I woke up yesterday and found out 20 people had died in a series of suicide bomb blasts on a Shia procession in Lahore. These Muslims had gathered to commemorate the death of Imam Ali. By the time I had gone to sleep, the death toll had risen to 31. I woke up today and found out 53 people have died in another suicide bomb blast in the midst of a Shia procession in Quetta with the chances of more people succumbing to fatal injuries. These people were on the streets protesting the occupation of Palestine. Where is sanity? Where is humanity? And most importantly where is the spirit of Islam?
My dad belongs to a Shia Muslim family while my mother comes from a Sunni Muslim family. All my life I have lived amongst Muslims with either of these tags placed alongside their names. Who exactly is a Shia and who exactly is a Sunni? Who gave us these tags? Who branded us like this? Who told us to kill each other? Who created these differences amongst us? Who told us our particular sect was right and the others were wrong? Who caused us to forget sanity, humanity and the spirit of Islam?
Shias are the followers of Prophet Muhammad and his family. Sunnis are the followers of Prophet Muhammad and his companions. Both believe in one God. Allah. So then is it just because Shias pray with their arms open you are entitled to kill them and label them as ‘kafir’ a term reserved for people who don’t even believe in Allah. Just because they beat their chest in the memory of Imam Husain (a role model for all mankind) mean they are lesser Muslims. Does that mean you are allowed to blow up their processions and rob them of their loved ones?
I have interacted with both Shia and Sunni Scholars. I have had friends from both Shia and Sunni Muslims. In fact I have grown up with a Shia father and a Sunni Mother. I have come to realize that all these differences have been created by us or because of us. They have been created because we have decided to remain ignorant of our religion. Not many of us bother to pick up the Quran and read its translation. We are told Islam is not a religion but a way of life. Yet how many of us practice Islam in our daily lives? How many of us speak the truth even when it goes against our interest? How many of us spend our time with our friends without back biting other people? How many of us stay away from all that Islam prohibits.
What this leads to is the Mullahs filling in the vacuum of our knowledge. The less we study Islam they more they can brainwash us. How many of us have ever really looked up for verses or hadith quoted by these maulvis to us. It seems we have been blindly following what they have fed us. Quran is not for Maulvis to interpret. It is for Muslims. It is for you and me to read and understand. People might say we are not well equipped to be able to interpret Quran. Well, that is what you are sent here to do. The Mullahs are so obsessed with their fan following that they sometimes start creating hadith of their own or bringing in interpretations of their own and using things out of context to present it to the general public. They know we will never look up these things. They know our lives have become so busy that we will only listen to them and believe what they say. They know they are fooling you and me and they think we will never realize that.
If you want to know what Islam says about people with different beliefs go and pick up the Holy Quran. In Surah 2 verse 256 Allah says “Let there be no compulsion in religion”. Do the suicide bombers fail to read this verse? Their brainwashers only feed them selected material and that too used out of context. In another instance Quran says “.. You shall not kill – GOD has made life sacred – except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you that you may understand.” [Quran 6:151] I don’t understand any Muslim after having read this verse would go on killing any other Muslim with different beliefs.
When I was young my father used to tell me, only when arguments finish do people resort to violent means. It couldn’t have made more sense than now. We don’t have any arguments because we have never bothered to study our religion properly. That is why you see Shias and Sunnis fighting with each other. Had they been more informative about their religions, they would have come together and settled their differences and celebrated their similarities.
I sincerely request all Muslims to study Islam and find out how peaceful it is. I want them to know how tolerant it is of other religions. I want them to lead their own lives and not be led by someone else. I want to see all Shia and Sunni brothers and sisters in peace. Being aware of the basic principles of both schools of thought I believe there it so much in common in them which if the people find out, they will consider themselves one. They will stop putting the labels of Shia and Sunni with their names. I am sure one day all Shias and Sunnis would love to be called Muslims. On the Day of Judgment all we will be held responsible for will be our own beliefs. Even the Prophet of Islam Muhammad (SAW) was told by God that his duty was limited to communicating the message of God to people. Let’s follow that message and stop fighting amongst each other.