Our nation has been plagued by one poisonous scholar after the other

Popularly known as Orya Maqbool Jan, former member of Pakistan’s civil bureaucracy, columnist and anchor person, Orya Maqbool Abbasi requires little introduction. Famous (or infamous) for his extreme orthodox views, perhaps he has generated more controversies than our society can handle.

To begin with, he is against providing legal protection to women.  To him, it’s against “the sanctity of a family” to prohibit the husband from torturing the wife. According to Orya Maqbool, it’s halal, completely natural and women should remain subservient to men. He continues to claim that 25% of all American women are victims of domestic violence. We really have no idea and can only wonder where he acquired (or created) these statistics, as he never mentions any legitimate sources. Amusingly enough, he also believes that many Pakistani women enjoy being beaten by their husbands and rejoice in showing off the resulting bruises to their female friends. One can only wonder which psychology professor, reference books or teachings he has been following.

According to an article published in Psychology Today, renowned psychoanalyst Karen Horney and Erich Fromm, this disorder termed as “Sadistic Personality Disorder” (SPD).  In an overview of the manual, Widiger et al (1988) noted “Karen believed the vindictive sadist is a person who enjoys subjugating, deprecating, disparaging and humiliating others. This is the result of repressed self-content and discontent. ’’

Does Mr. Orya have the slightest clue that he has stereotyped a large fraction of women populace of this society and made gross generalizations by referring to them as ‘masochistic’ creatures who take delight and pleasure in being whipped by their husbands? Not to mention how his narrative blatantly undermines the collective efforts of various international and national NGOs, women rights activists, and his endeavor to nullify all efforts which have been fighting against domestic violence and social injustice.

Then there is his fantasy. He is not hesitant in spilling out half a dozen conspiracies to the mainstream public on the Malala Yousafzai case that is inherent in various groups of our society, by calling it a staged performance. We do not know the objective truth about Malala Yousufzai’s incident, but that by no means suggests that we should go on propagating conspiracy theories or pushing our own biased perspective down the throats of everyone in the society. Sadly, Mr. Maqbool has done this all along.

The misogyny does not end there. Our brave scholar openly supports the capturing of enemy’s civilian women (yes, CIVILIAN) as sex slaves (londi or bandi in classical literature). In his interview to a TV channel, Mr. Maqbool openly supports this notion. Here is an excerpt from that interview:

Host: So when Pakistani forces captured the Run-of-Kuchh region in India, was it completely legal and moral for our soldiers to rape the civilian women of that area?

Orya: Yes indeed, it is permissible.

Host: But don’t you think this is against human rights and war ethics?

Orya: Well, those women are going to be raped anyway. So why not openly declare them londian and bring them home?

If you are unfamiliar with the man, this would shock you. But when you get to know some of his other ideas, the above will look mundane.

Here we need to clarify this issue to those who might be unaware, lest they form an oppressive and misogynistic view of Islam. Several contemporary scholars of all sects have explicitly ruled that in modern times, when war ethics have evolved a long way and such brutality is deemed unlawful by the non-Muslim armies, Muslim armies are also strictly banned from undertaking any such act of iniquity. We have no idea where our (in)glorious scholar gets his violent ideas from.

It does not end here, either. Mr. Jan refuses to admit that the population of a country can exceed and exhaust its resources. You can try showing him the statistics of people murdering their children and committing suicides due to abject poverty, and he will unabashedly shift the onus on ill-governance. He is ignorant of the ground realities that haunt our country. You can present him statistical data about the aggregate increase in agricultural yield compared to the increase in population and he will hand-wave it conveniently, with a barrage of religious references about not murdering one’s children (as in, family planning and use of contraceptives).

In another interview, the host continues to question Mr. Orya’s views in the light of our country, and every time Mr. Orya pushes the case of one of the first world countries suffering from insufficient birth rates. How the case of those countries accounts for the realities of our socio-economics is beyond my grasp. Using a singular social lens to distort historical evidence is antithetical to the epistemology of ‘ideas of freedom of expression, ’ social structure, and any philosophical school of thought. But it seems that the man is oblivious to these truths.

He narrates the wastage of American grain as the cause of famine in Africa. Are we supposed to raid America for its grain in order to feed the starved of Africa? On what moral and political grounds would such a brilliant strategy be based upon? Our (in)glorious scholar cleverly avoids answering this question.

Additionally, his rhetoric on education is the wrong template for a developing country and has no effective or substantial pitch. The man has a strong aversion from English language being taught in our educational system and also stated during a talk show that pupils shouldn’t be taught English Literature at all. He is oblivious to the fact that many western countries teach eastern literature at university level. Writers such as Jalal-ud-din Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Omer Khayyam – to name a few – have been hailed as legends for weaving words in their specific genres, and their works have been translated into various languages. Several renditions from their epics have been rendered to modern literature, so showing deep aversion to a particular language is quite baseless.

Language is a means of communication and expression. Great literature produced throughout the East and West is essential for intellectual growth as there lies beauty in different perceptions and it serves as an essential common ground for bridging gaps between cultures, globally. Since generations, literature has been considered transcendental, which is beyond the limitations of time, confines of any culture or restricted to any prism of expression and that is precisely how it ought to remain.

Scholars are those bright beacons of a nation which decide how it will go down the annals of history. Unfortunately for our nation, we have been plagued by one poisonous scholar after the other. Mr. Maqbool belongs to the latest generation of such scholars, but the good thing is that the common man of our times is more learned and confident than that of previous years. While there is a small minority which reveres such extremist-minded scholars, it nevertheless exists.

It is the responsibility of media channels to give more coverage to rational, fair-minded scholars, who are truly capable of leading our nation towards a tolerant society, who possess adequate knowledge of the fundamental rights granted to women by our constitution and have a solid grasp on the ground realities daunting our country.

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