The Question of Identity: Who are we?

The Question of Identity: Who are we?

Written By : Bakhtiar Hakeem

The Question of Identity: Who are we?

Bakhtiar Hakeem:


Who are you?  What an innocent looking simple question.


If you ask this question to twenty different people around you, you will get twelve to fifteen different answers. Most will give their names, some their caste like Cheema, Bhatti, Khokar, some their clams like Mir, Mian, Afridi, some their geographical areas like Kashmiri, Amritsari, Okarwi. Some would be proud to give their sects and one odd may say Pakistani as well. And one in hundred, after some soul searching may say Muslims also. The question was not very simple. The confusion would compound if the question is  “Are you a Pathan or a Muslim? In reply you are going to get a long silence, then a frown and may be a counter question and may be a third parameter, “look I am Afridi”. The question turned out to be a complex one and the answer led us to further more. The nature and scope of complexity varies in different parts of our country. In most parts of Sindh the answer could be Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi or Muhajir.


How does the Creator of the universe describe the Identity? Let us examine only a few out of many injunctions from Holy Quran the subject Translation (2:62).Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:a36) Say (O Muslims), “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to  Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Yaqub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbat [the offspring of the twelve sons of Yaqub (Jacob)], and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus), and that which has been given to which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam)”.


(3: 84-85)       Say (O Muhammad): ‘We believe in Allah and in What has been sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Yaqub (Jacob) and AL – Asbat [the offspring of the twelve sons of Yaqub (Jacob)], and that was given to Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus) and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allah) we have submitted (in Islam). And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will one of the losers.


(4: 150-154)               And those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and make no distinction between any of them (Messengers), We shall give them their reward; and Allah is Ever Oft-Forgivinf, Most Merciful.


            The people of the Scripture (Jews) ask you to cause a book to descend upon them from heaven. Indeed, they asked Musa (Moses) fro even greater than that when they said: “Show us Allah in public,” but they were struck with thunderclap and lightning for their wickedness. Then they worshipped the calf even after clear proofs, evidences, and signs had come to them. (Even) so we forgave them. And We gave Musa (Moses) a clear proof of authority.


            And for their covenant, We raised over them the Mount and (on the other occasion) We said: “ Enter the hate prostrating (or bowing) with humility;” and We commanded them: “Transgress not (by doing worldly works) on the Sabbath (Saturday).” And We took from them a firm covenant.


()          Verily, those who believe (in Allah and His Messenger Muhammad), and those who are Jews and Sabians and Christians, and the Majus, and those who worship others besides Allah, truly, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Verily, Allah is over all things a Witness.


(22 : 78)          And strive hard in Allah’s Cause as you ought to strive (with sincerity and with all your efforts that His Name should be superior). He has chosen you (to convey his Message of Islamic Monotheism to mankind by inviting them to His religion of Islam), and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship: it is the religion of your father Ibrahim (Abraham) (Islamic Monotheism). It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslim both before and in this (the Quran), that the Messenger (Muhammad) may be a witness over you and you be witnesses over mankind! So perform As-Salat  (Iqamat-as- Salat), give Zakat and hold fast to Allah {i.e have confidence in Allah and depend upon Him in all Your affairs}. He is your Maula (Patron Lord), what an excellent Maula Patron Lord) and what an Excellent Helper!


Let us look the same point from another angle. Reinforcing the same line of thrust let us see what we should not be and what we should not do.


 (6 : 159)         Verily, those who divided their religion and break up into sects (all kinds of religion sects), you (O Muhammad) have no concern in them in the least. Their affair is only with Allah, Who then will tell them what they used to do.


The way one I Identifies oneself affects the sole, conduct and the behaviour. Behavioral psychologists and scholars of motivation and work behaviour identify three elements. These are Expectancy, Valence and instrumentality. Identification forms a sort of common platform a sort of scarlet thread for all these elements of goal setting or work motivation. While identifications can be multiple, like son, father and husband, all in one understanding the order of identification becomes very significant. Order menas, what comes first, which of the identification takes precedence. For instance, am I a Jhangvi first or Muslim first, am I a MQM activist first or Pakistani first, am I son of chief minister first or son of Adam (PBUH) first. It would be prudent to say that problems of our conduct accrue out of disorder, malaise and decay in our identification. Therefore it is extremely important that we set the paradigm right, and decide what are we and what comes first.


Let us examine a case. We all know GM Syed. Was he Syed first, or a Sindhi first or a Muslim first or a Pakistani first? He held Raja Dahar as his ideal. He claimed to be son of soil and considered those not born in that small piece of land as intruders and alien. And in reaction to that misplaced identity, sons and daughters of migrants from , now born in Sindh, identify themselves as Muhajirs. What a vicious cycle of tragedies. If G M Syed was Sindhi first, how could he boast his tail of Syed? Sure neither the last Prophet (pbuh) was Sindhi, nor son of soil, nor any of the prophets before him were Syeds. Does Quran lets us differentiate among the prophets? Answer is an emphatic ‘No’. Can we be am they else but Musltan? No’.


Identifications are multiple, we should accept this reality but we the Muslims and natives of an ideological State must reckon the reality of ideology. If it is ignored or relegated, beware we will lose our social entity and cease to exist as nation’.  So draw outmost, and all applicable and strongest of all circles. Now you can draw inner circle provided these are compatible with the outmost and can coexist.


May God make us Muslims then Pakistanis and then anything else.