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Spirituality and power

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The pandemic did not affect people’s fasting and praying activities much during the holy month of Ramazan. At first, provincial governments were a bit hesitant to ease the lockdowns, but soon gave in to an implied national consensus, and Ramazan was celebrated with full religious zeal across the country.

As religious scholars occupied television screens throughout the month, Tariq Jameel, a top religious celebrity in the country, was almost everywhere. At the start of Ramazan, he made some insensitive comments about women and the media, which drew controversy. His comments came during a prayer at the end of an Ehsaas Telethon programme meant to raise funds to aid those affected by the pandemic. Later, in a talk show, he tendered an apology. But his colossal fan club propagated his apology as a high moral act, and launched a social media campaign justifying his arguments. He never forbade his followers from doing so.

The language used by Tariq Jameel’s followers was not much different from that used by other religious activists, especially followers of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, against those who disagree with their views. This is despite the fact that Jameel and Rizvi have very different personas (the former is a soft-spoken orator, the latter a firebrand speaker), varied audiences and, more importantly, different objectives. Therefore, it is natural to draw comparisons between their followers to assess what makes them alike.

Spirituality helps human beings find a purpose in life by relating it to the divine. Religion is the sole proprietor of this domain,........

© Dawn

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