News

Literate the Religious Illiterate

By Dr Asif Channer

February 28, 2024 06:01 PM


In the wake of a recent alarming incident in Lahore, Pakistan, where a woman faced the threat of lynching due to a misunderstanding regarding Arabic script on her dress, it has become evident that fostering tolerance and religious literacy is imperative for the country's social fabric. The lack of understanding of Arabic within the Pakistani community, coupled with religious illiteracy, has led to a zero-tolerance environment where even innocuous expressions are misconstrued as blasphemy. To prevent such harrowing events in the future, it is crucial to propose strategies that promote education, dialogue, and the role of religious scholars in educating the public.

The incident in Lahore underscores a deeper issue within Pakistani society: the lack of familiarity with Arabic script and its nuances. While Arabic is the language of the Quran and holds significant religious importance, many Pakistanis lack proficiency in understanding it beyond religious contexts. This linguistic gap becomes problematic when Arabic script appears in everyday contexts, such as clothing or branding, leading to confusion and misinterpretation.

Furthermore, the incident highlights the urgent need for religious literacy, particularly regarding the Quran and Islamic teachings. Blasphemy accusations, fueled by misunderstandings, can have severe consequences, as witnessed in Lahore. Therefore, efforts to enhance religious literacy must go beyond rote memorization of religious texts and encompass a deeper understanding of their historical context, interpretation, and application in contemporary society.

One proposed strategy to address these challenges is to integrate religious education into mainstream curricula, emphasizing critical thinking and contextual understanding. By incorporating teachings on Arabic language and script alongside religious studies, students can develop a more nuanced appreciation of Islamic texts and their interpretations. Additionally, educational initiatives should promote dialogue and mutual respect among students from diverse religious backgrounds, fostering empathy and understanding.

Media literacy also plays a vital role in preventing misinformation and promoting tolerance. News outlets and social media platforms should prioritize responsible reporting, fact-checking, and sensitivity when covering religious issues. Moreover, media organizations can collaborate with religious scholars and community leaders to provide accurate and contextualized information to the public, countering divisive narratives and promoting harmony.

Legal reforms are essential to ensure the protection of religious minorities and safeguard against misuse of blasphemy laws. While respecting the sanctity of religious beliefs, laws should be drafted and enforced in a manner that upholds fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and religion. Law enforcement agencies must be trained to handle blasphemy allegations sensitively, prioritizing the protection of individuals while maintaining public order.

Religious scholars have a pivotal role to play in promoting tolerance and combating religious illiteracy. Beyond imparting religious teachings, scholars should actively engage with the community, address misconceptions, and promote a culture of understanding and dialogue. By providing guidance on the interpretation of religious texts and emphasizing principles of compassion and tolerance, scholars can counter extremist ideologies and foster a more inclusive society.

Interfaith dialogue and collaboration are essential for building bridges across religious divides and promoting mutual respect. Religious leaders from different faith traditions should come together to promote peace, understanding, and cooperation. Through joint initiatives, such as interfaith forums and community service projects, religious communities can demonstrate solidarity and resilience against extremism and intolerance.

International partnerships and exchange programs can provide valuable support in promoting religious literacy and tolerance. By sharing best practices, resources, and experiences, countries can learn from each other's successes and challenges in combating religious extremism and promoting pluralism.

In conclusion, the incident in Lahore serves as a wake-up call for Pakistani society to address the underlying issues of tolerance and religious literacy. By implementing comprehensive strategies that encompass education, media literacy, legal reforms, and religious leadership, Pakistan can prevent similar events in the future and foster a society where diversity is celebrated and respected. It is time for all stakeholders to unite in their commitment to building a more inclusive and harmonious Pakistan.

 


Dr Asif Channer


Most Read

  1. Farmers can apply for Bardana through App from Saturday as Punjab starts wheat procurement campaign Farmers can apply for Bardana through App from Saturday as Punjab starts wheat procurement campaign
  2. Adil Raja loses pleas to dismiss Naseer’s defamation suits Adil Raja loses pleas to dismiss Naseer’s defamation suits
  3. Punjab students asked to get registered for getting petrol, e-bikes Punjab students asked to get registered for getting petrol, e-bikes
  4. Star woman cricketer Aliya Riaz ties the knot with Ali Younis in intimate Nikkah Ceremony Star woman cricketer Aliya Riaz ties the knot with Ali Younis in intimate Nikkah Ceremony
  5. ASF official who misbehaved with girl at Karachi airport likely to face music ASF official who misbehaved with girl at Karachi airport likely to face music
  6. Amir Tanba, linked to Indian spy Sarabjit Singh's jail killing, killed in Lahore Amir Tanba, linked to Indian spy Sarabjit Singh's jail killing, killed in Lahore

Opinion

  1. Insights into the Pakistan Stock Exchange's Recent Record High Triumph
    Insights into the Pakistan Stock Exchange's Recent Record High Triumph

    By Zulfiqar Ali Mir

  2. IMEC to sabotage CPEC
    IMEC to sabotage CPEC

    By Dr Asif Channer

  3. 1947 TO FORM 47
    1947 TO FORM 47

    By Dr Asif Channer

  4. Beijing wants to further highlight industrial sector in its country and take scientific innovation to new heights....
    Beijing wants to further highlight industrial sector in its country and take scientific innovation to new heights....

    By Ali Ramay

  5. Global race: China will reduce its unnecessary expenses
    Global race: China will reduce its unnecessary expenses

    By Ali Ramay

  6. Channer Pir: The Great Saint of Cholistan
    Channer Pir: The Great Saint of Cholistan

    By Dr Asif Channer