Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Ashura: Muharram marred by violence

After the latest sectarian clashes, it's time for Pakistan's religious leaders to promote peace instead of lashing out.  

Ashura, Pakistan 2007

On Muharram 10 in the Islamic calendar, also known as the Day of Ashura, Shias all over the world mourn the martyrdom Imam Husayn, grandson of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. In cities around the world, large processions are held in which some Shais beat themselves by hand, knives or chains. Due to the enormity of the processions, Ashura is usually a public holiday in Pakistan. 

This year, Ashura fell on November 15. Processions were carried throughout the whole country. Shops were closed. Schools and universities were closed. Every business was closed for safety measures.

Yet, during a procession in Rawalpindi, a sectarian clash occurred killing 8 people and injuring around 80 others. There are different stories about what happened. According to an eyewitness, the Shia were carrying their procession when they crossed a Sunni mosque where the religious leader was giving the Friday sermon against Shias. This infuriated the Shias, hence the clash. According to a newspaper, some miscreants snatched guns from policemen who were there for security measure, and shot randomly, killing 8 people. A resident of the area says that some Shias were burning tyres and some miscreants got involved and started beating up kids. The Shias tried to stop them but by then it actually became a sectarian clash, which resulted in deaths and injuries. 

Everywhere there's a different story about what actually happened. My story is not about what actually happened; it's about the sectarian violence. No matter what led up to it, the incident happened. Which begs the question, why can't all Islamic sects live in peace? Is it really necessary to blatantly declare other sects wrong? Can't we all just agree to disagree?

Religion is a matter between man and God. But, in Pakistan, it has become a matter between man and man. Here, people decide whether you're right or wrong, whether you're praying correctly, whether you're going to heaven or hell. No one bothers learning what the Quran says, no one bothers learning what Islam says and what it means. The word 'Islam' means 'peace', but in Pakistan, it means having the right to kill anyone if they practise religion differently. 

The Sunni leaders keep calling the Shias infidels; the Shias retaliate and do the same. What the religious leaders do not realise is that whatever actions or beliefs the other person takes is not and should not be their problem. The Quran clearly says: "Whoso slays a believer intentionally, his reward shall be hell wherein he shall abide and Allah shall be wroth with him and shall curse him and shall prepare for him a great punishment." (4:93). How clearer can the word of God be on the killing of any believer? 

It's high time now for religious personalities to come forward and promote peace instead of lashing out at each other. It's time for sectarian violence to end. It's time for all sects and religions to live peacefully in Pakistan. @BubTheMinion
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