Often when we meet people for the very first time, especially in school, we tend to inquire about a person’s background. Name, occupation, father’s occupation and in some cases, one’s relationship status (cheesy right?). One trend in Pakistan or perhaps the entire Muslim world is asking about someone’s faith. Actually if I rephrase that, we blatantly ask about the particular sect the person belongs to. In most cases even that is fine except when the person in question belongs to a sect different than that of the “interviewer.” Both parties maintain their cool for a while, exchange a few glances and then slowly move away and that was their last civilized conversation ever.
Sectarian differences lie in almost every religion. Since it is the month of Muharram, I’d like to bring your attention towards two particular Muslim sects. You guessed that right-Shias and Sunnis. Both of them are in such deep conflict that it is a US and THEM situation between both parties. Both remain adamant on THEIR beliefs and practices. Both believe in one God and the last Prophet (P.B.U.H.). Both pray five times a day. Both observe a fast in Ramadan. Both perform Hajj (the holy pilgrimage). Both pay Zakat (charity). Both grieve on 9th and 10th Muharram. Then why? Why are they not at peace with each other? Why are they so different? Why are these differences irreconcilable?
The US and Them situation is that US Shias/Sunnis are right and THEM Sunnis/Shias are not. Both parties have forgotten that there is a WE as well. WE MUSLIMS. WE the people of the faith, which was brought to us by Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.), are united under one banner, under the word of ALLAH, the Quran. WE are all part of the Ummah. WE are one unit, one faith, one brotherhood. Then why is there so much disunity amongst us?
Yes the way we practice our religion is different but why can’t we learn to accept those differences and cooperate as a brotherhood should. Why are we so discontented with each other? Why is it that every year at the time of Muharram, reports of Sunni-Shia conflicts flood the news channels? Why is their bloodshed on the days we mourn bloodshed?
“A perfect Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands
his fellow brothers and sisters are safe.”
“Believers are like the different parts of a building, each one
supporting the other.”
The conflict between Sunnis and Shias goes way back and every generation has suffered from it. Sectarian intolerance is so dangerous that no one is safe from it. People have failed to understand that what binds us all together is not just being a Muslim, but being human. Yes one of is not a martian. We have blood in our veins and we eat/drink the same. What makes us human is that we can feel for one another. We can communicate. We love, we cry, we laugh, we scream. We inculcate so much energy, so much emotion and so much passion. We’re driven by our souls and yet we find so hard to accept those little differences. Those little inconsistencies, the grains in the batter.
Why did you walk away from that conversation? Why is peace impossible? Why Muharram is met with so much hatred? Why is it a tragedy that you are Shia and I am not?