The distinction between culture and religion is a difficult one for people from Pakistan. Failure to distinguish between the two makes the discussion of how we have lost our culture very complicated and unproductive to say the least. Before the start of such discussions, it is our duty to teach people the difference between religion and culture.
Culture is defines as norms and customs of a society passed on from one generation to another. But are 70 years enough to qualify our societal norms as culture in the first place?
Which culture are we talking about anyway? Where women are supposed to wear a hijaab, where they are supposed to work and contribute to the economy, where conservatism is supreme or where coke studio is our national pride?
We glorify Aurangzeb Alamgir yet we admire Rumi. That seems like a contradiction within itself. It can be termed as identity crisis.
We lost our culture the day when we started to feel proud of our oppressors just because they happened to be Muslims. We lost our culture when Muhammad Bin Qasim became a hero. When Babar became a hero, when Taimoor became a hero, we became complexed with regards to our culture. Why are we inclined towards music and poetry? Why is that we glorify warriors like Muhammad Bin Qasim and at the same time we glorify the mysticism of Shams and Baba Bhulay Shah? If we as Pakistanis have a culture of our own if we have one, then what is it titled towards? Is it war or is it mysticism? You have to choose one because these the two traits under consideration are contradictory to each other from their very core.
The whole discussion of our culture is predicted on the solution of this identity crisis. Let patriotism not hold you back from embracing the fact that the culture of your neighbors is more closely related to you than your Arab friends. Islam spread to places not by a way of war. It is by no means a unitary process. The way Islam spread differs from place to place. It depends solely on culture. So it’s not desirable to mix culture with religion as it would induce a fundamentalist approach in your mind when it comes to how the society works. Which is not a good way to look at religion nor is that a good way to look at culture as these are very diverse topics which require a broad spectrum analysis which is difficult to achieve in our society because we are interested in satisfying our egos. It doesn’t matter how good or authentic the opposite opinion is. The dominant thought in our minds is whether a person is qualified enough to comment on a topic under discussion. This takes away the right from people who might have more practical experience on a topic rather than literary knowledge. It can be said that practical knowledge is more helpful in all circumstances. Not only helpful but desirable.
Embrace your roots even if they originate from an enemy country.
This Article is written by Ahmed Ghazanfar from Bahria University.