Posts Tagged ‘ Shiites ’

Muslims: #RemoveHate or Pakistan Will Disintegrate

As Reported By Dr Faheem Younus for The Huffington Post

Image

The irony was aptly captured by this picture, taken by a BBC journalist and now going viral on social media. It shows a group of Shiites protesting the recent attacks under another banner in the background, spewing anti-Ahmadi hatred.

Unless protestors #RemoveHate against all groups, they cannot #RemoveHate against any. That’s why I always had trepidations about the Shiite sect becoming the next target — the next Ahmadis if you will. Leading Pakistani analysts feel the same way.

So here is my unifying proposal for all Pakistani Muslims: redeem yourselves by starting a#RemoveHate Twitter campaign. You cannot change the discriminatory laws and you cannot change the school curricula — at least not that easily. But why not, physically and literally, tear down the banners, whitewashing the graffiti and throw away the pamphlets that incite hatred or violence against any religious group?

Americans may argue to confront such hate speech with “more good speech.” But here lies the rub: These banners actually incite violence by calling minorities “worthy of death” and leaving thousands dead.

These deaths — or target killings — are not happening in a vacuum. Just look at the anti-Ahmadi play book: First, the political arm of the Saudi funded Wahabi sect pigeonholes a minority sect as non-Muslims. This is followed by changing the public opinion and poisoning the public discourse, which manifests as hate filled banners and graffiti, and culminates into constitutional edicts and discriminatory laws.

For Pakistani minorities, the process has been kick-started. A 2012 Pew poll showed that 50 percent of Sunnis in Pakistan now believe Shiites to be non-Muslims. For Sufis, that number was at 25 percent.

Historically, Muslim sects in Pakistan chose to appease the “worthy of death” rhetoric against another minority because they saw it as an insurance policy for themselves. Perhaps they should listen to John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech of 1961: “…remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.”

The tiger has already swallowed so many. Just look around: Shiite processions? Terrorized. Sufis shrines? Bombed. Christian leaders? Assassinated. Hindu girls? Kidnapped.

Don’t #RemoveHate and soon liberals and working women will be next.

I believe in unity against hatred. I believe that our love for Pakistan should not be measured by the amount of hatred we express for America. I believe that our love for Islam cannot be reckoned by our hatred for those who differ with our interpretation. I believe that if Pakistan’s Muslims did not#RemoveHate , Pakistan will disintegrate.

Let your Twitter feeds go wild with #RemoveHate. Let Facebook pages be dedicated to exploring and sharing the best ideas to remove hate from our surroundings. Did you use a ladder or climb on top of boxes to tear down the banner? Did you use paint or white wash to remove graffiti? Is pre-dawn a better time than post-dusk?

I beseech you, my Pakistani Muslim family: Sectarian killings are neither a Shiite nor an Ahmadi issue; they are a human rights issue. Instead of resorting to conspiracy theories, take individual responsibility to #RemoveHate from your streets. But if you still choose to stand under a hateful banner today, don’t complain if you are on it tomorrow.

Dr. Faheem Younus is a clinical associate professor at the University of Maryland. He is the founder of Muslimerican.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FaheemYounus.

 
 
 

 

Advertisements

Arab Spring Hardening Into Summer of Stalemates

As Reported by USA Today

Among the protest banners in Cairo’s Tahrir Square was a hand-drawn map of the Arab Spring with black target symbols covering each country hit by anti-government uprisings since the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt were ousted earlier this year.

A rebel fighter walks in a old and abandoned Catholic Church used by Gadhafi forces as a military camp near Misrata, Libya, on May 25.
But the bull’s-eyes could easily be replaced with question marks as the groundswell for change has splintered into scattered and indecisive conflicts that have left thousands dead and Western policymakers juggling roles from NATO airstrikes in Libya to worried bystanders in Syria and Yemen.
The stalemates could shift into a deeper holding pattern in August during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when the pace of daily life traditionally slows as the Islamic world observes a dawn-to-dusk fast and other customs such as temporary truces.

It’s a huge and traumatic undertaking to shove aside regimes with decades in power — and sway over nearly every decision down to who gets hired as street sweeper. Iran did it with the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the American-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein cleaned the slate for Iraq and ushered in years of near civil war.

But no such wholesale change appears in the pipeline with the present revolts. That has raised concern that even if the leaders fall, the pillars of the regimes could survive, as happened when military rulers took temporary control after Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
“Half revolution doesn’t work,” a headline last week in Egypt’s Al-Ahram Al-Massai newspaper said after demonstrators returned to Tahrir Square to press for swifter political reforms and bolder legal action against officials from Mubarak’s regime who were accused of corruption and killing protesters.

But even a halfway mark appears farther along than most of the rebellions against the Mideast’s old guard. Cores of loyal security forces in Yemen and Syria keep the regimes hanging on despite relentless protests. In Libya, Moammar Gadhafi could face a moment of truth as rebels press closer to the capital Tripoli and NATO warplanes hammer military sites, yet the anti-Gadhafi militias have no clear leader to prevent possible power grabs to control the country’s oil riches if he is ousted.

The country where the Arab Spring began, Tunisia, has been shaken by unrest — including a rise in ultraconservative Islamists — ahead of planned elections in October to elect an assembly that will write a new constitution. Some political groups are urging further delays in the election to give new parties a chance to organize.

Egypt, meanwhile, is questioning when — or if — the ruling military council will surrender power. The caretaker rulers effectively announced a delay of the elections on Tuesday when they said preparations for the vote would start Sept. 30.

“Bring down the military junta,” chanted some of the 30,000 protesters Tuesday in Tahrir Square. Hours later, the military made clear its patience was wearing thin — with Maj. Gen. Mohsen el-Fangari wagging his finger and warning protesters against “harming national interests.”

Mubarak is under arrest and faces trial next month over the deaths of nearly 900 protesters in the uprising that ended his 29-year-rule in February. In a transcript of his interrogation published by two newspapers Thursday, he claimed to have had no control over security forces who attacked demonstrators.

“No one would have paid any attention to me or my orders,” he said when asked why he did not stop the violence. He claimed he gave clear orders that no force be used against the protesters, and blamed top aides for keeping him in the dark about the gravity of the protests that led to his downfall.
Only in tiny Bahrain have authorities apparently tipped the scales clearly in their favor. Security forces — aided by Saudi-led reinforcements — smothered an uprising by the kingdom’s majority Shiites seeking greater rights from the Sunni rulers. A so-called “national dialogue” began this month, but it’s unlikely that the 200-year-old ruling dynasty will give up any significant hold on power and may need a heavy hand to keep Shiite-led protests from reigniting.

“It’s not over, but we are in an ugly situation now,” said Christopher Davidson, a lecturer on Middle East and Gulf affairs at Britain’s Durham University.

That’s why the definition of the Arab Spring is increasingly being stretched. It’s both about the current showdowns and the long-term spillover. The upheavals — supercharged by the instant communications of the Web — have given the region a crash course in the clout of the streets. The view from the top is suddenly less comfortable.

Even monarchs have acted swiftly after relatively small-scale clamor. Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said promised 50,000 new civil servant posts and allocated $2.6 billion for job programs. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has set in motion plans for an elected government in coming years.
In the tightly ruled United Arab Emirates, officials have opened the vaults to fund development programs in poorer regions outside Dubai and Abu Dhabi and plan to expand voting rights in September’s balloting for a federal advisory council. It’s been trumpeted as a “great leap” for democracy in a country that jailed five activists just for posting Internet appeals to form a true parliament.

“No matter what happens, countries gripped or just touched by the Arab Spring will never go back to what they were,” said Marina Ottaway, director of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. That leads to the bigger question: How deep can the changes go?
Syrian protesters, for example, know that even if President Bashar Assad falls, the underpinnings such as the rank-and-file military and public works staff cannot be purged as well without sending the country into a tailspin.

Omar Idilbi, a spokesman for the anti-Assad Local Coordination Committees, which track the protests in Syria, said the opposition has no plans to dissolve the army or even the ruling Baath Party if he is overthrown but will seek to weaken the powers of security agencies. “At the beginning of the uprising when we chanted, ‘the people want to bring down the regime,’ we did not mean President Assad, but the security agencies that interfere in everything from a marriage certificate to the opening of a shop,” said Idilbi, who is based in Beirut.

Yemen’s president isn’t even in the country, yet his regime fights on. A blast last month sent Ali Abdullah Saleh to Saudi Arabia for extensive medical treatment, including more than eight operations. But his son, Ahmed, kept the regime’s crucial Republican Guards forces intact.
Washington believes no credible alternative exists for the current regime as an ally to fight Yemen’s al-Qaida affiliate, which has been declared a major threat to U.S. interests. But President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, has urged Saleh to accept a proposal that would transfer power to his vice president in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

“The current crisis showed that neither side can win,” said Ahmed Obeid bin Dagher, the deputy secretary general of the ruling party. “If there is no national consensus through dialogue, then al-Qaida will be the alternative.” Jordan-based political analyst Labib Khamhawi sees such calls by regime insiders as bids for survival: Protect the system, not necessarily the leader.

“I think it will be very difficult to imagine that the Libyan, Yemeni or Syrian presidents will remain in power,” he said. “The faces will be changed, but the system might continue to exist.” Among the kings and sheiks in the Gulf, however, there’s not even room for those concessions.
The region’s anchor power, Saudi Arabia, which has not seen protests take off, is staking out a role as “sort of the Arab Spring counterrevolution,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at The Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.

“The Arab Spring revolutions may have their moments of self-doubt or seem stalled at times, but they are authentic expressions for change and, to use an overused phrase, on the right side of history,” said Hamid. “What began in Tunisia and Egypt is a long, long way from being finished.”

Bombers target Shiites in Pakistan, killing 12

As reported by The Associated Press

Suicide bombers attacked police protecting marches by minority Shiite Muslims in Pakistan’s two largest cities Tuesday, killing 12 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

The first and most deadly attack occurred in the eastern city of Lahore, where the bomber detonated his explosives as police tried to search him, killing 10 people. About an hour later, a second bomber struck in the southern port city of Karachi, killing at least two people.

The attacks laid bare the challenges facing Pakistani officials trying to secure cities far from the northwest, where militants fighting Pakistan’s U.S.-allied government and American forces in neighboring Afghanistan have long thrived. Many recent attacks have targeted minority Muslim and other religious groups.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Lahore, where thousands of Shiite worshippers were marking the end of a 40-day mourning period for the Islamic sect’s most beloved saint when the blast hit their procession early Tuesday evening.

The bomber is believed to have been a young teenage boy who was wearing a suicide bomb jacket and also carrying a bag full of explosives, said senior police official Aslam Tareen. He detonated his explosives when police tried to search him, he said.

“It is a great sacrifice by the police officers who laid down their lives to protect innocent people,” said Tareen.

Footage from the scene showed ambulances racing to the area and men carrying away victims. One young man whose arm was apparently hurt screamed as he was placed on a stretcher. A white car caught up in the explosion was largely destroyed, its hood twisted upward. A man lay wounded on the ground with two women and a child weeping beside him.

Dr. Zahid Pervaiz at the city’s Mayo Hospital told reporters that 10 dead bodies had come in, while another 52 people were wounded.

Shakirullah Shakir, a spokesman for the Fidayeen-e-Islam wing of the Pakistani Taliban, told The Associated Press in a phone call that the militant group had dispatched the bomber and warned of more bombings.

Later Tuesday evening, a suicide bomber struck police protecting a group of people returning from a Shiite march in the Malir neighborhood of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.

Three people were killed and three wounded in the attack, said Hamid Paryar, a doctor at Karachi’s largest hospital. Two of those killed and one wounded were policemen, he said.

The third person killed is believed to be the suicide bomber, who was riding a motorcycle and carrying his explosives in a bag, said senior police official Shaukat Shah.

The blast occurred near a police van protecting the Shiite marchers, said Akbar Jaffry, who witnessed the bombing.

Attacks roughly tripled last year in Lahore and Karachi, according to a recent report by the Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies.

The trend is a sign that militants are having greater success exporting the fight far from their northwest heartland along the Afghan border. The Pakistani army, under U.S. pressure, has carried out several offensives against militants in its northwest, but violence persists.

Thou Shalt not Mock or It May Cost You Your Life!

By Manzer Munir for Pakistanis for Peace

In the wake of the murder of Salmaan Taseer, the Governor of Punjab a couple weeks back, I did a great deal of contemplation about the situation in Pakistan and the current state of affairs of Pakistan and indeed in much of the Muslim world.

The current situation, especially in Pakistan and when it concerns the rights of the non-Muslims, is apparently the worst of anywhere in the Muslim world. Indeed, the plight of Asia Bibi, (also known as Aasia, Ayesa Noreen) Islam and Islamic Blasphemy laws have come under rightful scrutiny as of late.

One question that tugs at the heart of the debate for me is why is it that Muslims seem to get so very offended to the point they want to KILL you over a remark or something that comes out of your mouth? As Americans, we wonder to ourselves, “Haven’t they ever heard of sticks and stones may break my bones, but words don’t hurt me?!

Sadly, what the fundamentalist preachers at all the podiums of their Friday sermon or khutbah, nor any of their brethren on the run and in caves like the Taliban and Al Qaeda fail to realize that we are all God’s children. And God, Allah, Yahweh, Jesus, or whatever name you assign him, he is One and the same God of all religions. He is too big to fit into just one religion, concept, version or story of him.

And we all are his creations. Not one of us is superior over the other in his eyes and he judges us all equally. To him, the children of these three religions and its offspring’s are all related to each other. Adam being the first man, then Eve, and then all the Biblical figures and names such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, yes especially Jesus. He is their Messiah too!

Jesus, in fact is mentioned some 28 times in the Muslim holy book, Qu’ran whereas their own prophet Muhammad is mentioned only 4 times. And the fact that Jesus is also considered by Muslims to be the Messiah, it is sad that his followers should get such abject treatment in Pakistan and sadly, many Muslim countries.

If only the bad guys realized the connections between Christians and Jesus only then would a Pakistani Christian woman, suffering needlessly in a cell tonight going on 2 years away from her children in solitude, and constantly fearful for her life, would see her horrific ordeal come to an end.

These people are incapable of understanding basic rights, freedoms and even the unhindered concept of free will. No, they are primitive minded in their their spiritual and daily lives. They fail to see that a Christian’s God and a Muslim’s God are the one and the same. And he never would agree to laws like Pakistan’s Blasphemy laws at all. Why? Well because the Muslim God is known first and foremost as a Gracious, Merciful, Compassionate God.

In fact, the Arabic phrase Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim is a beautifully poetic phrase which offers both deep insight and brilliant inspiration to the average Muslim who says it countless times as he or she starts each day and till they rest their head to sleep. “ It has often been said that the phrase Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim contains the true essence of the entire Qur’an, as well as the true essence of all religions. Muslims often say this phrase when embarking on any significant endeavor and the phrase is considered by some to be a major pillar of Islam. This expression is so magnificent and so concise that all except one chapter of the Qur’an begins with the words Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim.”

The common translation:”In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate” essentially is saying that God is compassionate, and full of grace. So how would this God punish Asia Bibi? What would he do if he is so full of compassion and mercy? Would he even punish her? And if he is such a gracious and a compassionate God, then wouldn’t he feel that nearly a two year jail sentence in solitary is already far more than her crime not to mention being away from husband and children and being worried about mob vengeance on her or the death penalty?

That God may act in a multitude of ways and we cannot ever know till said Judgment Day. That is what Judgment Day is all about after all. In fact, this is probably one day when the man upstairs works overtime judging all of us mankind, from the beginning with Adam to the last standing comes till Tribulation and the End of Days. It is only he, the Creator who will do the judging and this is something that the men with the loudspeakers who climb to the top of the minaret five times a day to call the faithful to prayers, just do not really understand, in my opinion. They apparently constantly seem to forget and pass judgment from the pulpit and this in turn helps set the “popular” opinion amongst the ultra-religious faithful of Pakistan’s society.

My only prayer to this Creator is that may he keep Asia Bibi safe tonight and continue to give her strength. And if God should call her home and have her die a death at the hands of the real savages those that not only kill but shockingly, in your name, then please Allah grant her heaven just as you should governor Salmaan Taseer, a man who was only defending the rights of all your children, including those of other faiths. He was being compassionate and gracious towards a fellow human being God, as he was only trying to emulate his creator, You Lord. Ameen.

And while you are at it Lord, will you also please let the imam at the microphone know that “Thou shall not mock, should not cost you your life.” Afterall, “Thou shall not kill is one of your top 10 commandments, whereas mocking prophets or religious figures does not make the list!

Manzer Munir, a proud Pakistani American and peace activist, is a Sufi Muslim who is also the founder of Pakistanis for Peace and blogs at www.PakistanisforPeace.com and at other websites such as www.DigitalJournal.com, www.Allvoices.com, www.Examiner.com and www.open.salon.com as a freelance journalist and writer. He asks that you like the Official Facebook Page of Pakistanis for Peace to get the latest articles as they publish here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Pakistanis-for-Peace/141071882613054

Islam in the Indian Subcontinent and the Rise of Sects

By Nagwa Malik 

Islam, a religion described by many as a religion of peace, and by many again a religion of terrorism. Why this huge controversy? Simple. Islam is a religion of peace and fortunately or unfortunately it goes past creed, race, cast, color or country, through all the continents and like the Chinese whisper, the meaning gets scrambled along the way.

But if we examine Islam in the Indian subcontinent alone we find various colors within this one religion. In fact I am amazed to see that the amount of misinformation, lack of information and incomplete knowledge is so high in this area of the world that most of the sects are generated from within this boundary alone. Islam is one, it is a sign of unity, so the thought of any sect violates the essence of the religion. The Quran itself states that creating sects in Islam is Haram (forbidden).

This is one fact that we  as Muslims do not seem to realize. Why are these sects formed and continue to grow? Because every individual interprets the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) and even the Quran in a different light and in doing so everyone seems to think they have hit upon something new and that something new has to be the real truth. They go around preaching in their excitement of having learnt what they think is unknown to anyone else, and thus a sect is formed. Did you know that there are more sects within the Islamic religion in this part of the world than the rest of the world put together?

I am very sad to point out that where every scholar from every part of the world will agree upon certain basics of Islam, these very basics will be found challenged and put through controversy by only writers of the subcontinent.  Similarly this question about challenging hadith or the concept of it has been only and only from this part of the world in the same way does the production of hadiths that do not exist in the first place at all. These two extremes are born from within our very country, and nowhere else in the world.

People realise their lack of knowledge at a rather later stage in life usually 40 above and decide to conduct a research. This usually comes out rather worse for the rest of the human race, for they do not do a complete research, but pick on that one single idea that has clicked and instead of trying to find out the truth, only start justifying their idea as the truth. This leads to rather disastrous results which is why Islam practised in the subcontinent is not the fundamental basics of Islam. You know the saying: a half truth is worse than a lie. A very small example of this is the recent wave of ideology that whatever is in the Quran is Islam, and there is no other source. That the Quran is complete and nothing is left unexplained. The idea continues with the denouncement of Hadith or the Prophet’s tradition. How bizarre can one get in trying to understand religion, only to denounce that very fundament of religion? It is true that Quran touches on every subject and completely defines the Muslim code of life, but not everything is put to print. Some things have been left to the Prophet (pbuh) to practise and to explain.

There are four basics of Islam which are not to be tampered with when conducting any research, and these four are undisputed by every scholar in the world except again the few in the subcontinent who think they have hit the jack pot…rather the opposite if you ask me; these four are Quran, Hadith, Ijma and Qiyas. These basics form the Shariah. The present legal system followed by the west and rather poorly by the subcontinent is actually based on this very foundation of Islam and Islamic legal system. The tradition of cross referencing a case, reading from the statute, citing previous cases all stem from the four basic references of Islam. To denounce anyone is to denounce the religion itself. So one has to be very careful before one forms rather ingenious theories about understanding Islam.

A tip for all new researchers: try to avoid reading books written by local writers first, or try to avoid reading them at all, for they base their books on controversies. Instead pick up authentic writers accepted all over the world for their deep and accurate research work. Try reading old writers who have been authenticated by the Islamic panel internationally. It should be noticed that people in Pakistan and India are less informed about their religion than other Muslim countries, and those who have had a basic education of Islam abroad hold a more solid and clear view of Islam whereas unfortunately in the subcontinent this is not so. Abroad there is only one book, one rule, one religion, whereas in the subcontinent there are many books, many rules and many sects. We need to eradicate this flaw within our system.  When we go for the pilgrimage we find that the pilgrims from around the world are mostly young but only pilgrims from the subcontinent are old. That explains a lot doesn’t it? For a country called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan we are curiously very unfamiliar with Islam and its basic teachings.

Before we go about getting excited over our incomplete research works and start preaching them, please do understand a rule of Islam which says misinformation is a sin.  It is suggested, then, that once it is sure that a thorough research is conducted in the right way, and the three stages of basic research have been passed through, then and only then should one allow oneself to preach. Also, one must try practising it first. Too often people who claim to be righteous Muslims  are ones who inevitably do not fully practice what they preach. We must remember the saying: neem hakeem khatara-e-jaan, neem mullah khatara-e-imaan. (A half baked physician is a danger to your life and a half baked mullah is a danger to your faith).

%d bloggers like this: