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Islam and Sectarianism ( 22 May 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan That Bleeds




By Mehr Tarar

May 22, 2015

Burying a loved one is one grief that lives forever even when it becomes faded and distant. Burying a loved one with a gaping hole in his/her body is the wound that is pure, raw pain that lives forever with blood that refuses to stop oozing. There is another feeling that permeates the aching, tired mind: I may be next. And that fear, blending with the pain, becomes the one constant as thoughts, words and laments turn into that one linear reality: why is my own homeland not for me?

As the grief of the cold-blooded murders of 45 members of the Ismaili community in Safoora Chowrangi, Karachi, permeates Pakistan, there is much that is being said, speculated and pontificated about. One senses a categorical denunciation of the barbarity throughout Pakistan, a country that’s seen several thousand people dead in countless acts of terror — terror that reaches everyone and spares no one. Soon, however, the ifs and buts will squirm their way in, and the misplaced justifications for this unmentionable mayhem will sneak into the narrative of the absolute rejection of terrorism of any kind. After the outpouring of outrage, ‘muzammat’, committee-formation, shifting of blame to RAW, ISIS, TTP and XYZ, some nondescript usual suspects will be rounded up, and all that will be left is some muted voices on social media lamenting the lack of justice after another massacre. It is not even apathy, or the immunisation of human beings to constant shocks; it is simply the closing-of-eyes to that not one but several elephants in a tiny space. And even when noticed, there’s not more than shaking-of-heads.

It starts with the subliminal teaching; the categorisation of people into sects, faiths and religions. The tags of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are bestowed as per the status of the divine power that is being prayed to. Islam, despite being the religion of almost 98 per cent of the population, is being ‘protected’ by those who think their ideology is the only one that matters. Instead of focusing on the true teachings of the Holy Quran and Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that stress unequivocally the rights of all human beings to live unharmed regarding the practising of their faiths, here the differences are delineated in blood.

Hindus have dwindled to almost non-existence, Christians have a pariah status and Ahmadis are ostracised. Shias, despite being a significant portion of the population, watch over their shoulders for fear of being branded the wrong kind of Muslim and killed.

Why look at outside elements, blaming them for fostering mayhem and engineering bloodshed? First, look at the writing on the wall within Pakistan. It’s on banners issuing fatwas on well-known personalities who dare to question the distortion of religious tenets. It’s in the sermons of many so-called mullahs — those who sully the name of the real followers of Islam, the true, God-fearing mullahs — who form holes in opposing narratives, and incite hatred, which leads to violence. It’s in the indoctrination of bigots who preach war against the ‘infidel’, with the promise of heavenly rewards, rewards that are only God’s prerogative.

It’s in the actions of political parties that exploit sectarian divides. It’s in the words of lawmakers who decide who is fit to be a Muslim. It’s in the rallies of organisations, which under the guise of social work spew venom against their compatriots and other nations using religion as the pretext to cloak agendas of exploitation. It’s in the incompetence of law-enforcement agencies that shy away from apprehending those who wreak havoc in the name of religion. It’s in the nervousness of judges who entangle plain cases into complexities of law when the accused is an extremist. It’s in the audacious glee of lawyers who garland Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Salmaan Taseer, as a hero.

The practice of religion empowers one to become a good human being. The distortion of religious teachings turns one into a machine that works on commands of hatred, division, schism and violence.