Stories about Shias

Can Pakistan’s president house host its Ahmadi citizens on an Eid celebration?

There are over three million (1% of the United States population) Muslims living in America. Even though anti-Muslim animus is generally on the rise across the country, President Obama has increasingly stood up for the Muslim American community. He has passionately promoted pluralism and diversity in the United States and vouches for religious tolerance world over. In his latest show of solidarity and outreach, the president held a White House reception to celebrate Eidul Fitr with Muslim American leaders and activists. Muslims from all sects came together to celebrate one of Islam’s holiest days in one of the nation’s most significant landmarks. This was a feat of unity and ...

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Soaked in scarlet for Eid: Today’s bystander could be tomorrow’s victim

The last one week has seen attacks in six different cities of the world, all of which have been claimed by the so called Islamic State, and all of which have made headlines across the globe. People of various religious and denominational persuasions lost lives. They were targeted by the so-called Islamic State loyalists, inflicting carnage that knew no religion or nationality. These attacks should reinforce that IS can represent anything but an Islamic State. If there are any IS apologists even in Pakistan, then they have a lot to ponder upon in finding justifications in defence of the indefensible. The attack ...

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Remember this image, O’holy Muslim brethren?

Does anyone remember this image? It’s not that old. But I suppose it has been forgotten. Let me remind you. This image is less than three-years-old. This is March 2013, Lahore. Triumphant and probably feeling much closer to God, this man stands before a burning heap of what was once a Christian colony. In November, three years before that, a Christian woman named Asia Bibi was charged with accusations of blasphemy and she sits in jail to this date. In March 2015, two churches were attacked in Lahore and 14 people were killed. The same year, just a month or two later, a ...

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Will we ever be able to fill in the gaps in Pakistan’s social fabric?

A recent poll done by BBC World Service, found that people are more likely than ever to identify as ‘global citizens’. According to Globescan, which conducted the poll and interviewed more than 20,000 people, over 56 per cent of Pakistanis identify as global citizens. While 27 per cent identify as Pakistanis first, and 43 per cent say their religion comes before their nationality. Is the nation failing its citizens or has globalisation made borders so meaningless that people need new political orders to anchor them? Or is it just stating the obvious; Muslims are always Muslims first, nationals second? The caliphates ...

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The B-side: Junaid Jamshed and untold stories behind the controversies

After leaving a lucrative career as a pop singer, Junaid Jamshed (JJ) has evolved into a preacher and poster boy for the austere deobandi group, the Tableeghi Jamaat. He once jokingly remarked, “When I was a singer people use to throw rose petals at me, since I came into Islam they throw stones at me.” This simple statement does more to highlight Pakistan’s state of affairs than explain how someone, who has been referred to by his musician friends, and in his Islamic circles, as “the nicest person one can meet”, can be party to one controversy after another? Some say, he is ...

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#IStandWithAhmadis because those who don’t cannot stand with Shias, Christians, Hindus, Parsis or each other

A couple of days ago the #IStandWithAhmadis hashtag campaign trended in Pakistan. I tweeted it as well. A lot of my tweets were quite whimsical. I believe that sometimes the best catharsis is to confront anxiety with humour. Here though things are different. This time I say what I really feel, particularly now, in light of the protests outside Hafeez Center against the removal of anti-Ahmadi stickers outside a shop. So in solidarity with one of our country’s most persecuted communities and indeed all those who suffer at the hands of tyranny #IStandWithAhmadis once again. #IStandWithAhmadis. #IStandWithAhmadis because we share the same earth, ...

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“Is there any Shia here?”

Being a minority and living amidst a majority that is largely ignorant of your beliefs, you tend to become used to living around whispers. You pretend to not hear them sometimes and sometimes you speak up. But they haunt your consciousness, always. “Did you know she’s Shia?” “Shias aren’t really Muslims.” “Why are Shias into self-harm?” “Did you know they say bad things about Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA)?” In a gathering, when an ignorant question is flung into the air like a loose arrow, when the tongue waggles without restraint or understanding, caution fills the air and a problematic question follows, “Oops. Are there any Shias here?” The ...

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Thank you, Hamza Ali Abbasi, for supporting my right to be Ahmadi

Pakistani actor, Hamza Ali Abbasi, is always in the headlines for one reason or another. Recently, I wrote an article criticising his comments that apparently belittled Pakistan’s minorities. However, this time I am writing to congratulate him on supporting Pakistan’s minority Muslim communities – or at least those that self-identify as such. In a post on Facebook this weekend, Mr Abbasi said, He later replaced Shias with “any other group” when he came under fire for lumping them with the Ahmadis. His core message remained the same though. Mr Abbasi stated that judging someone’s faith – whether they were Muslim or not, ...

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Will Gilgit-Baltistan witness a peaceful Muharram this year?

As the Himalayan peaks witnessed their first snowfall, I was automatically reminded of my days in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). I turned towards the window overlooking the silhouette of mountains, and I wondered whether Gilgit will witness a peaceful Muharram this year. Gilgit, being the capital of the province, is home to a fair representation of all sects; Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis and Noor Bakhsis. During Muharram, streets are thronged with men, women and children making their way to various majalis and processions.  “We climb the mountains around Gilgit valley to illuminate the name of Imam Hussain (RA), drawn out with candles,” says a young ...

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Saudi Arabia, building 200 mosques will not help the refugee crisis

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in all its benevolent wisdom, has come to the aid of the Middle Eastern refugees lining up on the gates of Germany, by offering to build 200 mosques in the European nation. Yes, this is exactly what these traumatised people need after losing their homes, resources, family members, dignity, and mental and physical well-being – mosques. Indeed, for those so inclined, it is important for pious refugees to have a place to practice faith, especially in a foreign land where religion can help them feel grounded, but only after achieving stability in their lives. For Saudi Arabia to offer ...

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