Throughout human history, the free spirits, the inventors, have been labeled as outcasts and blasphemers. Those courageous ones, curious ones who dared to wander outside the cage of orthodoxy were regarded as corruptors.
From 16th century, orthodoxy has been a hurdle in the way of science. The truth-seekers like Galileo has been regarded as an enemy of these orthodox saints. They were dangerous for these self-proclaimed religious ascetic ideals.
The answer to the question, ‘why science could not flourish in our society?’ perhaps lies with these saints. Because science is not just about inventions, rather it carries with itself a new way of life. Science questions the established beliefs of religious elites, and it carries with it a more rational explanation of causes and effects. So it comes into direct conflict with these religious elites. These self-proclaimed saints portray themselves as ‘saviors’, hence the presence of another true ‘savior’ threatens them.
Unfortunately, the seed (two-nation theory) through which this country has grown was infected with the morality of these orthodox saints, hence affirming their role as ‘saviors’, a kind of role that they were to play in the future of our country, and they did carry out their job fabulously.
For years the orthodoxy poisoned and hypnotized the generations through injecting their narrowly interpreted versions of morality. How could science flourish in such a society? How could intellectuals, born in a society that has been barren by these saints? These religious elites cling on and hold on to power through the way they value asceticism.
During the month of June, I watched a religious cleric claiming that the scientific fact of earth’s revolution is false, he asserted that earth is static on a live TV show, while he was teaching children. The overwhelming power of these religious clerics can be seen in the actions and attitudes of our rulers, regardless of either they are dictators or elected ones. These rulers carry with themselves these symbols which please the clergy. For instance, Zia-ul-Haq carried the title of ‘Mard-e-Mujahid’, Nawaz Sharif tried to steal the title of ‘Ameer-ul-Momineen’, and now our current prime minister who claimed to be the one who rediscovered Islam is there to create ‘Riasat e Madina’.
In his recent speech in National Assembly, Imran Khan declared a world-renowned terrorist a martyr. It was not a slip of tongue rather a clear indication that we are again heading towards the pit of extremism. Previously, we have praised our prime minister for his speech in the General Assembly of the United Nations, where he was seen as a staunch advocate of the anti-terrorism campaign. Where he was representing Pakistan’s efforts for the war against terrorism. He was compelling the world to acknowledge Pakistan’s efforts against the war on terrorism. But all of that was thrown into the dustbin, and once again he took a historic U-turn and declared Usama-bin-Laden a martyr. These reckless actions by our prime minister were taken to keep the support of the clergy, but now Pakistan will be kept in the grey list. A person with the eyes can see, that our prime minister’s recommendation of a Turkish historical fiction ‘Ertugrul’ (through which the whole society has been drugged, that will result into religious intolerance) and declaration of Usama bin Laden’s death as a martyrdom are the indications of a dangerous inclination towards extremism. This will further strengthen the hold of religious orthodoxy. The pursuit of such ascetic ideals will have disastrous consequences for Pakistan, as it will further deviate the next generations from the acquisition of science.
In the last but not least, one of the main reasons behind the irresponsible behavior of our society towards pandemic is that instead of Medical experts and Doctors, our faith lies with these saints. Our society believed in their interpretations of the pandemic that is ‘we are being tormented by God due to immodest dressing of women’. We are being tormented due to our sinfulness. We have witnessed people saying ‘adhan’ from their rooftops, people going to mosques despite lockdown. They violated SOPs because they have faith in these saints, rather than science. There the strength of these saints lies. Through their interpretations our sinfulness became the cause of pandemic, in other words, we became the disease, we became the sick ones and these saints became the saviors. Now, do you understand what they did to us? They made us responsible for our suffering, for our pain, while in turn, they became physicians/saviors. But in reality, the actual injury has been inflicted by them due to which we are suffering.
That’s how these ascetic saints became physicians, they became the shepherd and advocate of the sick herd. Here I am not strictly talking about COVID-19, but a more deep sickness that has overshadowed our society, the sickness that kept science away from our society. Here I am talking about deprivation of freedom, freedom to think critically, freedom to question. In this society of saints, we are the accused ones, we the sufferers are the cause of suffering. So rather than questioning, we are compelled to obey this orthodoxy.
To get rid of this epidemic that has haunted our society for so long, we need to create some space for science, for the science has been suffocating for so long under the morality of these self-proclaimed saints.