Bilal, ex-Prof at Boston University, US, is an architect by profession and also a trainer and a counselor. The architect-turned-religious scholar is also known for his communication skills, knowledge and wisdom over religion and spirituality.
The interview has been conducted with particular focus on the issues currently facing by Pakistan and Muslims around the world. Mr Qutub voiced his views in detail on several complex issues affecting Pakistan.
TNT: What made you change your carrier path? I mean you started off as professional architect and later became an Islamic scholar.
Bilal Qutub: Whatever I am today is because of the reason that I was not satisfied with my previous profession. This dissatisfaction made me to study medicine, do teaching and then to become a Islamic scholar. I was used to feel that my profession can only provide me better kitchen and I should do something else in life for my inner satisfaction.
TNT: What factors you see behind growing extremism in Pakistani society? And how do you view the terms fundamentalism and terrorism?
Bilal Qutub: Well, the basic thing is that every one loves his or her religion in this world. I ask you one thing, can anyone be more pro-religion than Jews? Mostly Americans are Protestants and Catholic, they not only take oath in the name of God but also print “In God We Trust’’ on the rear side of currency notes. Considering this, Pakistanis or Muslims were not the only nation who is religious. And if you call it fundamentalism then our society is as fundamentalist as others. Despite the fact that Britons and Americans are colonists, interestingly they are not called fundamentalists. The word “fundamentalist or extremist” being used in traditional meanings for Pakistanis is completely a wrong usage of words. In Pakistani society one can know the real social, economic and political environment by talking to a layman for just about half-an-hour, whereas American society lacks such understanding of issues at a grass-root level.
Now the terms “fundamentalism” and “terrorism” have become franchise similar to those ideologies and businesses that were franchised to others by the West in the garb of different terminologies.
I see the issue as an attempt or wish to grab resources of others. Under these circumstances, there is an urgent need to re-understand the terminologies used for explaining the current situation.
Have you ever noticed the condition of those who call us extremists? If you talk to an American on this issue you will find him unable to listen to your general analysis for even 10 minutes without confusion. Though he would have no valid opinion, but would insist he is right in a sense of national superiority.
As a society, Americans have a history of introducing a new terminology to change the impression related to it. For instance, Taliban are called extremists today, but this word was not that common in the past. It must have been planned while giving them the name that they would be linked to Mosques and seminaries at an appropriate time. Unfortunately, later, they targeted the symbols of Muslim culture i.e. mosques and seminaries making them controversial.
Today, Taliban and their certain bad activities have damaged the image of several positive things and institutions.
TNT: How would you compare Pakistani society with that of the US?
Bilal Qutub: There are 20 American schools in Pakistan, which run under the US system, however there is not a single Pakistani school in America which teaches our syllabus there. If this is so due to the reason that we lag behind them according to certain parameters of development, then civilisation should not be made base of the society and the slogan ‘all are equal’ should also be abandoned. In fact this diplomatic lie must be stopped.
The concept of superpower must be redefined as to what state be called by this particular title. I would say that Obama would have not become US president if he did not focus on a particular Jews institution during his first speech. In fact America is a tool while Jews are the driving force. Who is extremist…..we or those who give importance to planted words to an extent that they don’t even call the middle name of President Obama.
Islam is not a problem. We have a rich past as a nation and as a civilization, whereas America is just 200 years old, so in this situation how can we compare theology with ideology. The system which they wish to continue is based on flaws. Under these circumstances, if only Muslims were asked to check themselves then I would suggest that the same practice should do everyone.
Unfortunately, today a number of images of Islam, including political Islam, Asian Islam, Taliban’s Islam and Shiite’s Islam are presented. Basically the concept itself is wrong that Islam has various images as the religion has only one picture, which is true.
If we intellectually analyze this contradiction we come to a conclusion that Americans are short-sighted intellectuals as they are a mixture and just 200 years old nation, whose genes is not yet stable.
Look, we are being blamed for extremism, however, if they are not racist then why they cannot tolerate full name of Obama. We had twice elected woman prime minister but they would not do so.
Now see another contradiction. A man who takes poison to end his life for ideology had never been called a fundamentalist in the past. Considering this, why a person who blow himself up today for the same cause is declared a fundamentalist……though both of them sacrificed their lives for their beliefs. Why they are Taliban and not Socrates. Give them the name of Socrates and then see the difference how image is changed.
TNT: What causes you believe are responsible for division in Pakistani society?
Bilal Qutub: To me social issues instead of difference of opinion are responsible for division of Pakistani society. Around 30 percent of the population does not has the facility of toilet and upto 20-22 hours long loadshedding is taking place. In this situation, if one is willing to know us as a nation as well as the actual reasons of extremism then he must go through our history.
Second thing is that our democracy was producing second category intelligencia and not the excellent one. The same is the issue of America and today’s society as they are only promoting sub-standard system
TNT: Do you agree that the ongoing war on terror is Pakistan’s own war?
Bilal Qutub: Well, it is really hard to understand terrorism as even Pentagon could not realised it till 2012. In fact the objective of this terminology is to take benefit by keeping people confused. I believe that knowledge terrorism, resource terrorism and intellect terrorism has been created now, which is more dangerous than the same term used for violence. For instance, if we accept it then would we be right in terming an attempt to prevent Iran from making atomic bomb as terrorism.
War on terror is not our issue as we are facing threats to our lives…..we are facing shortage of oil, gas and other things. We are confronting the issues of Afghanistan. Basically, this region possesses hot water and that is the bone of contention. First, Soviet Union had attempted to enter the region and now another superpower has the same designs but Iran and Pakistan are hurdles in her way.
To fulfill this agenda, they try to shake our power of self-confidence. First America creates heroship for the East then finishes them to prove that she is capable of insulting our heroes. The same is the case with Syria, Lebanon and Iraq as in the first phase they were presented as idols and now they are being targeted. Personally, I feel that most of the movements in the Middle East region are sponsored. A similar attempt was made against Ahmadinejad but in vain…..in Syria it was successful; however they failed in Behrain because of incorrect analysis of its manpower. The hidden-sponsors were unaware of the fact that people use air-conditioners even in tents there. Overall, they remained successful in targeting the poor and under-developed societies; however, they failed in misguiding financially strong people.
To win today’s war, enemy has collected our complete data through facebook. In the past, the same objective was achieved through lottery forms. Credit cards have been introduced for payments…..as a result, after 10 years instead of us an American will be aware that who is marrying whom, who is in love and what is his/her interests.
Just imagine, in this situation a mother would not be that much aware about her daughter as that of America. On the basis of this data, America is planning a war after 20 years.
TNT: What solution would you suggest for this complex situation?
Bilal Qutub: See, in this situation only economic self-reliance is a solution. Iran has protected itself from this trap by not becoming a part of consumer world. We will have to follow her to save ourselves.
Today, slavery is being promoted in the name of globalisation. I would suggest here one more thing that one should always adopt same (one) language for love, hatred and other relationships/things otherwise you would become a confused nation. The same thing has happened with us as we use two different languages for receiving education and maintaining relationships, which has confused us.