Here is the second installment of iRant published today.
What quips, quirks, snafus and scandals does Pakistan’s future hold? Tazeen Javed time travels to 2018 and blogs about what makes the Land of the Pure tick – or is it explode? – in the coming decade.
April 1, 2018
MURIDKE: The fatwa capital of Pakistan, Muridke, has been under the media spotlight for over a week. Muridke Institute of Instant Religious Decrees (MIIRD) has beaten Egypt’s Jamia Azhar and India’s Dar-ul-uloom Deoband for issuing the maximum number of fatwas. Unlike the other two institutions which are centuries old, MIIRD has surpassed the feat in just five short years. The institute prides itself on its speedy delivery of fatwas. This bastion of religious declarations is home to 225 scholars who address queries through a call centre that takes questions both via phone and online and responds to them in the shortest possible time.
The website of the institute very clearly indicates that every religious query will be answered in less than 180 minutes. The religious call centre is operated like any other call centre – scholars work on eight-hour rotational shifts. The scholar who issues the maximum number of fatwas in a month’s time gets selected as the scholar of the month and gets his photo streamed on all the televisions in the institute as well as on its website. Maulana Faish Hoshiyari has been selected scholar of the month for eight consecutive months and now has a 123 Facebook pages devoted to him with over a couple of millions fans to date.
Apart from the online fatwas, the institute is running a 24-hour religious TV channel called ‘Akhirat’, which not only helps in the proliferation of the aforementioned fatwas, but also airs other programs. One such program is ‘Banking: The Halal-Haram Dichotomy’, which repeats the premise that interest taken by other banks is haram but profit on investment taken by halal banks is perfectly fine.
Another important and highly rated program is ‘Halal Dating’, where religious-minded folks are hooked up under the ever-vigilant eyes of the Maulana, who is also the executive producer of the show. Another program that enjoys immense popularity amongst the masses is ‘Istakhara for all Seasons’. Not surprisingly, the program that has broken all records in religious TV viewing is ‘Halal Food Guide’, which combines two main passions of Pakistanis – food and religion. The cooking show features famous chefs who prepare food with halal ingredients. The food shown in the programs is also available across the nation at MIIRD restaurants called ‘Al Halal’. That is why the institute, at times, is affectionately referred to as ‘Fast Food Fatwa’.
Interestingly, the institute was the first religious school to go on Twitter and pioneered the custom of delivering the latest ‘fatwa of the day’ right into their subscribers’ cell phones.
In addition to adding their name to the Guinness Book of World Records for maximum number of fatwas, the institute has also pioneered the MIIRD clothing line which consists of topis, kifayas, pagris, burqas, hijabs, kurtas, and pajama designs. All born-again Muslim celebrities-turned-designers contribute to the line. It is believed that MIIRD will be the biggest clothing label in Pakistan soon. Moreover, the institute has just launched a chain of saloons where men can get their beards trimmed in true halal fashion while women can get their hair dyed with henna – in separate sections of course.
After completing taking over the Hajj and Umrah travel business, MIIRD’s board of directors are now planning to commence the first all halal airline, which will offer separate sections for male and female travelers and Jama’at prayer sessions for men during the flight. The in-flight entertainment programme will exclusively broadcast snippets from Akhirat, the institute’s television channel.
It is said that after achieving the feat of issuing the maximum number of fatwas and building an empire based on the Pakistani masses’ incessant need to seek religious approval for all things trivial, MIIRD will be taught as a business model at Harvard Business School
When contacted, the CEO of MIIRD Empire, Al Haaj Mufti Sheikh Syed Maulana Mujawar, about being taught at Harvard Business School as a business model, a feat that no other Pakistani company or business plan has ever achieved, Mufti Mujawar said that he is extremely pleased to put Pakistan on the business map while serving his people and fulfilling their socio-religious needs. When it was pointed out that some segments of society are not too pleased with the instant fatwa empire and think that various – and at times, conflicting – fatwas are adding to anarchy in the society, the esteemed Mufti dismissed it as mere heresy. ‘Society is chaotic because it the natural state of being and peace can only be achieved in afterlife,’ he says.
PS: While you guys are at it, have a look at this live blogging session.