Do We Really Need The Council Council Of Islamic Ideology (CII)?
Contrary to the old practice of not raising voice against any matter concerning religion in Pakistan, people nowadays are more aware and active, thanks to the freedoms given to us by the Constitution of 1973 in general and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in particular. As a result, the so-called mullahs, sitting in Council of Islamic ideology (CII) seem to have attracted much criticism from the leftists in Pakistan and also from people in the West. However, it is a paradox that we have created these misogynists to recommend to the elected parliament that men can lightly beat their wives. This single ruling not only has brought much criticism from the international community but has also brought a bad image to the people of Pakistan.
Many might be wondering: What is CII? What is its history? Does it have any legal standing? Answering sequentially, CII is a “constitutionally” setup body to advice the legislature on whether a certain law is repugnant to Islam or not – but its recommendations are not binding. Historically, it has its roots in the Constitution of 1956 – which provided for an Islamic Commission having the same mandate – and then in the subsequent constitution. It was disguised as the Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology until it was renamed as the “Council of Islamic Ideology” by the current Constitution of Pakistan. The body has been tasked to give its annual report to the Parliament and provincial legislatures in order to guide the legislators to enact laws accordingly, but it has stopped doing so since 1997.
If we have a closer look at the history of CII, we can see that the laws which were made on its recommendations are contentious in nature and need to be revised. For example, in its heyday during Zia’s military regime, it recommended many laws which ultimately culminated into the formation of Hudood Ordinance – an ordinance which carries many misogynistic laws like Zina Ordinance and Whipping Ordinance. In addition to that, the Ehteram-e-Ramzan Ordinance was also enacted on its recommendation, which also recently left a poor old man beaten up for violating this very law. In a nutshell, there are numerous examples of the impacts (most of them negative) of the laws recommended by CII in the society.
In response to the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016, CII came up with its own women protection bill which allowed men to lightly beat their wives. This single ruling put Pakistan on the headlines of all the major news channels of the world and hence brought a bad image to our country. Interestingly, their proposed law is itself repugnant to Islam as Islam does not allow husbands to resort to light punishment (wadribuhunna) without going through the first two phases of giving her (wife) an advice and then to stop sharing bed with her respectively. If a husband beats his wife, be it light or hard, and also without going through the aforementioned two phases, then consequently he will be considered a sinner in light of Islam.
One might wonder why we still have such a body when the laws made on its recommendation have brought international criticism to our country; when their recommendations are not binding; when it has done nothing to promote Islam but has rather injured its reputation; when our constitution categorically states that no law will be made which is repugnant to Islam and Sunnah; and when we already have a Federal Shariat Court with the power to check whether the laws of the country are in line with Shari’a law. So why don’t we just disband CII?
Disbanding CII would require two-third majority of both the houses of Parliament for the amendment in the law to be approved, since it is a constitutionally setup body. However, no single person sitting in Parliament has the courage to talk about religion for the fear of inviting blasphemy charges against him or her, as we have also seen what happened to Hamza Ali Abbasi for talking about the rights of Ahmedis. Also, leaders like Z.A. Bhutto had succumbed to the pressure mounted upon him by the religious parties to declare Ahmedis as non-Muslims by passing the Second Constitutional Amendment. Thus, it seems difficult to disband the CII as the parliamentarians do not want to lose support of their allies belonging from different religious parties. In fact, most of the members of CII are partisans.
Alas! In the contemporary age of terrorism and Islamophobia, we do not really need such bigots and inhumane mualanas. Trust me, I am done with their ferocious and savage approach. Their mindset is no different than those who are killing thousands of innocent people around the world. We need religious harmony and peace at the moment. Please! Let religion be a personal affair, as was also proclaimed by Quaid in his 11th August speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in 1948. What we really need right now is a council which should consist of different religious intellectuals aiming to bring the spirit of love, compassion, harmony, co-existence and peace among our people.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any other organization with which he might be associated.