Thursday, October 06, 2016

Stop judging fellow Muslims: Criticizing other sects, targeting their beliefs, itch to raise objections on Muharram rituals

The Islamic month of Muharram has begun. With this, the annual ritual to criticise the practice of mourning and 'maatam' is also being witnessed.

On social media, there is a flood of messages through SMS, WhatsApp and social media posts, calling mourning and maatam [self-flagellation] as un-Islamic, wrong and backward practices.

This is a matter of belief--mourning the martyrdom of Prophet's grandson and his family in the battle of Karbala.

Shias perform 'maatam' to express their grief at the tragic events. Many Sunnis too mourn*, though they don't perform maatam.

Worse, people use abusive terms for those who perform these rituals.

What do you gain by questioning their practices or condemning them? They are a different sect and they have their own beliefs-traditions.

It hurts them when they are constantly targeted. How upset we [Muslims] feel when questions are raised on Qurbani during Eid-uz-Zuha [act of slaughter termed violent], and there is criticism of the practice by many non-Muslims.

It is unrealistic to expect that everyone will act as per your beliefs. And who are you to decide who is 'Muslim' and who is 'outside pale of Islam'. If you are a believer you should be humble and worry if you are on right path, rather than targeting-abusing others.

Weird: Expecting others to be like you!

Who has the authority to issue certificates of 'Islamic' and 'un-Islamic' behaviour? It is absolutely between God and the individual.

Besides, it is irrational to expect that everyone will behave just like you and adhere to religion exactly in the way, you have seen in your family or grown accustomed to.

Those who object to Muharram practices and call them 'wrong', 'cheap' or 'un-Islamic', should better introspect about their own thinking. When your ways are questioned, you get upset and get ready to pick up fight, don't you?

The sectarian itch prompts you to brand others, blame others. In recent years, this bug has bitten a huge populace. The arguments, counter-arguments and you get another reason to feel special--you are expert 'sectarianist'.

Obsession with sectarianism

"We must correct them, islaah is needed", is the standard answer. Really! So there is nothing else to correct--from social issues to educational matters, from language to character, and why not start it from your house?

The belief is that only we are right and others are wrong, is troublesome. Isn't it better to focus on improving oneself and one's family? Also, there are counter-arguments that Shias practice 'tabarra' and abuse the first three Caliphs.

Ask if you have ever heard anyone do it publicly and there is no response. The belief that all Shias do that is also strange. And, if someone does something in their homes, what will you do? Isn't this plain-hate?

How different is it from the right-wing extremists who presume that beef is cooked in a house and kill Akhlaq. Isn't this hypocrisy? The same majoritarian communalism towards a minority within your society!

When sects are different, why do you judge them?

It is a strange disease [most of us suffer] to target anyone who is not like 'us'--the us is what we have seen growing up in family or neighbourhood. You're are just not aware of the kind of cultural, sectarian and social differences, that exist across the world.

This is totally irrational and also against the basic tehzeeb [manners, decency] of living in a society. Everyone can't be like you. Still, if you insist on calling them names, then forget talk about Ummah and unity among Muslim sects.

In fact, a strange passion overcomes people when it comes to sectarianism. Sane people get into a totally different mode, writing posts after posts, dozens of comments, as if this is the biggest issue on the planet.

Sects are a reality, accept it

Sects are a reality. Not just Barelvi-Deobandi, but Ismaili to Bohra, and so on. When it comes to interpretations and 'hadith', people go as per their own sect's interpretation, terming other 'hadith' as zaeef or ignoring it.

For nearly 1300 years there were Muslim aalims who never so easily branded other as 'non-Muslims'. Aga Khan was in fact considered one of the major leader of Indian Muslims till Partition.

Many prominent leaders of Muslim community were Shia, Ismaili, even Mehdavia and those belonging to the other sects. There was less objection to others' practices and minor differences were ignored.

But in recent decades, it has become a favourite pastime to do tanqeed [criticism] and target others. People strongly feel what they feel, calling them that they are on wrong path, all the time, doesn't help at all.

READ: Either Barelvi or Deobandi. Difficult to be 'simply Muslim' amid growing sectarianism

[*The processions are taken out by Sunnis and Shias on Muharram. Shias carry 'Alams' and perform maatam. Tazias are mostly carried by Sunnis and also some Hindus. However, many urbane people dismiss Tazias as Hindu influence and look down upon even those Sunnis who take part in this rituals]