Books and Documents

Islam and Sectarianism

Inter-Sect Dialogue the Need of the Hour
Dr Qasim Imam, New Age Islam

When we have a look at the present state of Islam we are flabbergasted by the presence of so many sects and sub-sects among Muslims, each claiming to be the true representative of Islam thus being the sole claimant to the garden of Paradise. Though there are only two major sects in Islam – Sunni and Shia— there are various denominations and sub-sects in both the major sects. There are four imams, Imam Azam Abu Hanifa, Imam Ibn Hanbal, Imam Shafi’I and Imam Malik. They are the founders of four schools of jurisprudence…

We are dealing with a sectarian monster in the form of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Another religious monster is the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. These monsters have distorted Islam and destroyed Pakistan. It must be remembered that none of these groups have emerged organically. On the contrary, these militant sectarian organisations have thrived due to the patronage accorded to them by General Ziaul Haq in the 1980s....

The Hazaras have a long history of persecution at the hands of the Afghans, which dates back to the 16th century. During the era of Amir Abdul Rahman (1880-1901), who is regarded as founder of modern Afghanistan, thousands of Hazaras were killed, expelled and enslaved. Almost half of the Hazara population migrated to neighbouring Balochistan of British India and the Khorasan province in Iran....

You Cannot Keep the Spring from Coming
Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
You Cannot Keep the Spring from Coming
Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

It is noteworthy that thousands of Baloch have gone missing since 1974 and continue to go missing while more than 700 of them have had their tortured bodies dumped all over Balochistan. However, this brutality has not succeeded in intimidating the Baloch who continue to resist repression and exploitation because they realise that giving up their rights, land and resources would make their life meaningless and pointless. Therefore, they resist and struggle.....

Sectarian Violence in Pakistan: The Battle Within
Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan: The Battle Within
Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson

Leaving aside states experiencing the carnage of civil wars, like Syria, only one country — Iraq — is afflicted with more sectarian violence and suffers more fatalities than Pakistan. Pakistan’s unenviable ranking confirms the judgment of the chief of army staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who told cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy in August 2012 that “Today, extremism and terrorism present a grave challenge… We as a nation must stand united against this threat … the challenge that threatens us the most is preservation of national integrity and unity”....


The Shia political leaders who came to power after 2003 were uniquely positioned to shape Iraq's future, yet they and Kurdish groups brought long-held grievances, not only against Saddam Hussein's regime, but more broadly against minority Sunni dominance, which had existed to varying degrees since the Iraqi state was established in 1921....


No one seriously believes that the civilian government has any ties to the murderers, but their fear of taking on the militants was evident in the statement of Akbar Hussain Durrani, the home secretary of Baluchistan, two days after the Quetta attack: "We have certain clues about terrorists involved in past attacks and targeted killings which I cannot disclose at the moment but we are working on them."…


In such troubling times some Shias may have a choice. They may sit and wait for a messiah or relocate to a Shia-exclusive enclave elsewhere, or to escape from Pakistan altogether. It may sound harsh, but it is an inescapable truth that Pakistan has been run over by the extremists and life is going to be even tougher for the minorities and moderate Sunnis in the near future....

The bride and groom first went through an administrative procedure to strike their religion off their official records. After that and almost a year’s worth of paperwork, a notary married the couple and they submitted their marriage contract to the Interior Ministry to obtain a marriage license. While it was rejected by the Justice Ministry, the initiative’s strong media impact is a victory in itself.....

Pakistan: Death to the Apostates
Shudeepto Ariquzzaman

The actions of the Pakistani state, notably the country's powerful army has been dubious. For three decades, the Pakistani state and army had patronised religious organisations for armed operations in Afghanistan and India. After Pakistan became an US ally in 2001, many of these groups turned against their former patrons....

Shia Hero Not Needed In a Sunni Play
Murtaza Haider
Shia Hero Not Needed In a Sunni Play
Murtaza Haider

This, however, has not deterred the cleric-led post revolution Iran for trying to assert itself in conflicts that have pitched Sunni Arabs against others. I would argue that Iran should immediately halt meddling in conflicts involving Sunnis and instead, restrict its efforts to improving the welfare of Shias, who are currently being hounded by extremist Sunnis in places like Pakistan and Bahrain....


"I have seen the world," he said. "I am now convinced that Shias and Sunnis will have to co-exist peacefully. There is no other solution." Because of his past, some civil society activists still look at him with suspicion. "If Shias will keep on abusing religious figures, I will not be able to stop myself from calling them Kafir," he said. "If they can't stop, they should do it behind closed doors and not on the streets."….

Hampered by a lack of economic opportunity, linguistic and cultural barriers, and with no proper political protection, more and more Christians are now abandoning Kurdistan — and Iraq. The Iraqi Christian population has shrunk to between 300,000 and 500,000, down from a high of 1.3 million people in 1991, according to recent estimates, raising fears about the possible extinction of one of the most ancient Christian communities in the world.....

This is a brief Talk of the Town Report. Significant developments are listed hereunder. The Pashtun, some growth in petty crime notwithstanding, are peaceful and busy in expanding business and pursuing education. In Pashtun areas, PKMAP is becoming vocal after hibernating for some 6 years. Mahmud Achakzai is going about mustering political support, only from Pashtun areas, on ethnic basis....


This simply means that if the agencies are morally convinced of someone’s guilt he can be killed or incarcerated with no recourse to justice. Little wonder then that of the thousands of the Baloch gone missing, nearly a thousand of them were tortured, killed and dumped all over Balochistan. This tally however does not include the innumerable persons killed during the operations in Mastung, Mashkay, Dera Bugti and Marri areas....


Apart from these terrorist formations, a number of local criminal gangs, affiliated to these outfits, have also been involved in extortion. The failure of the Police and administration to curb these groups has made Karachi a playground for extortion. The most feared of all such criminal groupings is the Lyari Gang, led by Uzair Baloch, operating in Karachi's Lyari area....


We live in a cauldron of sectarian strife. Where Deobandis consider Shias, Ahmedis and Barelvis dispensable, Salafis consider every one disposable, Shias and Sunnis feel Ahmedis should be put to the sword. All in all, most of the mainstream sects have a hint of Takfiri, a dash of fanatic and a sprinkling of Tableeghi in them. And yet, there has been no mention of the treatment meted out to the non-Muslim minorities yet. Those dishes err! People are not allowed in the kitchen called Pakistan....

Channels like Geo, ARY, Aaj, SAMA, and Dunia have been interviewing leaders of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who spit venom about the Shias. On these channels, they have shamelessly declared that the Shias are kafir. On 10 January, there was a blast in a Tablighi (Islamic-Proselytizing) seminary in Swat. The blast took place in the afternoon. Initially 5 men were reported dead. The blast, later reported as a suicide bombing, was part of the Deobandi infighting going on between the Taliban and the Tablighis....

Saudi money sponsored jihadist madrasas all over Pakistan. The “moderate faction” of the Pakistani army permitted Jihadist militias to operate outside the law because “higher objectives” were in view. The smaller, but more clear-sighted Islamist faction did the same for they wanted these militias to help transform Pakistani society itself. Virulent anti-Shia propaganda exploded out of these madrasas (some regularly visited by senior state functionaries and openly funded by beloved Saudi donors) alongside Kashmiri Jihad and strategic depth in Central Asia. …

Political Islam Divides Arabs
Talal Salman, Tr. From Arabic New Age Islam

Before the outbreak of political Islam, any support or objection was focused on political factors and the practices of ruling regimes. But when the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists came to power, particularly in Egypt, Tunisia and of course Libya, political rhetoric took on a sectarian and later takfiri character. Thus, the Copts were the first to be removed from the Egyptian political equation.Then, Salafist voices began to exclude Muslims not affiliated to the Brotherhood or the Salafists from Islam itself. Takfiris are everywhere, and takfir is a political approach, not a sectarian approach leading to the declaration of opposing religious groups and individuals apostates. Furthermore, the Salafists and Sunni extremists excluded all Shiites from Arabism, then from Islam as a whole.

Let’s Mourn Together
Editorial in the Sawt al Haque, Tr. New Age Islam

Why is it so on every Muharram? Why does the government become so much shaky, nervous, panicked and livid? The simple reason behind all this communalism whose poison has polluted the minds and the hatred has filled the heart. The occasions or events that otherwise might have become an opportunity for strengthening harmony and a matter of pride turns out to be the cause of rifts, bloodshed and hatred.

Pakistan In Throes Of Genocidal Ideology
Ismail Salami
Pakistan In Throes Of Genocidal Ideology
Ismail Salami

The assassination attempts in Pakistan initially included the Shia elites such as doctors, professors, engineers, and lawyers. However, in recent months, the appalling assassinations have come to encompass any Shia gatherings regardless of their social ranks. Unfortunately, the Pakistani government has constantly tried to put a lid on these crimes, attribute them to sectarian violence and refuse to arrest the guilty parties.


Wednesday's bombings of a Shia Muslim neighbourhood in the Pakistani city of Quetta that killed almost 100 people is a grim reminder of the power of sectarian militants to act as the arbiters of peace - and war - in this country. Since 2004-05, they have steadily spread their wings in south western Balochistan province, where the ethnic Hazara community of Shia Muslims has been their main target.

Sectarian killings in Pakistan: Why it is not possible to stop them?
Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam
Sectarian killings in Pakistan: Why it is not possible to stop them?
Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam

Among such madrasas of Karachi, Bannauri Town, New Town and Jamey Farouqi have played a major role as the ulema and students graduating from these madrasas have carried forward communal and religious extremism across the whole country. If the religious literature is studied, the madrasas of Karachi are in the front in this matter too whether it is the printing of the second edition of Maulana Manzoor Nomani’s communal books or incendiary articles of Maulana Mahmood Abbasi or Maulana Yousuf Ludhianvi’s communal articles laced with literary flavour. Even the intellectual upbringing of Maulana Azam Tarique is indebted to the atmosphere of the madrasas in Karachi.

If the Brotherhood continues its approach of monopolizing power — while giving a share of it to the Salafists — and adopting the logic of sectarianism by denying the Islam of Muslims who disagree with their views on religion and worldly affairs, as well as non-Muslims, a comprehensive nationalist disaster threatens all Arab countries without exception.

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