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Islam and Sectarianism

The Ahmadis, also known as Qadianis, have tens of thousands of followers in Pakistan, and the sect has long regarded as deviant and heretic and been persecuted and targeted in sectarian attacks in the country. Founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad towards the end of the 19th Century, the Ahmadis have a number of unique views, including the claim that Ahmad himself was a prophet, and that Jesus died at age 120 in Jammu and Kashmir, assertions regarded as heretical by orthodox Muslims. An Ahmadi website indicates that the movement, now headquartered in the UK, spans over 195 countries, with membership exceeding ‘tens of millions’. The Ahmadis also claim that they are the only leading Islamic organisation to categorically reject terrorism in any form. They have been systematically targeted by radical Sunni groups in the past. Significantly, the Pakistani leaders who condemned the attacks did not refer specifically to the Ahmadis in their statements. TV channels and newspapers avoided the word "mosque" in describing the attacked sites, preferring "places of worship." --Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

On April 19, 2010, a 14-year old suicide bomber walked into a crowd, mainly comprising Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) demonstrators protesting ‘load shedding’, at the bustling Qissa Khwani Bazaar of Peshawar, the capital city of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP, formerly the North West Frontier Province, NWFP). 23 persons, were killed, including three Police personnel, JeI city Naib (deputy) Ameer Dost Muhammad and JeI Dir-Bajaur Qaumi Jirga (community council) Chairman Ghausur Rehman. While most of the victims were Sunni, the Police said the target of the child-bomber was Peshawar Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Gulfat Hussain, a Shia. ...

Despite the eyewash of a crackdown and some arrests, however, no sustained effort to dismantle the sectarian groups, particularly the Sunni formations that have powerful links with the religious parties and the Pakistani establishment, is visible. Indeed, the impulse of sectarianism is deeply rooted in Pakistan’s society and structure of power, and extremist violence manifests an entrenched social divide. Unless Pakistan’s political wellsprings are cleansed of extremist ideologies, their manifestation in militancy and violence cannot be contained.--Tushar Ranjan Mohanty 

Photo: Shia chidren killed in ambush on school van in northwest Pakistan in Feb,2009

Some unregistered and Deobandi-controlled madrasas in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and northern Balochistan continued to teach extremism. . Similarly the Dawa schools run by Jamat-ud- Dawa continued such teaching and recruitment for Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a designated foreign terrorist organization.” The US is putting forth the relationship between religious schools and state authorities in the US, as a possible model for Pakistan. While funding the public education system, it must proactively replace Saudi Arabia charities as the source of funding madrasas so as to be able to legitimately control the Islamic philosophy being advocated in these institutions to bring it in line with majority beliefs. Just as important is the whole issue of accountability for funding monies to ensure that there is no misuse and leakage. -- Rohan Bedi

 

Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood are two distinct forms of Sunni Islamism. They have separate histories and separate worldviews. In reality they are not even the same type of movement. Their origins were largely unrelated. Their historic missions have been completely different, as are their current goals and means of achieving those goals, Samuel Helfont writes for FPRI.

 

People who had gone over to the Wahhabi mosque and others who had hidden their true sympathies with the Barelvis have started to drift back. Whereas the Barelvi mosque used to be nearly empty with about 30 people, recent Eid prayers saw close to 300 people in attendance. Wahhabis in Bilehra who openly condemned anything involving the veneration of living or dead men as innovations in Islam, have found themselves drawn to a quiet, wandering man. A few refuse to acknowledge Mastaan Baba but, according to people who live there, their wives and daughters regularly and secretly go to visit him! It seems there are now a couple of more people in Bilehra who claim to be Mastaan Baba. Regardless of whether this man is genuine or not, it seems he has managed to single-handedly and unintentionally stall the rise of Wahhabism, in and around Bilehra. -- Ali khan

Photo: Barailvy Dargah

Unfortunately this "traditional baggage" has now entered into the ethos of the Islamic growth in America, where we find innocent Muslims being caught up in the negligence and excesses of the worldwide 'Ummah" following them in their schisms, ranging from claims of "sacred" cultural mores to disputes of the interpretation of the Sunnah (and ahâdîth) of the Prophet (saaw), to claims of the supremacy of ahâdîth over the Quran. Allah, Forbid! Then we now have claims of supremacy of one "School of Thought" over the others. And again claims of supremacy of one community over the other in the knowledge of Quran and Sunnah. How are we caught up in this?  Allah forbid. We fear that we stand in great danger of going the way of societies before us unless we pause and take heed to Allah's command: "Hold fast all together, by the rope which Allah stretches to you, and be not divided among yourselves..." (Quran 3:103). -- Imam Ghayth Nur Kashif

 

"The Messenger will say: 'My Lord, surely my people have taken the Quran for a joke" Surah 25:30.

Wahhabis feel that they are up keepers of a purer form of religion than other Sunnis. The Wahhabis believe that their version of religion is derived from the salaf or the earliest three generations that succeeded the prophet - the generation of the sahaba or companions, then the tabiin (second generation) and finally the tabii tabiin (third generation) after the Prophet. They reject many rituals and other understanding of religion which is practiced by the Sunnis which they say were liberal innovations or bida'a that came after these three earliest generations. They use this word bida'a or liberal innovations very freely to describe many things that came into being after the first three generations. Before and soon after Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud the founder of Saudi Arabia established the Kingdom his supporters set off on murderous religious expeditions inside the land where they would wipe out entire villages including men, women and children who were not Wahhabis. This was done to cleanse Saudi Arabia of bida'a. -- Syed Akbar Ali

India: Aggressive Wahhabi assertion leads to riots in Vaishali
Ateequr Rahman, Translated by Raihan Nezami, NewAg

Islamic sectarian disputes between Deobandis and Barailavis create tension

A Dispute over the appointment of a Wahhabi Imam for a 100-year-old Barailavi mosque and a "Hafiz" for leading Taraveeh (special Ramazan prayer), resulted into violent clashes among the followers of Deobandi and Barailavi sects. -- Ateequr Rahman, Patna, Bihar

Translated from Urdu by Raihan Nezami, NewAgeIslam.com

 

The Sahaba-e-Karam too had different points of view, but they never resorted to violence or tried to tarnish other’s image by passing out derogatory remarks, or by issuing “Fatawahs” of “Kufr”, “Fasque”, or “Fajra”.

The rivalry between Allamah Sakhavi (ra) and Allamah Jalaluddin Seyuti (ra) is famous in the intellectual history. They had often commented on each other a lot in their respective writings, the differences are even found between a religious scholar and a learned person like Sufi Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani (ra) and Allamah Ibn Aljouzee who was a renowned writer, muhaddith and reformer. In the same way, Nawab Siddique Hassan Khan Qannouji (ra) and Maulana Abdul Hai Firangi Mahli (ra) too, were involved in scholarly debate without any scornful remarks and insulting expression. All the above mentioned negative elements are prevalent in the differences between Deobandi and the Barailvi scholars only who have diminished their scholarly figure and taken this conflict to the limits of “Takfeer” (Disbelief). -- Maulana Nadeemul Wajidee

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The Shia-Sunni Divide: How Real and How Deep? Can We Move Towards Genuine Unity?
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
The Shia-Sunni Divide: How Real and How Deep? Can We Move Towards Genuine Unity?
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Many Muslims throughout the world, both Sunni and Shia, are working towards dialogue and reconciliation between the two sects. They argue that it is just not possible to fully comprehend and much less to judge the historical figures of Islam and their motivations today, 13 or 14 centuries after the event, which led to the schism in Islam. Indeed, it is not possible to judge people even when events take place now in full view of the world media… India’s Shia and Sunni communities can serve as a beacon of hope in this process. Let us follow up on recent initiatives by Mohtarma Syeda Hamid and Maulana Kalb-e-Sadiq and keep moving in the direction of genuine, frank dialogue leading to real unity. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

“Our dignity is more valuable than the unity of this land … If we don’t get our dignity, then we will have to consider seceding from this country.”

Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr, Saudi Shia religious leader from Al-Awamiya, currently in hiding after having delivered a speech demanding an end to the oppression of Saudi Shiites.

Their demand and those of Shiites in other towns and cities in Saudi Arabia is a most basic and simple one. It is a demand the government can easily grant and one they should hasten to accept. It was written on the signs of those protesting in Awamiya, was encapsulated in a single word in Sheikh Al-Nimr’s speech, and has become the newfound rallying cry of the Shia-minority in Saudi Arabia: Dignity. -- RANNIE AMIRI

The Iraqi Shi‘i scholar, Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, finds proof for the existence of the Hidden Mahdi in what he calls “the experience of a community”. The existence of the Hidden Imam, he postulates, was experienced by the Shi‘i community as a whole in the written communications that the representatives used supplied them with. The crux of this argument lies in the fact that an individual experience might be doubted, but never that of experience of an entire community. However, the glaring flaw in this line of reasoning is that it very conveniently overlooks the part of the representatives as the individual go-betweens. The community never had the privilege of seeing or meeting the person they believed to be the author of the tawqi‘at. Their experience was limited to receiving what the representatives produced. Even the argument of a consistent handwriting in all the various tawqi‘at is at best melancholy. There is no way one can get away from the fact that the existence of the Hidden Imam rests upon nothing other than acceptance of the words of the representatives.

The activities of those representatives furthermore go a long way to show that they were much, much more inspired by the desire to possess than by pious sentiments of any kind. So when the Shi‘ah commemorate the birth of their twelfth Imam on the 15th night of Sha‘ban, or when they seek to apply ahadith in Sunni sources which speak of twelve khalifas to their twelve Imams, then let us ask them on what basis do they accept the existence of the twelfth one? History bears witness to the existence of eleven persons in that specific line of descent, but when we come to the twelfth one, all we have is claims made by persons whose activities in the name of their Hidden Imam give us all the reason in the world to suspect their honesty and integrity. In Islam, issues of faith can never be based upon evidence of this kind.

--- Abu Muhammad al-Afriqi

A correspondent in an interesting internet discussion writes: “Deobandis were once called Pink Wahhabi [Gulabi Wahhabi] by Late Ghulam Ahmed Parvez in his masterpiece "Tasawwuf Ki Haqeeqat" [Reality of Sufiism] but why? For those who try to understand the Deceptive Deobandis regarding their beliefs on Sufiism, a summary is as under in English Language [A Summary of three e-books in Urdu].”

The lengths to which sectarian Muslims would go to denounce each other as Kafir and Unbelievers and "Qabil-e-Gardanzani" (deserving death sentence) is amazing.  And then they also claim that Islam is a religion of peace!  Which, of course, it is! But if Muslims kill each other or at least prescribe death for each other in their normal discourse and in books written by the most revered of Ulema on the slightest and the most meaningless and unnecessary of pretexts, why should any non-Muslim believe that they are a peaceful people and Islam is a peaceful religion, particularly as Muslims claim that all their actions are informed by what is or is not prescribed in their religion. 

NewAgeIslam.com would welcome any write-ups in support or rebuttal of the understandably one-sided arguments given below. If you can believe it, one of the correspondents calls our most revered of Sufi saints “Dacoits” or “Dacoits of the Faith”, whatever that means.

LAST week three funerals took place on three successive days. The dead came from different backgrounds, belonged to different places and professions. Common to the three was their faith. They were Ahmadis — and that was good enough reason for the unknown gunmen to kill them, writes well-known Paksitani columnist Kunwar Idris.

An anchor person working for a prominent television channel has incited Muslims in Pakistan to kill - to devastating effect. In a program aired on 7 September 2008 the anchor of the religious program 'Alam Online', Dr. Amir Liaquat Hussain--also former federal minister for religious affairs--declared the murder of Ahmadi sect members to be necessary (Wajib ul Qatal) according to Islamic teachings, because its followers don't believe in the last prophet, Mohammad, peace be upon him. Dr. Amir repeated his instruction several times, urging fundamentalists Muslims to kill without fear.

The targets are followers of the Muslim Ahmadi sect, a group which has been declared non-Islamic under the constitution of Pakistan.The first killing happened within 24 hours of the broadcast, and just under two days later a district chief of the Ahmadi was murdered. Followers of the religion are understandably frightened, and many have left their homes and are taking shelter at their central mosque, the Rabwa.

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