Home>Posts>Politics, Religion & Culture>Intra-Shia Takfeer a Shameful Reality in the Age of Shia Genocide in Pakistan


Intra-Shia Takfeer a Shameful Reality in the Age of Shia Genocide in Pakistan

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09-November-2017

There is a growing divide between two opposing extremes within Shias. One side is a growing niche within a larger tradition of folk-rural based version of Shia Islam that is rooted in ancient Interfaith traditions. The other is based on a politicized, puritanical and urbanized version of Islam that views 1979 as the starting point.

Disclaimer: this article does not necessarily reflect the view of the founders or bloggers of the World Shia Forum. It is posted for informational purposes and to encourage plurality of discussion on a sensitive discussion.

By Asim Khan

There is a growing divide between two opposing extremes within Shias. One side is a growing niche within a larger tradition of folk-rural based version of Shia Islam that is rooted in ancient Interfaith traditions. The other is based on a politicized, puritanical and urbanized version of Islam that views 1979 as the starting point.

There is a growing divide between two opposing extremes within Shias. One side is a growing niche within a larger tradition of folk-rural based version of Shia Islam that is rooted in ancient Interfaith traditions. The other is based on a politicized, puritanical and urbanized version of Islam that views 1979 as the starting point.

Both extremes feed off each other and both are deeply painful for the vast majority of Shia Muslims who find no intrinsic value in the extremes presented by these polar opposite camps.

The vast majority of Shia Muslims do not view prayers and azadari as mutually exclusive rituals. The vast majority of Shia Muslims respect the various Iraqi, Irani and Pakistani Marajas, even if they refer to just one of them for their religious and spiritual questions.

The vast majority is not amused by the extreme positions taken by fringe elements within the folk camp but prefer to stay silent. They know that going after the folk camp is a counterproductive policy and it is better to remain engaged. Over a period of time, fringe elements often mature and moderate their opinion over time. Attacking them only drives them further to their extremes. Similarly, the silent majority sees no point in getting into confrontations with the extreme elements from the political Islam camp.

They know that these extremist elements are more-loyal-than-the-king types who disrespect marjas. The vast majority of Shia Muslims know that there is little to be gained by confronting the fascist and intolerant extremists from the political Islam camp.

Unfortunately, one camp is now advocating for violence and apostasy against the other. These differences simmer throughout the year where the urbane political camp combines its efforts with Western and Gulf media to relentlessly slander the folk camp on social media.

In Ashura this year, the differences camp to a head when the political camp charged Shaukat Raza Shaukat with the damning indictment of apostasy. While senior Marajas from Najaf immediately intervened to stem this public rupture, the political camp has now exacerbated this situation. It has publicly demanded for violence against Shaukat Raza Shaukat.

Let it be clear that this is not a defence of Mr Shaukat’s unreasonable views which fall under the category of excessive veneration. This is to advise both camps that their conflict is creating a gaping rupture within Shia Muslim communities worldwide. Furthermore, the message of this post is to primarily condemn the call to violence by the extremists in the political Islam camp.

We are for a healthy, constructive and reconciliatory debate between the two camps. Unfortunately, both extreme camps are now reduced to name calling and labeling and one camp is openly advocating violence and Takfeer. The extremists in the political Islam camp who are advocating violence and Takfeer are an isolated fascist movement. They claim to be connected to political power centers and yearn for actual connections. Unfortunately, their intolerance even blinds them to political realities.

The political realities are that the larger Shia Muslim world is quite united. Syria was saved from the GCC and Western backed Al Qaeda after Russia stepped in. Iraq was saved from ISIS after Ayatullah Sistani’s landmark fatwa. Iran supported both Iraq and Syria. These are the ground realities.

Those extremists who advocate violence, disrespect Marjas and lead a campaign against Azadari and interfaith harmony are damaging the aspirations of moderate Muslims. In the binary of extremists, they have now conceded the high moral ground to Shaukat Raza Shaukat by their irrational attempt to instigate violence against him.

Asim Khan is a Shia activist that lives in Islamabad, Pakistan.

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