Moharram And Ideological Tolerance. By Mohammed Akmal Pasha


Islam implies, practises and preaches peace, which means every human being is endowed with the luxury of liberty since every other human being is liberal towards others’ beliefs as far as they are not demonstratively hazardous. Further, where diversity of philosophies, convictions and practices respectively substantiated by Qura`n and Sunna has been perennial in the history of Islam; the interpenetration of tolerance, accommodativeness and absorption has also been predominantly coexistent.
The arrival of the holy month of Moharram urges the Muslims to relive the pious deed marked and motivated by sublime motif and virtuous passion of Hussein (AS); the great grandson of Prophet (PBUH). A manifestation where he traded off losing life rather than staining the caliphate with mal-authorization on account of his mere submission to the will rather ill-will of Yazid bin Muaaviya. Yazid, admittedly did not qualify for the pedestal of classical, orthodox and exemplary caliphate; the one maintained by the successors of Prophet (PBUH). Cognizant of the bitter fact, Yazid saw the survival of his reign possible only through weakening of Hussein’s paragon personality; whence foregoing would be self-destructive. To him a banal weakening stratagem would match with the sky-kissing faith of Hussein. He did what he maximum could; he merely could decline to bring bodily demise to Hessein for his memories still reverberate after fifteen hundred of years; redoubling each time. Inform me if Yazid is commemorated in any rendezvous of the land, or in any hole beneath any of the strata of earth. He martyred him thirsty, hapless and weakened in the field of Karbala deploying brutal, afresh and armed Muslim force (and not Momin force), the group which in recent past had no way but to embrace Islam since the Mohammedans had entirely dominated conquering Makka and about whom Quraan authenticated as if Eemaan (faith) had not penetrated enough to caress the profundity of their hearts (Qura`n 49:14). Nevertheless, Yazid’s deed is not appreciated by any sect of Muslims; however, the degree of his criminality remains an exercise for debating (only a handful declares Yazid free of charge).

To make it simple, every sect is free to hold any belief or maintain any opinion and demonstrate it with a desired degree of sentimentality, and no other sect should poke its nose given the former remains non-hazardous and non-embarrassing. Contextually, if Shiaas want to commemorate the martyrdom of their great spiritual leader, in a manner which appeals them and is nontoxic to others, others must mind their own business or mend their walls soberly; same goes for other sects. As far being it a biddat (some new deed of virtue not done or implied by the Prophet) is concerned, it is highly debatable, and is one out of a conglomerate of many other biddats prevalent in other sects of Islam. Further, it does not kick one out of Islam, and even if it does, the committer is prone to pay its cost out of his own ‘virtuous assets’ in the court of God, hence costing nothing to ill-feelers. On the other hand, non-Shiaas are also not forced to commemorate the day in any manner, neither are they cursed for noncommemoration; and frankly nor does this very deed of not commemorating render them non-Muslims. Thus non-impeaching would be a zero-sum game; lest curse or damage a number of people which is certainly greater than zero and infinitely fatal.

The issue in fact has its roots in a ground that pertains to the issue of khilaafat, which surfaced after Prophet (PBUH) had departed in the year 634 AD. Who deserved to be the first caliph after prophet (PBUH) has again remained to be a matter of comprehensive debate among Muslim scholars, dealt with astonishing arguments and evidences. Today, both of these groups dispute over their respective spiritual leaders’ religious status in terms of knowledge, piety, faith, sacrifice and surrender to the will of prophet (PBUH).
First thing, these are centuries old issues and probably their solution is impossible; for they bear a historical basis whereupon history has many diverse and contradicting versions. Each sect sticks to the version that suits to its own theological schema; and rejects other clashing versions. The efforts for reconciling have hitherto ushered novel disputes; for these efforts have been highly biased and nationalistic (nations being Shias and Sunnis). Since bias or nationalism cannot be done away with given human psyche, better leave these issues unresolved, and leave people resolved to their respective beliefs, provided they are non-hazardous.

There is still a group which frustrated in the hands of issue being irresolvable, tends to attack the other sect; believing it to be a counterattack without any logical basis for their counterattack since there was no attack in the first place. What the outcome has been, cross-sectoral prejudice, violence and even terrorism. This globally speaking entices other non-Muslim nations to award Muslims with a label of terrorists or at least fundamentalists. Question is how to contain or mitigate this malicious, illogical, insensible and over-sentimental stance?

The only way is that we maintain a belief that can be justified in the court of Allah Almighty, given our limited sources; time, intellect, money, endurance and caliber. For, one may only succeed in hoodwinking people or his/her own conscience at the most, but never Allah Almighty. As far as demonstration of one’s belief or sentiments is concerned, it has definitely to be non-embarrassing with respect to others’ feelings; since Islam discourages hurting even non-Muslims. Here, a great deal of blame falls on the scholars or the Mullaas in special who are not only ignorant to historical, Quraanic and other religious implications but also to ethical, moral and human values. Just to pursue their own bodily and vainglorious psychological lusts, they play loose with Islamic precepts and historical facts; deliberately or inadvertently. If it is deliberate one must curse their malicious conscience, if it is inadvertent, one must curse their ignorant heart. The corollary in either case is, that a few people who lack absorption and tolerance step out to commit the heinous act of violence in the name of virtue; attempting to eliminate the Kafir or the blasphemer; others feel content with nurturing and maintaining prejudice against their Muslim brothers.

Muslim Umma, especially in the wake of contemporary global scenario should realize that the need for unity today is more than ever before. Anti-Islamic forces are maneuvering diverse techniques; both explicit and implicit to exert their ever-growing influence with a gruesome intention to weaken Islam and inhibit and chain Muslims in all respects, be it economic, social or military. In this critical hour, maintaining prejudice, committing violence and losing tolerance would only aid the anti-Islamic forces. Each Muslim should realize this and demonstrate serious concern, have open heart for all other Muslims and leave their beliefs between them and Allah Almighty, the very conception that leads towards understanding of ideological tolerance. Let’s relish the lordship awarded to Abu bin Adham for his just committing to become a servant of those who ‘love’ mankind.

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