By Jerrmein Abu Shahba
Today we stand at a crossroad as we continue to experience the plight of the Shia Muslims, a group of human beings who share the same beliefs as the rest of the Muslims in the basic foundation of Islam – the Oneness of God and the Prophethood. Unfortunately, it has been the latest trend in the past few decades that the Shia brethren across the globe have been harassed, persecuted, targeted, and killed in mass amounts by none other than their fellow Muslims who believe in the same God and the same Prophets. Indeed that is the greatest shame when we experience and realize that the most terrorizing enemies lie in our own backyard among people who follow the same religion! As with any religion, there exist different schools of thoughts and sects within Islam. However, that is never an excuse to disturb the unity that should exist within the mainstream Muslim population. It is never a green pass for Muslims to start pointing fingers at each other accusing them publicly of apostasy and disbelief, even if that is their personal conviction! It is not a justification for anyone to kill another human being simply because they do not hold the same beliefs, though they believe in the same religion!
Unfortunately, the ignorant “scholars” and Islamic fundamentalists who belong to the Wahhabi sect have falsely instructed their followers and taught the Muslim youth to develop hatred and animosity towards the group of believers called “Shia” who are known to be the supporters and lovers of the Prophet’s family. These misguided “scholars” have taught their students to condemn the Shia more than the non-Muslims and to take them as the worst “Kafirs”(disbelievers) over any other apostate. This school of Wahhabism has harbored its roots in places like Saudi Arabia. For decades, the Wahhabis have trained students, imported and invited from different countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, in order that they return back to their home countries and propagate a false ideology among the people. Wahhabism is a fundamentalist branch of Islam which was inspired from teachings of Medieval Theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and early jurist Ahmad ibn Hanbal. It was a popular revivalist movement instigated by an eighteenth century theologian, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the 17th century from Saudi Arabia. He began his movement through discussions with attendees of various shrines and eventually gained popular support by convincing the local Amir, Uthman ibn Mu’ammar, to help him in his struggle. Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab advocated a popular purging of the widespread practices by Muslims, which he considered to be impurities and innovations in Islam. The movement claims to adhere to the correct understanding of the general Islamic doctrine of Tawhid, the “uniqueness” and “unity” of God, shared by the majority of Islamic sects, but with an emphasis on advocating following of the Athari school (abiding by the examples of the early Muslim nation and the four “Rightly Guided Caliphs of thought” only). Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab was influenced by the writings of Ibn Taymiyya and questioned the prevalent philosophical interpretations of Islam, claiming to rely on the Quran and the Hadith without speculative philosophy so as to not transgress beyond the limits of the early Muslims known as the Salaf. The terms Wahhabi and Salafi and Ahl al-hadith (people of hadith) are often used interchangeably, but Wahhabism has also been called “a particular orientation within Salafism”, and an orientation considered ultra-conservative and apolitical. Salafism, on the other hand, has been termed as the hybridation between the teachings of Ibn Abdul-Wahhab and others which have taken place since the 1960s. It is interesting to note that allegedly the first people to oppose Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab were his father Abd al-Wahhab and his brother Salman Ibn Abd al-Wahhab who was an Islamic scholar and Qadi (judge). Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s brother wrote a book in refutation of his brothers’ new teachings, called: “The Final Word from the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sayings of the Scholars Concerning the School of Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab”), also known as: “Al-Sawa`iq al-Ilahiyya fi Madhhab al-Wahhabiyya”. Not only that, but a significant part of the Sunni Muslims as well as other sects such as Sufis, have criticized and deemed the Wahhabi movement as deviant from Islam. The idea of “takfeer” (judging other Muslims as disbelievers) which is a poisonous behavior practiced by the Wahhabis has been widely discussed and condemned in various Islamic global conferences such as the one which took place in Amman in 2005.
What is the end product of such a misguided school which has strayed far away from the pure Muhammaden Islam? It is none other than the formation of groups such as Al Qaeda, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Sipha Sahaba, who suckled the milk of hatred against the Shias and have graduated from the Wahhabi school only to start their mission of eradicating the Shias and Shiasm! We find them today under the label of different names and in different colors, but their identity is one and the same!
The question that poses itself to us today is: Who founded and inspired these Islamic fundamentalist groups? In fact, if we carefully analyze the political arena today, it wouldn’t be difficult for us to realize that the real founders who financially supported and encouraged the development and growth of these poisonous groups are the oppressive governments of the western world. In fact, these factions of falsehood are nothing but “tools” created and manipulated under the hands of the Zionist regime and its supporters which they use and abuse for their own political agenda. An in depth research of the historical and current events will clearly portray this reality and there is much to say in this regard. However, it suffices to shed light on a few examples in the world currently.
Today, we witness the ongoing Bahraini revolution where the tyrant regime of that country, installed by the west, is ruthlessly killing innocent civilians in obedience to higher orders and thus, they maintain their puppet government. The question begs itself: What is their motivation and why are they against their own people? We also notice in that same conflict that the Saudis wasted no time to recruit foreign attackers to harm peaceful Bahraini protesters. Again, why did the Saudis interfere and support the western and Zionist regime (which are essentially one and the same) against the Shias in Bahrain? In Egypt, the new “Islamic Brotherhood” government has been recently installed by the west to insert its poisonous ideologies and exercise its new role that serves their regime. Sure enough, we witness many protests today in the streets of Egypt and the reaction to these peaceful protests are injustices committed by Wahhabis who have engaged in rape and sexual harassment to the protestors of the new regime, even though these radicals are supposed to be more conservative in the religious aspect. Is this behavior expected or accepted from a so-called ultra-conservative Islamic government? Isn’t this a proof that the robe of “Islamic fundamentalism” is only a tool and means to execute the evil agenda of the west while these radicals are really hollow in their faith? Doesn’t that indicate that they, along with other Middle eastern countries, are nothing but blind puppet governments serving the western agenda even if the price is to harm their own people?
Today, we witness the Shia genocide in Pakistan which is the product of a twisted, ill-defined mentality systematically promoted by the US and its puppet Arab regimes. We continue to witness the ongoing oppression and bloodshed of Shias in Bahrain. We continue to witness the ongoing oppression and bloodshed of Shias in Iraq, particularly at the time of Saddam Hussein’s corrupted regime, which was initially supported by the west. Who knows who will be the next target tomorrow among the Shias? Over the course of history, thousands and thousands of Shia believers have been killed, tortured, their body parts severed, their belongings looted, their women violated, and their children orphaned without any mercy or compassion. Statistics confirm that last year was the deadliest ever for Shias in Pakistan with over 400 dead in targeted killings and still that number is growing! No matter what labels we use to describe the tragedy, the fact is that what is happening in Pakistan to the Shia minority is an ugly truth, an indelible human stain and an act of genocidal ideology – the bitter memory of which will rankle in the minds for many years to come.
But why does the animosity and aggression happen to this degree only to the Shias? Why not the mainstream Sunnis or Hindus or other unique faiths which differ significantly from their own? Actually, their point of difference is not the belief in one God, nor is it the belief in the Seal of Prophets. They have no problem with Muslims praying five times a day or going to pilgrimage. They have no problem with Muslims growing beards or reciting the Quran, so long as their own interests and goals are not bothered or interfered with. And so long as the recitation of Quran stops there and does not translate in the practical application of the Quran and its super users – the purified family of the Prophet (SA) who are the “walking Quran” on earth. Rather, their greatest objection is the fact that the Shias believe in the concept of Wilayat and leadership of pure and perfect personalities embodied in Prophet Muhammad (SA) and his progeny and those whom they have directed us to follow.
It is the unique and excellent characters such as Imam Ali (AS) and Imam Husain (AS) who pose great dangers for the tyrants and aggressors of today because they understand very well that these great leaders have tread the path of truth and justice and hence, their supporters who have rejected the tyrants of Imam Ali and Imam Husain yesterday, will also reject and stand against the tyrants and corrupt people of today. The west, the Zionist regime, and their puppet governments have realized that there is no other school like the school of Imam Husain (AS). It has the greatest source of energy and determination to eradicate injustice and stand against every manifestation of oppression, no matter who and what it is. The energy of resistance that is fueled every year in the holy months of Muharram and Safar by the mourners of the tragedy of Karbala is what creates immense fear in the hearts of the oppressors and tyrants. They have no problem with Shias crying and mourning over a leader who passed away centuries ago, but if that mourning and lamenting carries with it the energy of revolution and resistance of all examples of “Yazidis” in every time and age, then they will do and are doing anything and everything to fight the Husaini movement! When they witness the extraordinary and miraculous Arbaeen processions where billions of Shias march yearly towards the grave of the holy grandson of the Prophet in Karbala to renew their pledge of allegiance to him, they have reason to tremble out of fear and worry that the same miracle which manifested there and brought a multitude of people to walk barefoot for many miles with their women and children, it is the same miracle and energy that will remove them from their thrones, eradicate their governments, interfere with their political agendas, and bring destruction to their regime! Hence, the first item on their agenda is to eradicate the Shias and the school of Shiasm, to prevent the increasing love of Imam Husain, the symbol of truth and justice, that is increasingly being instilled in the hearts of the believers, and to conceal the reality about this path of truth which stands crystal clear to those who open their eyes to see.
For the Shias and lovers of Imam Husain (AS) we say – it is no surprise that our path is filled with thorns and needles, for surely the believer must be tested as Allah (SWT) says, “And that He may purge those who believe and deprive the unbelievers of blessings.” [3:141] Sheikh Al Kulayni narrates that he heard Abul Hasan (AS) saying to one of his companions: “Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested?” [29:1] The Imam then asked him, “What is the test?” The man answered, “We believe that the test is in religion”. So the Imam replied, “They will be tested as the gold will be tested for its purity, and they will be refined in the same way that gold is refined and purified.” (Al Kafi) It is easy for the believers to give up the path of patience and be desperate of our Imam’s anticipated reappearance at the end of time. However, it is clear from the following tradition that the reappearance of our Imam (AFS) will not happen until the stage of test and trial to the believers is completed. A companion named Jaber Al Jo’afi once asked Imam Al Sadeq (AS): “When will our Faraj come?” The Imam answered while weeping, “The hastening of our reappearance will not be until you (the Shia) are tested with tribulations again and again, till Allah (SWT) eliminates the bad while only the purified ones are left. “ (Bihaar Anwar) However, our knowledge of facing pain and suffering through trials should not disturb or discourage us from treading the path of truth and dressing ourselves with the garb of patience and perseverance. After all, Imam Ali (AS) has advised us, “Do not be intimidated from the path of truth due to its little amount of followers.” Sure enough if you review the history of the believers, we will notice that this path has been consistent with pain and suffering which requires much patience and sacrifice that is rooted and energized by the grand sacrifice which Imam Husain (AS) presented in Karbala. In essence, Karbala has taught the Shias and devotees of the path of truth how to act and react to the oppression and injustice of their time and how to take Imam Husain (AS) as their template and role model in standing up to the tyrants of their time. Without Karbala, the true Shias will not be Shias, and without Imam Husain and his practicing followers who follow his great example, the idols of injustice and corruption will still continue to prevail.