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Culture and Society | ftikhar Ahmad

Credit goes to the leadership of Pakistan for showing courage, determination and resilience to face the menace of terrorism and evolving consensus and unity to fight terrorists. There was need for better and effective cooperation and coordination at global level to tackle the menace and put to end all shades of extremism. People and the government of Pakistan strongly condemn the deadly attacks in Paris resulting in loss of precious lives. We condemn terrorists whatever label they operate under. An important initiative for the ‘Civilized World’ would be to act to find ways and means for global peace and security so as to avoid another world war. Scientific approach is needed to determine who the terrorists are? And what is their agenda? Terrorism is a ‘mindset’ not necessarily related to belief system.

Research on the subject is required even if things look obvious. Causes and roots of terrorism must be explored. And we must stand resolved to achieve this objective. All possible dimensions of the issue need to be analyzed for possible conclusions and solutions or workable remedies and suggesting policies and future line of action to combat the threat of terrorism. The west should reflect back on their own policies towards the Muslims and understand that Paris carnage could be a fall out of anti-Muslim policies and sociology that has lost the sense and meaning of the need for Empathy and care for humanity.

A frame of reference with multidirectional approach would be required for suggested research. ‘Civilized World’ may not agree to it. Then what can you do about their ‘fixations’ and ‘stereotyping Muslims’? All Muslims are not terrorists, Nor shall I say all Christians, Jews and Hindus are terrorists. Cultural variations are understandable. But no universal religions advocate violence. Message of Islam is Peace and devotion to human values, cooperation and love.

Culture is a gradual, steady, organic phenomenon. It links the past with the present and helps the individual to retain individuality through Craft. An artist lives through his paintings. An organic Social system permits development of wholesome personality that easily adopts and adapts.

According to Freud, “the history of mankind, is the history of repression by civilization”. In the name of security people submit to authority while compromising their liberty. Civilization today more or less stands as the antonym of barbarism. What it requires is rethinking and global cooperation for an open culture and social reconstruction of societies and Structural-functional analysis to strengthen global and regional institutional framework that has a place for humanity to flourish.

Clear message for those defacing secular face of India is to behave and stop hatemongering against Pakistan. Indian intolerance and escalating extremism is no support for its brand of nationalism. Rather it reinforces the logic of the two nations theory, the foundation of the state of Pakistan. Sadly the west is up for an ultimate assault on the Muslim World, in alliance with India. Greater Hindu assertiveness against minorities, specially Muslims and the West’s policy of rejecting Muslim refugees from war-torn countries is equivalent of fascism which has gripped Europe recently.

Sociologists examine religions in terms of social functions they fulfill, such as providing social support or reinforcing social norms. By exploring both the beliefs and the functions of religion, we can better understand its impact on the individual, on groups, and on society as a whole.

In his presidential address to the 27th session of All India Muslim League, held at Lahore on 22-24, March 1940 Jinnah said, “Muslims are a nation according to any definition of a nation, and they must have their homeland, their territory and their state. We wish to live in peace and harmony with our neighbours as a free and independent people. We wish our people to develop to the fullest our spiritual, cultural, economic, social and political life in a way that we think best and in consonance with our own ideals and according to the genius of our people.”

In his Eid message in September 1945, Muhammad Ali Jinnah said, “Everyone, except those who are ignorant, knows that the Quran is the general code of the Muslims.”

It appears from his Eid message of 7th August 1948 that Jinnah was conscious of the need for united front by Muslim states. He said, “My message to our brother Muslim states is one of friendship and goodwill. We are all passing through perilous times. The drama of power politics that is being staged in Palestine, Indonesia and Kashmir should serve as an eye opener to us. It is only by putting up a united front that we can make our voice felt in the counsels of the world. The fact remains that Pakistan and Quaid-e-Azam were accepted as leader of the Muslim world.

Quaid-e-Azam’s speeches and statements, in many ways, give us elements of nationalism, defined as national character, nationality, or character peculiar to any nation. Nationalism is devotion to, or advocacy of, national interests or national unity and independence. A nationalist is an advocate of national independence, unity, etc. Nationality is a quality or fact of belonging to a nation, as by nativity or allegiance. It also means a people united by common institutions, language, etc.

The term culture refers to enlightenment and refinement of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training, a particular stage of advancement in civilization or the characteristic features of such a stage or state. In some remote parts of Pakistan culture is still at primitive stage. Whenever we talk of societies, communities, nations and nationalism we come across a term culture – everything which is socially learned and shared by members of a society.

In the context of understanding a society and its culture we are introduced to a term ethnocentrism which is tendency of each group to take for granted the superiority of its own culture. Material culture is made up of artifacts people make. Nonmaterial culture comprises the behavior pattern, norms, values, and social relationships of human groups. A society is a relatively independent, self-perpetuating human group which occupies a particular territory and has most associations within this group.

Nationalism gives a sense of belonging and sense of power to people anywhere on the globe. Nuclear weapons are a great deterrent as well as a symbol of national power and nationalism. Responsible nuclear powers are expected to behave responsibly. National flags, national anthems and other symbols of national identity are commonly considered highly important symbols of the national community. So is the importance of Pakistani nationalist songs.

If terms nation and nationalism have something to do with culture, we need to understand how do gender roles differ from one culture to another. Are women still oppressed because of their gender? Have men’s and women’s positions in society changed?

Source: http://nation.com.pk/columns/28-Nov-2015/culture-and-society

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