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Islam and Sectarianism ( 12 Feb 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Were Those Not Humans who were Killed?

By Madiha Ishtiaque

1, Feb 2012

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?

Listening to a bunch of kids reading out these scathing lines from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice with all the bitterness and hatred words can contain, only allowed me to draw parallels between the discrimination and bias in the 17th century English society against the Jews and the sectarian fanaticism clutching our society since forever. Is it hard for anyone here to conjure up a perennial list of racial killings and acts of violence that have scarred our society for long? I bet No. What’s painfully ironic is that we do not co-exist or are up against  Jews or people practising any other religion but we are blood hungry for our very own brothers. Forget about the noble ideals of brotherhood and solidarity, religious fanaticism has even crucified our basic humanity, which accounts a great deal for the recent barbaric killings in Karachi.

The rise of the unrest in Karachi this week is only a precursor of the humanitarian disaster in the weeks to come. Beginning with Ahle-Sunnat’s wal Jammat’s legal advisor and Party activist’s murder, followed by the vicious killing of the three lawyers and the Former Trustee of a local Imam Bargah, to a couple of Sunnis associated with Jamat-e-Islami yesterday, what is building up and gaining momentum is an avalanche of sectarian violence. However, can’t we all figure out a common denominator in all these killings? Political affiliations. Isn’t, like everything else, religion, in this part of the world, is also ruled by political forces. Where history tells that religion has always been employed as a tool to achieve rapacious political ends by power-greedy forces, it is a phenomenon that continues to dominate us even now and will continue to do so.

Since I don’t believe in evaluating human losses through inanimate statistics, I feel the need to mention the murder of Dr. Ashfaq, a renowned Skin Specialist and a very cultured and nice person, at the altars of sectarian fanaticism yesterday only. With him, was murdered, not only a qualified doctor of high credentials but also a man who had devoted his life for the welfare of his people, not to mention a father, a son, and a husband. What reason a person with even a half-decent hair of head can give for such a beastly act? Was his or anyone else’s religious and politicians affiliations enough a reason for him to be put to death? If yes, then we should all die fighting and killing each other with absolutely no restraint or stopping.

However, where I also believe that it’s more than just a case of fanaticism, and this bloody artwork has a dominant political colour to it, our crooked and perverted religious beliefs definitely have to be one cardinal force behind it. Why is it that we think, anyone who is not like us or thinks or believes like us should be exterminated and done with? Are we seeking to homogenize our society and this world, which is clearly not how it’s meant to be? If yes, we should prepare ourselves to be the first ones to have our existence erased from the face of the earth. Old saying, but goes just right, that how can one expect to sow discord and evil and reap any good? – very similar to what Shylock said, ‘The villainy you teach me I will execute’.  My sympathies here are not with a particular sect or community; it’s with us all, because when the blood is spilled, it’s Ours, whether a Shia is killed or a Sunni.

Source: The News, Islamabad