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Islam and Sectarianism ( 16 Sept 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Quran Says Do Not Dispute with The Followers of The Book: Want To Discriminate? Ask God First! - Part-II

By Syed Shahabuddin

June 15, 2020

What is worse is Muslim countries creating conflict because of their sectarian (religious) differences. For example, Iran’s (Shiite) conflict with Saudi Arabia (Sunni), and Iraq (Sunni) was at war with Iran (Shiite) for 11 years. However, nothing is/was accomplished by pursuing these conflicts between or among Muslim countries, except they weaken their countries economically and politically and make them more dependent on Western countries.

Unfortunately, one cannot say that discrimination takes place against Muslims only in Western countries. It also takes place within Muslim countries between sects like Sunni and Shiite and against other minorities. That is, discrimination is not limited between sects, but also affects non-Muslims.

In his op-ed in the Daily Times (Feb. 21, 2019), Jamil wrote that “Almost every Pakistani habitually observes social matters through eyes of religious bias. The majority stronghold and the legislative support equip the majority member to overcome non-Muslims. The blasphemy laws, anti-Ahmadiyya laws by the Zia regime support religious extremists and the illiterate masses to push the respective communities in otiose. This practice continuously gives non-Muslims a sense of insecurity, fear, and uncertainty. In this situation, they cannot play a vital or productive role in the prosperity of Pakistan.”

Elie Wiesel quoted that “No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.” If we look at the world in general, society is divided into different groups in the name of ethnic origin, religion, caste, and color. Pirbhu Lal Satyani (2014) has stated that “Discrimination based on religion, racism, and casteism are serious and sensitive issues in many countries, in some places less and other places more, but they exist in different shapes and forms which ultimately affect human rights, equality, and pluralism, “particularly in South Asian countries ranging from Pakistan to Myanmar to Sri Lanka. Persecution of religious minorities is a serious problem committed by those practicing religious nationalism, specifically those who, under the pretext of defending their religion, target religious minorities. Several religious minorities have been on the firing line in Pakistan, for example, Hindus, Christians, and Ahmedis. The violence has put them in a vulnerable position in the name of religion and faith. This violence has increased the feeling of insecurity among religious minorities and has also eroded their rights as citizens.” In the case of Pakistan, the discrimination against religious minorities is a more widespread and complex issue than in other countries. Religious minorities face multiple types of discrimination, social and religious, as well as institutional and legal.

For example, Jamil has also stated that “from 1984 to November 2018, 265 Ahmadis (a sect not commonly accepted as Muslim) have been killed, 368 assaulted, 765 have been booked for displaying Kalima, 38 booked for calling Azan, 447 Ahmadis booked for posing as Muslims, 161 booked for using Islamic epithets and 816 for preaching. Moreover, 27 Ahmadiyya mosques have been demolished, 34 sealed by authorities, 22 fired or damaged, and 17 forcibly occupied. These discriminations are an open violation of articles 2, 3, and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 signed by Pakistan.” (Daily Times, Feb. 21, 2019).

Pakistan ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatments or Punishment (UNCAT). In April 2008, Pakistan also ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Besides this, Pakistan was among the first to ratify the UN Conventions of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The ICERD talks about eliminating all forms of racial discrimination and protecting minorities. The member countries of ICERD are required to commit to promote understanding among all races and outlaw hate speech and criminalize membership in racist organizations. Article 3 of ICERD condemns apartheid and racial segregation and obliges parties to “prevent, prohibit and eradicate” these practices in territories under their jurisdiction. Similarly, Article 7 requires parties to adopt “immediate and effective measures,” particularly in education, to combat racial prejudice and encourage understanding and tolerance between different racial, ethnic, and national groups.

Many of those targeted for violence in Pakistan during 2012 were Shia Muslim citizens, who are considered part of Pakistan’s Muslim majority under its constitution and laws. During the same year-and-a-half period in 2012-2013, Shias were subject to 27 attacks, including terrorist suicide bombings during Shia religious observances. Another 54 lethal attacks were perpetrated against Ahmadis,37 against Christians, 16 against Hindus, and 3 against Sikhs. Attackers of religious minorities are seldom prosecuted, and even if they are, the courts almost invariably set them free. Members of the majority community, the Sunnis, who dare to question State policies about religious exclusion, are just as vulnerable to extremist violence.

Societies that are condoning the pandemic of discrimination will someday pay the price for their role. Seeing the horrific murder of George Floyd because of his race, people finally woke up and realized that they were participants in his murder

The question many Pakistanis should ask is, “Who is responsible for creating humans, such as Sunnis, Shiites, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and Ahmadis?” If the answer is “God,” then they should ask themselves, “Why am I discriminating against others for being what God created them to be?” Regardless of personal feelings, Islam teaches tolerance towards non-Muslims within Islamic societies, which stems from the Prophet Muhammad’s teaching that all ‘People of the Book’ should be treated with respect. This meant followers of other monotheistic religions who have a sacred text given to them by God, and at the time, these followers included mainly Christians and Jews. The Qur’an says And do not dispute with the followers of the book…except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit. Qur’an 29:46

Qur’an teaches that justice applies to all humankind, of all faiths:

Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parents and your relatives, or whether it is against the rich or the poor. Qur’an 4:135

All people, regardless of their religion, race, sex, look, or origin, are equal in Islam, and the only thing that distinguishes them is their level of commitment to their religion. Al-Tirmidhi reports in one Hadith that the Prophet Muhammad said:

No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, no person of color to a white person, nor a white person to a person of color except by Taqwa (piety). Hadith, Al-Tirmidhi

The Qur’an states that people should be fair with each other to help achieve a balanced and harmonious society:

Allah does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. Allah loves just dealers. Qur’an 60:8

The quote below shows that non-Muslims’ beliefs should be respected and that forcibly converting people to Islam is considered wrong.

There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Qur’an 2:356

Now, as a Muslim, you are supposed to believe in God, who created all living creatures, including humans. Thus, every human is as good as you and treat them as the Qur’an has taught you to treat them or behave against the teaching of Islam and God. Societies that are condoning the pandemic of discrimination will someday pay the price for their role. Seeing the horrific murder of George Floyd because of his race, people finally woke up and realized that they were participants in his murder. They now realized that they were responsible for not speaking up and letting the police publicly murder an innocent person because of his color. Because of this guilt, they are demonstrating and demanding a stop to the criminal behavior of the police. Every society should wake up now and stop killing and burning innocent human beings; otherwise, it will be considered as participants. As some slogans say, “Silence is Violence.”

All people are human created by God just like you, start treating them with respect and kindness before your country pays the price like the USA. Imagine how you would feel if you are treated as a subhuman?


Syed Shahabuddin is Ph.D. (USA), Professor Emeritus (USA)

First Part of the Article: Humanity Is Sodden with Discrimination: Want to Discriminate? Ask God First! -Part-I

Original Headline: Want to discriminate? ask God first! (Part-II)

Source: The Daily Times, Pakistan


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