When Culture collides with Religion

We always condemn western culture for being lewd and immoral for their openness towards sexuality for us which is impossible to think, we blame them for making women a sexual object for men, that is why they have high cases of rape and child molestation….

Let us take a break from this rhetoric saga and look closer, even our religious clerics have been in news quite often of –course not for sensationalizing fatwas but other wrong reasons. Amongst religious conservatives in Pakistan especially the clerics and prayer leaders hailing from tribal areas often become a part of the news stories when they are found guilty of child molestation, victimizing young boys and girls who are apparently their students at home and Madarsa.

Although the religion strictly denounces it and mandates harsh punishment yet the trend of child molestation or pedophilia by religious clerics is increasing day by day giving Islam a bad name.

I fail to understand why these clerics who claim to be the true followers of Allah and Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) steep down to such activities and hamper the innocence of children.

So where the fault lies, of course not all religious clerics are pedophiles, the issue should be pondered over from larger perspective. In my humble opinion it’s the culture that needs to be answerable, we know the imposition of super conservative Islamic culture in certain parts of the country specially in tribal areas where unnecessary extreme restrictions on interacting with women leads to greater prevalence of the sexual crimes in the form of homosexuality as well as pedophilia.

Keeping the issue of pedophilia aside, homosexuality is common in tribal areas of Pakistan, in other words, sex between men can be seen as the flip side of the segregation of women due to tough religious obligations in Pashtoon culture, conservative Pakistani societies as well as Arab cultures. This is perhaps the reason we often read such accounts within tribal areas and by the religious clerics who live in the isolated culture and find easy access to young kids while teaching them privately.

Even the Child sex abuse allegations against Roman Catholic priests have caused anger in many countries across the globe. And the world’s renowned churches facing a series of pedophilia scandals, some observers, including senior figures from inside the Catholic, have begun to ask whether the tradition of celibacy in the priesthood has contributed to child abuse.

Since Islam does not have the concept of celibacy yet these incidences occur in our society. Do we think there is a need to ponder over the rigid culture of segregation?

In a country like Pakistan where religious intolerance is growing the society and other elements within needs to implement moderate culture and optimum interaction between men and women to avoid incidents of child molestation.  The country never needed to practice Islam moderately as it needs now.

It’s high time to learn the difference between culture and religion and root out the ills of culture which are glued with the name of religion.



  1. Once upon a time, Islam was a personal affair for most believers. Not it’s a fashion. We’ve become a nation that hails intolerance, and has made a virtue out of not thinking.

    Pakistanis appear to have made it their raison d’etre to confirm western stereotype that all Muslims are barbaric imbeciles. Why is it that wherever I see religion, I see things going from bad to worse; simple to complicated; and from smart to downright idiotic?

    Anyway, I’ve discovered your blog, and I love it..

  2. Faraz you rightly summed it up, right now I can see a barbaric rally trying to enter Lahore from Rawalpindi in the name of Prophet PBUH. They want the poor lady to be hanged because of blasphemy. I wonder when this nation will tame.

  3. I have come to the sad conclusion that organized religion mixed with politics is fraud pure and simple. Europe went through religious-political wars with corrupt systems such as totalianism,nazism,dark ages for a good thousand years before the renaissance. when the renaissance began, europeans kept organized religion away from politics and made religion,i.e. rituals, a private affair which means that the power of the church diluted and masses were free to think or say or do whatever they wanted without fear from the clergy or govt. system of the day as long as such behaviour did not lead to open chaos or civil disorder. Scientific discoveries were made, arts and culture flourished, ppl openly criticized the state and clergy without fear of retribution etc. I believe that the muslim world will only progress scientifically,economically,militarily,spiritually when the masses come out on the street and protest against corrupt govt. and religious practises and also cultural practices. The baacha baazi especially by moulveez (not that all moulveez r like that) is just a symptom of a bigger disease which has permeated pakistan and the rest of the muslim world. I am against organized religion mixed with politics even though i am muslim. I believe humanity and love of all ppl (which our Holy Prophet SAW preached and practised) should triumph over everything including religious rituals. We curse western countries,jews,hindus,RAW,CIA left and rite and blame them for every ill, whether right or wrong, but we severely lack introspection and continue to decay while the rest of the world is slowly but steadily progressing. Truth is, for the most part, we pakistanis are not true to our religious values (those of us many of whom are muslims). We want to hang our own religious minorities just on account of hearsay without knowing the facts. And lets say she does admit or it is proven that she did belittle the Prophet SAW. As a muslim i would feel hurt and do believe she should be given some form of punishment like jailtime but to lynch or hang her is not correct. Our Prophet SAW forgave his bitter enemies who not just mocked but persecuted him and we should have more of a forgiving temperment. Until then, we will keep suffering as a society and country and keep plunging further in the abyss of darkness,decay,depravation and injustice.

    1. Well said Nafeesa but when I was arguing about pedophilia with my Indian friend he made me shut up saying that your prophet also married with 8 year old girl Aisha and I had nothing else to say except that its propaganda.

      1. you should had reminded that imbecile, (and i know this for a fact from many of my hindu friends here in UK), that their leader gandhi was a true gandhoo(no disrespect) who molested his own nieces and enjoyed young boys. what about that, next time you should ask him(even oxford library has accounts of gandhi’s pedophilia as accounted by british viceroys in india at that time). even today in india, there is a lot of pedophilia and rape. In fact indian media has now admitted that delhi is the rape capital of the world. BTW,how does this hindu friend of yours know that aisha was 8 when she married the prophet? i heard she was twelve or in some accounts thirteen and even then the prophet waited a year or two b4 the marraige was consummated. Dont listen and definitely never believe crap that the Prophet married a seven or eight yr old girl. These are sick anti muslim extremists who want to malign our peaceful religion. By the same token, its sad that some asshole moulveez engage in such pedophilia and we should condemn them and put a stop to this evil which is anti islamic. However, tell that indian “friend” of yours to look in the mirror and clean his own filth with all the rape and molestations by pundits.

    2. Although two wrongs dont make a right and its useless to speak about Gandhi as he’s not a favorite man of Indians anyway.

      Thanks for the clarification about prophet.

      1. what are you talking about? two wrongs? so your implying that the holy prophet was wrong??!! and y is it useless talking about gandhi when he is the founder of modern india? no disrespect, but it seems that you lack confidence to debate with your indian “friend” or just suffer from inferior complex syndrom mostly because you dont know much about islam anyways even as a muslim.

  4. I agree with the writer. We are brewing something which is not the actual essence of Islam. From a peaceful religon we are moving to a hardline stand, which has its collateral damage as discussed int eh post.

  5. Abu Hurairah (r.a.) relates that the Holy Prophet (sa) said:
    He who calls people to guidance has the same reward as those who follow him without any diminution of the reward of the latter, and he who calls people to error carries the burden of the latter of sin as those who follow him without any diminution in the burdens of the latter. (Muslim)

    Abdullah ibn Mas’ud relates that the Holy Prophet (sa) said:
    Truth guides to virtue and virtue guides to Paradise.
    A person persists in telling the truth till in the sight of Allah he is named Truthful.
    Lying leads to vice and vice leads to the Fire; and a person goes on lying till in the sight of Allah he is named a liar.
    (Bokhari and Muslim).

  6. Thanks Abida, yes its a but short but as I told you I never wanted to mix this issue with homosexuality as the main focus should be on pedophelia and what actually motivates Mullahs to do that.

    1. The living God Who is hidden from the eyes .
      Allah explain to you HIS commandments that you may be guided.
      Truth guides to virtue and virtue guides to Paradise

  7. We actually effed up EVERYTHING and found ourselves an excuse of not using our brains and instead going after either religion or culture, blindly.
    We messed up the religion by mixing it with our culture and destroyed the culture of Indian subcontinent by trying to align it with Islam and came up with something that is conservative, rigid and unrealistic. And the result is our majority, which uses either religion or culture to cover up their jahalat.

    Nice article Tanzeel.

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  9. Was reading Express Tribune, where you had a post with your blog’s link. So thought to read your blog posts which were quite interesting as far as topic selection and the way of writing is concerned, but were not factual, especially this one, in which it seems that issues have been mixed up because of their apparent resemblance and the readers have also not been able to identify that the actual picture is different. Well first of all you shouldn’t be saying Muslim clerics. I would suggest “teachers for basic islamiat” and “prayer leader” (who could be any one of us) were the appropriate terminologies that you could have used. The reason is simple, they aren’t clerics, these teachers just start teaching madressa children after learning Quran by themselves and learning here means only Arabic, mostly don’t even read the translation completely, they don’t learn jurisprudence and other courses which are offered by the Grand Universities type Islamic Institutes. So you shouldn’t expect that high moral values which is expected from a student of notable Islamic institutes (an also from a priest of Vatican). In short, it would be unfair to associate this disgusting crime with those people who have knowledge of Islam and from whom we expect to see some ethics and even spirituality. These teachers are just like any one of us and are also more vulnerable than clerics in catching those activities of society which are ideal to nurture corrupt minds. Another point which I couldn’t understand from your post is that you have tried to link Catholic Priest’s rule of segregation with Tribal Areas culture of segregation which is totally incorrect, priests aren’t allowed to marry where as in tribal areas there is no such restriction and the culture of segregation in tribal areas that you have referred if changed, doesn’t guarantees that child molestation will stop because around the world there are thousands of places where this crime exist despite the fact that at such places men approaches women quite often for illicit relations. And I really couldn’t understand how come child molestation problem will stop if segregation rule is eased? Did you implicitly said that such perverts (who can marry) will then stop child molestation because they will then start raping women or having consensual engagements? And if the restriction of segregation is to be blamed, why such cases don’t happen in Saudia or Iran? In my opinion child abuse is happening everywhere, even in schools, buses, mechanic shops etc and there is no difference between the molesters of madressa and molester of other places. So it’s not appropriate to analyze this problem with a biased agenda and picking only religion. We should include them Another thing which you said that Homosexuality is common in tribal areas because of strict religious culture, that is is again wrong because homosexuality is also seen common amongst the secular pashtoons, who doesn’t live in religious environment and can be found Peshawar, Karachi and in Afghanistan and if religious segregation was to blame for homosexuality then what about the homosexuality phenomena of west? (Im neither a blind critic of west nor a blind follower of Mullas).
    In my opinion there is probably a another reason for this problem and the evidence that the people of tribal areas are more active when it comes to the matter of sex validates my opinion. I give you an example, it is widely believed that vegetarians are less active than non-vegetarians in terms of sex. So anyone who is hyperactive (because of multiple reasons, genetic, nutrition or even suppressing he desires as in the case of priests).
    PS: Did you take permission from this pictured man for posting his picture who may be seen as a “might be molester” after reading your article? I suggest you atleast blur his face. Further, you have rightly said that it’s a propaganda that Hz Ayesha was married at the age of 8, she didn’t marry in her childhood and this has been cross verified through various sources. Would also like to mention that I really liked your sense of humour reflected in some of your posts. Couldn’t stop laughing on Muslim Dew caption.

    Asad Ali

    1. There are some missing text in the second last paragraph. What I meant to say here is that any one who is sexually hyper active has more chances to behave in unusual way and it is widely believed that the people of tribal areas are sexually hyper active as compare to the people of other region there is a scientific reason behind this crime and yes lesser faith in and fear of God is the reason that supersedes the first reason. So anyone who is hyperactive (because of multiple reasons, genetic, nutrition or even suppression of desires as in the case of priests) will definitely think about other ways of satisfying his urge. The worst situation here is that these hyper active people get cover of religion and are often mistaken as religious people to teach children.

    2. Asad thankyou for such a detailed repy and appreciating the dew post. On your valuable suggestion I have just removed that clerics pic as well. Example of vegetarianism also makes sense here but how would you shed light on Saudi people, they are on the same track as well. If you remember a recent incident where a Saudi prince molested his servant in UK and later assassinated him.

      1. I was speaking in about the restriction of gender segregation that can be seen in their society in general and if u think that these uncounted princes of consider themselves obliged to the laws of their countries, then u should change ur opinion without wasting a second. This was the crime that was only reported, their level of mentality is far beyond our imagination but if u talk about their society u don’t see homosexuals or complaints of child abuse being reported. That doesn’t mean that ppl are scared to report. I tell u parents in arab culture report such things even if they suspect that somebody has done wrong with their children. In contrary to Saudia and Iran, UAE (where I live)which is considered a far more open society is coping with the increasing problem of child molestation and sexual harrasment. There is a famous newspaper in uae which reports molestation/harrassment cases almost on a daily basis. I was suprised to see few days ago when the most read news section of the website had 4 out of 5 such news. Although i believe that here the reason is bit different from tribal area.

      2. And even that case of saudi prince happened in UK, where there is no segregation (ain’t saying he’d have not done in saudia, but in UK there is no restriction of segregation)

      3. @The only person normal here – No worries, ..but at least I am relieved for puking my thoughts out 😀

      4. TON: I am simply speechless infront of Asad’s logical responses, infact he’s the guy who made me change the picture of Mullah i posted here earlier. This is why I couldn’t comment on his posts but read them thoroughly.

  10. Acts of individuals do not make the faith right or wrong – just read what Catholic priests delight in.
    I must add that in the tribal areas (including some settled areas such as Bunnu) getting married for a guy is very expensive and difficult because of the number of goats, land piece and other contractual requirements – this, one of my anthropologist friend thinks is the reason for widespread practice of pedophilia and homosexuality later in the adulthood.
    That said, it is rather unfortunate what has been reported.

  11. Okay, I took your advice and entered by blog in Pakpositive. How do I know if it gets accepted? It’s been several hours since I registered and it said something about it getting reviewed. No response yet.

    By the way, the forum’s pretty tightly controlled, I think! I submitted a guest post by a sarcastic title of “Pakistan vs Women” and they changed it to “Domestic Abuse in Pakistan”. Yeeesh.

    1. Its not like that, it will take a bit time. Its just they have a bit complex mechanism of membership. Just wait and see or email them at given email address on their website.

  12. Dear Tanzeel, I just discovered your blog and have been so engrossed in reading your posts and the follow up comments that I didn’t realized my chai was getting cold, it needs re heating now 😦 GOOD BLOG!!
    I am always interested to read what *parhay likhay* Pakistanis have to say about our society/culture/religion/politics etc.
    I am against prejudices and gender discrimination plaguing our society in the name of religion, values etc.
    I am glad you realize that people living in tribal areas aren’t conservative because of Islam, their Islam is super-conservative because of their centuries old traditions. Thats why the Islam I follow is different in terms of how I live my life, right? So you are spot on when you say that the culture should be accountable, not the religion. I have seen some pretty *un islamic* things being practised in the name of culture in some of the very remote and religious parts of our country..talk about cultural shock!! But making culture accountable is a huge task, after all it wasn’t too long ago when the *great* pakhtoon leader Wali Khan said “we are Pushtoon first, Muslims second, and Pakistani last” (something to the effect, can’t remember the exact quote). Pakistan’s diverse ethnic groups are more loyal to their cultural practices than religious ones. I remember the era of 80s and 90s was all about ethnicity, that was the focal point in national and regional politics, I am not sure how and when we made the trasition into this jihadi-politics of today’s Pakistan. Back then I felt like lying about my ethnicity in order to survive in Karachi, now I feel like I must establish how *namazi* I am to survive in one group, and how *liberal* in other group..Why can’t I be both or none? or why as a nation we can’t incorporate these two aspects into mainstream?

    1. Amna first of all thanks for appreciating my write ups. I am indeed glad to have your presence here, secondly you were right when you asked Why can’t we be both or none? or why as a nation we can’t incorporate these two aspects into mainstream?

      Well my biggest fear is religious extremism, a phobia so deeply ingrained in our society. Both school of thoughts are afraid of eachother’s ideology but hesitant to adopt middle way. I wonder what make them think of on such extremes but being too westernized as well Talibanish I call them extremists of two opposite poles, it hightime we learn to coexist in current circumstance and follow the live and let live ideology. A win win situation for all!

  13. i have come across this causation before. That severe segregation is the reason behind molestation,pedophilia or homosexuality. However,i have some questions regarding that.If the strict segregation is the reason behind sexual deviation than shouldn’t the sexualized western culture see a decline in sexual deviations?However there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that the segregated culture is the reason behind these mishaps.

    As for your question about the age of Hazrat Aisha r.a. at the time of marriage.To the best of my knowledge and we must rely on the recorded chained (that means twatir of narrators) regarding seerah. So the age of marriage is as soon as a girl comes to puberty. Now instead of getting flustered what you need to do is research is this something despicable? or has it become a late trend to consider girls of marriageable of when they reach 18?Do research what was the age of marriage in the times of romans, at the time of early Christianity and in Judaism. You will find some Rabbis considered 3 years old girls mature for sexual relation.The rule of thumb in Islam is that when the girls hits puberty be that 9 or 12 or 15 she is fit for a sexual relationship. There is nothing unnatural or shameful about that.Read old scriptures and see the modern research on age of early marriages.Islam is the natural religion its revealed by the Allah himself so why should he create taboos? If the girl hits puberty she is sexually mature.Thats my understanding.

    About your hindu mate, well nothing is the best answer, They have an idealogy which is concocted and therefore not consistent . nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to the seerat of Prophet s.a.w .Match him up with all the early prophets, the concept of late marriages has only sprouted in past century or so.

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