Tariq Jameel's Unscientific Views Are Destructive As Pakistan Battles COVID-19

Tariq Jameel's Unscientific Views Are Destructive As Pakistan Battles COVID-19
Maulana Tariq Jameel should be condemned not just for insulting womenfolk or endangering their security in Pakistani society, but for the audacity to make an unscientific statement about a pandemic, which is real and not immaterial like Maulana's pseudo-spirituality. The other day he linked the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan to the presence of “Behaya” (Immodest) women in the society.

There is nothing new in Maulana’s statement about “immodest women” from the perspective of anti-women stance of the religious clergy in Pakistan and misogynists' behaviour of religious clergy betrayed by such statements. In fact, Pakistani religious clergy is well known for its misogynist behavior and attitudes.

However Maulana Tariq Jameel’s view on a deadly pandemic is dangerous from another perspective: It would facilitate the formation of thinking in Pakistani society about spread of novel COVID-19 virus that is patently unscientific. And since this hocus pocus statement is coming from a religious scholar, a large segment of the society might take it as a gospel truth.

According to the scientific knowledge that is prevalent in Pakistani society novel COVID-19 disease is caused by virus, which made its first appearance in human body in Chinese city of Wuhan and from there it started transmitting to other parts of the world. Since February of this year when first COVID-19 case was detected in Pakistan, the disease is fast spreading in our society. Doctors and scientists say that it is transmitted through physical contact between humans or by the presence of droplets of sneezing or coughing left in in the air by the patient of this disease. Doctors also advise that people should avoid crowds and avoid touching surfaces at public places. There is no special mention of women—modest or immodest-- as a special carrier of COVID-19 disease. The looks and dress of women folk have no role to play in the spread of the disease.

It is not very difficult to prove Maulana Tariq Jameel wrong or unscientific, even without using any state of the art tool. Maulana. Lets assume for the sake of argument that Maulana is right and Pakistani women are indeed immodest. The question is why COVID-19 is spreading in thoroughly Islamic societies like Iran and Saudi Arabia, where women folk are not allowed to wear immodest dress by the laws of the land.

Maulana needs to be called out for making false and unscientific statements about COVID-19 virus at a time when Pakistani nation fit grappling with a deadly pandemic. Any unscientific statement coming from a religious scholar while sharing the stage with the prime minister of the country should cause irreparable damage to Pakistani government's image as a responsible and credible entity ready to protect its citizens. The sad reality is that our rulers and power wielders are so irresponsible, even in the midst of a national crisis, to allow such an irrational person to get prominence in Pakistani public life.

Layers upon layers of devastations have failed to convince us that religion and politics should not be mixed. Politics is a game of interests and anyone advertising and publicizing the honesty and other qualities of a ruler is first suspect of grinding an axe. Maulana Jameel has been making regular appearance on television screens, weeping an praising General Bajwa and Imran Khan in a single breathe. Using religion to prop up personalities and images has a long and hideous history in our society. There are posts and ranks in our officialdom, which attract members of religious clergy like swarms of bees. How we use these swarms of bees may help us continue in the office for three to six years but it will further consolidate the odious traditions that continue to haunt our present and the future.

Umer Farooq is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist. He writes on security, foreign policy and domestic political issues.