A tale of two speeches

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The two speeches were very different. While Kaaba Imam Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly delivered a standard speech heavy on theology to the Hajj gathering at Arafat, marking the acme of what is itself the apex ritual of the Islamic year, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif made a typical political speech to the nation, the first of his current tenure, marking the first 100 days of his current tenure, which is the beginning of what he hopes will be a five-year tenure.But the underlying sentiment of both was much the same: Sh Al-Muaiqly said that Muslims needed to reform themselves if they hoped to end the suffering of the Palestinians, on whom Israel did not let up even on the Eid. Mr Sharif also told Pakistanis of the need to change themselves if they hoped to improve their situation.

Sh Al-Muaiqly did not just speak about the Palestinians, but also spoke about the need for Muslims to strive for progress in this world. That is what Mr Sharif was talking about, albeit at a Pakistani level. However, it should be noted that that if Pakistan was able to become a flourishing economy, what sort of difference it would make to the Muslim world as a whole. She Al-Muaiqly was speaking in the heart of Saudi Arabia, supposedly an economic power. However, while Saudi had, and still has, vast oil wealth, it also had an untrained and sparse population, and provides an object lesson in how far wealth can go alone. On the other hand, if Pakistan’s people’s energies were to be unleashed, the Muslim world would benefit from their hard work and manifold skills, much as the Arab world benefited from Pakistanis, debt-ridden and impoverished as they were– and are.

It was something of a disappointment, though, one to which everyone is accustomed by habit, that the gathering at Mina was followed on Sunday by Edul Azha in some countries, including Pakistan. The reason is supposed to be that individual countries follow local sightings. Still, would Mr Sharif’s speech have been as effective if it had celebrated his first 101 days or first 99, rather than his first 100? The inability of the Muslim world to follow a single calendar, in this age of the internet and 4G technology, is symbolic more than anything else, of the divisions Sh Al-Muaqly spoke of.

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