Not that Geo ever got out of the country’s bad books, but now the situation has deteriorated further. Utho Jago Pakistan, Geo Tv’s morning show, recently celebrated Veena Malik’s wedding by re-enacting it. Again. In their giddiness they played a qawali that describes the wedding of Hazrat Ali (K.A.W) and Hazrat Fatima (A.S), both of whom are extremely revered by Muslims, as the couple’s sehra. (A sehra is a song/poem written for the bride and groom specifically and describes their love and marriage, in case you don’t know.) Even the dumbest person in Pakistan could’ve predicted what was coming next.
All hell broke loose as people (as usual) turned towards the ‘Jewish’ media to curse ‘Jew’ TV for their blatant disrespect of the Ahl e Bait (A.S) by comparing them to Veena Malik and her husband (as if likening them to someone is that simple. If it was so easy to tarnish their personalities, there would have been no Karbala).
Many have pointed out that the same manqabat was played on other channels’ morning shows as well. I want to ask them, what’s wrong with that? They played it as what it was: a qawali that praises the holy couple. The same qawali is sung at most weddings and milaads in order to offer respect to Hazrat Ali (K.A.W) and Bibi Fatima Zahra (A.S) and to show that they are remembered in our celebrations just like they are remembered in times of sorrow. It is very common and there is nothing wrong with that.
Now what did Shaista Lodhi do that was so wrong that made everyone run after her life all of a sudden? What was wrong was to sing the qawali as sehra; a song written specifically for the bride and groom. To sing it as sehra immediately implies that you are comparing the couple to personalities that are held in the highest regard by all Muslims. This was definitely an act of blasphemy and there is no justification for it.
That being said, I want to reiterate what I have said many times before, that our nation’s reaction to most incidents is completely over the top and extremely irresponsible. What Shaista Lodhi did was wrong, there is no question about it but is this the first time when blasphemy was committed on our ‘sacred’ media? The channels that are screaming against the show and Geo TV (like they have been doing for past many weeks) air several programs during the month of Moharram, on dates that are important for Shiites, and in fact the entire Muslim population, that question the beliefs of the sect. Scholars of different sects are made to sit together and discuss topics that are sure to spark controversy.
In their eagerness, several times those learned scholars say many things that can be classified as blasphemy. They pass derogatory statements about the Prophet’s (p.b.u.h) family and companions, by comparing them to people who are worse than all the scum on this planet, just to prove a lousy point. By doing that, they incite anger and hatred in people who consider them and authority on the religion which is all about peace and condemns the very idea of hatred. And it’s the same every year. But no one dares to accuse them for being blasphemous and insulting holy personalities.
Even we, the common people, commit blasphemy many times a day without even realizing it. We call each other names for having different beliefs, not thinking that our Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) has strictly forbidden us from being abusive. We write Quranic verses and Ahadees of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) on walls that are covered with filth. Isn’t that blasphemy? So why don’t we condemn ourselves to death?
What has Shaista Lodhi done that is so different? Why is she alone being threatened so vehemently? Because she is an easy target? Because self proclaimed religious police won’t be after your life if you protest against her show?
Shaista Lodhi must be condemned for her irresponsibility. She is a public figure and her show is watched by people across the globe. Whatever she does has an impact on people and therefore she must be held accountable for being so ignorant and hurting other people’s sentiments. But so should the famous scholars and hosts of other channels, many of whom are known for their hate speech against religious beliefs of other sects and religions. If only we try to set our priorities straight and stop being the hypocrites that we are, such incidents would not take place in our society.
This blog was initially published here.