Muslim denominations: Are you Shia or Sunni?

Published: November 4, 2014

At that age, it didn’t seem like a big issue. But as I grew, I realised that it was indeed a big issue. PHOTO: FILE

It started quite early. I was seven-years-old. That’s when I first realised that there was something called a “Shia”, and people thought I was one; because in Pakistan, certain surnames are associated with being a Shia. ‘Zaidi’, one of them, sounds similar to the surname ‘Zahidi’, so I was and am often asked this question – “are you a Shia?”.

So I came home and asked my father, to which Abba replied in a very matter-of-factly that by faith, Shias and Sunnis are both Muslims. He explained to me that it’s like two brothers from the same family, we all love Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his family, and are still very sad about what happened to his grandson Imam Hussain (RA). He further explained, as best as he could to a seven-year-old, that we are from the sect called Sunnis.

At that age, it didn’t seem like a big issue. But as I grew older, I realised that it was indeed a big issue. The issue, basically, is what has caused sectarian and ethnic differences and cleansings and violence over centuries; the issue that has stained many with innocent blood; the issue is that we cannot accept someone different; the issue is of us versus them, of “the others”, this religion versus that, this sect versus that, this province versus that, this ethnicity versus that.

This is an overly simplistic analysis maybe. Or maybe not. We can go into the historical causes, but history will always be partial, lack objectivity and will literally be to each his own. So we have no sure way of knowing why Sunnis and Shias have remained daggers drawn.

Society conditions us in such a way that we have a hard time coming to terms with whoever differs from us, may it be in thought process, language, ethnicity or race, caste, creed and religion. Going against what the Holy Quran tells us to do, we don’t overlook the differences and don’t concentrate on the similarities – we do just the opposite.

I was blessed that I grew up as daughter of a father who, being a Sunni by belief, made sure that solidarity with Shias was order of the day. Abba and I spent countless tenths of Muharram talking about the history of Islam and of the Karbala massacre, with him telling me both sides of the story. He would tell me to not listen to music loudly or not do anything on that day that would hurt the sentiments of Shia neighbours or friends. And he made sure that I understand that differences in perspectives are “natural, because Allah has created each one of us differently, and our circumstances shape us. Therefore, give each other margin”. His words have stayed with me.

Sadly, many of us stereotype the others. Sometimes, you will catch one side whispering amongst themselves about the other. We are scandalised when the other group’s namaz is somewhat different, seemingly, or they break their fast in Ramazan slightly earlier or later. Same Allah, same Messenger (SAW), same Quran just doesn’t seem enough, and so we stereotype each other.

Polarisation between Shias and Sunnis has resulted in followers conveniently deciding to divide, amongst them, the companions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

“So I am going with Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman (RA) and you go with ‘Ali, Imam Hassan, Imam Hussain (RA) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) family. In my religious literature and talks, I will talk about Ayesha (RA) and you can talk about Fatima (RA). For guidance, I can look at the rulings of Abdullah bin Masood (RA) and you can choose Abdullah bin Abbas (RA).”

The worst form of reactionary psychology is then to hit where it hurts the most – disrespecting the ideas or the people the other group holds sacred. Thus, those who were closest to Allah get dragged in our tug of war – a war which makes no sense.

However, when it comes to Hajj or Umrah, both groups are peacefully praying in the same rows, embracing the differences and celebrating the commonalities. They are performing tawaaf of the same Holy Ka’abah, doing sa’ee together between Safa and Marwa, and praying from the same Holy book, though they may differ at times in how they interpret it. Why not carry the same acceptance with them outside the haram too, and say to each other from the heart “Assalamu’Aalaikum” (Peace be upon you)?

But that does not seem to work, and I don’t know why.

What I do know is that for the longest time, every year in Muharram, we pray that these days pass without any casualties. What I do know is that year after year, innocent lives are lost – in retaliation, in reaction. Hatred takes over peace. Anger takes over sanity. The real face of Islam gets blurred, ironically on these most special of days for Muslims.

There is very little we can do about it, except start looking inward, reflect where we let stereotypes rule us, and where we crossed a line and forgot that there is no compulsion in religion.

I am a Sunni, and I peacefully remain one by choice. But another human has an equal right to follow whatever path they want to. The followers of all faiths must feel secure and not be punished for what they believe in. Humanity, peace and the true message of Islam is bigger than these denominations.

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

A writer and editor, who has worked as a Features Editor with The Express Tribune. Her focus is human-centric feature stories. She now writes as a freelancer, and works as a media trainer and communications practitioner. She tweets as @FarahnazZahidi (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Mehdi

    Great piece of writing. I have come across the are-you-a-shia question many a times (as I’m named Mehdi) and since I come from a family that has both shias and sunnis. I do however follow the sunni regime and I’m going to continue to spread awareness among both the sects to bring them together (as I know both sides pretty well). Together we should work to remove these differences and live as brothers and sisters.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    I liked your blog. I am especially glad that you have written about the utterly despicable practice of targeting another sects religious elders. Kudos to you for writing this and props to Express Tribune editors for letting this through. For I have seen that although this is becoming a rampant plague in our society most media reports just ignore it.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    “The real face of Islam gets blurred, ironically on these most special of days for Muslims”. Can u elaborate. To me it is blurred as I watch the Idiosyncrasies from the First till the Tenth. It hurts my sensitivities. Can’t these be done behind four walls. In Islam there is no Ritual where you take to the streets. The only two Festivals celebrated outside is Eid ul Fitr & Eid ul zha where the Prayers are in the open (Mustahib).Recommend

  • JayMankind

    Neither. But, surprise, surprise, I am living !!Recommend

  • Amit Lunia

    she need to state it more than one time that she is Sunni and not shia,, real tragedy for Shias as now they are the only ones leftRecommend

  • Ahmed

    I was born in a sunni family. but when I tried to study the truth at the age of 20. I found out that I am with truth That may be sunni , shia or any other . Point is that Allah is truth you may call Allah by any other name you like , but Allah does not changes. thus I say I am with truth, I may know the truth or may not know but If I come across to the truth I will be ready to accept it.I ask guidance from Allah at all times for me and everybody else.Recommend

  • Indian

    ‘ Overlook differences & Accept similarities.’ Your father said, what I’ve come to believe,is key to world peace.
    It’s easier to hate .
    The root cause of all communalism/intolerance/hatred,is that people can’t seem to gracefully accept those who’re different in anyway (that way,the world will have to be full of our clones! )But that’s not the way the Almighty created us.Recommend

  • Ajay Gupta

    Your origins do not matter so much as do achievements. Can’t believe young women writing such blogs. Religion is truly the opium of Pakistani masses. If the distinctions don’t matter why r u clarifying that u r Sunni? To stay alive after the blog?Recommend

  • Syed Abidi

    In Muharram Shia Muslims come out on the streets to mourn and spread awareness of the tragedy of Karbala. You also have to keep in view that hundreds of thousand of Shia Muslims in Karachi for example can’t be confined to a mosque.

    I can see how the Juloos on these days can cause inconvenience. But it’s for a good objective.

    Thank you for writing the article. Recommend

  • siesmann

    You can stay behind the four walls if it hurts your sensitivities.Why is your Islam the only real Islam?.Why do you insist on Shias stopping their Tradition- a tradition they have had for centuries.How is it that your ritual is a festival,and their festival ritual.?Learn to be tolerant if you consider Islam to be peace.Recommend

  • Sulfuric Acid

    Shias lives, eat pray and get education with us. , they have big positions in most of the organizations what more peace they talk about. This display on streets has nothing to do with islam. And this also includes the ones of rabi ul awwal. No sunni wants a dispute with them unless they call bad names to the companions of our prophet that we hold dear.Recommend

  • Zee

    Exactly, I live in karachi and the use of loud speakers, huge speakers playing the stuff from 1st till tenth Muharram hurts my belief but I can’t do any thing. The whole media goes black and playing again the very stuff. Where on the earth you will find such a response to its minorities but still people cries on minorities’ condition in Pakistan.

    Point is that every one is free to follow what they believe affecting others’ sentiments. Am amazed that in a Sunni majority country, there is no public holiday on Shahdhat of Hazrat Umer and Usman R.A. Just a point for those who always portray that Shias are being oppressed in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Rafidi

    Imtiaz, it is my right to observe Ashura in the open and neither you or any of your other takfiri brethren take that right away from me.Recommend

  • Javid

    I was also born into a Sunni family like you and I went to study biochemistry and eventually did a PhD. I now find the science shows the eternal truths. For me science is like a religion because it shows the eternal truths.Recommend

  • Imran khan

    It hurts your sensitivies? What hurts everyone’s sensitivies is your co-sectarian and your dogma’s of hatred. Pakistan is for all Pakistanis. If its peaceful, people can do what they like. People like you spread hatred and have created a social hell hole for those who want peace. Go live in Saudi Arabia. Pick an ISIS controlled country. the time when your sensitivies are going to matter is coming to an end. you and other men of violence like you. will go the way of the dodoRecommend

  • Ghostrider

    Dear Sir
    I being a Shia muslim ask you very humbly, why is that you think everything about being a Shia is confined to 10 days of muharram. Have you ever visited any Majlis yourself and sought the answer? Have you read about the history of muslims “objectively”? i am not going to quote any hadees augmenting the idea of mourning, this is the job of the maulvis. i just ask you can there be tolerance especially from senior citizens like you?Recommend

  • Rahul

    Glad you landed on the right side of the sunni-shia divide.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    You live in a Multifaceted Society & you must respect the sensitivities & rights of others.Recommend

  • farooq

    Muslim only Muslim not siha or suni both are mushrikRecommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Again we see that people like you are trying to force their Islam on others.
    Who are you to dictate which ritual should be done and which not?
    You say that your so called “sensitivity” is hurt, well then what do you say to the Hindu whose sensitivity is hurt when you sacrifice his god? What do you say to the Christian when you say that his god is mere mortal? What do you say to the Zoroastrian when you treat the focus of his prayer(fire) as a mere tool?
    This planet is home to many religions and you are nothing but a small portion of them, so before you go shoving your sensitivity in other peoples faces make sure you are not doing anything to hurt their “sensitivity”.
    Personally I find your comment to be a slight to the Shiite community. Calling a religious ritual “idiosyncrasy” is pretty low, rather it is borderline bigotry.
    fine print. I am not a Shiite, rather I am a Sunni Muslim but according to my belief every religion is allowed to perform whatever ritual they want as long as it does not hurt others.Recommend

  • Lalit

    many sensibilities are hurt when some people impose a blanket ban on eating in public places during Ramadan.similarly,butchering Animals of all denominations on Bakrid causes discomfort to many.blaring loudspeakers, unsolicited proselytizers,religious donations… there are many things annoying,specially when it is regarding as sensitive an issue as are bang on target when you say ‘behind the four walls’…religion indeed should be practiced behind four becomes a ritual outside them.and its applicable to all religions……dRecommend

  • Human

    Imtiaz. This is where we need to learn to appreciate difference. I am equally upset to learn that my conutrymen do not give me a right to express my faith and label me as infidel so conveniently without understanding the real cause of mourning processions. It is against the self appointed righteousness of so called pious who martyred prophets family so that they can conveniently use Islam for their worldly gains. Tragedy is the logic is still being used. This hurts my sensitivities to utmost Recommend

  • Parvez

    Seeing this from another angle it appears that from day one it has more to do with politics and power and religious differences was and is simply an excuse.Recommend

  • Raj – USA

    You say:

    “So I came home and asked my father, to which Abba replied in a very matter-of-factly that by faith, Shias and Sunnis are both Muslims. He explained to me that it’s like two brothers from the same family, we all love Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his family, and are still very sad about what happened to his grandson Imam Hussain (RA). He further explained, as best as he could to a seven-year-old, that we are from the sect called Sunnis.”

    One line in this paragraph which struck me most was the last line where you say

    “He further explained, as best as he could to a seven-year-old,……….”

    So, you know and realize that a 7 year old is immature and would not understand his/her own religion well. Then why do you (muslims of Pakistan) allow 6 year young hindu and christian girls to be kidnaped and converter and then married off only to be sold off a few month later. Just 2 days ago a 12 year old hindu girl was kidnaped and converted. Many Pakistanis argue that she converted on her ows. When you say that when you 7 years old yourself, your father knew that you do not have sufficient knowledge of your own religion. Then why do muslim woman of Pakistan allow their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons to bring into their home a 6 year or even a 12 year old girl, keep her in their home instead of sending her to her home, allow her rape there, convert her and also marry her to a muslim man. Why have you not written anything (though you are educated holding a in a senior and responsible position in a media), asking Pakistan government to recover the girls who have been converted or to find out if they are still married to the muslim man to whom they were forcibly married. You feel hurt when muslims do it to muslims or when others do it to muslims but silently support what muslims are doing to others.

    If nothing else, I would sincerely appreciate a response from you to my comment. Would appreciate more if you reply to my comment and follow up with your blog in ET. I hope that ET publishes it and you yourself holding a senior position in ET do not block my comment.Recommend

  • Sharmida e Quam

    Actually, the most important thing is to seek the pleasure of the Creator. If one is sincere and tries, he, she can receive communion with Him and his pleasure.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    bigots like you. Who hide behind the cloak of Islam to spread intolerance.Recommend

  • Sharmida e Quam

    Actually, the most important thing is to seek the pleasure of the Creator. If one is sincere and tries, he, she can receive communion with Him and His pleasure. Anyone who tries can achieve and one does not have to be a Shia or Sunni for that matter.Recommend

  • Sharmida e Quam

    Actually, the most important thing is to seek the pleasure of the Creator. If one is sincere and tries, he, she can receive communion with Him and His pleasure. Anyone who tries can achieve and one does not have to be a Shia or Sunni for that matter.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    To each their own; Live and let live; Let Allah be the judge to decide what’s wrong and what’s right. And there shall be no problem.
    P.S. What bothers me the most is when people, who call themselves liberals, start showing their true religious bigotry during such occasions when they start judging others. I guess being plain bad and hateful is still better than being a hypocrite.Recommend

  • maheen

    how is it your right? and what did you do to earn that

  • Shama Haq

    Spot on. It is politics causing religious differences.Recommend

  • Shama Haq

    Religious exhibitionism is also a form of religious extremism.Recommend

  • Hussain

    Ms. Farahnaz Zahidi –

    I think all of muslims should be out on the streets in the jaloos paying respect to Iman Hussain and the family of the Prophet PBUH. This should not be labeled as just a “Shia thing” and not told to kids “this is what shias do so let’s not participate in that”.

    Once you dig in to the truth you will know what it feels like. How many times have you seen people crying hysterically and hitting them selves in the event of a death in their family? I bet you’ve seen or heard of this countless times. So how can ANY muslim not feel the same (If not more) for the Ahelebait? Muhammad’s SAWW family? How is that possible, how do I believe that a Muslim can’t feel the pain for the people who practically revived the religion. It really breaks my heart to only see shias mourning for the events of Karbala as any follower of the religion should really feel the same way.

    God bless you all.

    – HussainRecommend

  • Man of Truth

    “So I am going with Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman (RA) and you go with ‘Ali, Imam Hassan, Imam Hussain (RA) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) family. In my religious literature and talks, I will talk about Ayesha (RA) and you can talk about Fatima (RA). ”

    Re-read this statement again please. Just look at the comparison you’re trying to make and you will have your answer.

    Comparing Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman with Imam Ali, Imam Hassan, Imam Hussain (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) family? Do some research on all of these mentioned names and Allah willing you will surely come to a conclusion as to who is to be followed here. : ) I’m glad you put this statement out.

    Comparing Ayesha (RA) to Fatima (SA)?? You really want to compare the two? I don’t think this comparison can even be possible. You can’t compare any woman on earth and not even try to compare ANY woman on earth with Fatima (SA). You know why? because she is the daughter of Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim.Recommend

  • Raj – USA

    Farahnaz Zahidi, the author of this blog and Senior Sub-Editot at Express Tribune: Please note, my comment, as published, is addressed to you. Would appreciate if you could respond.Recommend

  • Man of Truth


    Sit up straight and read. “To me it is blurred as I watch the Idiosyncrasies from the First till the Tenth. It hurts my sensitivities.”

    To you it’s blurred? mourning for Prophet’s family?? That hurts YOU? Oh, this is a ground breaker right here. So you’re saying just because you don’t feel anything at all for the Prophet SAWW’s family which as a muslim or an non muslim any human being (especially a muslim) with a conscious would feel you go as far as to say that you don’t under stand what “Shias” do from the first to the tenth. You can’t be more naive and ignorant that this.

    How about a human being dies and we just bury that person and move on with our lives the very next day and say this person just died and I knew him very well, how about I forget about him and watch the new Shahrukh Khan movie. Do you do that? NEVER. You can’t ever do that.

    How can you be so cold to this subject like it’s only reserved for the Shias to mourn.

    Read the history and when I say history I mean the REAL TRUTH and not the fabricated stories you see in islamiyat books for kids these days.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Common Muslims whether Shias or Sunnies have not much say in the hierarchy of their religions. At the best, they can make worthless speeches, write blogs and wish that some day we become one. The fact is that, the upper echelons of both religions have zero urge to mend their differences. The dreams of one Ummah cannot be fulfilled until and unless these ruthless butchers are not eliminated.Recommend

  • Shama Haq

    Religious exhibitionism is also a form of religious extremism.Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi.

    Were you in the Pak Army? And you even retired as
    a Lt. Col.? Hard to believe. But in Pakistan nothing is
    impossible. If they can kill and burn a Hindu couple
    with impunity, while the police stands and watch. Well…
    You are the poster boy for a very bigoted ideology.
    Khwarijis like you are the reason Shia- Sunni divide
    still exists.Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi.

    That applies to hindus too. All the way from Durban, where the
    hindus have this spectacle, where hooks with chains are
    attached to their chests and they pull these statues of
    Vishu, Rama, Geeta, Kali…through the streets for miles.
    And in Fiji,..the hindus do this fire walk. Walk across live coals.
    Er…none of the hindus do this,… behind….’four walls’
    Should we get into the hindus rituals that are practiced in India?
    Out in the open,…all over the country….[not behind four walls]Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Very sensible comment. Not only these rituals have no place in Islam, also these are very destructive for economy, safety and security of the country. I am not against these rituals because Shias perform them, I am also against Tablieghi Ijtamas and fake revolutionary thugs who bring chaos in public transportation, unemployment and destroy environment. How many people would be there who could not work and earn their livelihood. How many kids would have slept hungry? These stone heart people would think only about themselves.Recommend

  • marik

    The companions you mention were in a conflict with each other. Its their conflict that cause the division in Muslims, not the other way around.Recommend

  • ayesha

    Very nicely written, when I was in haram I was thinking the same that if we can pray here together in Haram than why we have differences? why we dont do the same in our countries?Recommend

  • Muhammad Abbas Ansar

    for ur last line.. my answer is…see Hazara community…see the security measures govt gives us because of unknown threats of bombs in our ashura procession…there aint any threats in the procession of Hazrat Umar (which have started recently on 1st muharram)…. count everyday casualties shias face just because they have kept their names as ALI AKBAR, ABBAS, ALI ASGHAR, QASIM…. see when shias travel to Iran by road, they get killed on the way by TALIBAN by seeing their IDs… yet u r saying we r not oppressed…. kudos… and lolRecommend

  • Ahmed

    Excellent reply! how on earth could we expect peace and harmony when one sect openly bashes the sahabas and make their killers into revered personalities?Recommend

  • Vii

    The Islam was completed when the last Sermon delivered by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).Then after further additions in religion have no relation with

  • Ghostrider

    Visit the procession and you will find the poor flocking to it for free food, nobody stays hungry. I can safely say that for Karachi atleast.Recommend

  • Taha

    I see a lot of educated open minded people here so I would like to ask you people a question. Atleast 2 of the 5 basic principals of Islam i.e namaz and fasting is different between both the sects. How does a religion that was perfected during the lifetime of the prophet (saw) have 2 different types of namaz and roza. A logical approach for someone even with a mild understanding of the religion would know there’s something wrong here. Which further leads to more confusion and when someone is given da’wa, how is he to know which sect is on the truth thus resulting in more distortion of religion . One has to be on the wrong path, be it the sunnis or the shias, I can’t be the one to judge cuz of my personal lack of knowledge on the matter but minimising it to the simplest examples.
    The namaz is different, roza is different and on top of it, even the place of worship is different. Recommend

  • Ubair


    Quran Verse (6:159)
    ” Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects – you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do”

    There is no concept of sects in Islam whatsoever.

    No matter which early scholar you believe or follow, if you believe that there is no god but Allah and Koran is the word of Allah then you are a Muslim, associating our self to any sect is prohibited.

    Read the Koran, try to understand it, ask Allah to guide you and ask for forgiveness and you will be fine In Sha Allah.Recommend

  • khan

    as must you learn how to respect the sensitivities of others.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    Do you know who are the Ahlebait.Recommend

  • imad uddin

    I too was slightly shocked at how Ms. Farhana tried to mirror the two attitudes. Sunnies do not marginalize prophet Muhammad’s pbuh family, while shias do marginalize some other sahaba. The reasons are obvious, historical accounts, as the author mentioned.
    Mr. Man of truth, ur comments suggest that the beloved companions of prophed Muhammad pbuh were divided, and only one can be followed. We believe otherwise.
    Prophet loved all his amazing companions ra.
    To fight that Prophet’s very beloved wife is better or worse than Prophet’s pbuh all beloved daughter is idiocracy.
    Just look at ourselves how tiny and full of flaws we are. And how carelessly we talk about those who are closest to Allah. We are dust, how can v even think of being their judge and grade or rate them?
    Dont we fear that because of a confusion, we may hateAllah’s most beloved persons, while we ourselves r full of sins, from top to bottom, every day of our lives. Dont we fear Allah?
    Dont we see that there is a great chance that all great sahaba loved each other and were on the right path.
    I respect everyones perspective, n i hate reactionary things some sunnis do in ignorance… but on the other hand i completely dont understand why is it necessary to difinitively conclude that some of the greatest sahaba were bad. While we ourselves are non practicing muslims, with little or no knowledge.Recommend

  • human

    I am amazed to see the intolerance in our so called educated class and the naive logic. Why all of my zealous islamist brothers have a flawed opinion about shia muslims. How conveniently we are fond of giving justifications on violance against shia. Propaganda is the essence of how takfiris judge the very foundation of Islam and other muslims. Have you ever tried to study the history of Islam and preachings of the holy prophets.
    One groups kills the minorities and others present justifications. This is how you spread hate where human life is the ultimate tragic waste in sadistic theatre of religion.Recommend

  • Ghostrider

    Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain!! dont come up with something otherwise for heaven’s sakeRecommend

  • siesmann

    You mean like butchering animals out in the open on a certain dayRecommend

  • Mustafa Khan Lodhi

    I want to say to the writer, What if she would mention her just only as muslim and not sunni or shia??Recommend

  • Lalit

    i thought i made it clear when i said ‘its applicable to all religions’…and it comes from an atheist who happens to be born in a Hindu family.for me an organized religion is just an instrument to impose one’s hegemony over those whom we perceive as ‘not ours’ and rituals play an important role in this process.but i also agree that even if you don’t like someone’s faith or rituals you don’t get the right to bomb their processions.
    here in India no single day passes(at times even nights) when one is not disturbed thoroughly by the activities of also takes a toll on law enforcing agencies.processions like ‘kaavar yaatra’ have been reduced to settle scores.
    i believe in all the good teachings of all the religions.and rituals are not one among them.Recommend

  • Lalsinh Tawre

    Humans are thinker,analysers, and convictionists. They will thus differ. They will be
    Muslims,Shiias ,Ahemedias, Sunnis,Sufis,Christians,Catholics,Protestants,Seventh Day Adventis, Hindus, Shivites,Vaishnavites,Jains,Sikhs. They also will be Baluchis,
    Pathans, Rajputs,Punjabis,Bebgalis, Dravidiansor Kashmiris. They will have to accept difference and learn to coexist. Easiest way is to be democratic.There is only one Democracy. There is nothing called Islamic democarcy , Hindu democracy or American democracy. Democracy also means some small sacrifice of everyone , sacrifice of some space for others.
    Is Pakistan ready for this small sacrifice for a stable , happy and secure state ?? In India most of us have accepted this and the rest are falling in line in large nos. everyday.Recommend

  • Sakina

    If political dharnas can take a city hostage than why can’t a religious procession that has existed from before partition. Also these processions are licensed. The one I attend has been licensed from before 1938.
    Also business booms during Muharram. Ask the people providing the daighs and the tents and printing the advertisements.
    And please visit a procession. No one goes hungry. In fact these two months are the only times when some poor people have more food than they know what to do wit.Recommend

  • Shama Haq

    Islam was completed during the times of the Prophet of Islam. Any additions thereafter are only innovations and have nothing to do with Islam.Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi.

    “…I believe in all the good teachings of all the religions”…??
    Then how can you claim to be an atheist ? Are you relevant?
    Because all religions whether they subscribe to monotheism
    or pantheism expounds the ideology/tenets of one God or
    multiple Gods as the primary anchor from which the Good
    Teachings flow. But you claim to be an atheist. Are you sure
    you know the meaning of atheist?? Here is a definition:-
    “Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or Gods.”Recommend

  • Shama Haq

    Sects have no basis in Islam
    as Islam was completed during the times of the Prophet of Islam. The Quran
    clearly states:

    day have I

    Perfected your religion

    For you, completed

    My favour upon you,

    And have chosen for you

    Islam as your religion.

    Quraan: Sura Al Maeda Ch 5
    Ayat 3

    akmaltu lakum deenakum waatmamtu AAalaykum niAAmatee waradeetu

    lakumu alislama

  • Shama Haq

    True during the last Sermon these ayah were revealed: “”alyawma akmaltu lakum deenakum waatmamtu AAalaykum niAAmatee waradeetu lakumu alislama deenan…”
    This tranlated as: “This day have I Perfected your religion For you, completed
    My favour upon you, And have chosen for you Islam as your religion.”
    Quraan: Sura Al Maeda Ch 5 Ayat 3

  • Shama Haq

    Dear writer in Islam there is no Sunni or Shia as there are no sects. And, Islam was completed during the times of the last Prophet (pbuh). Let us not separate the Ummah into sects. The religion of Islam was perfected during the last sermon at Hajj.
    During the last Sermon these ayah were revealed: “”alyawma akmaltu lakum deenakum waatmamtu AAalaykum niAAmatee waradeetu lakumu alislama deenan…”
    This is tranlated as:
    “This day have I Perfected your religion For you, completed My favour upon you,
    And have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” Quraan: Sura Al Maeda Ch 5 Ayat 3

  • Shama Haq

    No! I mean flaunting religion on the streets.Recommend

  • Rizwan Haider

    Ch Allah Dad sb, It has been disclosed by numerous surveys that first ten days of Muharram contributes a lot in the economy of the country.Recommend

  • Zee

    Problem lies here ! You guys will always cry on the killings of Shias though I strongly condemn such brutal killings but can’t you have eyes that Taliban is not targeting Shias only but every one regardless of Shia or Sunni. Recommend

  • Zee

    Your last line is exactly what Imtiaz sb wanted to convey! How did you reach on the conclusion that rituals performed on the Muharram don’t hurt others’ feeling. Yes it indeed when you openly play the very stuff on the streets! What is this? Enforcing others to listen.

    And when the same media shows other side by playing Zakir Naik and Israr Ahmed then why such a hue and cry! Why blocking these channels and protesting on the streets?Recommend

  • Mehdi

    Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd) is an ISI sympathizing educated bigot. He can read and comprehend English. I challenge you to come up with one logical statement why a religious procession is a nuisance to a wider community. In USA police provide protection to a peaceful protest because it is part of our US constitution. Its people Pakistan that have made minorities life a living hell. They think that they know Islam. Mr Imtiaz I will school you what correct Islam is. what you are following is not Islam it is just cloaked in bigotry and intolerance, with a Islamic face. Recommend

  • Mehdi

    Yes I know who Ahlelbaits are. ( Rightly guided Caliph – I would really be interested to how they were rightly guided)Recommend

  • Mehdi

    Calling someone a bad name doesn’t constitute that you will kill them.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    Who is stopping you to institute a religious holiday for those two. As far as I know not a single Sunni majority country has a similar holiday.

    I hope you have some HS level education. if so please read print media and you will see how many minorities are getting killed in Pakistan on a daily basis. I hope you will do the required reading before you provide a rebuttal.Recommend

  • Anushey

    These demonstrations are exactly for your kind of people who would one day deny that the event of karbala actually happened.
    And yes, because i am pretty sure in your ‘ideal’ society it will be either follow YOUR islam or die.Recommend

  • Shama Haq

    No! I don’t mean that.Recommend

  • Man of Truth


    I know where your feelings are coming from and I respect that, totally.

    My comments, yeah, they do kind of suggest the companions were divided……because honestly they were. I don’t want to point out any names here or go into history, you can do that on your own to understand why I’m saying this.

    “To fight that Prophet’s very beloved wife is better or worse than Prophet’s pbuh all beloved daughter is idiocracy.”

    I don’t understand what you mean by this. How can you say to fight for his wife is better or worse? I don’t think you can compare his daughter Fatima (SA) to Ayesha RA. I still stand by that statement firmly.

    “Dont we see that there is a great chance that all great sahaba loved each other and were on the right path.”

    The truth hurts and the truth is that the sahabas didn’t get along. Not all of them. I don’t want to point out names again. This by the way is proven and you can dig in to islamic history and find out. Let me know here if you want to know what exactly I’m talking about and I’ll point out names for you.

    Again, in no way am I trying to poke at you or insult you. Please do keep this in mind. I am just trying to give out the bare truth. That’s all.

    May Allah bless you.Recommend

  • Man of Truth


    You talk about Prohpet (SAWW) last sermon?

    Do you know what he exactly said in that sermon?

    “I leave for you two weighty things, the Quran and my Ahlebait – Muhammad (SAWW)”

    and there was a LOTTTTT more said in that sermon. Go do your research from the real sources and come back here and talk to me.

    May Allah bless you.Recommend

  • Man of Truth

    Science is like a religion?

    Go read the Quran to understand science better.Recommend

  • Man of Truth


    I believe you must be a very happy vegetarian.Recommend

  • Man of Truth (Hussain)

    I think Ghostrider has given you the response which I was going to type up.

    Lt Col Imtiaz Aram (retd) we do know who they are the problem is for you and people like you that YOU have no clue who they are nor do you wish to read about them and understand them (that is mainly because of the society you grew up in). You seem like a good human being I swear once you start to read about Muhammad’s (SAWW) family you will dearly love them and have a whole side to your life and understand the truth for what it is. Mark my words.

    As Muhammad (SAWW) mentioned that he left for us two weighty things, the Quran and his Ahlebait.

    May Allah bless you.Recommend

  • Man of Truth

    MashAllah it’s a good thing that you’ve decided to try your hand at bringing the two sects together.

    Since you mentioned you know both sides well and I guess you have the opportunity here to really dig in to the history as to why the two sects are Muslims but still not united. Please do read up on this from authentic sources and share with us your experience and conclusion.

    Thank you.Recommend

  • Man of Truth

    Sulfuric Acid,

    How do you justify your statement that the “display” on the street had nothing to do with Islam. Please I would love to hear you justify that buddy.

    If you ever get “Twilight” out of your head for second in your life please please go and read up on Islamic history instead of being influenced by your friends and society to just follow the trend and not even know or question why you are sunni……………or shia for that matter. Go and learn and understand and after that your opinion will change. Any neutral person who reads the actual history really sides with the truth.

    Do your self a favor.Recommend

  • ghostrider

    When did Halala come into force?? After Propher PBUH obviouslyRecommend

  • Muhammad Abbas Ansar

    All killings by taliban are and should be condemned. Agreed. We have raised our fingers on taliban on the basis of our killings but if they get banned or if action is taken against them, it will be beneficial for the whole nationRecommend

  • Also these

    Also, indian citizens from the northEast, Buddhists, Baha’is,Jews,Parsis,Agnostics,atheists,Mormons,Jehovah’s witnesses,Dalits ..Recommend

  • LS

    Believing in moral principles “Good Teaching” of religions is same as being humane. Like don’t lie, don’t hurt people, etc.. These teachings are common sense and can be applied to any individual with or without religion. Thus, believing in humanism or “good teachings” is NOT same as believe in god.

    Hope that makes sense to you.Recommend

  • LS

    What has Quran got to do with biochemistry? Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    you did not read/understand my comment. You said they are “Enforcing others to listen.”
    Let me explain it to you my comment in simple words so that this statement of yours will appear uncalled for even to you.
    My comment/reply to Imtiaz sahibs highly ridiculous and callous statement is that if he and people like him are “hurt” by the rituals performed at muharram and the are “forced to listen” then they should not perform the ritual sacrifice during Eid celebrations because it “hurts” Hindus and you enforce the knowledge upon them that an animal which they consider highly sacred(demigod) is being sacrifice the world over by Muslims.
    They should not claim that Jesus Christ A.S was a mere mortal because it “hurts” Christians and they should stop all use of fire as a tool because it “hurts” Zoroastrians.
    You have tried to twist my words, but sadly you have failed.
    Just one more thing. Let me just tell you that even animals mourn the loss of their kin why can’t you let the Shiites mourn in peace?Recommend

  • siesmann

    I know you didn’t;but you didn’t get it either.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    if there is no public holiday”on Shahdhat of Hazrat Umer and Usman R.A. ” why don’t you stay at home yourself? why don’t you observe it yourself? In western communities Shiites dont have public holidays but they still hold the ritual mourning. Why can’t you do the same here?
    Is your religious ritual dependent on Government? Will you stop celebrating Eid if you go to Britain cuz they don’t have “public” holidays on Eid?
    It’s a free country, no one is forcing you to do anything.Recommend

  • Lalit

    “Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or Gods.”

    are you sure you can read and comprehend simple English.when did i imply i believe in God or Gods ? i don’t need to believe in all the stories,passing as religion, to simply follow a righteous path (or at least which seems righteous to me).i don’t believe in concept of afterlife, 72 virgins,nor do i believe in the fire of Naraka,.i don’t believe Man was created from dirt,nor do i believe in incarnations.i don’t believe in the concept of any God controlling this short my conviction for a right or wrong stems from my self consciousness and rationality,and not from any holy is a simple coincidence that these things find mention in many holy books.Is it so difficult to understand ,for a devout ?Recommend

  • Sharmida e Quam

    Sources differ but the Quran is the indisputable source and it says the deen was perfected and Quran is the most authentic source and does not say any thing about Ahlebait, period. No practice of self-flagellation is prescribed in the Quran.Recommend

  • Zee

    Finally you came to personal level by guessing my education level which suggests that now you are lacking logic!

    As regards to minority killings in Pakistan, am not in denial and indeed this is a problem but you need to realise that not only minorities are being targeted but majority as well. Current example is of Wagah border blast.

    But Alas, you will see this only from your own perspective which suits you to build your very narrative. And the current sectarian devide is the direct result of Iran and Saudia proxy war being fought in Pakistan with the fundings to both sects read extremists and this started only after Shia Inqilab in Iran.


  • bigsaf

    Protests are generally out in the public. Canada has banned the likes of Zakir Naik on the very basis of his sympathies to terrorists, in his extremists views, which are also heavily laden with sectarianism that goes beyond criticism and into the offensive. If you can’t tell the difference and hurt by the former rather than the latter, you’re views are then seriously questionable and disturbing.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    ‘Your sensitivities’? ‘Behind four walls’, is pretty much an euphemism to keep minorities out of sight for one own’s intolerant sake. Its what that really means.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Wow. The irony. This should also include the sensitivities and rights of the minorities which seems to be something you as a majority citizen clearly against.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Its unfortunate that even someone that has some sort of formal education is steeped in ridiculous conspiracies, or deliberately dishonest, that the TTP, who are Sunni extremist militants, are funded by CIA/RAW/Mossad.

    The upsetting part is this is a former serving army officer. It makes you shiver on how many more like-minded delusional bigots are holding high positions there.Recommend

  • Zee

    Pl be advised that am not against the mourning but again against the way they mourn? Why they require occupying the roads, huge loudspeakers while playing the stuff which Shiites only like, closure of the shops for consecutive 2 days on biggest business place in Khi and so on and so forth.

    Take the example of today! Stuck in traffic for nearly three hours in Karachi only because the road was blocked in Johar for the procession!

    Actually I do believe on freedom of speech, religion but not on the cost of hurting others’ sentiments.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Minority rights to practice religious freedom that most nations accommodate? How did they earn it…? Explains Pak’s deteriorating religious minority situation….Recommend

  • bigsaf

    ‘You guys’. The Taliban and like minded Sunni extremist militants tend to target minorities, particularly Shia Muslims in sectarianism, disproportionately more than the majority Sunni Muslims, who aren’t simply targeted for being Sunni by the Taliban or their like. Can this be recognized too please?

    Highlighted in every HR report that Shia Muslims do have it worse (would be heartless to ignore the Hazara genocide in Pakistan and act like its ‘equal’ suffering), who do also highlight Shia radicals but this market is dominated by Sunni extremists who spout the very narrative as we hear from ‘you guys’ above to justify their killings (even though you may not mean to, it creates that space or atmosphere).

    A major problem lies here in the lack of recognition and outright apathy that’s been there for decades even way before 9/11 and brought us to our knees in this extremist crisis with folks we once considered ‘brothers’ or at least ‘you guys’. This is why we doves cry…Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Making the argument of the rituals being un-Islamic is your own religious belief imposed and unfortunately most of your criticisms flow from there blanketed in prejudice, apart from the political, rather than actual logistics, which also are arguable.Recommend