The depth with which the sectarian divide is tearing the fabric of the Muslim world, especially the Middle East is chilling the spine. Though the Muslim world has been plagued by this sectarianism from centuries, the ongoing Syrian ‘revolution turned to sectarian war’ have up-scaled the tensions to an unprecedented higher level.
The Syrian war is no more civil as it is no more limited within the Syrian borders. Its impact could be seen and heard, loud and clear in the whole of the Middle East. One should not fear now of the spill-over to the neighboring countries, it already has spilled. This is turning out to be the deadliest conflict in recent times. The regime which once was bracketed in the ‘beyond the axis of evil’ phrase by the US officials has now entered an unholy, under the table alliance with the US after the chemical attack. The regime has now got the right to use barrel bombs instead of chemical ones. More than 125,000 lives have been lost in a short span of just over 2 years. Compare this with the 80,000 to 100,000 lives lost in the Sri Lankan civil war in a span of 26 years. That shows the value of a Muslim life, or does it? Moreover, statistics show around 6000 thousand women have been tortured and abused for a simple fault of theirs – they belonged to one Sect or the other.
What’s more astonishing is the fact that some of hawkish scholars gave a tacit approval legalizing rape to be used as a weapon, completely distorting and misrepresenting the ‘malk-al-yameen (possessed by the right hand)’ verses of the holy Quran and in complete violation of the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH). How particular the prophet (PBUH) might have been in terms of protecting the women, children and the elderly, when he has instructed the Islamic armies not even to plunder agricultural lands in the enemy territory, neither to cut fruit bearing trees nor animals. All the books of Hadith including Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and up to Muwatta Imam Malik have recorded the code of conduct during a war. Can a prophet who used to stand up in respect of Jewish dead body passing by sanction the behavior of a soldier taking out the heart from the opponent’s dead body and making its video biting it? The suffering of the millions of refugees, with no fault of theirs, is beyond imagination. Women and young girls are forced to sell their bodies to earn a living. To add to their suffering, they are faced with the worst Levant winter in their makeshift tents.
Worshipping in Fear
Whenever there is a sectarian or communal conflict the places of worship become the easiest of targets. Till now more around 1400 mosques have either been targeted or destroyed. These include great monuments of Islamic heritage and historical importance. The beautiful and majestic Khaled bin Walid (RA) mosque has been completely destroyed and so is the Ummayyad mosque in Allepo, just to name a few. The trend continues elsewhere too. Iraq is witnessing its deadliest attacks on mosques and even on funerals. The lockout of all Sunni mosques in Baghdad in protest for a day gives just a glimpse of how worshipping has also been made unsafe.
The reform movements within Islam started with the purpose of ‘setting the things right’. They focused and spent their energies and resources towards the bold initiative of abandoning the practices of forefathers. But most of us, reformists included, ended up in a trap of blind following certain historical aberrations which formed the basis of the sectarian split within the muslim ummah. In continuation of this blind following, scholars from both the sides emphasize on the negatives rather than highlighting the positives. Inciting hatred among the people today for an event or events which took place 14 centuries ago looks simply insane. This instead of settings the things right ends up with messing the things. That’s exactly what is happening in the form of blood spilling right from Beirut to Karachi.
By sticking to those aberrations, this ummah is headed towards its worst sectarian catastrophe. After all, being an Assad to shed blood for the sake of power is easier, than being a Hassan bin Ali (RA) forsaking power to prevent bloodshed.
Ajaz Ahmed is a middle east based, IT Systems Analyst by profession from Aurangabad, India. He writes on various issues pertaining to the muslim world. He can be reached at ajaz.n.ahmedgmail.com