Posts tagged ‘Shia Muslims’

December 12, 2011

When ‘we’ are not included in ‘us’: A response to Mahjabeen Khan’s article in Express Tribune – by Marya Mushtaq

by admin

I was forced to write this article when I read a blog ‘Why Ashura is a ‘Holy-Day’ for all of us and not just you’ (Mahjabeen Khan, Express Tribune, December 6 2011). The blog was supposedly a response to another blog ‘Muharram is your holiday, not mine’ (Sidra Rizvi, Express Tribune, December 2), but in effect, turned out to be an edict excommunicating all the Shia Muslims, and playing down any importance attached to Muharram due to martyrdoms of Imam Hussain (a.s) and other members of the Prophet’s (pbuh) family.

The ostensibly neutral blog (which easily found many waiting vultures as cheerleaders in the ET comments section) was not only factually incorrect, but replete with hate. The whims of

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December 4, 2011

Malaysia remains anti-semitic and anti-Shia – by Laibaah

by admin

Mahathir Mohammad’s strange remarks about Pakistan’s Shias

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Friday (2 December 2011) gave a statement which indicates his personal abhorrence of Shia Muslims, a fact which is also reflected in his formulation of anti-Shia regulations and practices during his 22 years rule as Malaysia’s Prime Minister (1981-2003).

Urging India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve their disputes, Mahathir said something quite problematic about Pakistan’s Shia population, describing them as an internal problem much graver than Pakistan’s external problems

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December 21, 2010

The Shia Question – by Imran Khan

by admin

Related article:

What can Pakistan and the entire world learn from Pakistani Shias?

Cross-posed from I Opyne

The term “Jewish Question” has been used in a variety of ways, but its most common usage has been an anti Semitic one; where it refers to all the “problems” that have been created because of the mere existence of the Jews. It was the Nazis who proposed a “final solution” to this question, a solution that they carried out in the death camps of Nazi Germany.

If you are a Sunni in Pakistan, it is very often that you might hear of “problems” such as; the Shia domination of decision making in our country, as well as their “perversion” of Islam. The spectrum of reactions to our very own “Shia Question” perhaps varies as much in Pakistan as the reaction to the Jewish Question used to vary in Europe. There are those who are just uncomfortable with the importance of Shias in our society while there are others who suggest solutions that are no different from those of the Nazis.

The 9th and 10th of Moharram this year passed by relatively peacefully, apart from one grenade attack in Peshawar,  the main processions dispersed safely through out the country. But the run up to the final days was marked by violence as well as the spoiling of some major terrorist plans. On December 11th, 15 people were killed when a truck bomb hit an Imam Bargah in Hangu, while terrorist plans were spoiled in KarachiDI Khanand Quetta, that could have resulted in similar carnages as past years.

Shias in Pakistan account for around 15 to 20% of our Muslim Population, and constitute the second largest concentration of Shias in the world, Iran being the largest. According to one source our Shia minority is estimated at 30 million and surpasses the number of Shias in Iraq.  If one is to look at the history of Pakistan; our most iconic leaders have belonged to the Shia community. The Founding Father of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was a Shia and so is our most popular political dynasty, i.e. the Bhuttos. It is safe to say that the Shia beliefs of these icons of Pakistan’s political history never mattered to their overwhelmingly Sunni following.

However, things began to change during the 80s, resulting in a horrific increase in sectarian violence. According to thedatabase at South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP); in 1989, 18 people were killed in sectarian violence, during 1999 that figure rose to 86, while this year we lost a staggering, 496 people.  A report by the International Crisis Group that came out in 2005, states that around 70% of those killed in sectarian violence since 1985, belonged to the Shia community, the report further noted that presently Shia militancy in Pakistan is mostly a reaction to Deobandi militancy.

So what happened? How did a Sunni Majority Pakistan that flocked to the cause of a Shia Quaid-I-Azam and a Shia Quaid-I-Awam fall into this hopeless spiral of senseless killings? The answer lies in the Afghan Jihad, and the form our decision makers chose to sponsor it in. The rigid Wahabi interpretation of Islam, that was the driving force behind the morale of the Mujahideen, also had a very serious anti-Shia bent to it. The fatwas declaring Shias as Kafir came out during the heydays of the Afghan Jihad, the cannon fodder that was prepared for the war in Afghanistan came back to seek new infidels and found them in the form of Shias. Saudi support for the propagation of this hate was crucial, as Pakistan became the battleground for the cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The recent increase in attacks on Shias is a reflection of the growing strength of the Taliban. Thinking purely in terms of Pakistan’s national and strategic interests; if the “good” Taliban are those who simply concentrate on Americans and Afghans, and pose no harm to Pakistanis, then according to this definition, there are no good Taliban, as they all consider these 30 million Shia Pakistanis as wajib-ul-qatal, i.e. dead men walking. Our Taliban apologists in the media as well as politics, who bend over their backs in explaining the Taliban position as that of reactionary freedom fighters, completely ignore the Taliban hatred of the Shias, which is an essential part of the Taliban belief system and is not a reaction to any invasions.  Call them good or bad, a stronger Taliban would simply translate into even more violence against the Shias of Pakistan.

In the wake of attacks on Moharram processions many have expressed disdain about the need for carrying out these processions in the first place. It is believed that these processions are attacked because they offer themselves up for attacks. Well, the same logic could be applied to Juma congregations, just like Sunnis would still go to the mosque despite 180 deaths due to attacks on mosques this year, the same way the Shia would take part in Moharram processions, faith being the motivating factor in both situations.

But, the solution to this problem does not lie in curtailing religious freedoms; it lies in having an unbiased approach to this issue. The rising popularity of the Shia hating Taliban in a Sunni majority Pakistan, is a clear indication of how our biases are making us look the other way.

Appeared in Pakistan Today on the 21st of December 2010.

December 17, 2010

What can Pakistan and the entire world learn from Pakistani Shias?

by admin

Related article:

The Shia Question

I clearly remember how in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London by Islamofascists (brainwashed by an extremist Deobandi/Wahhabi version of Islam), Londoners refused to give up their lifestyle, the majority of London schools remained open, public services remained available and the message from most London boroughs was business as usual.

One may differ with the then Prime Minister Tony Blair on many accounts but I have high appreciation for his clearly articulated message to the people of Britain on 7/7:

First, he did not generalize the attackers:

“We know that these people act in the name of Islam but we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims here and abroad are decent and law-abiding people who abhor those who do this every bit as much as we do.”

Second, he urged Londoners to carry on with their everyday life:

“…I think we all know what they are trying to do. They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, trying to stop us from going about our business as normal, as we are entitled to do and they should not and they must not succeed. When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed.”

This brings me to the core point of this post.

For the last thirty years, since the inauspicious days of military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq who sowed the seeds of religious sectarianism in Pakistan by patronizing a narrow Wahhabi-Deobandi version of Islam while persecuting the minority sects, Pakistani Shias have remained subject to continuous persecution, harassment, hate speech and violence by various jihadi and sectarian proxies of the State, i.e., the Sipah-e-Sahaba, Taliban, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Hizbullah, Lashkar-e-Taiba etc.

Thousands of Shias have been killed in the last thirty years in all parts of Pakistan most notably in Parachinar, Quetta, Jhang, Dera Ismail Khan, Multan, Karachi, Lahore, Kohat, Hangu, Gilgit-Baltistan etc.

Their only crime? They practice a faith (belief in Imams instead of Caliphs) which is different from the majority Sunni belief.

Yet, while the majority of moderate Sunnis and Shias are tolerant of each other’s ideological differences, the extremist Deobandi and Wahhabi mercenaries of the GHQ consider it their strategic as well as ideological duty to harass, attack and kill Shia Muslims. They consider Shias as heretics, infidel (kafir) and Jewish agents (Sabaai).

Over the last many decades, Shia Muslims in Pakistan have been massacred in their mosques, imambarghas, funerals, marriages, political meetings and jirgahs. They have not been spared in their offices, schools and colleges, transports, not even inside their houses.

Yet, one must salute Pakistani Shias for their resolve, their firm commitment to their lifestyle and traditions, their refusal to give in to all forms of violence and harassment by the extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis who are in turn mentored, supported and protected by a ruthless State.

In Muharram each year, every Shia knows that the majlis they are going to attend, or the juloos they are participating on Ashura, may be subject to a violent attack by a suicide bomber.

Every year, extremist Deobandi and Wahhabi mullahs issue fatwas (religious decrees) against the Shia rituals of Ashura.

Every year, terrorists of the Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba issue ultimatum that Shia gatherings during Ashura will be attacked.

Yet the Shias of Pakistan have consistently refused to give in. They have refused to cave in to the demands and tactics of extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis.

This point was neatly highlighted by Batool Zehra:

…no one is really in doubt about how vulnerable the Ashura procession is this year. In their majalis, Shia clerics have been philosophic about the possibility of suicide bombing, acknowledging that while safeguards have been taken, the threat by its very nature cannot be eliminated by better security.

Come Ashura and each mourner or ‘azadar’ on the long stretch of M A Jinnah Road (in Karachi) is more than a mourner — he is a protester and also a fighter. When the azadar walk out of their homes and join the procession, it is with the understanding that, had they been present at the battle of Karbala, they would have formed part of Imam Hussain’s (RA) army. To a follower, there are no anachronisms.

The Ashura procession is a concrete recreation to the idea that evil, even if it were to hide behind piety, behind religious facades, must be identified and exposed. And if the procession today is Imam Hussain’s (RA) lashkar, then in many ways, the Taliban today in their excesses, rigidity and barbaric cruelty still broadly embody the characteristics — intolerance, cruelty and a penchant for barbarism — of the Imam’s enemies.

Those who suggest that the processions should not take place, are missing the essential point. The Taliban attack not just lives, but a way of life, and it is the latter which must be protected, and which needs to survive. As hundreds of empty schools in Fata and Balochistan testify, it is all too easy to relinquish a way of life in an ultimately empty bid to protect lives. While the fear of bombing is palpable, there aren’t many today who are debating whether or not to go to the procession this year.

Let me once again recall Blair’s words to highlight what Pakistani Shias have been experiencing and courageously demonstrating in the last many years:

“I think we all know what they are trying to do. They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, trying to stop us from going about our business as normal, as we are entitled to do and they should not and they must not succeed. When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed.”

Through this post on the eve of Ahsura 1432 AH, I wish to pay my tribute to Pakistani Shias, those who sacrificed their lives in the Pakistani nation’s war against extremist Deobandi / Wahhabi ideology and those who still continue to challenge Yazid and its progeny in Pakistan.

Shia mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, all of them know they or their dear and near ones might be killed by extremist Deobandis, yet they have demonstrated to the Pakistani nation and the entire world the true way to deal with terrorism, i.e., through perseverance, sacrifice and a firm resolve to carry on with the business as usual.

My salute to Pakistani Shias. My salute to all those individuals, groups and communities in Pakistan including Sunnis and Shias, Christians and Ahmadis, Hindus and Sikhs, who are facing the brunt of extremist Deobandi (and to a lesser extent Wahhabi) violence but they have refused to surrender to the terrorists’ aims and demands.

To Pakistani Shias and all those who stand by individuals’ and communities’ right to practice a faith of their own choice, let me dedicate the following Noha by legendary Sachay Bhai of Karachi:

Ooncha rahay apna alam…