Category Archives: islam

Camp Speicher Massacre 12th June 2014

Camp Speicher Massacre

 12th  June 2014

 

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Iraqi soldiers carry coffins containing the remains of ten of their comrades who were killed in Camp Speicher massacre.

Salahuddin – (IraqiNews.com) High Commission for Human rights announced on Wednesday pulling bodies of 25 victims of the massacre of Camp Speicher from Tigris River in Tikrit, and pointed out that it is keen to reveal the crimes, genocides and violations committed by the Islamic State extremist group.

The Commission said in a press release, “The commission followed the information about the discovery of a mass grave in al-Kosour area in Salahuddin province, and it held a number of meetings with the concerned authorities to open graves and pull the remains of martyrs from the Tigris River.”

“These efforts allowed the divers of River Emergency Directorate to pull the bodies of 25 victims of Camp Speicher massacre and handed them to Salahuddin Police Directorate,” the release explained.

The commission also renewed its condemnation of the dangerous violations committed by ISIS terrorist gangs, including genocides and crimes against humanity, and emphasized its humanitarian and national role to serve the Iraqi people.

On 12 June 2014, the Islamic State extremist group (ISIS) killed at least 1,700 Shia Iraqi Air Force cadets in an attack on Camp Speicher in Tikrit.

Original story IraqiNews.com

The Attack

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Background

 

Over 1500 Killed

 

 

On 12 June 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) killed at least 1,566 Shia Iraqi Air Force cadets in an attack on Camp Speicher in Tikrit. At the time of the attack there were between 4,000 and 11,000 unarmed cadets in the camp.

Alleged ISIS fighters singled out Shia and non-Muslim cadets from Sunni ones and murdered them. The Iraqi government blamed the massacre on both ISIS and members from the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party – Iraq Region.

Attack

Iraqi politician Mish’an al-Jubori stated:

“Some of the chief officers of the camp ordered the cadets to have a rest for 15 days and to go to their families, with civilian clothes.  While they were walking on the highway looking for a bus to take them near Baghdad. Then two buses being driven by Ayman Sabawi Ibrahim, the son of Saddam Hussein‘s half brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti, stopped near them with 10 armed men inside of them.

They told the cadets that they were from the Arab tribes of Tikrit, and told them to follow them until they find buses to get them to Baghdad. Instead, several buses with ISIS members in them kidnapped the cadets and brought them to the Al-Qusour Al-Re’asiya region (The Presidential Palaces), where they committed the massacre.”

Several survivors assured that their head officers in the camp forced them to leave it.

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Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, stated

“The photos and satellite images from Tikrit provided a strong evidence of a horrible war crime that needs further investigation. [ISIS] and other abusive forces should know that the eyes of Iraqis and the world are watching”.

The HRW also said that ISIS posted on its websites many videos and photographs showing how they beheaded, shot, and choked the victims while they celebrated.

The photos show masked ISIS fighters tying up the cadets and loading them up on trucks, with other photographs showing ISIS fighters executing dozens of the cadets while they are lying down. ISIS propaganda videos show them shooting at hundreds of lined up men in mass graves in the desert. Some cadets faked their death, covering themselves with blood and lying down to escape at night.

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Survivor Ali Hussein Kadhim told his story to the New York Times following his escape from the massacre.

The Islamic State released the videos, as part of their propaganda video titled ‘Upon the Prophetic Methodology’. The cadets are seen to be cramped upon trucks, some of them wearing civilian clothes to hide their actual military uniform. Most of them lied on the ground, with their jeans stripped to reveal camouflages underneath. Some of the prisoners were forced to decry Iraq’s prime minister, others forced to say ‘Long Live the Islamic State’. Some of them lined up as a cadet was bashed with a rifle. The executions vary, from shooting them one by one to shooting them while lying down many times to ensure death.

Aftermath

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The Iraqi government revealed that 57 members of Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party – Iraq Region were a part of the massacre.

Although pictures showed that every armed man was from ISIS, the government stated

“Without any doubts and suspicion, all of these criminals are from the banned Ba’ath Party.”

Sadun Dulaymi at the Pentagon May 22, 2012.jpg

Sa’dun al-Dulaimi

The minister of defence, Sa’dun al-Dulaimi, stated that the massacre wasn’t sectarian in nature. although, the spokesman of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Qasim Atta, stated that there are almost 11,000 cadets and soldiers missing from Camp Speicher, he also stated that thousands were executed in near the Presidential Palaces, al-Bu Agail region and the Badoush prison by sectarian violence.

On 2 September, more than 100 members of the families of the killed and missing cadets and soldiers broke into the Iraqi Parliament and hit three of the security guards. After a day, a session started in the parliament with the attendance of representatives of the families and Sa’dun al-Dulaimi, along with other military officials to discuss the massacre.

On 16 September, the Kurdish Asayish arrested 4 people suspected to be involved in the massacre in southern Kirkuk. An unnamed security source stated:

“The operation was executed by relying on intelligence information to arrest them.”

On 18 September, the Iraqi Human Rights ministry stated that as of 17 September, the total of missing soldiers and cadets was 1095,  denying the most popular figure of 1700 soldiers having been killed. The ministry added:

“The ministry relied in its statistics on spreading forms on the families of the missing people in Baghdad and the other Provinces within its quest to document the crimes and violations that the terrorist group of the Islamic State is committing towards our people.”

The Iraqi government ordered to pay 10,000,000 IQD (equivalent to US$8,600) to the families of the missing cadets.

Following the Iraqi forces’ victory over ISIS in Tikrit in early April 2015, mass graves containing some of the murdered cadets were located and the decomposed corpses began to be exhumed.

Two of the alleged perpetrators of the massacre were arrested in Forssa, Finland, in December 2015. The suspects were identified from ISIS propaganda videos in which the executions of 11 men took place. Police did not disclose whether the men had made applications for asylum in Finland.

In August 2016 thirty-six men were hanged for their part in the massacre.

On 6 September 2016, mass graves were found by the Kata’ib al-Imam brigade containing the remains of over 30 people killed in the massacre.

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Justice ?

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Of the 600 people wanted by Iraqi authorities in connection with the massacre, only 24 people have been convicted so far.

In July, a group of 28 men went on trial in Baghdad over the Camp Speicher killings, all but four of the men were given death sentences, with the remainder acquitted for lack of evidence.

The sentencing was greeted by cheers from the families of victims present, with many shouting “God is Great” and “Ya Hussein”, in reference to a revered Shia figure.

See Aljeera for full story

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Sharia Law review begins – 31 May 2016

Sharia law review begins

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The Home Office has launched an independent review into the application of sharia law in England and Wales.

Professor Mona Siddiqui

Professor Mona Siddiqui of Edinburgh University, a specialist in Islamic and inter-religious studies, will lead a panel of experts that includes family law barrister Sam Momtaz, of 1 Garden Court, retired high court judge Sir Mark Hedley and family lawyer Anne Marie Hutchinson QC, partner at Dawson Cornwell, whose expertise includes jurisdictional disputes on divorce, child abduction, forced marriage disputes, children’s law and honour-based violence.

 

Home Secretary Theresa May noted that, while many people benefit from the guidance of sharia councils, there was evidence that some councils may be legitimising forced marriage, discriminating against women in divorce settlements and acting in other unacceptable ways.

The review will explore whether, and to what extent, sharia law is incompatible with the law in England and Wales, and the ways in which it may be being misused or exploited. It is due to complete its review in 2017.

See Sharia Law

British ISIS woman Sally Jones threatens to blow herself up

What’s the hold-up ?
I’ve been waiting since last year to hear the happy News that she’s carried this promise out!

Belfast Child

Sally Jones, who left the UK to join the extremist group of ISIS, has threatened to blow herself up after her husband was killed in a drone strike in Syria’s Raqqa.

Jones, 47, is a former punk rocker, originally from Kent. She has converted to Islam and has been radicalized recently through direct contact with terrorist groups online.

Quoting a Muslim extremist woman who killed herself along with scores of Russian soldiers in a truck bombing in 2000, Jones has expressed herself on the social media that she could be about to become a “black widow” suicide bomber.

The term “Black Widows” refers to a group of Chechen Muslim women whose husbands were killed by the Russian forces in Chechnya.

She moved to Syria with her 10-year-old son in 2013 and joined ISIS after being brainwashed.

“I know what I’m doing. Paradise has a price and I hope this will…

View original post 127 more words

Fools Paradise -Muslim Martyrs & 72 Virgins?

 

Suicide is Forbidden

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Although suicide is forbidden in Islam  the madmen of Islamic State and their deluded followers choose to ignore this founding concept of Islam  and they are masters at twisting and distorting the teachings of The Prophet Muhammad , to align with their own sick , twisted medieval interpretation of the Islamic Faith .

Most of the suicide bombers are lost souls , disillusioned with life and eager to embrace the utopia of  an everlasting   ” Paradise ” and are mere pawns to the puppet masters who control Islamic State and other extremist Islamic groups.

But at least  they have their 72 blue eyed virgins waiting for them in paradise – Don’t they?

Not that I have any sympathy with them , if they choose to blow themselves to bits – that’s fine by me , but when they kill innocent people in the process That’s  NOT at all right with me and their very existence sickenings me.

See Jahadi Jake

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Captured Islamic State suicide bomber: ‘I’m so sorry’

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The-Holy-Quran-Stock-Photo resized.jpgVerses in the Holy Quran Prohibiting Killing of Oneself or Others

Allah, praise to Him, strongly prohibited the killing of oneself (suicide), or anybody else, or children for fear of poverty, as stated in verses 6: 151, 17: 33, 2: 195, and 4: 29 because the killing of one innocent soul is for God equal to the crime of killing all people, as stated in 5: 32.

 

Shahid

Shahid and Shaheed (Arabic: شهيدšahīd, plural: شُهَدَاء šuhadāʾ ) originates from the Quranic Arabic word meaning “witness” and is also used to denote a “martyr“. It is used as a honorific for Muslims who have died fulfilling a religious commandment, especially those who die wielding jihad, or historically in the military expansion of Islam. The act of martyrdom is istishhad.

The word shahid in Arabic means “witness”. Its development closely parallels that of Greek martys (Greek: μάρτυς – “witness”, in theNew Testament also “martyr”), the origin of the term martyr. Shahid occurs frequently in the Quran in the generic sense “witness”, but only once in the sense “martyr; one who dies deliberately for his faith”; this latter sense acquires wider use in the hadiths.

 Martyrdom in  Islam

The painting by commemorating the martyrdom of Shia Imam Husayn ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala, 680 AD

In Arabic, a martyr is termed Shahid. Shahid appears in the Quran in a variety of contexts, including witnessing to righteousness, witnessing a financial transaction and being killed, even in an accident as long as it doesn’t happen with the intention to commit a sin, when they are believed to remain alive making them witnesses over worldly events without taking part in them anymore (Quran 3:140).

The word also appears with these various meanings in the hadith, the sayings of Muhammad.

The Greek origin of the word also means ‘witness.’

Islam views a martyr as a man or woman who dies while conducting jihad, whether on or off the battlefield (see greater jihad and lesser jihad).  Opinions in the Muslim world vary widely on whether suicide bombers can count as martyrs. Very few Muslims believe that suicide bombing can be justified.

However, in a 2014 Pew Research Center survey conducted in 14 different regions (most of them in or around the Middle East) roughly 1 in 5 (20.71%) of all the Muslims surveyed answered “often” or “sometimes” to the question of if suicide bombings could be justified against civilians targets in order to defend Islam from its enemies.

Where’s my 72 virgins ?

72-houris virgins

 

Sensual Paradise

72 Blue eyed, white skinned virgins

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Do Islamic Terrorists really get 72 Virgins?

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In Islam, the concept of 72 virgins (houri) refers to an aspect of Jannah (Paradise). This concept is grounded in Qur’anic text which describe a sensual Paradise where believing men are rewarded by being wed  to virgins with “full grown”, “swelling” or “pears-shaped” breasts.  Conversly, women will be provided with only one man, and they “will be satisfied with him”

Contemporary mainstream Islamic scholars, for example; Gibril Haddad, have commented on the erotic nature of the Qur’anic Paradise, by saying some men may need ghusl (ablution required after sexual discharge) just for hearing certain verses.

Orthodox Muslim theologians such as al-Ghazali (died 1111 CE) and al-Ash’ari (died 935 CE) have all discussed the sensual pleasures found in Paradise, relating hadith that describe Paradise as a slave market where there will be “no buy and sale, but… If any man will wish to have sexual intercourse with a woman, he will do at once.”

It is quoted by Ibn Kathir, in his Qur’anic Commentary, the Tafsir ibn Kathir, and they are graphically described by Qur’anic commentator and polymath, al-Suyuti (died 1505), who, echoing a hasan hadith from Ibn Majah, wrote that the perpetual virgins will all “have appetizing vaginas”, and that the “penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal“.

The sensual pleasures between believers and houri in Paradise are also confirmed by the two Sahih collections of hadith, namely Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, where we read that they will be virgins who are so beautiful, pure and transparent that “the marrow of the bones of their legs will be seen through the bones and the flesh”, and that “the believers will visit and enjoy them”.

Descriptions

There are several descriptions related to houri that are found in various Islamic references. Some include:

What will my Virgins Look Like? 

Voluptuous/full-breasted

Chaste

With large, round breasts which are not inclined to hang

White skinned

Appetizing vaginas

Modest gaze

libidinous sex organs and he will have an ever-erect penis.’

I could go on but i’m sure you’ve got the message

Physical Attributes:

  • Wide and beautiful/lovely eyes
  • Like pearls
  • Hairless except the eye brows and the head

In addition to Quranic translations of 78:33 specifying the virgins will be voluptuous , Sahih International translates it asfull-breasted [companions] of equal age”. Tafsir al-Jalalayn says “and buxommaidens (kawā‘ib is the plural of kā‘ib) of equal age (atrāb is the plural of tirb)”. Several Islamic scholars explain that they will have large, round breasts which are not inclined to hang”.

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Beautiful

White skinned

60 cubits [27.5 meters] tall

7 cubits [3.2 meters] in width

Transparent to the marrow of their bones

Eternally young

Companions of equal age

Sexual Attributes:

Untouched / with hymen unbroken by sexual intercourse

Virgins

Voluptuous/full-breasted

With large, round breasts which are not inclined to hang

Appetizing vaginas

Personality Attributes:

Chaste

Restraining their glances

Modest gaze

Other Attributes:

Splendid

Pure

Non-menstruating / non-urinating/ non-defecating and childfree

Never dissatisfied

Will sing praise

Authenticity

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Whilst there are numerous sources, including the Qur’an, which tell us believing males will be rewarded with virgins, many who are concerned about the authenticity of the 72 virgins concept are under the misconception that there is only one weak (da`if) reference to the exact number of houri given to them. These narrations are in fact found in many hadith collections with varying levels of authenticity, ranging from hasan (good) to sahih (authentic).

For example, in the Sunan Ibn Majah, one of the six major Hadith collections,  it states in a hasan (good  narration that every male admitted into Paradise will be given eternal erections and wed to 72 wives, all with libidinous sex organs. Similarly in another hadith with multiple narrators that has been graded hasan (good), it states that the martyr (shahid) will be married to seventy-two of al-hoor al-‘iyn.

In the Sunan al-Tirmidhi, another of the six major Hadith collections, it states that the smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode with seventy-two houri. Note that this is not a “weak Hadith that has no Sanad (chain of narrators)”, as some have claimed. It has been graded hasan sahih gharib, meaning this hadith is hasan since it has several chains of transmitters, it is sahih as the chains are all authentic and it is gharib in the words that Imam Tirmidhi narrated.

Also reported in Sunan al-Kubra and Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and declared sahih (authentic) by Ibn Abi Shayba, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim is the hadith that states the servant in Paradise will be married with seventy wives and that they’ll be given the sexual strength for a hundred.

Orthodox Muslim theologians have related further hadith that give us the exact number of 72, such as al-Ghazali who wrote, “[The Prophet said] the lowest rank of an inmate of Paradise will have eighty thousand servants and seventy two wives.”

Virgins or Raisins?

This false myth of “white raisins” originated from Christoph Luxenberg, a modern author writing under a pseudonym.His anti-Islamic claim, which has been accused of having a “Christian apologetic agenda”, is that the Qur’an was drawn from Christian Syro-Aramaic texts in the early 8th century, in order to evangelize the Arabs,  and that the Aramaic word ‘hur’ (white raisin) had been mistranslated by later Arab commentators into the Arabic word ‘houri’ (virgin).

The Qur’an describes the physical characteristics of the houri in many places, and a reading of relevant verses show that Luxenberg’s theory regarding heavenly white raisins is in error.

Raisins, which are dried grapes, cannot have large eyes, big breasts, cannot restrain their glances, cannot be described as chaste, or have any of the characteristics listed above. The Qur’an further states that men will be wed to these houri. Men cannot be married to raisins or white grapes.

Additionally, for someone to accept this “72 raisins” theory, they would also have to accept that the Qur’an was not written by Allah or revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in Arabic during the 7th century, but was in fact written by Christian evangelists in Syro-Aramaic during the 8th century.

Terrorism

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Suicide is clearly forbidden in Islam, but the permissibility of martyrdom operations (Istishhad) is an altogether different topic, with scholars being split on the issue.

Notable scholars and apologists such as Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the world’s most quoted independent Islamic jurist, and Dr. Zakir Naik, known for his advocacy of “Qur’anic science“, have justified the use of suicide bombing in Islam. Opinion polls have further shown that an extremely large number of Muslims from around the world support the practice.

The Qur’an states that all Muslim males, not only martyrs, will be rewarded with virgins. However, the Qur’an does also mention that those who fight in the way of Allah (jihad) and get killed will be given a “great reward”, and there are also hasan (good) hadith which refer to 72 virgins as one of the “seven blessings from Allah” to the martyr. This has lead to the 72 virgins concept being widely used as a way to entice other Muslims into carrying out “martyrdom operations” for Islam.

This is witnessed in Palestine, where the actions of a mother who sends her son to die as a martyr is sometimes seen as “marrying him off”,  and where the concept is used in Friday sermons and music videos, both airing on official television. It has even been used in the United Kingdom, where, in one event, Muslim teens were told to train with Kalashnikov rifles with the promise that the would receive 72 virgins in paradise if they died as religious martyrs.

Contrary to what the Qur’an, hadith, scholars and Muslims themselves say, a western author named Margaret Nydell in a book that “promotes understanding between modern-day Arabs and Westerners”, states that mainstream Muslims regard the belief of 72 virgins in the same way that mainstream Christians regard the belief that after death they will be issued with wings and a harp, and walk on clouds.

The Bible (and more specifically Jesus in the four Gospels) does not discuss the issue of wings and a harp being provided for Christians upon their arrival in Heaven. However, both the Qur’an and Muhammad in the hadith literature do discuss the issue of virgins being provided for Muslim men upon their arrival in Paradise. So the claim made by Margaret Nydell, equating the belief in receiving heavenly virgins to that of believing in receiving heavenly wings and harps, is inaccurate and misleading.

Conclusion

The Qur’anic Paradise is sensual in nature, promising Muslim men voluptuous virgins but does not specify their exact number. This cannot possibly be a mistranslation because raisins do not have large eyes  or cannot be wed to men.

Qur’anic text

The hadith literature compliment the Qur’anic text by specifying the exact number of virgins as 72 and providing us with detailed descriptions of their characteristics. These narrations are not weak but vary in strength from good to authentic.

We are also given details on the physical attributes given to men to sustain 72 virgins, namely, ever-erect penises that never soften and the sexual strength to satisfy 100.

Although it does say they will receive a “great reward”,and there are also hasan hadith which refer to 72 virgins as one of the “seven blessings from Allah” to the martyr, the Qur’an does not specify these virgins are a reward for jihadists/martyrs, but rather for any Muslim male who gains admittance to Paradise.

Selected Quotations

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Lo! We have created them a (new) creation, And made them virgins, Lovers, friends, For those on the right hand;

Qur’an 56:35-38

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Abu Umama narrated: “The Messenger of God said, ‘Everyone that God admits into paradise will be married to 72 wives; two of them are houris and seventy of his inheritance of the [female] dwellers of hell. All of them will have libidinous sex organs and he will have an ever-erect penis.

Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd (Book of Abstinence) 39

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It was mentioned by Daraj Ibn Abi Hatim, that Abu al-Haytham ‘Adullah Ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Sa’id al-Khudhri, who heard the Prophet Muhammad PBUH saying, ‘The smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and seventy-two houri, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine and ruby, as wide as the distance from al-Jabiyyah to San’a

Al-Tirmidhi, Vol. 4, Ch. 21, No. 2687

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Each time we sleep with a Houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one [i.e. Muslim] will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetizing vaginas.

Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, p. 351

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nas said, Allah be well-pleased with him: The Messenger of Allah said, upon him blessings and peace: “The servant in Paradise shall be married with seventy wives.” Someone said, “Messenger of Allah, can he bear it?” He said: “He will be given strength for a hundred.” From Zayd ibn Arqam, Allah be well-pleased with him, when an incredulous Jew or Christian asked the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, “Are you claiming that a man will eat and drink in Paradise??” He replied: “Yes, by the One in Whose hand is my soul, and each of them will be given the strength of a hundred men in his eating, drinking, coitus, and pleasure.”

Sifat al-Janna, al-`Uqayli in the Du`afa’, and Musnad of Abu Bakr al-Bazzar

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This [Qur’an 78:33] means round breasts. They meant by this that the breasts of these girls will be fully rounded and not sagging, because they will be virgins, equal in age.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 10 Surat At-Tagabun to the end of the Qur’an, 333-334

Responses to Apologetics
  1. “The Qur’an doesn’t talk about 72 virgins, only the hadiths”
    Even though the Qur’an does not mention the number of virgins, it does say in verse 56:36[27] that Muslim men will be awarded with virgins in Paradise. The Qur’an describes their physical attributes, for example they will have large eyes (56:22) and big breasts (78:33)[20] and so on. The actual number of houri is thus a minor issue and 72 is the number of those houris confirmed in multiple hadith. The hadiths are a crucial part of Islam and certain Muslims ignore them because sometimes they contain uncomfortable details about Islam. There are many hadiths and Qur’anic verses which talk about various issues of a sexual nature. According to Sahih Bukhari1:5:268 which belongs to the most authentic collection of hadiths, Muhammad himself was given the sexual strength of 30 men and so on.
  2. “The 72 virgins hadith has been classified as Da’if (weak) or Maudu (fabricated)”
    This is not true. The hadith from Sunan al-Tirmidhi has been graded hasan sahih gharib (a “fair, sound, single-chained hadith”).[9] Additionally there is not only one “72 virgins” hadith. We have quoted narrations here that have been graded both hasan (good) and sahih (authentic), and there are many others.
  3. “Obviously this hadith has been made up, is unreliable and/or is a lie”
    See answers to #1 and 2 above.
  4. “The Qur’an doesn’t talk about the number of virgins being seventy two”
    See answer to #1 above.
  5. “It is talking about (white) raisins, not virgins”
    This is a myth originating from Christoph Luxenberg, a recent author with a pseudonym who has no known qualifications or authority on Islamic issues, and has been shown to be in error for various reasons.
  6. “Islam prohibits suicide”
    Yes, hadith do exist that prohibit suicide (Suicide bombing however is a separate issue) but this has nothing to do with the fact that Islam promises women in Paradise as a reward for the “righteous” (i.e. Muslims).
  7. “If the seventy two virgins thing was something big in Islam it would be talked about more frequently.”
    Women in Islamic heaven as a reward are talked about frequently in the Qur’an as evidenced by the various places in the Qur’an where their characteristics are talked about. Also if the Qur’an talks about a certain issue only once, it cannot be taken lightly in any way as every word and sentence in the Qur’an is important and holy to Muslims.
  8. “The houri are for both men and women”
    The Qur’an explicitly talks about female virgins with large eyes as rewards for men. On the contrary there is not a single “women will get guys as a reward” verse. Some gender neutral verses do exist but they talk about general rewards only (such as “companionship” etc). Also, according to Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Jibreen, who was a leading cleric and a member of the Senior Clerics Association, “This number is only for men. A woman will have only one husband in Paradise, and she will be satisfied with him and will not need any more than that.”[4]
  9. “The houri are only servants and not for sexual purposes”
    If that was true, Qur’an 56:36[27] wouldn’t say they are virgins and it wouldn’t mention they have big breasts. In addition, while the Qur’an does not explicitly say they’re for sexual purposes, other Islamic sources mention that. One hadith says “The believer will be given such and such strength in Paradise for sexual intercourse”. Other sources state that “the penis of the Elected never softens” and that men in heaven will have the sexual strength of 100 men.[58][59]

Well whatever your view or religion I strongly believe in Karma and Karma always collects its debts and if theres any justice in fate then these Islamic Terrorists and thier deluded followers will burn in the enternall flames of hell and  suffer till the end of times itself.

 

Amen.


The brutal Killing of Farkhunda Malikzada

The brutal  Killing of Farkhunda Malikzada

Farkhunda Malikzada[1] (Persian: فرخنده) was a 27-year-old Afghan woman who was publicly slain by a mob in Kabul on March 19, 2015. A large crowd formed in the streets around Farkhunda when accusers began yelling, announcing her alleged crimes to the public. They claimed that she had burned the Quran, and for that, her accusers announced that she must pay the ultimate price.

Police initially tried to protect Farkhunda and disperse the crowd, but were overwhelmed by the mob’s numbers and fury.

The mob grabbed Farkhunda, pulled her hair, hit her, spit at her, pushed her to the ground, stomped on her body, kicked her in the head, and ripped the veil from her face. Police, seeing the urgency of the situation, attempted to remove her from the crowds by climbing atop a shop roof. Farkhunda lost her balance while fighting to stay conscious, and slipped down the rooftop and back into the crowd.

She was brutally and mercilessly beaten into unconsciousness; seeing Farkhunda now motionless, the crowd dragged her into the street and ran over her body with a car, dragging her some 300 feet. They then set her corpse on fire and watched her body burn. They used their own clothing articles (e.g. scarves and hats) to keep the fire alight, because her own clothing and body were so bloodied that they would not catch alight.

She was murdered after allegedly arguing with a mullah who falsely accused her of burning the Quran, the Quran. Police investigations revealed that she had not burned anything.[2] Her murder led to 49 arrests;[3] three adult men received twenty year prison sentences, eight other adult males received sixteen year sentences, a minor received a ten year sentence, and eleven police officers received one year prison terms for failing to protect Farkhunda.[4] Her murder and the subsequent protests served to draw attention to women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Background

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Farkhunda: The making of a martyr – BBC Newsnight

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Farkhunda was an observant Muslim who wore a veil (hijab). At the time of the attack, she had just finished a degree in religious studies and was preparing to take a teaching post.[5] Her name means “auspicious” and “jubilation”.[6]

The attack

In a still frame from a video captured and widely disseminated on social media and in the news, a bloodied Farkhunda appears to plead with her attackers before she is knocked down.

Farkhunda had previously been arguing with a mullah named Zainuddin, in front of a mosque where she worked as a religious teacher,[2] about his practice of selling charms at the Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque, the Shrine of the King of Two Swords,[7] a religious shrine in Kabul.[8] During this argument, Zainuddin reportedly accused her of burning the Quran. She responded

“I am a Muslim, and Muslims do not burn the Quran!”[9]

According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of angry civilians flocked to the mosque upon overhearing the mullah’s accusation. They dragged out Farkhunda and started to beat her.[5] She was thrown from a roof, run over by a car, and beaten with sticks and stones outside the mosque. The mob then set her body alight and dumped it in the Kabul River while police allegedly looked on.[8][10] Farkhunda’s parents said the killing was instigated by the mullah with whom Farkhunda had been talking, who, according to Tolo News, began loudly accusing her of burning the Quran “in order to save his job and life.”[11] An eyewitness said that the mob was chanting anti-American and anti-democratic slogans while beating Farkhunda.[12]

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The Killing of Farkhunda

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Reactions

Public reaction in Afghanistan

A number of prominent public officials turned to Facebook immediately after the death to endorse the murder. The official spokesman for the Kabul police Hashmat Stanekzai, for instance, wrote that Farkhunda “thought, like several other unbelievers, that this kind of action and insult will get them U.S. or European citizenship. But before reaching their target, they lost their life.” The Deputy Minister for Culture and Information Simin Ghazal Hasanzada also approved the execution of a woman “working for the infidels.” Zalmai Zabuli, chief of the complaints commission of the upper house of parliament, posted a picture of Farkhunda with this message: “This is the horrible and hated person who was punished by our Muslim compatriots for her action. Thus, they proved to her masters that Afghans want only Islam and cannot tolerate imperialism, apostasy, and spies.” [13]

After it was revealed that she did not burn the Quran, the public reaction in Afghanistan turned to shock and anger. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Kabul on 23 March protesting her brutal death. Protesters marched from where the attack began to where Farkhunda was thrown in the river. A number of women on the march wore masks of her bloodied face while others condemned the government for failing to bring security to Afghanistan. Shukria Barakzai, a member of parliament representing Kabul Province and a longtime women’s rights activist, told Al Jazeera that her killing had triggered the city and the rest of the country to think about women’s rights.[10] She said: “This is not a male or female issue, this is a human issue and we will not stop until the killers are brought to justice.”[10] Roshan Siren, a former member of parliament, said that the murder highlights violence against women in the country, and has become a rallying point for a younger generation of women to campaign for “the protection and progress of women.”[14]

The woman’s father complained that police could have done more to save Farkhunda.[8]

Protests

On March 23, hundreds of women protested the attack, demanding that the government prosecute those responsible for Farkhunda’s death.[8] The protest was organized by Solidarity Party of Afghanistan and residents of Kabul.[15] Farkhunda’s death has also become a rallying point for women’s rights activists in Afghanistan.[16] On March 24, thousands of people protested the attack in front of the Afghan Ministry of Justice in Kabul.[17]

Official response in Afghanistan

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani ordered an investigation into the incident and, in a statement released by his office, condemned the “act of extreme violence”.[18] He described the killing as “heinous”.[11] He also said that Farkhunda’s death revealed that Afghanistan’s police were too focused on the Taliban insurgency in the country and not focused enough on local policing.[19]

Nine men who were seen in the video of Farkhunda’s murder on social media were subsequently detained.[20] The Interior Ministry later reported that 28 people were arrested and 13 police officers suspended as part of investigations. Hashmat Stanikzai, a cleric who publicly endorsed the murder, was sacked over comments that he made on social media supporting Farkhunda’s killers.[5]

The Afghanistan Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs announced that it found no evidence that Farkhunda had burned the Quran.[11]

International reaction

The European Union condemned the attack. A spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement that “[t]he killing of Ms Farkhunda… is a tragic reminder of dangers women face from false accusations and the lack of justice in Afghanistan.” She added, “We all hope that [those] responsible can be brought to justice.”[5] The United States also condemned the murder, with a statement from its embassy in Kabul calling for “those responsible to be brought to justice so such heinous acts will never occur again”.[21]

Global Times China columnist Farman Nawaz wrote “Choosing rulers through the ballot box is a positive sign for the country, but the survival, and even growth, of extremist mentality even after suffering from the barbarism of extremist groups reflects a critical failure by Afghan political parties”.[22] Afghan American historian Ali A Olomi argued that Farkhunda’s murder demonstrated the endurance of an underlying culture of violence and devaluation of human life that comes out of generations of Afghans being raised during a war and facing oppression.[23]

Reaction from Islamic scholars

In Afghanistan

The day after the murder, certain imams and mullahs endorsed the killing during Friday prayer services in their mosques. One of them, the influential Maulavi Ayaz Niazi of the Wazir Akbar Khan mosque, warned the government that any attempt to arrest the men who had defended the Quran would lead to an uprising.[13][24]

After it was revealed she did not burn the Quran, senior Islamic scholars in Afghanistan expressed outrage over the incident. Ahmad Ali Jebreili, a member of Afghanistan’s Ulama Council set for administering Islamic law, condemned the attack, accusing it of contravening Islam.[18] Haji Noor Ahmad, a local cleric, said “People come and execute a person arbitrarily; this is totally prohibited and unlawful. However, some justified her killing and were met with public anger.”[25]

Abroad

Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, a prominent, conservative, Islamic scholar, expressed horror on his Facebook page and said “A sign of how truly civilized a nation is, is how it treats its women. May Allah restore the honor and respect that women deserve in our societies!”[26]

Yama Rasaw of the International Policy Digest blamed intolerance among Afghans and Muslims for the killing of Farkhunda.[27]

Funeral

On March 22, a number of women, dressed in black, carried Farkhunda’s coffin from an ambulance to a prayer ground and then to a graveyard. This was a marked departure from tradition, which holds that such funerals are typically only attended by men.[12]

Criminal cases

Of 49 suspects tried in the case, four men were sentenced to death for their roles in Farkhunda’s murder. The sentences were handed down by Judge Safiullah Mojadedi in Kabul on May 5, 2015. Eight other defendants were sentenced to 16 years in prison. The trial was noted for its unusual brevity, lasting just two days.[28] The verdict has been criticized because although some investigators believe a fortuneteller set the attacks on Farkhunda in motion, this person was found not guilty on appeal, and the shrine’s custodian had his death sentence commuted despite the fact that he originated the false charge that Farkhunda had burned the Koran.[29]

Three suspects in the murder were still at large at the time of the May 5 sentencing, according to Mojadedi.[30]

On May 19, eleven police officers were sentenced to one year in prison for failing to protect Farkhunda.[31]

On 2 July 2015, an appeals court overturned the death sentences for those convicted in the mob killing. Three of those had their sentences reduced to 20 years in jail, while the fourth was re-sentenced to 10 years prompting street protests and a debate on women’s rights.[32]

As of August 12, 2015 an examination of the outcome of the proceedings in the matter by a panel of lawyers appointed by Afghanistan’s president resulted in a planned recommendation to the Afghan Supreme Court that those accused in her death be retried.

See Sharia Law

See Women’s rights in Afghanistan

Women’s rights in Afghanistan

Sunnis and Shia – What’s the difference?

Belfast Child

According to Adherents.com the two biggest religions in the world are Christianity , with approximately 2.2 billion practising followers and Islam , with approximately 1.6 billion practising followers and both have various offshoots and different strands often dictated by regional and cultural boundaries.

When you consider that the world population is approximately 7.3 billion ( as of July 2015  )  then almost half of the world population follow Christianity and/or Islam and sadly both religions are responsibly for more deaths and devastation  than any act of nature or global war and the corridors of time are littered with the blood of the innocent and the souls of the none believers – In my book religion has a lot to answer for!

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Sunnis and Shia – What’s the difference?

Struggles between Sunni and Shia forces have fed the Syrian civil war that threatens to transform the map of the Middle East, spurred violence that is…

View original post 12,859 more words

Sunnis and Shia – What’s the difference?

According to Adherents.com the two biggest religions in the world are Christianity , with approximately 2.2 billion practising followers and Islam , with approximately 1.6 billion practising followers and both have various offshoots and different strands often dictated by regional and cultural boundaries.

When you consider that the world population is approximately 7.3 billion ( as of July 2015  )  then almost half of the world population follow Christianity and/or Islam and sadly both religions are responsibly for more deaths and devastation  than any act of nature or global war and the corridors of time are littered with the blood of the innocent and the souls of the none believers – In my book religion has a lot to answer for!

 

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Sunnis and Shia – What’s the difference?

Struggles between Sunni and Shia forces have fed the Syrian civil war that threatens to transform the map of the Middle East, spurred violence that is fracturing Iraq and widened fissures in a number of tense Gulf countries. Growing sectarian clashes have also sparked a revival of transnational jihadi networks that poses a threat beyond the region.

The Major Difference Between the Shi’a and the Sunni

All the Muslims agree that Allah is One, Muhammad (S) is His last Prophet, the Qur’an is His last Book for mankind, and that one day

Allah will resurrect all human beings, and they will be questioned about their beliefs and actions. There are, however, disagreements between the two schools in the following two areas:

1. The Caliphate (successorship/leadership) which the Shi’a believe is the right of the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt.

2. The Islamic rule when there is no clear Qur’anic statement, nor is there a Hadith upon which Muslim schools have agreed.

The second issue has root into the first one. The Shi’a bound themselves to refer to Ahlul-Bayt for deriving the Sunnah of Prophet (S). They do this in conformity with the order of Prophet reported in the authentic Sunni and Shi’i collections of traditions beside what the Qur’an attests to their perfect purity.

The disagreement about the caliphate should not be a source of division between the two schools. Muslims agree that the caliphate of Abu Bakr came through election by a limited number of people and was a surprise for all other companions. By limited number, I mean, the majority of the prominent companions of prophet had no knowledge of this election. ‘Ali, Ibn Abbas,

Uthman, Talha, Zubair, Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas, Salman al-Farsi, Abu Dharr,

Ammar Ibn Yasir, Miqdad, Abdurrahman Ibn Owf were among those who were not consulted nor even informed of. Even Umar confessed to the fact that the election of Abu Bakr was without consultation of Muslims. (See sahih al-

Bukhari, Arabic-English, Tradition 8.817)

On the other hand, election implies choice and freedom, and that every

Muslim has the right to elect the nominee. Whoever refuses to elect him does not oppose God or His Messenger because neither God nor His Messenger appointed the nominated person by people.

Election, by its nature, does not compel any Muslim to elect a specific nominee. Otherwise, the election would be coercion. This means that the election would lose its own nature and it would be a dictatorial operation.

It is well known that the Prophet said: “There is no validity for any allegiance given by force.”

Imam ‘Ali refused to give his allegiance to Abu Bakr for six months. He gave his allegiance to Abu Bakr only after the martyrdom of his wife

Fatimah al-Zahra (sa), Daughter of the Holy Prophet, six month after the departure of Prophet. (see Sahih al-Bukhari, Arabic-English version, Tradition 5.546). If refusal to give allegiance to an elected nominee was prohibited in Islam, Imam ‘Ali would not have allowed himself to delay in giving his allegiance.

In the same tradition in Sahih al-Bukhari, Imam ‘Ali (as) said that he had some rights in Caliphate which was not honored, and he complained why Abu Bakr should have not consulted him in deciding upon the ruler. He later gave his allegiance when he found that the only way to save Islam is to leave the isolation which occured due to his refusal of giving the oath of allegiance.

What’s more? The well known companions, Abdullah Ibn Umar and Sa’d Ibn Abi

Waqqas, refused to give their allegiance to Imam ‘Ali for the entire duration of his caliphate. (Ibn Al-Athir, his history Al-Kamil, v3, p98).

But the Imam did not punish these companions.

If it was permissible for a Muslim, who was a contemporary of the caliph,to refuse to give his allegiance, it would be more permissible for a person who came in a later century to believe or not to believe in the qualifications of that elected caliph. In doing so, he would not be sinning, provided that the Caliph is not assigned by Allah.

The Shi’a say that Imam must be appointed by God; that appointment may be known through the declaration of the Prophet or the preceding Imam. The

Sunni scholars say that Imam (or Caliph, as they prefer to say) can be either elected, or nominated by the preceding Caliph, or selected by a committee, or may attempt to gain the power through a military coup (as was in the case of Muawiyah).

The Shi’a scholars say that a divinely appointed Imam is sinless and

Allah does not grant such position to the sinful. The Sunni scholars (including Mu’tazilites) say that Imam can be sinful as he is appointed by other than Allah. Even if he is tyrant and sunk in sins (like in the case of Muawiyah and Yazid), the majority of the scholars from the schools of Hanbali, Shafi’i, and Maliki discourage people to rise against that Caliph. They think that they should be preserved although they disagree with the evil actions.

The Shi’a say that Imam must possess above all such qualities as knowledge, bravery, justice, wisdom, piety, love of God etc. The Sunni scholars say it is not necessary. A person inferior in these qualities may be elected in preference to a person having all these qualities of superior degree.

See Al – Islam org for more details

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Shia–Sunni relations

Sunni and Shia Islam are the two major denominations of Islam. The demographic breakdown between the two denominations is difficult to assess and varies by source, but a good approximation is that 85-90% of the world’s Muslims are Sunni[1] and 10-15% are Shia,[2][3] with most Shias belonging to the Twelver tradition and the rest divided between many other groups.[2] Sunnis are a majority in most Muslim communities: in Southeast Asia, China, South Asia, Africa, and most of the Arab world. Shia make up the majority of the citizen population in Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain, as well as being a politically significant minority in Lebanon. Azerbaijan is predominantly Shia; however, practicing adherents are much fewer.[4] Indonesia has the largest number of Sunni Muslims, while Iran has the largest number of Shia Muslims (Twelver) in the world. Pakistan has the second-largest Sunni as well as the second-largest Shia Muslim (Twelver) population in the world.

The historic background of the Sunni–Shia split lies in the schism that occurred when the Islamic prophet Muhammad died in the year 632, leading to a dispute over succession to Muhammad as a caliph of the Islamic community spread across various parts of the world, which led to the Battle of Siffin. The dispute intensified greatly after the Battle of Karbala, in which Hussein ibn Ali and his household were killed by the ruling Umayyad Caliph Yazid I, and the outcry for revenge divided the early Islamic community. Today, there are differences in religious practice, traditions, and customs, often related to jurisprudence. Although all Muslim groups consider the Quran to be divine, Sunni and Shia have different opinions on hadith.

Over the years, Sunni–Shia relations have been marked by both cooperation and conflict. Sectarian violence persists to this day from Pakistan to Yemen and is a major element of friction throughout the Middle East.[5][6] Tensions between communities have intensified during power struggles, such as the Bahraini uprising, the Iraq War, and most recently the Syrian Civil War[7][8][9] and in the formation of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and its advancement on Syria and Northern Iraq.

Numbers

Sunnis are a majority in most Muslim communities in Southeast Asia, China, South Asia, Africa, most of the Arab World, and among Muslims in the United States (of which 85–90% are Sunnis).[10][11] This can also be confusing because of the fact that the majority of Arab Muslims in the United States are Shia, while the majority of Arab Americans are Christians, the conflation of Arab and Muslim being quite common.[12]

Shias make up the majority of the Muslim population in Iran (around 95%), Azerbaijan (around 90%),[13] Iraq (around 75%) and Bahrain (around 70%). Minority communities are also found in Yemen where over 45% of the population are Shia (mostly of the Zaidi sect), according to the UNHCR.[14] Others put the numbers of Shias at 30%.[15][16] About 15-20% of Turkey’s population belong to the Alevi sect. The Shia constitute around 30–40% of Kuwait,[17][18] 45–55% of the Muslim population in Lebanon, 25% of Saudi Arabia,[18][19] 12% of Syria, and 20-25% of Pakistan. Around 15–20% of Afghanistan, less than 6% of the Muslims in Nigeria, and around 5% of population of Tajikistan are Shia.[20]

…Shias are about 25-to-30 percent of the entire Muslim world. We don’t have accurate statistics because in much of the Middle East it is not convenient to have them, for ruling regimes in particular. But the estimates are that they are about 25 to 30 percent of the Muslim world, which puts them somewhere between 185 and 215 million people….The overwhelming majority of that population lives between Pakistan and Lebanon. Iran always had been a Shia country, the largest one, with a population of about 70 million. Pakistan is the second-largest Shia country in the world, with about 30 million population. Also potentially, there are as many Shias in India as there are in Iraq.[21][22]

— Vali Nasr, October 18, 2006

The main Islamic madh’habs (schools of law) of Muslim countries or distributions

Historical beliefs and leadership

Successors of Muhammad

Sunnis believe that Abu Bakr, the father of Muhammad’s wife Aisha, was Muhammad’s rightful successor and that the method of choosing or electing leaders (Shura) endorsed by the Quran is the consensus of the Ummah (the Muslim community).

Shias believe that Muhammad divinely ordained his cousin and son-in-law Ali Ibn Abi Talib (the father of his grandsons Hasan ibn Ali and Hussein ibn Ali) in accordance with the command of God to be the next caliph, making Ali and his direct descendants Muhammad’s successors. Shias believe that Muhammad quoted this, in Hadith of the pond of Khumm. Ali was married to Fatimah, Muhammad’s daughter by his wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid.

Aisha endorsed her father Abu Bakr as the successor to Muhammad. In the Battle of the Camel (656), Aisha opposed her step son-in-law Ali outside the city of Basra, because she wanted justice on the assassins of the previous caliph, Uthman. Aisha’s forces were defeated and Muhammad’s widow was respectfully escorted back to Medina.

Sunnis follow the Rashidun “rightly guided Caliphs”, who were the first four caliphs who ruled after the death of Muhammad: Abu Bakr (632–634), Umar ibn al-Khattab (634–644), Uthman ibn Affan (644-656), and the aforementioned Ali Ibn Abi Talib (656–661).

Shia theology discounts the legitimacy of the first three caliphs and believes that Ali is the second-most divinely inspired man (after Muhammad) and that he and his descendants by Fatimah, the Imams, are the sole legitimate Islamic leaders.

The Imamate of the Shia encompasses far more of a prophetic function than the Caliphate of the Sunnis. Unlike Sunni, Shias believe special spiritual qualities have been granted not only to Muhammad but also to Ali and the other Imams. Twelvers believe the imams are immaculate from sin and human error (ma’sūm), and can understand and interpret the hidden inner meaning of the teachings of Islam. In this way the Imams are trustees (wasi) who bear the light of Muhammad (Nūr Muhammadin).[23][24]

Mahdi

The Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam. While Shias and Sunnis differ on the nature of the Madhi, many members of both groups, especially Sufis,[25] believe that the Mahdi will appear at the end of the world to bring about a perfect and just Islamic society.

In Shia Islam “the Mahdi symbol has developed into a powerful and central religious idea.”[26] Twelvers believe the Mahdi will be Muhammad al-Mahdi, the twelfth Imam returned from the Occultation, where he has been hidden by God since 874. In contrast, mainstream Sunnis believe the Mahdi will be named Muhammad, be a descendant of Muhammad, and will revive the faith, but will not necessarily be connected with the end of the world.[27]

Hadith

The Shias accept some of the same hadiths used by Sunnis as part of the sunnah to argue their case. In addition, they consider the sayings of Ahl al-Bayt that are not attributed directly to Muhammad as hadiths. Shias do not accept many Sunni hadiths unless they are also recorded in Shia sources or the methodology can be proven of how they were recorded. Also, some Sunni-accepted hadith are less favored by Shias; one example is that because of Aisha’s opposition to Ali, hadiths narrated by Aisha are not given the same authority as those by other companions. Another example is hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah, who is considered by Shias as the enemy of Ali. The Shia argument is that Abu Hurairah was only a Muslim four years of his life before Muhammad’s death. Although he accompanied Muhammad for four years only, he managed to record ten times as many hadiths as Abu Bakr and Ali each.[28]

Shiism and Sufism

Shiism and Sufism are said to share a number of hallmarks: Belief in an inner meaning to the Quran, special status for some mortals (saints for Sufi, Imams for Shias), as well as veneration of Ali and Muhammad’s family.[29]

Pillars of faith

The Five Pillars of Islam (Arabic: أركان الإسلام) is the term given to the five duties incumbent on every Muslim. These duties are Shahada (profession of faith), salat (prayers), Zakāt (giving of alms), Sawm (fasting, specifically during Ramadan) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). These five practices are essential to Sunni and Shia Muslims. Shia theology has two concepts that define religion as a whole. There are Roots of Religion (Usūl al-Dīn) and Branches of Religion (Furu al Din).

Practices

Many distinctions can be made between Sunnis and Shiaīs through observation alone:

Salat

When prostrating during ritual prayer (salat), Shias place their forehead onto a piece of naturally occurring material, most often a clay tablet (mohr), soil (turbah) at times from Karbala, the place where Hussein ibn Ali was martyred, instead of directly onto a prayer rug. There is precedence for this in Sunni thought too, as it is recommended to prostrate on earth, or upon something that grows from the earth.[30][31]

Some Shia perform prayers back to back, sometimes worshipping two times consecutively (1+2+2 i.e. fajr on its own Dhuhr with Asr and Maghrib with Isha’), thus praying five times a day but with a very small break in between the prayer, a tradition followed by Muslims all over the world while performing Hajj, instead of five prayers with at least one hour gap between them as required by Sunni schools of law.[32]

Shias and the followers of the Sunni Maliki school hold their hands at their sides during prayer; Sunnis of other schools cross their arms (right over left) and clasp their hands;[33] it is commonly held by Sunni scholars especially of Maliki school that either is acceptable.[34][35][36][37][38]

Mut’ah and Misyar

 

Twelver Shia permit Nikah mut‘ah—fixed-term temporary marriage— which is not acceptable within the Sunni community, the Ismaili Shia or the Zaidi Shia and is believed a planned and agreed fornication. Twelvers believe that Mutah was permitted until Umar forbade it during his rule. Mutah is not the same as Misyar marriage or ‘Arfi marriage, which has no date of expiration and is permitted by some Sunnis. A Misyar marriage differs from a conventional Islamic marriage in that the man does not have financial responsibility over the woman by her own free will. The man can divorce the woman whenever he wants to in a Misyar marriage.[39]

Hijab and dress

Both Sunni and Shia women wear the hijab. Devout women of the Shia traditionally wear black and yellow as do some Sunni women in the Gulf. Some Shia religious leaders also wear a black robe. Mainstream Shia and Sunni women wear the hijab differently. Some Sunni scholars emphasize covering of all body including the face in public whereas some scholars exclude the face from hijab. Shias believe that the hijab must cover around the perimeter of the face and up to the chin.[40] Like Sunnis, some Shia women, such as those in Iran and Iraq, use their hand to hold the black chador, in order to cover their faces when in public.

Given names

Shia are sometimes recognizable by their names, which are often derived from the names of Ahl al-Bayt. In particular, the names Fatima, Zaynab, Ali, Abbas, Hussein, and Hassan are disproportionately common among Shias, though they may also be used by Sunnis.[33] Umar, Uthman, Abu Bakr, Aisha, Muawiya, Yazid being the names of figures recognized by Sunnis but not Shias, are commonly used as names for Sunnis but are very rare, if not virtually absent, for Shias.[41]

History

Abbasid era

Destruction of the Tomb of Husayn ibn Ali at Karbala, condemned in a Mughal era manuscript.

The Umayyads were overthrown in 750 by a new dynasty, the Abbasids. The first Abbasid caliph, As-Saffah, recruited Shia support in his campaign against the Umayyads by emphasising his blood relationship to Muhammad’s household through descent from his uncle, ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib.[42] The Shia also believe that he promised them that the Caliphate, or at least religious authority, would be vested in the Shia Imam. As-Saffah assumed both the temporal and religious mantle of Caliph himself. He continued the Umayyad dynastic practice of succession, and his brother al-Mansur succeeded him in 754.

Ja’far al-Sadiq, the sixth Shia Imam, died during al-Mansur’s reign, and there were claims that he was murdered on the orders of the caliph.[43] (However, Abbasid persecution of Islamic lawyers was not restricted to the Shia. Abū Ḥanīfa, for example, was imprisoned by al-Mansur and tortured.)

Shia sources further claim that by the orders of the tenth Abassid caliph, al-Mutawakkil, the tomb of the third Imam, Hussein ibn Ali in Karbala, was completely demolished,[44] and Shias were sometimes beheaded in groups, buried alive, or even placed alive within the walls of government buildings still under construction.[45]

The Shia believe that their community continued to live for the most part in hiding and followed their religious life secretly without external manifestations.[46]

Shia–Sunni in Iraq

Many Shia Iranians migrated to what is now Iraq in the 16th century. “It is said that when modern Iraq was formed, some of the population of Karbala was Iranian”. In time, these immigrants adopted the Arabic language and Arab identity, but their origin has been used to “unfairly cast them as lackeys of Iran”.[47] Other Iraqi Shias are ethnic Arabs with roots in Iraq as deep as those of their Sunni counterparts’.[48]

Shia–Sunni in Persia

Main article: Islam in Iran

Shafi’i Sunnism was the dominant form of Islam in most of Iran until rise of the Safavid Empire although a significant undercurrent of Ismailism and a very large minority of Twelvers were present all over Persia. Many illustrious scholars and scientists who lived before the Safavid era, such as Avicenna, Jābir ibn Hayyān, Alhazen, Al-Farabi, Ferdowsi and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and the poet Hafez were Shia Muslims of both the Ismaili and Twelver traditions (some indistinguishably so, such as al-Tusi), as was most of Iran’s elite. There were many Sunni scientists and scholars as well, such as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, philosopher-theologian Al-Ghazali, and poet Saadii. Nezamiyehs were the medieval institutions of Islamic higher education established by Nizam al-Mulk in the 11th century. Nizamiyyah institutes were the first well-organized universities in the Muslim world. The most famous and celebrated of all the nizamiyyah schools was Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad (established 1065), where Nizam al-Mulk appointed the distinguished philosopher and theologian, Ghazali, as a professor. Other Nizamiyyah schools were located in Nishapur, Balkh, Herat and Isfahan.

The Sunni hegemony did not undercut the Shia presence in Iran. The writers of the Shia Four Books were Iranian, as were many other great scholars. According to Morteza Motahhari:[49]

The majority of Iranians turned to Shi’ism from the Safawid period onwards. Of course, it cannot be denied that Iran’s environment was more favourable to the flourishing of the Shi’ism as compared to all other parts of the Muslim world. Shi’ism did not penetrate any land to the extent that it gradually could in Iran. With the passage of time, Iranians’ readiness to practise Shi’ism grew day by day. Had Shi`ism not been deeply rooted in the Iranian spirit, the Safawids (907‑1145/ 1501‑1732) would not have succeeded in converting Iranians to the Shi’i creed and making them follow the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt sheerly by capturing political power.

Yavuz Sultan Selim who delivered a devastating blow to the Shia Safavids and Ismail I in the Battle of Chaldiran, a battle of historical significance.

The Shia in Persia before the Safavids

 

The domination of the Sunni creed during the first nine Islamic centuries characterizes the religious history of Iran during this period. There were however some exceptions to this general domination which emerged in the form of the Zaidis of Tabaristan, the Buwayhid, the rule of the Sultan Muhammad Khudabandah (r. 1304-1316) and the Sarbedaran. Nevertheless, apart from this domination there existed, firstly, throughout these nine centuries, Shia inclinations among many Sunnis of this land and, secondly, Twelver and Zaidi Shiism had prevalence in some parts of Iran. During this period, the Shia in Iran were nourished from Kufa, Baghdad and later from Najaf and Al Hillah.[50] Shia were dominant in Tabaristan, Qom, Kashan, Avaj and Sabzevar. In many other areas the population of Shias and Sunni was mixed.

The first Zaidi state was established in Daylaman and Tabaristan (northern Iran) in 864 by the Alavids;[51] it lasted until the death of its leader at the hand of the Samanids in 928. Roughly forty years later the state was revived in Gilan (north-western Iran) and survived under Hasanid leaders until 1126. After which from the 12th-13th centuries, the Zaidis of Daylaman, Gilan and Tabaristan then acknowledge the Zaidi Imams of Yemen or rival Zaidi Imams within Iran.[52]

The Buyids, who were Zaidi and had a significant influence not only in the provinces of Persia but also in the capital of the caliphate in Baghdad, and even upon the caliph himself, provided a unique opportunity for the spread and diffusion of Shia thought. This spread of Shiism to the inner circles of the government enabled the Shia to withstand those who opposed them by relying upon the power of the caliphate.

Twelvers came to Iran from Arab regions in the course of four stages. First, through the Asharis tribe[clarification needed] at the end of the 7th and during the 8th century. Second through the pupils of Sabzevar, and especially those of Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, who were from Rey and Sabzawar and resided in those cities. Third, through the school of Hillah under the leadership of Al-Hilli and his son Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin. Fourth, through the scholars of Jabal Amel residing in that region, or in Iraq, during the 16th and 17th centuries who later migrated to Iran.[53]

On the other hand, the Ismaili da‘wah (“missionary institution”) sent missionaries (du‘āt, sg. dā‘ī) during the Fatimid Caliphate to Persia. When the Ismailis divided into two sects, Nizaris established their base in northern Persia. Hassan-i Sabbah conquered fortresses and captured Alamut in 1090. Nizaris used this fortress until the Mongols finally seized and destroyed it in 1256.

After the Mongols and the fall of the Abbasids, the Sunni Ulama suffered greatly. In addition to the destruction of the caliphate there was no official Sunni school of law. Many libraries and madrasahs were destroyed and Sunni scholars migrated to other Islamic areas such as Anatolia and Egypt. In contrast, most Shia were largely unaffected as their center was not in Iran at this time. For the first time, the Shia could openly convert other Muslims to their movement.

Several local Shia dynasties like the Marashi and Sarbadars were established during this time. The kings of the Kara Koyunlu dynasty ruled in Tabriz with a domain extending to Fars and Kerman. In Egypt the Fatimid government ruled.[54]

Muhammad Khudabandah, the famous builder of Soltaniyeh, was among the first of the Mongols to convert to Shiaism, and his descendants ruled for many years in Persia and were instrumental in spreading Shī‘ī thought.[55] Sufism played a major role in spread of Shiism in this time.

After the Mongol invasion Shiims and Sufism once again formed a close association in many ways. Some of the Ismailis whose power had broken by the Mongols, went underground and appeared later within Sufi orders or as new branches of already existing orders. In Twelve-Imam Shiism, from the 13th to the 16th century, Sufism began to grow within official Shiite circles.[56]

The extremist sects of the Hurufis and Shasha’a grew directly out of a background that is both Shiite and Sufi. More important in the long run than these sects were the Sufi orders which spread in Persia at this time and aided in the preparing the ground for the Shiite movement of Safavids. Two of these orders are of particular significance in this question of the relation of Shiism and Sufism: The Nimatullahi order and Nurbakhshi order.

Shiism in Persia after Safavids

Ismail I initiated a religious policy to recognize Shiism as the official religion of the Safavid Empire, and the fact that modern Iran and Azerbaijan remain officially Shia states is a direct result of Ismail’s actions.

Shah Ismail I of Safavid dynasty destroyed the tombs of Abū Ḥanīfa and the Sufi Abdul Qadir Gilani in 1508.[58] In 1533, Ottomans restored order, reconquered Iraq and rebuilt Sunni shrines.[59]

Unfortunately for Ismail, most of his subjects were Sunni. He thus had to enforce official Shiism violently, putting to death those who opposed him. Under this pressure, Safavid subjects either converted or pretended to convert, but it is safe to say that the majority of the population was probably genuinely Shia by the end of the Safavid period in the 18th century, and most Iranians today are Shia, although there is still a Sunni minority.[60]

Immediately following the establishment of Safavid power the migration of scholars began and they were invited to Iran … By the side of the immigration of scholars, Shi’i works and writings were also brought to Iran from Arabic-speaking lands, and they performed an important role in the religious development of Iran … In fact, since the time of the leadership of Shaykh Mufid and Shaykh Tusi, Iraq had a central academic position for Shi’ism. This central position was transferred to Iran during the Safavid era for two-and-a-half centuries, after which it partly returned to Najaf. … Before the Safavid era Shi’i manuscripts were mainly written in Iraq, with the establishment of the Safavid rule these manuscripts were transferred to Iran.[53]

This led to a wide gap between Iran and its Sunni neighbors, particularly its rival, the Ottoman Empire, in the wake of the Battle of Chaldiran. This gap continued until the 20th century.

Shia–Sunni in Levant

Rashid ad-Din Sinan the Grand Master of the Ismaili Shia at Masyaf successfully deterred Saladin, not to assault the minor territories under the control of their sect.

Shias claim that despite these advances, many Shias in Syria continued to be killed during this period for their faith. One of these was Muhammad Ibn Makki, called Shahid-i Awwal (the First Martyr), one of the great figures in Shia jurisprudence, who was killed in Damascus in 1384.[54]

Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi was another eminent scholar, killed in Aleppo on charges of cultivating Batini teachings and philosophy.[54]

Shia–Sunni in South Asia

Main article: Islam in Asia

Sunni–Shia clashes also occurred occasionally in the 20th century in South Asia. There were many between 1904 and 1908. These clashes revolved around the public cursing of the first three caliphs by Shias and the praising of them by Sunnis. To put a stop to the violence, public demonstrations were banned in 1909 on the three most sensitive days: Ashura, Chehlum and Ali’s death on 21 Ramadan. Intercommunal violence resurfaced in 1935-36 and again in 1939 when many thousands of Sunni and Shias defied the ban on public demonstrations and took to the streets.[61] Shia are estimated to be 21-35% of the Muslim population in South Asia, although the total number is difficult to estimate due to the intermingling between the two groups and practice of taqiyya by Shia [62]

Sunni razzias which came to be known as Taarajs virtually devastated the community. History records 10 such Taarajs also known as Taraj-e-Shia between the 15th and 19th centuries in 1548, 1585, 1635, 1686, 1719, 1741, 1762, 1801, 1830, 1872 during which the Shia habitations were plundered, people slaughtered, libraries burnt and their sacred sites desecrated.[63]

Shia-Sunni Relations in the Mughal Empire

Shia in South Asia faced persecution by some Sunni rulers and Mughal Emperors which resulted in the killings of Shia scholars like Qazi Nurullah Shustari[64] (also known as Shaheed-e-Thaalis, the third Martyr) and Mirza Muhammad Kamil Dehlavi[65] (also known as Shaheed-e- Rabay, the fourth Martyr) who are two of the five martyrs of Shia Islam. Shias in Kashmir in subsequent years had to pass through the most atrocious period of their history.

Modern Sunni–Shia relations

In addition to Iran, Iraq has emerged as a major Shia government when the Twelvers achieved political dominance in 2005 under American occupation. The two communities have often remained separate, mingling regularly only during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. In some countries like Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and Bahrain, communities have mingled and intermarried. Some Shia have complained of mistreatment in countries dominated by Sunnis, especially in Saudi Arabia,[66] while some Sunnis have complained of discrimination in the Twelver-dominated states of Iraq and Iran.[67]

Some tension developed between Sunnis and Shia as a result of clashes over Iranian pilgrims and Saudi police at the hajj.[68] Millions of Saudi adhere to the school of Wahhabism which is a branch of Hanbali Sunni.[69]

According to some reports, as of mid-2013, the Syrian Civil War has become “overtly sectarian” with the “sectarian lines fall most sharply” between Alawites and Sunnis.[70] With the involvement of Lebanese Shia paramilitary group Hezbollah, the fighting in Syria has reignited “long-simmering tensions between Sunnis and Shi’ites” spilling over into Lebanon and Iraq.[71] Ex-Ambassador Dimitar Mihaylov further claims that the current post-Arab Spring situation (encompassing ISIS, the Syrian civil war, Yemen, Iraq and others) represents a “qualitatively new” development in the history of Shi’a-Sunni dynamics. Historically, the inner rifts within Islamic ideology were to be hidden from the public sphere, while the new violent outbreaks highlight said rift in an obvious manner and is nourished by the two extremes of their mutual rivalry which will strongly affect both globally and regionally.[72]

1919–1970

At least one scholar sees the period from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire through the decline of Arab nationalism as a time of relative unity and harmony between traditionalist Sunni and Shia Muslims—unity brought on by a feeling of being under siege from a common threat, secularism, first of the European colonial variety and then Arab nationalist.[7]

An example of Sunni–Shia cooperation was the Khilafat Movement which swept South Asia following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the seat of the Caliphate, in World War I. Shia scholars “came to the caliphate’s defence” by attending the 1931 Caliphate Conference in Jerusalem, although they were theologically opposed to the idea that non-imams could be caliphs or successors to Muhammad, and that the caliphate was “the flagship institution” of Sunni, not Shia, authority. This has been described as unity of traditionalists in the face of the twin threats of “secularism and colonialism.”[7]

In these years Allama Muhammad Taqi Qummi travelled to Cairo and started his efforts for reforming Islamic unity at Al-Azhar University, since 1938. Finally, his efforts and contacting with scholars such as Mahmud Shaltut and Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi led to the founding of Dar-al-Taghrib (community for reforming unity between Sunni and Shia Muslims).[73]

Another example of unity was a fatwā issued by the rector of Al-Azhar University, Mahmud Shaltut, recognizing Shia Islamic law as the fifth school of Islamic law. In 1959, al-Azhar University in Cairo, the most influential center of Sunni learning, authorized the teaching of courses of Shia jurisprudence as part of its curriculum.[74]

The year of Iranian Islamic Revolution was “one of great ecumentical discourse”,[75] and shared enthusiasm by both Shia and Sunni Islamists. After the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini endeavored to bridge the gap between Shiites and Sunnis by declaring it permissible for Twelvers to pray behind Sunni imams and by forbidding criticizing the Caliphs who preceded Ali—an issue that had caused much animosity between the two groups.[76] In addition, he designated the period of Prophet’s Birthday celebrations from 12th to the 17th of Rabi Al-Awwal as the Islamic Unity Week. (There being a gap in the dates of when Shiites and Sunnis celebrate Muhammad’s Birthday).[77] However, this harmony was short lived.

Post-1980

See also: Iran–Iraq War

Damage to a mosque in Khoramshahr, Iran

Following this period, Sunni–Shia strife has seen a major upturn, particularly in Iraq and Pakistan. Many explain the bloodshed as the work of conspiracies by outside forces—”the forces of hegemony and Zionism which aim to weaken [Arabs]” (Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Yusuf al-Qaradawi),[78] unspecified “enemies” (Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad),[79] or “oppressive pressure by the imperialist front.” (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad).[80]

Others lay the blame for the strife at a very different source, the unintended effects of the Islamic revival. According to scholar Vali Nasr, as the Muslim world was decolonialised and Arab nationalism lost its appeal, fundamentalism blossomed and reasserted the differences and conflicts between the two movements, particularly in the strict teachings of Sunni scholar Ibn Taymiyyah.[81] The Iranian Islamic revolution changed the Shia–Sunni power equation in Muslim countries “from Lebanon to India” arousing the traditionally subservient Shia to the alarm of traditionally dominant and very non-revolutionary Sunni.[82] “Where Iranian revolutionaries saw Islamic revolutionary stirrings, Sunnis saw mostly Shia mischief and a threat to Sunni predominance.”[83]

Although the Iranian revolution’s leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, was very much in favor of Shia–Sunni unity, he also challenged Saudi Arabia, in his view an “unpopular and corrupt dictatorship” and an “American lackey” ripe for revolution. In part because Saudi Arabia was the world’s major international funder of Islamic schools, scholarships, and fellowships, this angered not only Saudi Arabia but its many fundamentalist allies and benefactors throughout the Arab world, according to Nasr.[84]

Another effect noted by political scientist Gilles Kepel, is that the initial attraction of the Islamic Revolution to Sunnis as well as Shia, and Khomeini’s desire to export his revolution motivated the Saudi establishment to shore up its “religious legitimacy” with more strictness in religion (and with jihad in Afghanistan) to compete with Iran’s revolutionary ideology.[85] But doing so in Saudi meant a more anti-Shia policies because Saudi’s own native Sunni school of Islam is Wahhabism, which includes the prohibition of Shia Islam itself, as strict Wahhabis do not consider Shia to be Islamic. This new strictness was spread not only among Saudis in the kingdom but thousands of students and Saudi funded schools and international Islamist volunteers who came to training camps in Peshawar Pakistan in the 1980s to learn to fight jihad in Afghanistan and went home in the 1990s to fight jihad. Both groups (especially in Iraq and Pakistan) saw Shia as the enemy.[86][87][88] Thus, although the Iranian revolution’s leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, was very much in favor of Shia–Sunni unity, and “the leadership position that went with it”,[89] his revolution worked against it.

From the Iranian Revolution to 2015, Shia groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, supported by Iran have recently won “important political victories” which have boosted Iran’s regional influence.[90] In Lebanon, Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia and political movement is the “strongest political actor” in the country. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq removed Saddam Hussein from power and instituted elected government, the Shia majority has dominated the parliament and its prime ministers have been Shia.[90] In Syria, a Shia minority—the heterodox Alawi sect that makes up only about 13 percent of the population—dominate the upper reaches of the government, military and security services in Syria, and are the “backbone” of the forces fighting to protect the Bashir al-Assad regime in Syria’s civil war.[90] In Yemen, Houthi rebels have expanded their territory south of Saudi Arabia, and become the country’s “dominant power“.[90]

Olivier Roy, research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, sees the “Shia awakening and its instrumentalisation by Iran” as leading to a “very violent Sunni reaction”, starting first in Pakistan before spreading to “the rest of the Muslim world, without necessarily being as violent.” According to Roy, “two events created a sea change in the balance of power between Shia and Sunnis: the Islamic revolution in Iran and the American military intervention in Iraq” in 2003. “Today, Azerbaijan is probably the only country where there are still mixed mosques and Shia and Sunnis pray together.”[91]

From 1994-2014 satellite television and high-speed Internet has spread “hate speech” against both Sunni and Shia. Fundamentalist Sunni clerics have popularized slurs against Shia such as “Safawis” (from the Safavid empire, thus implying their being an Iranian agents), or even worse rafidha (rejecters of the faith), and majus (Zoroastrian or crypto Persian). In turn, Shia religious scholars have “mocked and cursed” the first three caliphs and Aisha, Mohammed’s youngest wife who fought against Ali.[90]

Iraq

Shia–Sunni discord in Iraq starts with disagreement over the relative population of the two groups. According to most sources, including the CIA’s World Factbook, the majority of Iraqis are Shia Arab Muslims (60%-55%), and Sunni Arab Muslims represent between 32% and 37% of the population.[92] However, Sunni are split ethnically between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. Many Sunnis hotly dispute their minority status, including ex-Iraqi Ambassador Faruq Ziada,[93] and many believe Shia majority is “a myth spread by America”.[94] One Sunni belief shared by Jordan’s King Abdullah as well as his then Defense Minister Shaalan is that Shia numbers in Iraq were inflated by Iranian Shias crossing the border.[95] Shia scholar Vali Nasr believes the election turnout in summer and December 2005 confirmed a strong Shia majority in Iraq.[96]

The British, having put down a Shia rebellion against their rule in the 1920s, “confirmed their reliance on a corps of Sunni ex-officers of the collapsed Ottoman empire”. The British colonial rule ended after the Sunni and Shia united against it.[97]

The Shia suffered indirect and direct persecution under post-colonial Iraqi governments since 1932, erupting into full-scale rebellions in 1935 and 1936. Shias were also persecuted during the Ba’ath Party rule, especially under Saddam Hussein. It is said that every Shia clerical family of note in Iraq had tales of torture and murder to recount.[98] In 1969 the son of Iraq’s highest Shia Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim was arrested and allegedly tortured. From 1979-1983 Saddam’s regime executed 48 major Shia clerics in Iraq.[99] They included Shia leader Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr and his sister. Tens of thousands of Iranians and Arabs of Iranian origin were expelled in 1979 and 1980 and a further 75,000 in 1989.[100]

The Shias openly revolted against Saddam following the Gulf War in 1991 and were encouraged by Saddam’s defeat in Kuwait and by simultaneous Kurdish uprising in the north. However, Shia opposition to the government was brutally suppressed, resulting in some 50,000 to 100,000 casualties and successive repression by Saddam’s forces. The governing regimes of Iraq were composed mainly of Sunnis for nearly a century until the 2003 Iraq War.

Iraq War

Some of the worst sectarian strife ever has occurred after the start of the Iraq War, steadily building up to the present.[8] The war has featured a cycle of Sunni–Shia revenge killing—Sunni often used car bombs, while Shia favored death squads.[101]

According to one estimate, as of early 2008, 1,121 suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq.[102] Sunni suicide bombers have targeted not only thousands of civilians,[103] but mosques, shrines,[104] wedding and funeral processions,[105] markets, hospitals, offices, and streets.[106] Sunni insurgent organizations include Ansar al-Islam.[107] Radical groups include Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, Jaish al-Ta’ifa al-Mansurah, Jeish Muhammad, and Black Banner Organization.[108]

Takfir motivation for many of these killings may come from Sunni insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Before his death Zarqawi was one to quote Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, especially his infamous statement urging followers to kill the Shia of Iraq,[109] and calling the Shias “snakes”.[110] An al-Qaeda-affiliated website posted a call for “a full-scale war on Shiites all over Iraq, whenever and wherever they are found.”[111] Wahhabi suicide bombers continue to attack Iraqi Shia civilians,[112] and the Shia ulama have in response declared suicide bombing as haraam:

حتی كسانی كه با انتحار می‌آيند و می‌زنند عده‌ای را می‌كشند، آن هم به عنوان عملیات انتحاری، این‌ها در قعر جهنم هستند
Even those who kill people with suicide bombing, these shall meet the flames of hell.

— Ayatollah Yousef Saanei[113]

Some believe the war has strengthened the takfir thinking and may spread Sunni–Shia strife elsewhere.[114]

On the Shia side, in early February 2006 militia-dominated government death squads were reportedly “tortur[ing] to death or summarily” executing “hundreds” of Sunnis “every month in Baghdad alone,” many arrested at random.[115][116][117] According to the British television Channel 4, from 2005 through early 2006, commandos of the Ministry of the Interior which is controlled by the Badr Organization, and

…who are almost exclusively Shia Muslims — have been implicated in rounding up and killing thousands of ordinary Sunni civilians.[118]

The violence shows little sign of getting opposite sides to back down. Iran’s Shia leaders are said to become “more determined” the more violent the anti-Shia attacks in Iraq become.[119] One Shia Grand Ayatollah, Yousef Saanei, who has been described as a moderate, reacted to the 2005 suicide bombings of Shia targets in Iraq by saying the bombers were “wolves without pity” and that “sooner rather than later, Iran will have to put them down”.[120]

Egypt

Almost all of Egypt’s Muslims are Sunni,[121] but the Syrian Civil War has brought on an increase in anti-Shia rhetoric,[122] and what Human Rights Watch states is “anti-Shia hate speech by Salafis”.[123] In 2013 a mob of several hundred attacked a house in the village of Abu Musallim near Cairo, dragging four Shia worshipers through the street before lynching them.[123] Eight other Shia were injured.[122]

            Jordan
Main article: Islam in Jordan

Although the country of Jordan is 95% Sunni and has not seen any Shia–Sunni fighting within, it has played a part in the recent Shia-Sunni strife. It is the home country of anti-Shia insurgent Raed Mansour al-Banna, who died perpetrating one of Iraq’s worst suicide bombings in the city of Al-Hillah. Al-Banna killed 125 Shia and wounded another 150 in the 2005 Al Hillah bombing of a police recruiting station and adjacent open air market. In March 2005 Salt, al-Banna’s home town, saw a three-day wake for al-Banna who Jordanian newspapers and celebrants proclaimed a martyr to Islam, which by definition made the Shia victims “infidels whose murder was justified.” Following the wake Shia mobs in Iraq attacked the Jordanian embassy on March 20, 2005. Ambassadors were withdrawn from both countries.[124][125] All this resulted despite the strong filial bonds, ties of commerce, and traditional friendship between the two neighboring countries.[125]

Pakistan

Pakistan’s citizens have had serious Shia-Sunni discord. Almost 80% of Pakistan’s Muslim population is Sunni, with 20% being Shia, but this Shia minority forms the second largest Shia population of any country,[126] larger than the Shia majority in Iraq.

Until recently Shia–Sunni relations have been cordial, and a majority of people of both sects participated in the creation the state of Pakistan in the 1940s.[5] Despite the fact that Pakistan is a Sunni majority country, Shias have been elected to top offices and played an important part in the country’s politics. Several top Pakistani Generals such as General Muhammad Musa. Pakistan’s President Yahya Khan[citation needed] were Shia. Former President Asif Ali Zardari is a Shia. There are many intermarriages between Shia and Sunnis in Pakistan.

Unfortunately, from 1987–2007, “as many as 4,000 people are estimated to have died” in Shia-Sunni sectarian fighting in Pakistan”, 300 being killed in 2006.[127] Amongst the culprits blamed for the killing are Al-Qaeda working “with local sectarian groups” to kill what they perceive as Shia apostates, and “foreign powers … trying to sow discord.”[127] Most violence takes place in the largest province of Punjab and the country’s commercial and financial capital, Karachi.[128] There have also been conflagrations in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Azad Kashmir,[128] with several hundreds of Shia Hazara killed in Balochistan killed since 2008.[129]

Arab states especially Saudi Arabia and GCC states have been funding extremist Deobandi Sunnis and Wahhabis in Pakistan, since the Afghan Jihad.[130] Whereas Iran has been funding Shia militant groups such as Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, resulting in tit-for-tat attacks on each other.[128] Pakistan has become a battleground between Saudi Arabia-funded Deobandi Sunni and Wahhabis and Iran-funded Shia resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent Muslims.

Background

Some see a precursor of Pakistani Shia–Sunni strife in the April 1979 execution of deposed President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on questionable charges by Islamic fundamentalist General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Ali Bhutto was Shia, Zia ul-Haq a Sunni.[131]

Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization that followed was resisted by Shia who saw it as “Sunnification” as the laws and regulations were based on Sunni fiqh. In July 1980, 25,000 Shia protested the Islamization laws in the capital Islamabad. Further exacerbating the situation was the dislike between Shia leader Imam Khomeini and General Zia ul-Haq.[132]

Shia formed student associations and a Shia party, Sunni began to form sectarian militias recruited from Deobandi and Ahl al-Hadith madrasahs. Preaching against the Shia in Pakistan was radical cleric Israr Ahmed. Muhammad Manzour Numani, a senior Indian cleric with close ties to Saudi Arabia published a book entitled Iranian Revolution: Imam Khomeini and Shiism. The book, which “became the gospel of Deobandi militants” in the 1980s, attacked Khomeini and argued the excesses of the Islamic revolution were proof that Shiism was not the doctrine of misguided brothers, but beyond the Islamic pale.[133]

Anti-Shia groups in Pakistan include the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, offshoots of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI). The groups demand the expulsion of all Shias from Pakistan and have killed hundreds of Pakistani Shias between 1996 and 1999.[134] As in Iraq they “targeted Shia in their holy places and mosques, especially during times of communal prayer.” [135] From January to May 1997, Sunni terror groups assassinated 75 Shia community leaders “in a systematic attempt to remove Shias from positions of authority.”[136] Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has declared Shia to be “American agents” and the “near enemy” in global jihad.[137]

An example of an early Shia–Sunni fitna shootout occurred in Kurram, one of the tribal agencies of the Northwest Pakistan, where the Pushtun population was split between Sunnis and Shia. In September 1996 more than 200 people were killed when a gun battle between teenage Shia and Sunni escalated into a communal war that lasted five days. Women and children were kidnapped and gunmen even executed out-of-towners who were staying at a local hotel.[138]

Afghanistan

Shia–Sunni strife in Pakistan is strongly intertwined with that in Afghanistan. Though now deposed, the anti-Shia Afghan Taliban regime helped anti-Shia Pakistani groups and vice versa. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, have sent thousands of volunteers to fight with the Taliban regime and “in return the Taliban gave sanctuary to their leaders in the Afghan capital of Kabul.” [139]

“Over 80,000 Pakistani Islamic militants have trained and fought with the Taliban since 1994. They form a hardcore of Islamic activists, ever-ready to carry out a similar Taliban-style Islamic revolution in Pakistan.”, according to Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid.[134]

Shia–Sunni strife inside of Afghanistan has mainly been a function of the puritanical Sunni Taliban’s clashes with Shia Afghans, primarily the Hazara ethnic group.

In 1998 more than 8,000 noncombatants were killed when the Taliban attacked Mazar-i-Sharif and Bamiyan where many Hazaras live.[140] Some of the slaughter was indiscriminate, but many were Shia targeted by the Taliban. Taliban commander and governor Mullah Niazi banned prayer at Shia mosques[141] and expressed takfir of the Shia in a declaration from Mazar’s central mosque:

Last year you rebelled against us and killed us. From all your homes you shot at us. Now we are here to deal with you. The Hazaras are not Muslims and now we have to kill Hazaras. You must either accept to be Muslims or leave Afghanistan. Wherever you go, we will catch you. If you go up we will pull you down by your feet; if you hide below, we will pull you up by your hair.[142]

Assisting the Taliban in the murder of Iranian diplomatic and intelligence officials at the Iranian Consulate in Mazar were “several Pakistani militants of the anti-Shia, Sipah-e-Sahaba party.”[143]

Iran and Shia statehood

Iran is unique in the Muslim world because its population is overwhelmingly more Shia than Sunni (Shia constitute 83% of the population) and because its constitution is theocratic republic based on rule by a Shia jurist.

Although the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, supported good Sunni–Shia relations, there have been complaints by Sunni of discrimination, particularly in important government positions.[144] In a joint appearance with former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani calling for Shia-Suni unity, Sunni Shiekh Yusuf al-Qaradawi complained that no ministers in Iran have been Sunni for a long time, that Sunni officials are scarce even in the regions with majority of Sunni population (such as Kurdistan, or Balochistan).[145] Sunnis cite the lack of a Sunni mosque in Tehran, Iran’s capital and largest city, despite the presence of over 1 million Sunnis there,[146] and despite the presence of Christian churches, as a prominent example of this discrimination. Although reformist President Mohammad Khatami promised during his election campaign to build a Sunni mosque in Tehran, none was built during his eight years in office. The president explained the situation by saying Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would not agree to the proposal.[147] As in other parts of the Muslim world, other issues may play a part in the conflict, since most Sunnis in Iran are also ethnic minorities.[146]

Soon after the 1979 revolution, Sunni leaders from Kurdistan, Balouchistan, and Khorassan, set up a new party known as Shams, which is short for Shora-ye Markaz-e al Sunaat, to unite Sunnis and lobby for their rights. But six months after that they were closed down, bank accounts suspended and had their leaders arrested by the government on charges that they were backed by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.[144]

A UN human rights report states that:

…information indicates Sunnis, along with other religious minorities, are denied by law or practice access to such government positions as cabinet minister, ambassador, provincial governor, mayor and the like, Sunni schools and mosques have been destroyed, and Sunni leaders have been imprisoned, executed and assassinated. The report notes that while some of the information received may be difficult to corroborate there is a clear impression that the right of freedom of religion is not being respected with regard to the Sunni minority.[148][149]

Members of the ‘Balochistan Peoples Front’ claim that Sunnis are systematically discriminated against educationally by denial of places at universities, politically by not allowing Sunnis to be army generals, ambassadors, ministers, prime minister, or president, religiously insulting Sunnis in the media, economic discrimination by not giving import or export licenses for Sunni businesses while the majority of Sunnis are left unemployed.[150]

There has been a low level resistance in mainly Sunni Iranian Balouchistan against the regime for several years. Official media refers to the fighting as armed clashes between the police and “bandits,” “drug-smugglers,” and “thugs,” to disguise what many believe is essentially a political-religious conflict. Revolutionary Guards have stationed several brigades in Balouchi cities, and have allegedly tracked down and assassinated Sunni leaders both inside Iran and in neighboring Pakistan. In 1996 a leading Sunni, Abdulmalek Mollahzadeh, was gunned down by hitmen, allegedly hired by Tehran, as he was leaving his house in Karachi.[151]

Members of Sunni groups in Iran however have been active in what the authorities describe as terrorist activities. Balochi Sunni Abdolmalek Rigi continue to declare the Shia as Kafir and Mushrik.[152] These Sunni groups have been involved in violent activities in Iran and have waged terrorist[153] attacks against civilian centers, including an attack next to a girls’ school[154] according to government sources. The “shadowy Sunni militant group Jundallah” has reportedly been receiving weaponry from the United States for these attacks according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.[155][156] The United Nations[157] and several countries worldwide have condemned the bombings. (See 2007 Zahedan bombings for more information)

Non-Sunni Iranian opposition parties, and Shia like Ayatollah Jalal Gange’i have criticised the regime’s treatment of Sunnis and confirmed many Sunni complaints.[158]

Following the 2005 elections, much of the leadership of Iran has been described as more “staunchly committed to core Shia values” and lacking Ayatollah Khomeini’s commitment to Shia–Sunni unity.[159] Polemics critical of Sunnis were reportedly being produced in Arabic for dissemination in the Arab Muslim world by Hojjatieh-aligned elements in the Iranian regime.[160]

Syria
Main article: Islam in Syria

Syria is approximately three quarters Sunni,[161] but its government is predominantly Alawite, a Shia sect that makes up less than 15% of the population. Under Hafez al-Assad, Alawites dominated the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, a secular Arab nationalist party which had ruled Syria under a state of emergency from 1963 to 2011. Alawites are often considered a form of Shia Islam, that differs somewhat from the larger Twelver Shia sect.[162]

During the 20th century, an Islamic uprising in Syria occurred with sectarian religious overtones between the Alawite-dominated Assad government and the Islamist Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, culminating with the 1982 Hama massacre. An estimated 10,000 to 40,000 Syrians, mostly civilians, were killed by Syrian military in the city. During the uprising, the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood attacked military cadets at an artillery school in Aleppo, performed car bomb attacks in Damascus, as well as bomb attacks against the government and its officials, including Hafez al-Assad himself, and had killed several hundred.

How much of the conflict was sparked by Sunni versus Shia divisions and how much by Islamism versus secular-Arab-nationalism, is in question, but according to scholar Vali Nasr the failure of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republic of Iran to support the Muslim Brotherhood against the Baathists “earned [Khomeini] the Brotherhood’s lasting contempt.” It proved to the satisfaction of the Brotherhood that sectarian loyalty trumped Islamist solidarity for Khomeini and eliminated whatever appeal Khomeini might have had to the MB movement as a pan-Islamic leader.[163]

Syria Civil War
Main article: Syrian Civil War

The Syrian Civil War, though it started as a political conflict, developed into a struggle between the Alawite-dominated Army and government on the one hand, and the mainly Sunni rebels and former members of the regular army on the other. The casualty toll of the war’s first three years has exceeded that of Iraq’s decade-long conflict, and the fight has “amplified sectarian tensions to unprecedented levels”.[90] Rebel groups with 10,000s of Sunni Syrian fighters such as Ahrar ash-Sham, the Islamic Front, and al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, employ anti-Shia rhetoric and foreign Arab and Western Sunni fighters have joined the rebels. On the other side Shia from Hezbollah in Lebanon and from Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kata’ib Hezbollah militias from Iraq have backed the Syrian government.[90] “Even Afghan Shia refugees in Iran”, driven from Afghanistan by Sunni extremism, have “reportedly been recruited by Tehran for the war in Syria”.[90]

Lebanon

Though sectarian tensions in Lebanon were at their height during the Lebanese Civil War, the Shia–Sunni relations were not the main conflict of the war. The Shia party/militia of Hizbullah emerged in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War as one of the strongest forces following the Israeli withdrawal in the year 2000, and the collapse of the South Lebanese Army in the South. The tensions blew into a limited warfare between Shia dominated and Sunni dominated political alliances in 2008.

With the eruption of the Syrian Civil War, tensions increased between the Shia-affiliated Alawites and Sunnis of Tripoli, erupting twice into deadly violence – on June 2011, and the second time on February 2012. The Syrian war has affected Hizbullah, which was once lauded by both Sunnis and Shi’ites for its battles against Israel, but now has lost support from many Sunnis for its military assistance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hezbollah has been blamed for bombings of two mosques (Taqwa and al-Salam) frequented by Sunnis in Tripoli on August 23, 2013 that killed at least 42 and wounded hundreds.[164] The bombings are thought to be in retaliation[165] for a large car bomb which detonated on August 15 and killed at least 24 and wounded hundreds in a part of Beirut controlled by the Hizbullah[166]

Yemen
Main article: Islam in Yemen

Muslims in Yemen include the majority Shafi’i (Sunni) and the minority Zaidi (Shia). Zaidi are sometimes called “Fiver Shia” instead of Twelver Shia because they recognize the first four of the Twelve Imams but accept Zayd ibn Ali as their “Fifth Imām” rather than his brother Muhammad al-Baqir. Shia–Sunni conflict in Yemen involves the Shia insurgency in northern Yemen.[6]

Both Shia and Sunni dissidents in Yemen have similar complaints about the government—cooperation with the American government and an alleged failure to following Sharia law[167]—but it’s the Shia who have allegedly been singled out for government crackdown.

During and after the US-led invasion of Iraq, members of the Zaidi-Shia community protested after Friday prayers every week outside mosques, particularly the Grand Mosque in Sana’a, during which they shouted anti-US and anti-Israeli slogans, and criticised the government’s close ties to America.[168] These protests were led by ex-parliament member and Imam, Bader Eddine al-Houthi.[169] In response the Yemeni government has implemented a campaign to crush to the Zaidi-Shia rebellion”[170] and harass journalists.[171]

These latest measures come as the government faces a Sunni rebellion with a similar motivation to the Zaidi discontent.[172][173][174]

A March 2015 suicide bombing of two mosques (used mainly by supporters of the Zaidi Shia-led Houthi rebel movement), in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, killed at least 137 people and wounded 300. The Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant movement claimed responsibility, issuing a statement saying: “Let the polytheist Houthis know that the soldiers of the Islamic State will not rest until we have uprooted them.” Both the Sunni al-Qaeda and “Islamic State” consider Shia Muslims to be heretics.[175]

Bahrain

The small Persian Gulf island state of Bahrain has a Shia majority but is ruled by Sunni Al Khalifa family as a constitutional monarchy, with Sunni dominating the ruling class and military and disproportionately represented in the business and landownership.[176] According to the CIA World Factbook, Al Wefaq the largest Shia political society, won the largest number of seats in the elected chamber of the legislature. However, Shia discontent has resurfaced in recent years with street demonstrations and occasional low-level violence.”[177] Bahrain has many disaffected unemployed youths and many have protested Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa‘s efforts to create a parliament as merely a “cooptation of the effendis“, i.e. traditional elders and notables. Bahrain’s 2002 election was widely boycotted by Shia. Mass demonstrations have been held in favor of full-fledged democracy in March and June 2005, against an alleged insult to Ayatollah Khamenei in July 2005.[178]

Nigeria

An example of governments working “to drive wedges between Sunnism and Shiism” was found in Nigeria in 1998 when the Nigerian government of General Sani Abacha accused Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zak Zaki of being a Shia. This was despite the fact that there are few if any Shia among Nigerias Muslims and the Muslim Brotherhood is a Sunni organization.[179]

Indonesia

Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia, which also has a larger Muslim population than any other country in the world, with approximately 202.9 million identified as Muslim (88.2% of the total population) as of 2009.[180]

The majority adheres to the Sunni Muslim tradition mainly of the Shafi’i madhhab.[181] Around one million are Shias, who are concentrated around Jakarta.[182] In general, the Muslim community can be categorized in terms of two orientations: “modernists,” who closely adhere to orthodox theology while embracing modern learning; and “traditionalists,” who tend to follow the interpretations of local religious leaders (predominantly in Java) and religious teachers at Islamic boarding schools (pesantren).

Saudi Arabia

While Shia make up roughly 15% of Saudi Arabia’s population,[183] they form a large portion of the residents of the eastern province of Hasa—by some estimates a majority[184]—where much of the petroleum industry is based. Between 500,000 and a million Shia live there,[185] concentrated especially around the oases of Qatif and Al-Hasa. The Majority of Saudi Shia belong to the sect of the Twelvers.[186]

The Saudi conflict of Shia and Sunni extends beyond the borders of the kingdom because of international Saudi “Petro-Islam” influence. Saudi Arabia backed Iraq in the 1980–1988 war with Iran and sponsored militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan who—though primarily targeting the Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan in 1979—also fought to suppress Shia movements.[187]

Relations between the Shia and the Wahhabis are inherently strained because the Wahhabis consider the rituals of the Shia to be the epitome of shirk, or polytheism. In the late 1920s, the Ikhwan (Ibn Saud’s fighting force of converted Wahhabi Bedouin Muslims) were particularly hostile to the Shia and demanded that Abd al Aziz forcibly convert them. In response, Abd al Aziz sent Wahhabi missionaries to the Eastern Province, but he did not carry through with attempts at forced conversion. In recent decades the late leading Saudi cleric, Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz, issued fatwa denouncing Shia as apostates, and according to Shia scholar Vali Nasr “Abdul-Rahman al-Jibrin, a member of the Higher Council of Ulama, even sanctioned the killing of Shias,[185] a call that was reiterated by Wahhabi religious literature as late as 2002.”[188]

Government policy has been to allow Shia their own mosques and to exempt Shia from Hanbali inheritance practices. Nevertheless, Shia have been forbidden all but the most modest displays on their principal festivals, which are often occasions of sectarian strife in the Persian Gulf region, with its mixed Sunni–Shia populations.[186]

According to a report by the Human Rights Watch:

Shia Muslims, who constitute about eight percent of the Saudi population, faced discrimination in employment as well as limitations on religious practices. Shia jurisprudence books were banned, the traditional annual Shia mourning procession of Ashura was discouraged, and operating independent Islamic religious establishments remained illegal. At least seven Shi’a religious leaders-Abd al-Latif Muhammad Ali, Habib al-Hamid, Abd al-Latif al-Samin, Abdallah Ramadan, Sa’id al-Bahaar, Muhammad Abd al-Khidair, and Habib Hamdah Sayid Hashim al-Sadah-reportedly remained in prison for violating these restrictions.”[189]

And Amnesty International adds:

Members of the Shi‘a Muslim community (estimated at between 7 and 10 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s population of about 19 million) suffer systematic political, social, cultural as well as religious discrimination.[190]

As of 2006 four of the 150 members of Saudi Arabia’s “handpicked” parliament were Shia, but no city had a Shia mayor or police chief, and none of the 300 girls schools for Shia in the Eastern Province had a Shia principal. According to scholar Vali Nasr, Saudi textbooks “characterize Shiism as a form of heresy … worse than Christianity and Judaism.”[191]

Forced into exile in the 1970s, Saudi Shia leader Hassan al-Saffar is said to have been “powerfully influenced” by the works of Sunni Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami and by their call for Islamic revolution and an Islamic state.[192]

Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Shia in Hasa ignored the ban on mourning ceremonies commemorating Ashura. When police broke them up three days of rampage ensued—burned cars, attacked banks, looted shops—centered around Qatif. At least 17 Shia were killed. In February 1980 disturbances were “less spontaneous” and even bloodier.[193] Meanwhile, broadcasts from Iran in the name of the Islamic Revolutionary Organization attacked the monarchy, telling listeners, “Kings despoil a country when they enter it and make the noblest of its people its meanest … This is the nature of monarchy, which is rejected by Islam.”[194]

By 1993, Saudi Shia had abandoned uncompromising demands and some of al-Saffar’s followers met with King Fahd with promises made for reform. In 2005 the new King Abdullah also relaxed some restrictions on the Shia.[195] However, Shia continue to be arrested for commemorating Ashura as of 2006.[196] In December 2006, amidst escalating tensions in Iraq, 38 high ranking Saudi clerics called on Sunni Muslims around the world to “mobilise against Shiites”.[197]

Shia Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi is reported to have responded:

The Wahhabis ignore the occupation of Islam’s first Qiblah by Israel, and instead focus on declaring Takfiring fatwas against Shias.[198]

Saudi Sunni

A large fraction of the foreign Sunni extremists who have entered Iraq to fight against Shia and the American occupation are thought to be Saudis. According to one estimate, of the approximately 1,200 foreign fighters captured in Syria between summer 2003 and summer 2005, 85% were Saudis.[120]

Another reflection of grassroots Wahhabi or Saudi antipathy to Shia was a statement by Saudi cleric Nasir al-Umar, who accused Iraqi Shias of close ties to the United States and argued that both were enemies of Muslims everywhere.[199]

Al-Qaeda

Some Wahabi groups, often labeled[by whom?] as takfiri and sometimes linked[by whom?] to Al-Qaeda, have even advocated the persecution of the Shia as heretics.[200][201] Such groups have been allegedly responsible for violent attacks and suicide bombings at Shi’a gatherings at mosques and shrines, most notably in Iraq during the Ashura mourning ceremonies where hundreds of Shias were killed in coordinated suicide bombings,[202][203][204] but also in Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, in a video message, Al-Qaeda deputy Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri directed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, not to attack civilian targets but to focus on the occupation troops. His call seems to have been ignored, or swept away in the increasing tensions of Iraq under occupation.

United States

In late 2006 or early 2007, in what journalist Seymour Hersh called The Redirection, the United States changed its policy in the Muslim world, shifting its support from the Shia to the Sunni, with the goal of “containing” Iran and as a by-product bolstering Sunni extremist groups.[205] Richard Engel, who is an NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, wrote an article in late 2011 alleging that the United States Government is pro-Sunni and anti-Shia. During the Iraq War, the United States feared that a Shiite-led, Iran-friendly Iraq could have major consequences for American national security. However, nothing can be done about this as Iraq’s Shiite government were democratically elected.[206] Shadi Bushra of Stanford University wrote that the United States’ support of the Sunni monarchy during the Bahraini uprising is the latest in a long history of US support to keep the Shiites in check. The United States fears that Shiite rule in the Gulf will lead to anti-US and anti-Western sentiment as well as Iranian influence in the Arab majority states.[207] One analyst told CNN that the US strategy on putting pressure on Iran by arming its Sunni neighbors is not a new strategy for the United States.[208]

ISIS[edit]

As of March 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (or ISIS), a Salafi jihadi extremist militant group and self-proclaimed caliphate and Islamic state led by Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria,[209] had control over territory occupied by ten million people[210] in Iraq and Syria, as well as limited territorial control in some other countries.[211][212] The United Nations has held ISIS responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes, and Amnesty International has reported ethnic cleansing by the group on a “historic scale”, including attacks on Shia Muslims.

According to Shia rights watch, in 2014 ISIS forces killed over 1,700 Shia civilians at Camp Speicher in Tikrit Iraq, and 670 Shia prisoners at the detention facility on the outskirts of Mosul.[213] In June 2014, the New York Times wrote that as ISIS has “seized vast territories” in western and northern Iraq, there have been “frequent accounts of fighters’ capturing groups of people and releasing the Sunnis while the Shiites are singled out for execution”. The report listed questions ISIS uses to “tell whether a person is a Sunni or a Shiite”—What is your name? Where do you live? How do you pray? What kind of music do you listen to?[214]

After the collapse of the Iraqi army and capture of the city of Mosul by ISIS in June 2014, the “most senior”[215] Shia spiritual leader based in Iraq, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who had been known as “pacific” in his attitudes, issued a fatwa calling for jihad against ISIS and its Sunni allies, which was seen by the Shia militias as a “de facto legalization of the militias’ advance”.[216] In Qatari another Shiite preacher, Nazar al-Qatari, “put on military fatigues to rally worshipers after evening prayers,” calling on them to fight against “the slayers of Imams Hasan and Hussein” (the second and third Imams of Shia history) and for Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.[216]

Efforts to foster Sunni–Shia unity

In a special interview broadcast on Al Jazeera on February 14, 2007, former Iranian president and chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of Iran, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and highly influential Sunni scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, “stressed the impermissibility of the fighting between the Sunnis and the Shi’is” and the need to “be aware of the conspiracies of the forces of hegemony and Zionism which aim to weaken [Islam] and tear it apart in Iraq.”[78]

Even on this occasion there were differences, with Rafsanjani openly asking “more than once who started” the inter-Muslim killing in Iraq, and Al-Qaradawi denying claims by Rafsanjani that he knew where “those arriving to Iraq to blow Shi’i shrines up are coming from”.[78]

Saudi-Iran summit

In a milestone for the two countries’ relations, on March 3, 2007 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held an extraordinary summit meeting. They displayed mutual warmth with hugs and smiles for cameras and promised “a thaw in relations between the two regional powers but stopped short of agreeing on any concrete plans to tackle the escalating sectarian and political crises throughout the Middle East.”[217]

On his return to Tehran, Ahmadinejad declared that:

Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are aware of the enemies’ conspiracies. We decided to take measures to confront such plots. Hopefully, this will strengthen Muslim countries against oppressive pressure by the imperialist front.[218]

Saudi officials had no comment about Ahmadinejad’s statements, but the Saudi official government news agency did say:

The two leaders affirmed that the greatest danger presently threatening the Islamic nation is the attempt to fuel the fire of strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and that efforts must concentrate on countering these attempts and closing ranks.[219]

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud bin Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz said:

The two parties have agreed to stop any attempt aimed at spreading sectarian strife in the region.[220]

Effort to bring unity between Sunni and Shia Muslims had been attempted by Allama Muhammad Taqi Qummi.[73]

Some opinions about unity

Sunni scholars

  • Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltut: In a Fatwa Sheikh Shaltut declared worship according to the doctrine of the Twelve Shia to be valid and recognized the Shiite as an Islamic School.[221]
  • Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy: «I think that anyone who believes that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his Messenger is definitely a Muslim. Therefore, we have been supporting, for a long time, through Al-Azhar, many calls for the reconciliation of Islamic schools of thought. Muslims should work on becoming united, and protecting themselves from denominational sectarian fragmentation. There are no Shiites and no Sunni. We are all Muslims. Regretfully; the passions and prejudices that some resort to, are the reason behind the fragmentation of the Islamic nation.»[222]
  • Sheikh Mohammed al-Ghazali: It is the duty of all Muslims to unite against enemies of Islam and their propaganda.[223]
  • Sheikh Abd al-Majid Salim: In a letter that was sent to Ayatollah Borujerdi by Sheikh Abd al-Majid Salim, was wrote:«The first thing that becomes obligatory to scholars, Shia or Sunni, is removing dissension from the minds of Muslims.»[224]
  • Doctor Vasel Nasr The Grand Mufti of Egypt: «We ask Allah to create unity among Muslims and remove any enmity, disagreement and contention in the ancillaries of Fiqh between them.»[225]

Shiite scholars[edit]

  • Ayatollah Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi: Ayatollah Borujerdi sent a letter to Sheikh Abd al-Majid Salim, the Grand Mufti of Sunnis and former Chancellor of Al-Azhar University and wrote: «I ask Almighty Allah to change ignorance, separation and distribution among different Islamic Schools to each other, to the actual knowledge and kindness and solidarity.»[226]
  • Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: «We are Oneness with Sunni Muslims. We are their brothers.» «It is obligatory for all Muslims that Maintain unity.» Ayatollah Khomeini said.[227]
  • Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei: In a Fatwa about creating dissension, Ayatollah Khamenei said: «In Addition to dissension is contrary to the Qur’an and Sunnah, this weakens Muslims. So, creating dissension is forbid (Haram).»[225]
  • Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani: To answer this question that:«Does anyone say Shahadah, pray and follow one of the Islamic Schools is a Muslim?», Ayatollah Sistani says: «Every one says Shahadah and does not any work unlike that and does not enmity with Ahl al-Bayt, is muslim.

 

 

 

 

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The Crusades – Christians vs Muslims – What”s it all about?

Belfast Child

The Crusades – Muslims vs Christians

The Crusades were military campaigns sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. Pope Urban II authorized the First Crusade in 1095 with the goal of restoring European access to the Holy Land, and an intermittent 200-year struggle ensued. Urban was also seeking to reunite the Catholic Church under his leadership by militarily supporting Emperor Alexios I. After centuries of competitive co-existence with the Arabs following the initial Muslim conquests the Byzantine Empire had been defeated by the Turks in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert.

As a result, the Byzantines lost the fertile coastal area of Anatolia and were forced into competition with Turks migrating westward

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Jihad vs. Crusade – Holy Wars in Comparative Perspective

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Hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholics from many different classes and nations of Western Europe became crusaders by taking a public…

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The Holy day of Ashura – Muslims Spilling blood for their religion

Spilling blood for their religion:

Photographs from Delhi, India, showed shockingly young boys lashing their own backs with small knives and chains to mark the holy Muslim Day of Ashura
Young boys lashing their own backs with small knives and chains to mark the holy Muslim Day of Ashura

Tiny Shi’ite Muslim boys whip themselves with sharp blades to mourn the death of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson

  • Men and young boys in countries all over the world, including Pakistan, Iraq and Greece ,  have been self-flagellating
  • They whip themselves with sharp blades to mourn the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein 
  • Hundreds of Iranians covered themselves in wet mud and dried it near massive bonfires lit in the streets of Tehran
  • Holy Day of Ashura was marred by suspected suicide bomb targetted at Shi’ites in Pakistan which killed at least 24
Shi'ite Muslims all over the world, including in India (pictured), self-flagellate to mourn the death of Imam Hussain
Shi’ite Muslims all over the world, including in India (pictured), self-flagellate to mourn the death of Imam Hussain

Millions of Muslims worldwide are now marking the holy day of Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar. This year, Ashura falls on Nov. 3-4. The Islamic holy day is a voluntary day of fasting that marks the day Noah left the Ark, the time when the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, and the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

Sunni and Shiite Muslims – the two major branches of Islam – mark the day in separate ways. For Sunnis, Ashura is considered a day of atonement. Some choose to fast for two days, as the Prophet Muhammad did when he observed Jews doing the same for their Day of Atonement. For Shiite Muslims, Ashura also commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in the year 680 at Karbala in modern-day Iraq.

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This year, the holy day has taken on new meaning since the Islamic State group, or ISIS, has overrun large parts of Syria and Iraq. Members of the Sunni jihadist group consider all Shiites heretics, and engaged in a campaign of massacres against them. Multiple attacks aimed at Shiites killed more than 40 people in Baghdad two days before Ashura started, Agence France-Presse reports.

For those unfamiliar with Ashura, below are three answers to common questions surrounding the Islamic holy day:

What Is Ashura?

The word “Ashura” means “tenth” in Arabic, since the holiday falls on the tenth day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar.

Sunni Muslims consider Ashura a day to fast. They see the day as a way to memorialize Allah’s role in saving Moses and the Israelites from the Egyptian pharaoh. Fasting is meant to symbolize Allah’s omnipotence and benevolence. Many Sunni Muslims choose not to participate in overt displays of happiness such as weddings to focus on fasting.

For Shiite Muslims, Ashura is all about the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. In Islamic history, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad stood up to a tyrant from the Ummayad dynasty, Yazid, in a battle that cost him his life, known as the Battle of Karbala, in 680. Hussein and his small army was massacred by an army sent by Yazid, a ruler whom Shiites consider a usurper of the caliphate, which belongs in their view to the line of Ali, Hussein’s father.

“[Hussein] did not run away. He knew why he was there and why he had challenged the authority,” Dr. Aslam Abdullah, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada, wrote in an article for IslamiCity. “He fought bravely and left the world with violent wounds as a testimony of his belief that sometimes in the life of nations come moments when liberty and justice become more important than the life itself.”

Hussein’s death along with that of his father Ali (the son-in-law of the Prophet and the fourth caliph, who was murdered in 661) gave rise to the great schism in Islam between its two main sects: Sunnis and Shiites. This sectarian strife has continued until today, where public Ashura demonstrations have become targets of violence. In 2005, nearly a thousand Shia pilgrims died in a stampede on a Baghdad bridge after a rumor spread that a suicide bomber was in the crowd. In 2013, at least 36 Shia pilgrims were killed in Iraq during Ashura demonstrations. This year, Iraq’s Shiite-led authorities sent more than 30,000 troops to Karbala. No attacks were reported.

Common Rituals

On Ashura, Shiite men and women dress in black, slap their chests and chant. Others reenact the Battle of Karbala with mourning rituals. Known as passion plays, the performances include a mourning procession and speeches. Many make a pilgrimage on Ashura to the Mashhad al-Husayn, the shrine in Karbala that is regarded as Hussein’s tomb.

In mosques, poetic lamentations are recited in memory of Hussein’s martyrdom. Prayers are typically said to the tune of beating drums and chanting “Ya Hussein.”

Ashura and Self-Flagellation

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Ashura festival climaxes with bloody self-flagellation

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Some Shiite men flagellate themselves with chains and cut themselves with knives on their foreheads as a way to mourn for Hussein in a ritual called “tatbeer.” Hundreds were seen on the streets of Karbala on Tuesday performing the ritual. Some Shiite clerics have condemned the practice and have advocated for donating blood instead.

Men in Lebanon are drenched in their own blood after beating themselves with sharp blades to commemorate the Day of Ashura 
Men in Lebanon are drenched in their own blood after beating themselves with sharp blades to commemorate the Day of Ashura

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Day of Ashura

The Day of Ashura (Arabic: عاشوراءʻĀshūrā’, colloquially: /ʕa(ː)ˈʃuːra/; Urdu: عاشورا‎; Persian: عاشورا‎‎ /ʕɒːʃuːˈɾɒ/; Azerbaijani: Aşura Günü or English: Day of Remembrance) is on the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram.[5] Shiite commemorations of the Day of Ashura have traditionally included rituals which have been condemned by many Shia religious authorities recently under the claim that such practices are wrong or unislamic. This day is celebrated by Sunni Muslims (who refer to it as The Day of Atonement) as the day on which the Israelites were freed from the Pharaoh (called ‘Firaun’ in Arabic) of Egypt. However, Shi’a Muslims reject these stories and maintain that Ashura is a day of great sorrow due to the tragic events of Karbala.

It is commemorated by Shi’a Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH ( in AHt: October 10, 680 CE). The massacre of Husayn with a small group of his companions and family members had great impact on the religious conscience of Muslims. Especially Shia Muslims have ever remembered it with sorrow and passion.[6] Mourning for Husayn and his companions began almost immediately after the Battle of Karbala, by his survivor relatives and supporters. Popular elegies were made by poets to commemorate Battle of Karbala during Umayyads and Abbasids era. The earliest public mourning rituals happened in 963 CE during Buyid dynasty.[7] Nowadays, in some countries such as Afghanistan,[8] Iran,[9] Iraq,[10] Lebanon,[11] Bahrain,[12] and Pakistan,[13] the Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali has become a national holiday and most ethnic and religious communities participate in it.[14][15] In secular country like India, Ashura (10th day in the month of Muharram) is commemorated and is a public holiday due to the presence of a significant Indian Shia Muslim population (2-3% of total population, 20-25% of Indian Muslim population).

Etymology

The root of the word Ashura has the meaning of tenth in Semitic languages; hence the name of the remembrance, literally translated, means “the tenth day”. According to the orientalist A.J. Wensinck, the name is derived from the Hebrew ʿāsōr, with the Aramaic determinative ending.[16] The day is indeed the tenth day of the month, although some Islamic scholars offer up different etymologies.

In his book Ghuniyatut Talibin, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani writes that Islamic scholars differ as to why this day is known as Ashura, some of them suggesting that this day is the tenth most important day with which God has blessed Muslims.[citation needed]

Historical background

Main article: Battle of Karbala

In April 680, Yazid I succeeded his father Muawiyah as the new caliph. Yazid immediately instructed the governor of Medina to compel Hussayn and few other prominent figures to pledge their allegiance (Bay’ah).[6] Husain, however, refrained from it believing that Yazid was openly going against the teachings of Islam in public and changing the sunnah of Muhammad.[17][18] He, therefore, accompanied by his household, his sons, brothers, and the sons of Hasan left Medina to seek asylum in Mecca.[6]

On the other hand, the people in Kufa who were informed about Muawiyah ‘s death, sent letters urging Husayn to join them and pledge to support him against Umayyads. Husayn wrote back to them saying that he would send his cousin Muslim ibn Aqeel to report to him on the situation. If he found them united as their letters indicated he would speedily join them, because Imam should act in accordance with the Quran, uphold justice, proclaim the truth, and dedicate himself to the cause of God. The mission of Moslem was initially successful and according to reports 18,000 men pledged their allegiance. But situation changed radically when Yazid appointed Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad as the new governor of Kufah, ordering him to deal severely with Ibn Aqeel. Before news of the adverse turn of events arrived in Mecca, Husayn set out for Kufa.[6]

On the way, Husayn found that his messenger, Muslim ibn Aqeel, was killed in Kufa. He broke the news to his supporters and informed them that people had deserted him. Then, he encouraged anyone who so wished, to leave freely without guilt. Most of those who had joined him at various stages on the way from Mecca now left him. Later, Husayn encountered with the army of Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad in his path towards Kufa. Husayn addressed the Kufans army, reminding them that they had invited him to come because they were without an Imam. He told them that he intended to proceed to Kufa with their support, but if they were now opposed to his coming, he would return to where he had come from. However, the army urged him to choose another way. Thus, he turned to left and reached Karbala, where the army forced him not to go further and stop at a location that was without water.[6]

Umar ibn Sa’ad, the head of Kufan army, sent a messenger to Husayn to inquire about the purpose of his coming to Iraq. Husayn answered again that he had responded to the invitation of the people of Kufa but was ready to leave if they now disliked his presence. When Umar ibn Sa’ad, the head of Kufan army, reported it back to Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the governor instructed him to offer Ḥusayn and his supporters the opportunity to swear allegiance to Yazid. He also ordered Umar ibn Sa’ad to cut off Husayn and his followers from access to the water of the Euphrates.[6]

Name of the Karbala Martyr Husayn with Islamic calligraphy in Hagia Sophia Mosque.

On the next morning, as ʿOmar b. Saʿd arranged the Kufan army in battle order, Al-Hurr ibn Yazid al Tamimi challenged him and went over to Ḥusayn. He vainly addressed the Kufans, rebuking them for their treachery to the grandson of Muhammad and was killed in the battle.[6]

The Battle of Karbala lasted from morning till sunset of October 10, 680 (Muharram 10, 61 AH) all Husayn’s small group of companions and family members (in total who were around 72 men and few ladies and children)[a][20][21] fought with a large army under the command of Umar ibn Sa’ad. and were killed near the river (Euphrates) where they were not allowed to get any water from. The renowned historian Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī states; “… then fire was set to their camp and the bodies were trampled by the hoofs of the horses; nobody in the history of the human kind has seen such atrocities.”[22] Before being killed, Husayn said “If the religion of Muhammad was not going to live on except with me dead, let the swords tear me to pieces.”[23][unreliable source?] Once the Umayyad troops had mass murdered Husayn and his male followers, they looted the tents, stripped the women of their jewelry, and took the skin upon which Zain al-Abidin was prostrate. It is said that Shemr was about to kill him but Husayn’s sister Zaynab was able to make Umar ibn Sa’ad, the Umayyad commander to let him alive. He was taken along with the enslaved women to the caliph in Damascus, and eventually he was allowed to return to Medina.[24][25]

Legacy

Zaynab bint Ali quoted as she passed the prostrate body of her brother, Husayn. “O Muhammad ! O Muhammad! May the angels of heaven bless you. Here is Husayn in the open, stained with blood and with limbs torn off. O Muhammad! Your daughters are prisoners, your progeny are killed, and the east wind blows dust over them.” By God! She made every enemy and friend weep.”
Tabari, History of the Prophets and Kings, Volume XIX The Caliphate of Yazid.[26]

British historian wrote Edward Gibbon says:

In a distant age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Hussyn will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.[27]

Scottish Orientalist William Muir wrote:

The tragedy of Karbala decided not only the fate of the caliphate, but of the Mohammedan kingdoms long after the Caliphate had waned and disappeared.[28]

Shiite Imam Zayn al-Abidin declared:

No day was more difficult for Allah’s Messenger than the Day (Battle) of Uhud in which his uncle Hamza, the lion of Allah and the lion of His Messenger, was killed, and after it was the Day of Mu’tah in which his cousin Ja’far ibn Abi Talib was killed.” Then he (Zayn al-Abidin) said: “There was no day like the Day of Husayn, when thirty thousand men advanced against him (while) they claimed that they belonged to this community, and that they (wanted) to seek proximity to Allah, the Great and Almighty, through (shedding) his blood. He (al-Husayn) reminded them of Allah, but they did not learn (from him) till they killed him out of (their) oppression and aggression”.”[b][29]

Commemoration of the death of Husayn ibn Ali[edit]

Millions of Shia Muslims gather around the Husayn Mosque in Karbala after making the Pilgrimage on foot during Arba’een, which is a Shia religious observation that occurs 40 days after the Day of Ashura.

History of the commemoration by Shi’a

According to Ignác Goldziher ever since the black day of Karbala, the history of this family … has been a continuous series of sufferings and persecutions. These are narrated in poetry and prose, in a richly cultivated literature of martyrologies …’More touching than the tears of the Shi’is’ has even become an Arabic proverb.[30] The first assembly (majlis) of Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali, it is said to have been held by Zaynab in prison. In Damascus, too, she is reported to have delivered a poignant oration. The prison sentence ended when Husayn’s 3 year old daughter, Rukaya, died in captivity. She would often cry in prison to be allowed to see her father. She is believed to have died when she saw her father’s mutilated head. Her death caused an uproar in the city, and Yazid, fearful of a potential resulting revolution, freed the captives.[31]

In terms of Imam Zayn AL Abidin(A.S.)The following is said about the Holy Imam.It is said that for twenty years whenever food was placed before him, he would weep. One day a servant said to him, ‘O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is it not time for your sorrow to come to an end?’ He replied, ‘Woe upon you! Jacob the prophet had twelve sons, and Allah made one of them disappear. His eyes turned white from constant weeping, his head turned grey out of sorrow, and his back became bent in gloom,[c] though his son was alive in this world. But I watched while my father, my brother, my uncle, and seventeen members of my family were slaughtered all around me. How should my sorrow come to an end?’[d] [29][32]

Husayn’s grave became a pilgrimage site among Shiite only a few years after his death. A tradition of pilgrimage to the Imam Husayn Shrine and the other Karbala martyrs quickly developed, which is known as Ziarat ashura.[33] The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs tried to prevent construction of the shrines and discouraged pilgrimage to the sites.[34] The tomb and its annexes were destroyed by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 850–851 and Shi’a pilgrimage was prohibited, but shrines in Karbala and Najaf were built by the Buwayhid emir ‘Adud al-Daula in 979-80.[35]

Public rites of remembrance for Husayn’s martyrdom developed from the early pilgrimages[citation needed]. Under the Buyid dynasty, Mu’izz ad-Dawla officiated at public commemoration of Ashura in Baghdad[citation needed]. These commemorations were also encouraged in Egypt by the Fatimid caliph al-‘Aziz[citation needed]. From Seljuq times[citation needed], Ashura rituals began to attract participants from a variety of backgrounds, including Sunnis[citation needed]. With the recognition of Twelvers as the official religion by the Safavids, Mourning of Muharram extended throughout the first ten days of Muharram.[33]

Significance for Shi’as

Mourning of Muharram
Events
Figures
Places
Times
Customs
Related portals

10th of the month of Muharrem: The Ashure Day – Huseyn bin Ali was murdered at Kerbela [36] Remembrance by Jafaris, Qizilbash AleviTurks and Bektashis together in Ottoman Empire.

This day is of particular significance to Twelver Shi’a and Alawites, who consider Husayn (the grandson of Muhammad) Ahl al-Bayt the third Imam to be the rightful successor of Muhammad.

Shi’a devotees congregate outside the Sydney Opera House, Australia to commemorate Husayn.

Mourning of Muharram in Iran

According to Kamran Scot Aghaie:”The symbols and rituals of Ashura have evolved over time and have meant different things to different people. However, at the core of the symbolism of Ashura is the moral dichotomy between worldly injustice and corruption on the one hand and God-centered justice, piety, sacrifice and perseverance on the other. Also, Shiite Muslims consider the remembrance of the tragic events of Ashura to be an importance way of worshiping God in a spiritual or mystical way.”[37]

Shi’as make pilgrimages on Ashura, as they do forty days later on Arba’een, to the Mashhad al-Husayn, the shrine in Karbala, Iraq that is traditionally held to be Husayn’s tomb. On this day Shi’a are in remembrance, and mourning attire is worn. They refrain from music, since Arabic culture generally considers music impolite during death rituals. It is a time for sorrow and respect of the person’s passing, and it is also a time for self-reflection, when one commits oneself to the mourning of the Husayn completely. Weddings and parties are also not planned on this date by Shi’as. Shi’as also express mourning by crying and listening to recollections about the tragedy and sermons on how Husayn and his family were martyred. This is intended to connect them with Husayn’s suffering and martyrdom, and the sacrifices he made to keep Islam alive. Husayn’s martyrdom is widely interpreted by Shi’a as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression.[38] Shi’as believe the Battle of Karbala was between the forces of good and evil with Husayn representing good while Yazid represented evil. Shi’as also believe the Battle of Karbala was fought to keep the Muslim religion untainted of any corruptions and they believed the path that Yazid was directing Islam was definitely for his own personal greed.[citation needed]

Shia Imams strongly insist that the day of Ashura should not be taken as a day of joy and festivity. The day of Ashura, according to Eighth Shia Imam, Ali al-Rida, must be observed as a day of inactivity, sorrow and total disregard of worldly cares.[39]

Some of the events associated with Ashura are held in special congregation halls known as “Imambargah” and Hussainia.[citation needed]

Cutting with knives or chains

Suffering and cutting the body with knives or chains (matam) was banned by the Shi’a Marja’ Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon but still is practiced in Bangladesh and India.[40][41] Other marjas like Mohammad al-Husayni al-Shirazi promote hemic flagellation rituals as a way of preserving the revolution of Imam al-Husayn.[40]

On Ashura, some Shi’a observe mourning with blood donation which is called “Qame Zani” and flailing.[42]

Certain traditional flagellation rituals such as Talwar zani (talwar ka matam or sometimes tatbir) use a sword. Other rituals such as zanjeer zani or zanjeer matam involve the use of a zanjeer (a chain with blades).[43]

These religious customs show solidarity with Husayn and his family. Through them, people mourn Husayn’s death and regret the fact that they were not present at the battle to fight and save Husayn and his family.[44][45]

In some areas, such as in the Shi’a suburb of Beirut, Shi’a communities organize blood donation drives with organizations like the Red Cross or the Red Crescent on Ashura as a replacement for self-flagellation rituals like “tatbir” and “qame zani.”[40]

Some Shi’a believe that taking part in Ashura washes away their sins.[46] A popular Shi’a saying has it that, “a single tear shed for Husayn washes away a hundred sins.”[47]

Popular customs

For Shi’as, commemoration of Ashura is not a festival, but rather a sad event, while Sunni Muslims view it as a victory God gave to Moses. This victory is the very reason, as Sunni Muslims believe, Muhammad mentioned when recommending fasting on this day. For Shi’as, it is a period of intense grief and mourning. Mourners congregate at a Mosque for sorrowful, poetic recitations such as marsiya, noha, latmiya and soaz performed in memory of the martyrdom of Husayn, lamenting and grieving to the tune of beating drums and chants of “Ya Hussain.” Also Ulamas give sermons with themes of Husayn’s personality and position in Islam, and the history of his uprising. The Sheikh of the mosque retells the Battle of Karbala to allow the listeners to relive the pain and sorrow endured by Husayn and his family. In Arab countries like Iraq and Lebanon they read Maqtal Al-Husayn. In some places, such as Iran, Iraq and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Ta’zieh, passion plays, are also performed reenacting the Battle of Karbala and the suffering and martyrdom of Husayn at the hands of Yazid.[20][21]

Indian Shia Muslims take out a Ta’ziya procession on day of Ashura in Barabanki, India, Jan, 2009.

For the duration of the remembrance, it is customary for mosques and some people to provide free meals (NAZRI) on certain nights of the month to all people[citation needed]. People donate food and Middle Eastern sweets to the mosque[citation needed]. These meals are viewed as being special and holy, as they have been consecrated in the name of Husayn, and thus partaking of them is considered an act of communion with God, Hussain, and humanity.[citation needed]

Participants congregate in public processions for ceremonial chest beating (matham/latmiya) as a display of their devotion to Husayn, in remembrance of his suffering and to preach that oppression will not last in the face of truth and justice.[48] Others pay tribute to the time period by holding a Majilis, Surahs from the Quran and Maqtal Al-Husayn are read.

Shia Muslims take out an Al’am procession on day of Ashura in Barabanki, India, Jan, 2009.

Today in Indonesia, the event is known as Tabuik (Minangkabau language) or Tabut (Indonesian). Tabuik is the local manifestation of the Shi’a Muslim Mourning of Muharram among the Minangkabau people in the coastal regions of West Sumatra, particularly in the city of Pariaman. The re-enactment includes the Battle of Karbala, and the playing of tassa and dhol drums.[citation needed] In Iran, people perform their Imam’s funeral by carrying a huge wooden structure called “Nakhl”, which is usually carried by several hundred men.[49] In countries like Turkey, there is the custom of eating Noah’s Pudding (Ashure) as this day in Turkish is known as Aşure.

Tabuiks being lowered into the sea in Pariaman, Indonesia, by Shia Muslims.

Nakhl gardani in cities and villages of Iran

Commemoration by non-Muslims

In Trinidad and Tobago[50] and Jamaica[51] all ethnic and religious communities participate in this event, locally known as “Hosay” or “Hussay”, from “Husayn”.

Significance for Sunni Muslims

Not related to Ashura and Karbala, some Sunni Muslims fast on this day of Ashura based on narrations attributed to Muhammad. Some other Sunnis accept Ashura as a significant day due to the martyrdom of Imam Husayn and the significance of the events at Karbala. The fasting is to commemorate the day when Moses and his followers were saved from Pharaoh by Allah by creating a path in the Red Sea. According to Muslim tradition, the Jews used to fast on the tenth day. According to Sunni Muslim tradition, Ibn Abbas narrates that Muhammad came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the tenth day of Muharram. He asked, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Musa (Moses) fasted on this day.” He said, “We are closer to Musa than you.” So he fasted on the day and told the people to fast.[52][53][54][55]

This tenth in question is believed to be the tenth of Jewish month of Tishri which is Yom Kippur in Judaism. [56] The Torah designates the tenth day of seventh month as holy and a feast (Lev. 16, Lev. 23, Num. 29). The word tenth in Hebrew is Asarah or Asharah (He:עשרה) which is from the same semitic root A-SH-R. According to this tradition Muhammad continued to observe the veneration of Ashura modeled on it’s Jewish prototype in late September until shortly before his death which the verse of Nasi’ was revealed and the Jewish type calendar adjustments of the Muslims became prohibited. From then Ashura became disjointed from it’s Jewish predecessor of Yom Kippur. [57]

A tadjah at Hosay in Port of Spain during the 1950s

Pilgrims gather for the Ashura ritual in Karbala, Iraq, Jan. 19, 2008. The 10-day event commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Mohammad, 1,300 years ago. About 2.5 million people are estimated to hav

In some countries other religious communities commemorate this event. According to Hadith record in Sahih Bukhari, Ashura was already known as a commemorative day during which some Makkah residents used to observe customary fasting. Muhammad used to fast on the day of Ashura, 10th Muharram, in Makkah. When fasting the month of Ramadan became obligatory, the fast of Ashura was made non compulsory. This has been narrated by Ayesha RA, Sahih Muslim, (Hadith-2499). In hijrah event when Muhammad led his followers to Madina, he found the Jews of that area likewise observing fasts on the day of Ashura. At this, Muhammad affirmed the Islamic claim to the fast, and from then the Muslims have fasted on combinations of two or three consecutive days including the 10th of Muharram (e.g. 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th).[52][53]

A companion of Muhammad, Ibn Abbas reports Muhammad went to Madina and found the Jews fasting on the tenth of Muharram. Muhammad inquired of them, “What is the significance of this day on which you fast?” They replied, “This is a good day, the day on which God rescued the children of Israel from their enemy. So, Moses fasted this day.” Muhammad said, “We have more claim over Moses than you.” Muhammad then fasted on that day and ordered Muslims too.[58]

The narrations of Muhammad mentioning the Children of Israel being saved from Pharaoh are indeed confirmed by authentic hadith in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

Sunnis regard fasting during Ashura as recommended, though not obligatory, having been superseded by the Ramadan fast.Sahih Muslim, (Hadith-2499)[59]

Muhammad’s tribe, the Quraish, fasted on the 10th of Muharram. Though optional, Muhammad retained this pre-Islamic practice too. Below is details from the Hadith:

Narrated Ayesha RA:

‘Ashura’ (i.e. the tenth day of Muharram) was a day on which the tribe of Quraish used to fast in the pre-lslamic period of ignorance. The Prophet also used to fast on this day. So when he migrated to Madina, he fasted on it and ordered (the Muslims) to fast on it. When the fasting of Ramadan was enjoined, it became optional for the people to fast or not to fast on the day of Ashura.

Egyptian Muslims customarily eat a pudding (also known as Ashura) after dinner on the Day of Ashura. Similar to the Turkish Aşure, it is a wheat pudding with nuts, raisins, and rose water.

Socio-political aspects

Commemoration of Ashura has great socio-political value for the Shi’a, who have been a minority throughout their history. “Al-Amd” asserts that the Shi’a transference of Al-Husayn and Karbala ‘ from the framework of history to the domain of ideology and everlasting legend reflects their marginal and dissenting status in Arab-Islamic society.[original research?][citation needed] According to the prevailing conditions at the time of the commemoration, such reminiscences may become a framework for implicit dissent or explicit protest. It was, for instance, used during the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the Lebanese Civil War, the Lebanese resistance against the Israeli military presence and in the 1990s Uprising in Bahrain. Sometimes the `Ashura’ commemorations associate the memory of Al-Husayn’s martyrdom with the conditions of Islam and Muslims in reference to Husayn’s famous quote on the day of Ashura: “Every day is Ashura, every land is Karbala”.[60]

From the period of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1905–1911) onward, mourning gatherings increasingly assumed a political aspect. Following an old established tradition, preachers compared the oppressors of the time with Imam Hosayn’s enemies, the umayyads.[61]

The political function of commemoration was very marked in the years leading up to the Islamic Revolution of 1978–79, as well as during the revolution itself. In addition, the implicit self-identification of the Muslim revolutionaries with Imam Hosayn led to a blossoming of the cult of the martyr, expressed most vividly, perhaps, in the vast cemetery of Behesht-e Zahra, to the south of Tehran, where the martyrs of the revolution and the war against Iraq are buried.[61]

On the other hand, some governments have banned this commemoration. In 1930s Reza Shah forbade it in Iran. The regime of Saddam Hussein saw this as a potential threat and banned Ashura commemorations for many years. In the 1884 Hosay massacre, 22 people were killed in Trinidad and Tobago when civilians attempted to carry out the Ashura rites, locally known as Hosay, in defiance of the British colonial authorities.

Violence during Ashur

On June 20, 1994 the explosion of a bomb in a prayer hall of Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad[62] killed at least 25 people.[63] The Iranian government officially blamed Mujahedin-e-Khalq for the incident to avoid sectarian conflict between Shias and Sunnis.[64] However, the Pakistani daily The News International reported on March 27, 1995, “Pakistani investigators have identified a 24-year-old religious fanatic Abdul Shakoor residing in Lyari in Karachi, as an important Pakistani associate of Ramzi Yousef. Abdul Shakoor had intimate contacts with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and was responsible for the June 20, 1994, massive bomb explosion at the shrine Imam Ali Reza in Mashhad.”[65]

The 2004 (1425 AH) Shi’a pilgrimage to Karbala, the first since Saddam Hussein was removed from power in Iraq, was marred by bomb attacks, which killed and wounded hundreds despite tight security.

On January 19, 2008, 7 million Iraqi Shia pilgrims marched through Karbala city, Iraq to commemorate Ashura. 20,000 Iraqi troops and police guarded the event amid tensions due to clashes between Iraqi troops and members of a Shia cult, the Soldiers of Heaven, which left around 263 people dead (in Basra and Nasiriya).[66]

On December 28, 2009, dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured (including both Shia and Sunni commemorators) during the Ashura procession when a massive bomb exploded at the procession in Karachi, Pakistan (See: 2009 Karachi bombing). Reuters[67]

On December 15, 2010, 200 Shia followers were detained by the Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS) in a raid at a shop house in Sri Gombak known as Hauzah Imam Ali ar-Ridha (Hauzah ArRidha). This was because of a fatwa by a Salafi Selangor mufti, who had declared the Shias to be heretics. Khusrin said all the Shias mourners who were detained were to be charged under Section 12 of the Selangor Syariah Criminal Enactment 1995 which are insulting, rejecting, or dispute the violation of the instructions set out and given a fatwa by the Salafi religious authorities. ABNA[68]

On December 5, 2011, thirty Shia pilgrims participating in Ashura processions were killed by a series of bomb attacks in Hilla and Baghdad, Iraq.[69]

On December 6, 2011, a suicide attack killed 63 people and critically wounded 160 at a shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan where a crowd of hundreds had gathered for the day of Ashura observation.[70]