How do we Define Good Muslims?

How do we Define Good Muslims?

I am amazed by my compatriots in Pakistan. Every day I meet someone who leaves me spell bound wondering what exactly happened in this country that has turned us into what we are. Sometimes the comments are so ridiculous you want to laugh. But you do not because immediately you are reminded that this one thought process is replicated in a 100 other young men and women across the country. What exactly are the issues we suffer from? Let me list them one by one.

The Identity Crises: To-date we have not discovered whether we are Muslim first and Pakistani second or vice versa. I wonder how people will feel if they realize that globally, there are only two religiously motivated ideological states in the world today – Pakistan, that was created in 1947 and Israel created in 1948. Both were outcomes of the same redrawing of borders post world war and the retrenchment of the British Empire.



So, while we condemn what Israelis do to our brethren in Palestine, do we want to do the same to our neighbours in Pakistan through our blasphemy law? I hear this chant all the time: send them to India, if they’re not muslim! Why? In
today’s world is our identity as a Muslim threatened in Pakistan if we interact with a Christian in the office or at lunch? Will we lose our caste if a hindu washed our dishes? How does treating non-muslims like achoot (untouchables) help us prove we are better muslims when this is inherently a hindu custom? After 66 years of independence in a muslim majority country, why are we threatened by the religious minorities?

Which Sect of Islam: Where did we learn to fight between Shia and Sunni, Deobandi and Nadvi and wahabi and sufi Islam? When did our discord with each other assume guns and militant killing? It is a well-established fact that Shia-Sunni divide in the middle-east is a result of persecution of a religious minority. Once again, how does killing Shias makes us any better as muslims?

The meaning of being a muslim: I went to a school which taught us in class 3 through the government approved Islamiat text book that Allah has demanded two things from a good muslim – HuqooqAllah and Huqooq ul-Abaad. The latter deal with rights of the community – your neighbor, spouse, parents, siblings, offsprings. How you deal in business and so on and so forth. Huqooq ul Abaaad have been declared superior to Huqooq Allah by the Almighty.



I wonder if anyone in Pakistan who claims to be a good muslim knows, or wants to know this? Why is our concept of being a muslim, and that too a good one restricted to wearing the veil, saying salat, and killing anyone in the name of Jehad who disagrees with us. This is regardless of the number of times we tell lies during the day or cheat, or steal?

Can I wear jeans and be a muslim: Appearances and rituals control our ability to determine who is a good muslim. The mark on the forehead, the veil covered head. Oh, she is wearing the hijab, but has jeans on. Is she a muslim? Unfortunately for Pakistanis, qamiz shalwar is only worn in Pakistan and India. Muslim women in other parts of the world wear their own national dress. In the arab world this can be the abaya or a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. In the UK, it can be a long skirt, or a pair of jeans and a tshirt. What I am trying to say is that clothes do not make or break your basis for being a muslim.



Also, there is a very long list of other things you are required to do before achieving spiritual leadership. However, in our country, islam seems to begin and end with a woman’s right to her appearance, what she wears, whom she talks to and whether she works. What a man does or wears is immaterial as long as he prays five times a day and sports a beard. He can as already explained, be a serial killer and still go to heaven because he used to pray 5 times a day. Where, how and when did we jam such warped logic into our citizens is beyond me.

I was schooled in a Convent in Lahore as were a lot of people in the eighties in Lahore. From St Mary’s to Convent of Jesus and Mary, Sacred Heart to Cathedral, St Anthony to St. Peters – the missionaries were everywhere teaching us tolerance, peace, how to respect religion and your identity without hurting the other’s sentiments. Contrary to what everyone thinks, my father is a villager, and I’ve lived all my life in Pakistan. But I grew up knowing people were humans first and Pakistani or Italians or British next, and muslims or Christians last of all.



I hope some day, in Pakistan, we go back to the country I remember as a child when we were tolerant as a society. Or maybe go back to the country my mother remembered in her college days where women were free to wear burqas or sleeveless shirts as they desired, and my mother cycled to her university class, and my aunt would slap a boy full on the face for daring to whistle…….

Zahra Ottens

A blogger for The News/Geo blogs

  • Taj Ahmad

    Most of our so called Mullahs/Muftis/Imams are not serving the true meaning of Islam
    in facts they are dividing Muslim into two groups Shia-Sunnis and this is why our
    country facing a senseless religious fight between two Muslim groups and this must
    be stopped immediately,

    • Vicky

      Which mulla or mufti are you talking about? If you are trying to blame all the mulla and muftis then no muslim can perform his friday prayers as he will be needing one to lead the prayers. Who will guide the people through the teachings of Quran if one needs help? Obvisouly people like Ali Zafar or Shahrukh Khan cannot preach the teachings of Quran.

      Kindly explain whom you are pointing at because the way I see it, you are calling for a big problem for the muslim ummah. Shia and sunni is a sect that has been in conflict for centuries, its not a matter of few year back.

    • naman

      muftis r dividing us??? i thought it was america or illumanti or freemason or aliens…. btw lol @ u…. grouping is a natural thing that no one can control… whats really rotting us is the secular thoughts… we dont know what is wrong and what is right… who is wrong and who is right… like we r the most confused nation of the world…. actually dude cursing mullahs is not a mature thing… rather it shows ur mentality…and how much hate u got for mullahs…
      hope u wont understand..

    • Vicky

      Do you perform Friday & Eid prayers? They are all perfomed behind a Mulla, Mufti or Imam.

      So, if you are trying to blame all of the mulla, muft, imam then you are creating a huge problem for yourself because these prayers are performed behind these people.

  • that i am

    Till the time one realizes one’s true identity, these things would continue. Nation and religion all are acquired patterns based on our ignorance or unawareness from our true self. One who attains self realization transcends it all. So only pursuit worth trying is getting rooted in one who is all pervasive all in all and realizing that I am.

  • Wajeeha Yaser

    Lady Ottens, this is your seconf articel where you seem sooooooo fond of jeans. Good, many women wear these now a days and I dont think anyone would stop you, infact women these days even wear tights which is considered more revealing BUT quite a few of those do wear those. See this debate has never ended, it was there in 80s, 90s before and after that and it will always be there. Its not just religious extremeism that we call thse days, its also anti-religious extremeism. Women who wear jeans curse women who wear burqa and vice versa, its a personal thing and everyone has to answer for him/herself on day of judgement. The idea about clothing for men & women (per my poor understanding) is that it should not be revealing the body i.e. its curves, crevices and skin particularly the part defined as satar. You can google and find definitions of Satar for men and women.

    Comparing blasphemy law with jews is where I think you are being unfair. Blasphemy law is about blasphemy of all religions, apostles and holy books which is just as much of a fait for us muslims as for christians, jews and others. You see its not the law that is bad it is its execution, people have been framed for murder in our country and rest of the world but does it make law of killing another person bad. Law are not ment to punish people but to discourage them from doing whats considerd bad. I dont think you would as a muslim like anyone to make fun of our Prophet SAAWW or anyother Prophet for that matters.

    Some times we are so fed up of situation that we ourselves become extremist and everything that is against our understandings/beliefs looks like an evil to us.

  • Zarvan

    Lady you have to dress up what ALLAH and his RASOOL SAW told us to dress lady we can’t dress according to how we want to dress

    • shaukat aziz ashai

      God has more important things to worry about rather than how people are dressed.

  • B jay

    Be a good human being- that’s all


    If you ‘LEARN’ Islam to hate non Muslims then you are indeed a BAD Muslim — if you can feel a flowing compassion of Islam in your bones for others — you are TRUE Muslim.

    Zahra I agree with you. Hatred and bigotry have no home in a truly Muslim heart. As Hafiz would say — “Ba MussalmaN Allah Allah ba Brahman Ram Ram”

  • shaukat aziz ashai

    Beard has nothing to do with Islam. Stop witch hunt in the name of Islam. Get real.

  • mohammad


  • naman

    true …jani

  • junaid

    Zahra Ottens, I wonder how Fatima Zahra (RAA) may feel if she come across u. Will she be proud of u?

    • ahsan

      darya ko koozay mein band kar diya, excellent comment!!

  • sarfraz khan Burki

    Zahra Ottens

    I am utterly dis-agree from your views for Islam because I feel that may be you have not a true knowledge, practice vision regarding Islam or maybe you looking from apex level not from ground realities.
    There is just a lake of tutoring nothing else. Please do not highlight MULIMS;
    this is reality of humanity which you have discussed. Our religion is perfect
    but Muslims may vary regarding their coaching, leadership or acquaintance.

    KInd Regards
    Sarfraz Khan Burki

  • ahsan

    Muslim first or Pakistani first you ask, Allah SWT, on the day of Qayamah, what will He ask us about, what we did for Pakistan or what we did for spreading His word??

    only if one could wear “THE JEANS” to his/her grave,…

    hijab/pardah is only necessary during a woman’s burial, no need to cover her face/body until she is breathing, right? prepare for the ETERNAL life before its too late…

  • Anonymous

    Apni Millat par Qias Aqwam e Maghrib se na kar
    Khas hai Tarqeeb mai Qaum e Rasool e Hashmi

  • Anonymous

    We are sinner because our Moulvi Sahib or Peer Sahib teaches us and preaches us if we want to be a good Muslim fought against the evils by Jahaad.. Every body who do not prey Namaz and do not believes according to our Moulvi Sahib Sect and beliefs are the Kafirs, Mushrikeen or Munafiqs so take weapons and started Jahaad against them whether they are called Muslims or Non-Muslims and become a good Muslim until we are Ghazi or Shaheed. and become the Allah’s favorite bunda and earn the Jannat (heaven). These are the standards or merits of beliefs and concept of all our religious leaders of almost all sects of prevailing Islam In Pakistan. We divided Allah Ka Ghar Musjids in to our own beliefs and sects. and other peoples are not allowed to enter in it except our religious community or sects. We believes true Islam is that which our peer or moulvi teaches us and others are all Liars and wrong. Justice, Addul, ethics, norms and laws and humanity is that which our Moulvi or Peer Sahib teaches us because We are the Best Muslims. .