine to stay as far away as possible from group discussions about major events in the Muslim east. It all ended, if I remember right, on September 12, 2001. For too many years, in big groups and small, the “elders” have shown me (and many others) this amazing ability to turn political positions and views as some kind of orthodoxy, a test of sorts. What I mean by this is that one’s personal piety or religious rank somehow became subtly measured by (or at least associated with) one’s take on some political event that emanated from or affected the Muslim mind or world. It was required, for example, to discuss (or at least imagine) the return of the Caliphate. If you had any misgivings of this whole proposal and had the guts to express it, then glances turned askance, as if you had fallen into heterodoxy and schism or had said something outrageous. Again, I don’t know much about Pakistan’s political variegated landscape, but I do remember that when Bhutto became Pakistan’s leader (not sure which term), it was expected to be “against” her, some vague position accompanied by religious swagger, primarily of Jamat-islami vintage.

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