Pervez Musharraf: 'Islam is taught by an obscurantist and illiterate segment'

From an address to the nation by the President of Pakistan, broadcast live on national television

Is it Islam of ignorance, or that of the Taliban, which pushes us towards darkness, or Islam of old rituals? Or is it Islam of lofty ideals, strong character and the one that guides us in our duties to society and the country?

Islam is more than a religion, it is a way of life and is a religion which makes us realise our duties towards people more than our duties towards Allah Almighty. Islam preaches peace, progress, prosperity, enlightenment and moderation. Our extremists and ritual-minded religious elements fully ignore these lofty ideals of Islam. They instead want to portray Islam as a religion which allows extremism and, by doing this, they are creating a distorted image of Islam.

What has happened during the past 25 years has divided Pakistani society into three parts. One part of society has an illiterate and obsolete approach towards Islam, while the other is enlightened and educated and has an enlightened and progressive approach towards Islam. And the third part comprises people who are less educated, and are confused about the religion as to what Islam is.

Is it a religion that teaches terrorism and extremism or the one which is of lofty ideals and advocates noble character? Unfortunately, the enlightened people whohad a progressive approach to Islam left the task of teaching Islam to the obscurantist and illiterate segment. The people, therefore, were unable to get proper guidance about Islam.

It is our duty to free Islam from the shackles of these ignorant people and take it to its real essence. And it is also necessary because the illiterate and obscurantist elements always fail to catch up with the time.

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