Books and Documents

Islam and Sectarianism

Pakistan Imploding Under Sectarian Violence
Murtaza Haider is a professor in the Ted Rogers School
As of late, the followers of majority Sunni sects, such as Bareli’s, have increasingly become targets of militants who are followers of radicalised Sunni sects. The attack on Data Darbar, the mausoleum of Lahore’s patron saint, in July 2010 left almost 50 moderate Sunni Muslims dead. In an earlier post, I reported police statistics which showed that almost 90 per cent of arrested terrorists in Pakistan were followers of the Disband sect…


For the Taliban, We are all wajib-ul-qatal
Irfan Husain is an author

When the Taliban was reminded that the founder of Pakistan was a peaceful, tolerant man, he replied that Jinnah had ‘Ali’ in his name, and so must be a Shia. “We do not accept the Shia as Muslims,” he insisted. From considering the Shia to be non-Muslims, it seems there is only a short step to declaring them wajib-ul-qatal, or deserving of death, preferably by violent means….

Minorities in Pakistan: Religious persecution of Ahmadiyyas is nothing new

“A couple of days ago, during a laboratory session, some students disrupted the lecture and started preaching how Ahmedis are non-Muslims and are wajib-ul-qatal. Brochures and booklets, entailing details of how Ahmedis should be prosecuted, are also being circulated amongst the students. So far, Ahmadi students have not been threatened, however, students report that they are constantly being followed and other students have boycotted them completely. …

Time to Establish the Abdus Salam Chair at LUMS
Dr Salam won the Nobel Prize in Physics 1979

Dr. Abdus Salam, one of the greatest scientists produced by the Islamic world and having received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979, deserves such an honour by LUMS, Pakistan’s number one ranked institute by the Higher Education Commission. But what makes this gesture significant is that it is courageous, even though the intent of LUMS is only to honour the intellectual contribution of Dr. Salam. …

Violence, Mores and Morals

“I relayed the news on to colleagues and students at the cafeteria table. Some looked glumly at their plates but, a minute or two later, normal cheerful chatter resumed.” So wrote friend Pervez Hoodbhoy in this newspaper on March 5, in an op-ed titled “Run for your life”. What was the news? That those men, of the terrorist outfit Jundullah, had on February 28 executed 18 men in Kohistan after being singled out because of their sect. …

What Dr Hoodbhoy got Wrong

An opinion piece in The Express Tribune “Run for your life” by Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy on March 5, 2012 read: This essay deliberately excludes Hindus, Christians, and Parsis. The reason: these communities were never enthused about India’s partition (even though some individual members pretended to be)… he conveniently made some very disturbing assumptions on behalf of people, that to date, are fighting for their right of “Pakistaniyat” just as Shias or Ahmadis…

Sindh and Balochistan: Self-inflicted Wounds
Shahzad Raza is TFT special correspondent based in Islamabad

Because of blood that was spilled 1400 years ago, the history of Islam is marred with the killing of thousands of Muslims over sectarian differences. Sectarianism in Pakistan is a dynamic phenomenon, and it always finds new battlegrounds, new recruits and new targets. The spectre now haunts urban Sindh and Balochistan. …


Ahmadis and Shias-  Run for Your Life
Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics and political science at LUMS

In Pakistan one’s religious faith, or lack of one, has become sufficient to warrant execution and murder. The killers do their job fearlessly and frequently. The 17th century philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, once observed that “men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious conviction”. …

Gilgit-Baltistan: Murder most Foul
Ambreen Agha is a Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

Gilgit-Baltistan has historically remained a peaceful region, with occasional cycles of orchestrated tension and violence. Shias were a majority in the region until the Government of Pakistan breached the State Subject Rules (SSR) promulgated in 1927 by the last Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh, in a massive effort at demographic re-engineering. …

The Rise of Violent Sectarianism
Raza Rumi is an author and journalist

Denominational differences are not new to Islam, just as they are not to other religions. However, the history of sectarian violence in Pakistan is a phenomenon that, while drawing on old differences of faith, has unfolded in a modern context. The recent rise in sectarian killings, for instance, is a continuation of the trends already gathering pace in Pakistani society from the 1980s. …

Inside Balochistan''s Dirty War

Even though the Pakistan Army was able to crush tribal rebellions espousing Baluch nationalism, new generations of urban educated Baloch were drawn to their cause. “The Pakistani generals “keep making peace deals with jihadists who have killed thousands of their own people. We are not religious fanatic terrorists — so it won''t talk to us.”…


Islamism Fails to Paper over Shia-Sunni Divide

There’s a serious split in Hamas reflecting the growing civil war among Islamists along Sunni-Shia lines. What lies behind this split is the broader conflict between the Sunni and Shia Islamist camps. Palestinian politics are a mess. Nobody can deliver peace; no one will struggle to achieve a compromise peace agreement with Israel. ...

Were Those Not Humans who were Killed?

Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? ...

Thus, in a country where on the eve of Independence, Jinnah had proclaimed “You are free to go to your temples … mosques … or any other places of worship”, Ahmadis were barred from calling their places of worship mosques; the Kalima of Islam was removed from such buildings’ façade; holding prayers and congregations similar to those held by Muslims inside a building that resembled a mosque and keeping copies of the Quran in such places, were proscribed. -- Murtaza Razvi  

When I was studying at university, during a discussion over an economic issue, my professor (a PhD) uttered these words: “Alhamdulillah, I am a Sunni, I am a Muslim.” These words took me and many other students by surprise. The bizarre logic of uttering those unnecessary words in the midst of a discussion, especially when the class comprised of students from diverse religious backgrounds, was unfathomable. -- Sana Iqbal

My hypothesis is that the division of the Punjabi nation in 1947 produced a Pakistani Punjab that was heavily weighted in favour of the martial castes. The trading castes, which tend to be more pragmatic and balance society’s extremism mostly left to come to India. This has produced the imbalance which explains Pakistan’s fondness for a state dominated by soldiers. Gen Pervez Kayani runs the state’s foreign policy, security policy and most of its economic policy because the majority of Punjabis are comfortable with the idea of a warrior being in charge. India is ruled by a Punjabi from the Khatri trading caste, Manmohan Singh of Chakwal. The question is: Can caste be a predictor for such things? Yes it is. I did two studies that demonstrated it to me. -- Aakar Patel

Balochistan has for long earned notoriety as the land of extra judicial killings, disappearances, SF high handedness, and repression, as well as a playground for terrorists operating beyond the frontiers of the Country. The situation is particularly grave for non-Muslims and minority Muslim sects. As many as 80 members of the Shia community have been killed in the Province this year [2011] alone, for no reason other than their religious belief. HRCP also has serious concern at targeted killing of teachers, intellectuals and non-Baloch ‘settlers’ in Balochistan. -- Tushar Ranjan Mohanty


Syria is ruled by a Shia minority only because the French colonial army recruited its local troops from the Alawites, precisely because they were a poor and despised minority. That way, the French reckoned, they would be loyal to France, not to Syria. But domination of the military ultimately let Alawites seize political control in independent Syria. There is no Shia plot against the Sunni Arab world, just old history that won't go away. The danger is that Arab rulers start thinking that citizens cannot be loyal to the state unless they have exactly the same religious beliefs as their rulers. The European wars of religion - a century of slaughter - were not really about doctrinal quarrels. They happened mainly because rulers became convinced that they could not be safe if some of their citizens belonged to a different sect. Most countries in the world today are living proof that that is nonsense, but Arab rulers, both Sunni and Shia, are fast falling into the delusion that it is true. That would be a disaster.-- Gwynne Dyer

Quite tellingly, the ruling party, seven opposition parties and a network of 127 NGOs are all planning to protest on December 23 in order to renew their vows against allowing ‘other religions’ in the Maldives. It seems a rather redundant cause, considering the 2008 Maldivian constitution already forbids non-Muslims from becoming citizens, and mandates that the nation remain 100% Sunni Muslim. This status quo, however, was recently challenged by a group of Maldivians who gathered in Male’ on December 10, on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, in silent protest against the lack of religious freedom in the Maldives. -- Yameen Rasheed


The decision was based on a controversial op-ed written by him in the newspaper Daily News and Analysis (DNA) on July 16 in response to terrorist attacks in Mumbai. In the op-ed, he had offered strongly worded ideas on how to “negate the political goals of Islamic terrorism in India.” Among his ideas were that India should “enact a national law prohibiting conversion from Hinduism to any other religion,” “remove the Masjid in Kashi Vishwanath temple and the 300 Masjid at other temple sites,” and “declare India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus.” Harvard Yard is a calm and vibrant community space where students, tourists, and community members sit and stroll. Many buildings, including dormitories, libraries, a church and lecture halls, surround it. In the month of November, tents had sprouted on Harvard Yard in solidarity with the Occupy movement. The Occupy movement at Harvard was made up of Harvard students, staff and faculty, and posed no threat to the security of Harvard affiliates. -- Karan Singh Tyagi (Photo: A November 2011 picture of protesters making their way to the grounds of Harvard Law School

I was tempted to write this article when I read another one on The Express Tribune titled ‘Muharram is your holiday, not mine’. In this blog, the writer complains about how she feels discriminated against and threatened by the Sunni sect, especially during Muharram and the day of Ashura.For me, following the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Sunnah is enough. I will do what my beloved prophet instructed us Muslims to do. As far as the day of Ashura goes, popular Hadiths have quoted that this day was significant in history primarily for being the day when the Prophet Moses  and his companions were forever rid of the Pharaoh’s vice, when he was drowned in the waters of Red Sea. The Jews always fasted on this day, but our beloved prophet instructed Muslims to observe a two-day fast to include either the day before or the day after Ashura in order to mark our difference with the Jews. Later in history, a second event marked this day’s importance because our beloved prophet’s grandson, Husain was martyred in Karbala. Our prophet told us to fast and pray during Muharram; that’s reason enough for me. However, since it is not obligatory, if I don’t, it does not make me a lesser Muslim than anyone else.  Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) forbade me to mourn a death for more than three days, but he didn’t stop me from remembering and praying for someone I love. -- Mahjabeen Khan


If you want to have a party in Muharram, that’s fine by me; just don't get all emotional if I don't attend. I am a Shia Muslim living in a country that offers me no security. While I agree that no one in Pakistan is really safe from the constant terror attacks, the recent acts of sectarian violence with absolutely no accountability paints a very bleak picture for me.  People, in general, tend to target people who are a little different from them, and this is the sad reality of life. In Pakistan, Shias are no exception. Aside from the obvious threat to their security, there are other things that worry us Shias, and make us contemplate about how open-minded our society really is. Here is my list of things that make my blood boil. Another thing that really bothers me is how people label the 9th and 10th Muharram as ‘holidays’. Stop calling them holidays! Seriously, it offends me significantly. It might be a holiday for you and everyone else, but it is not for me. For me, this day means everything. You might think it’s a great idea to have a major exam immediately the day after Ashura, because for you, the 9th and 10th of Muharram are two days of absolute nothingness, during which you can easily plan study-dates.  The same doesn’t apply to me. I am not using my beliefs as an excuse to shun my responsibilities, but please, can you be more considerate? -- Sidra Rizvi

We all know that when the Hindu right comes to town - declaring that this or that text should not be taught in the university, or this or that painting should not be seen, or this or that film should not be shown – the secular left-liberal intelligentsia in India automatically gets outraged, signs petitions, holds press conferences and generally vents it righteous anger. I know this because I do all these things, along with all my friends. I sign the online petitions, attend the demonstrations, express my anger and do some (or all) of that which needs to be done, that should be done. We should never give an inch to the hoodlums of Hindutva. The Indian left-liberal’s critique of Hindutva amounts to an engagement with the presence of a Hindu way of life. It is in the end affirmative of something in Hindu life-worlds that is beyond Hindutva. Correspondingly, The Indian left-liberal’s refusal to develop a robust, concrete critique of Muslim fundamentalism (and its consequent denuding of the Islamicate cultural space) is symptomatic of a profound apathy regarding Islam and what happens to Muslim people. Which is why some liberal commentators have even found it possible to say that whatever is wrong with Hindutva is because of its ‘semitization’ – betraying thereby their profound prejudices against the ‘Semitic’ (Judeo-Arabic) peoples and their cultures and beliefs. -- Shuddhabrata Sengupta

I walked past the gate, and saw a sign announcing an exhibition of the Quran, being organised by the Ahmediyya community (Qadianis are also known as Ahmediyyas; it is a sect of Muslims which is declared “non-Muslim” in Pakistan and is allegedly persecuted in Islamic countries such as Iran for their “blasphemous” interpretation of the Quran; in secular India, they freely practice their faith). There are just about 2.5 lakh Qadianis in India and I had never met anyone of the community till I walked into the exhibition hosted by them. The entrance to the hall, where the exhibition took place, had large posters that said the Quran and Islam, denounce terrorism, and advocate peace, unity and humankind. Inside, there were 53 copies of the Quran — all in different languages, from Spanish and Deutsch to Malayalam and Gujarati — displayed neatly. Inside the hall, too, there were posters that talked again of peace, humanity and women's rights, as preached by the Quran. Exactly what I wanted to see. Forget blasphemous, there was nothing even remotely offensive about the exhibition. “These people think we are not real Muslims because of a few differences in our interpretation,” is all that Aziz Ahmed, an Ahmediyas representative, said. -- Irena Akbar

India’s Muslims are the country’s largest minority. Depending on your source, their numbers range between 160-200 million. However, the community has been subject to injustices of the state and society. Communal riots, encounter killings, poisonous Hindu right propaganda that tries to portray them as outsiders and cultural pollutants; they have seen it all. And if all this weren’t enough, they have to face an even bigger detriment to their progress; their self-appointed leaders. These include et al., mullahs, politicians, and the Urdu press that claims to be their spokesperson. The article, titled “Qadianon ki ‘Qurani taleemat numaish’ ke khilaf ihtejaaj”. The story described how Muslim organizations protested outside an exhibition organized by the Ahmadi community (described using the pejorative term ‘Qadiani’) because they claimed that Ahmadis were attempting to mislead the public by posing as Muslims (Surprise, Surprise!). The opening sentence said it all: “Leading Muslim personalities in Delhi held a peaceful protest against an exhibition ‘Teachings of Holy Quran’, arranged by the Ahmadiya Jamaat India, an organization belonging to the Ahmadi sect, which have been declared as non Muslims everywhere in the world…” -- Amit Julka

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  • People in this age are in need of peace, let alone talking about 'love' the essence of which is hardly understood in the non-spiritual world. 
    ( By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي )
  • AayinaAap bhi article likh sakte hoKashmiri pandist k bare m likhna h likho. Lekin jo likh rahe hai burma par wo bhi theek hain...Unko fake ...
    ( By Rumish )
  • Where is the philosophy of "love"? 
    ( By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي )
  • it is very easy to do this. many.a (disturbingly large) number of expatriate muslims have nothing but contempt for the free mixing, binge drinking, ...
    ( By hats off! )
  • oh! so you are a closet atheist after all! but the garden variety.
    ( By hats off! )
  • silence is golden and speech is silvern.
    ( By hats off! )
  • islam is more about prophet worship than allah worship. and they have the gall to hate idolators and polytheists!no shame whatsoever. no self criticism. ...
    ( By hats off! )
  • in the famous words of "extremists"-enabling moderate muslims - the verse was quoted out of context.
    ( By hats off! )
  • Due you know genocide of Buddist in Tebet, Kshmiri pandits in Kshamir. Biased Matthew smith a fake humunist, shameless sultan Shahin has not put single ...
    ( By Aayina )
  • lets make it simple."There is no compulsion in relgion but humiliation" is this make clear the treatment of not agree with Mouhmmad self declared ...
    ( By Aayina )
  • hatts off, you cannot expect from Hindu hate lover like Gulam Mohyuddin to acknowledge that numerical system was given by Hindus, they will talk ...
    ( By Aayina )
  • The articles presents some wonderful quotes from different authors.My favorite is from Mark Twain: "Man is the Religious Animal. . . . He is ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Why are the United States and the Gulf Emirates silent on this subject?
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • This is a great inspiring article. It was very helpful. Thanks for sharing sach a wanderfull post, It was really ...
    ( By Andrew Saiman )
  • I clicked this article also posted on quora. this is very good article and must read for young generation of todays kahsmirs.
    ( By Shahzeb )
  • What's the context of Hats Off's comment (which by the way he has repeated umpteen times!)?
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • no kuffar might enter the cities of mecca or madina.very, very tolerant.
    ( By hats off! )
  • "Scholars at Makkah conference warn against sectarianism"Sectarianism is our worst enemy but these scholars at the Makkah conference warning us about sectarianism are themselves very ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Naseer sb.,Instead of responding to my post you have  launched a barrage of hollow assertions. You seem to be under the delusion that you ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • We should say, "There shall be no compulsion in   religion," and stop there. Quoting the rest of 2:256 and 2:257 dilutes the message. ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Naseer sb.'s comment on Professor Moosa, Abdullah Saeed and other reformists is thoughtless and undignified. They have defined a crucial problem for our generation because ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • It is very sad to know that civilians are mercilessly being killed in Yemen
    ( By Kaniz Fatma )
  • آج ضرورت اس امر کی ہے کہ ہم ہر وقت صبر و تحمل کی سواری پر سوار رہیں، مصائب، تکالیف، پریشانیاں اور غم آتے ...
    ( By Kaniz Fatma )
  • آج ضرورت اس امر کی ہے کہ ہم ہر وقت صبر و تحمل کی سواری پر سوار رہیں، مصائب، تکالیف، پریشانیاں اور غم آتے رہیں گے ...
    ( By Kaniz Fatma )
  • This verse means that the teachings of Islam are very clear and the proof and evidence of its soundness are so clear and definitive that there ...
    ( By Kaniz Fatma )
  • I have said that I know very little of Akbar's Deen-e-Ilahi and what I have endorsed is his genuine secularism. He may not have ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • A correction. I am not a hypocrite who can respect anything that is the anti-thesis of Islam.  However, when it comes to people, i ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • A correction. I am not a hypocrite who can respect anything that is the anti-thesis of Islam.  However, when it comes to people, i ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • GM sb,You can quadruple your efforts. Do you find me saying anything different?I disagree on your last two paras. The less you talk about ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • "Forced belief is not sincere belief. As we have already seen in the above passages that Islamic faith is not related to outward physical ...
    ( By Kaniz Fatma )
  • Good. So, you also reject Ibn-Arabi, Shah Wali ullah and all other scholars who either take a differnt view or equivocate? And you also ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Ms Kaniz Fatima,You have quoted Yunus now and Saeed earlier. What Yunus says is the opposite of what Saeed says and i agree with ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • The likes of Professor Moosa, Abdullah Saeed and other reformists scholars have never attempted what they prescribe. Is there any example of Professor Moosa ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Mr Muhammd Yunus writes it well, “The Qur’anic paradigms are eternal, free from any addition or alteration since the revelation that was preserved orally as well ...
    ( By Kaniz Fatma )
  • @Ghulam Ghaus Sahab, I am unable to understand one hadith " I have been commanded to fight until they say THERE IS NO GOD BUT ...
    ( By Kaniz Fatma )
  • By the way, I am not saying that the traditionalists are right and Naseer sb. is wrong. I am saying that neither of them ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • "The Qur’an was given in a specific context, within the framework of a worldview that was appropriate to first/seventh-century Arabia, and in a language and symbolism that ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Naseer sb.,You have not yet replied to my following post""Let me put it this way: let us redouble our efforts to respect the dignity ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • " It was the Babylonians who first conceived of a mark to signify that a number was absent from a column."Whether the decimal system is ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Knowledge and worship are precious gems which enlighten mankind and by which man can be closer to God
    ( By Kaniz Fatma )