A Pakistani Sunni recalls his Shiite friends, class fellows and colleagues – by Kashif Nawaz

Enemies of Pakistan and Islam want to divide our nation on Sunni-Shia sectarian basis. They are trying this for so long. For them human blood is worthless and cheaper then their rotten beliefs. Is it really that easy they can change our minds, our feelings our present and beautiful past? No!

I attended a religious madarasah in my childhood for Qur’anic education with Salman and Mansoor, both were Shia. I used to be found at Munawwar Bhai’s home, also a Shia. In Muharram, many Sunnis setup “Sabeel” in memory of holy martyrs of Karbala & to facilitate people going to and coming from Majalis. Neither my family stopped me to mingle with my Shia friends nor did their families raise any objection on it. My parents themselves were Sunni Barelvi (Sufi tradition of Sunni Islam) who performed all the Fateha, Niaz, Milaad etc as per their belief with great zeal.

It was a hot summer day when Syed S. Hussain Rizvi, one of my friends and an office colleague informed me that all other Shia colleagues had left for Friday prayers, and he was accidentally left behind. ‘May I offer Friday Prayers with you in your mosque?’, he asked me. ‘The Masjid is not anyone’s property definitely you can offer prayers there’, I replied. ‘Shall I fold my hands like Sunnis or may I offer prayers like I do?’, He asked another question. Realizing his hesitations I said he could pray as he wished to, ‘now hurry up we are already late’, I said. We rushed towards the PIDC building where there was a mosque on the roof those days. It was 1998 when we used to work for a Chartered Accountant firm. After the ablution (wuzu) we entered the main prayer hall. The Friday prayer was about to start. ‘What if I offer prayers keeping my hands untied like Shias, would anyone mind this?’, he asked again. ‘Do one thing, stand besides me, offer prayers as you want and I will take care of rest of the things’, I replied, ‘your Niyyat is to offer prayers for Allah Almighty, you are in the mosque which is not of any individual or group’s property, and it is Allah’s home’, I further assured him. Allah-O-Akbar, the Imam had begun the Salat, I followed him with my hands folded in Sunni fashion, and my Shia friend leaving his hands free straight towards floor.

Let me narrate another story from everyday life. In the university days, during semester exams we used to do group study. It was the Holy Month of Ramadan. All my friends were from different sectarian backgrounds. Sunni-Deobandi, Brailvi, Ahl-e-Hadith (Salafi), and Shia. Whole of the day we used to study but the real problem arises at the time of Iftaar (Fast Breaking) when Deobandi, Brailvi & Ahl-e-Hadith friends break their fast at same time whereas my Shia friend had had to wait for another 15 minutes as per the Iftaar timings of Fiqa-e-Jafria. Other friends intentionally or unintentionally eat whatever is available leaving small amount of meal for our Shia friend. I had observed the situation & worried if one day it would create differences among friends. I decided to take preemptive measures.

‘No one will eat meal until the Iftaar time of Fiqa-e-Jafria’, I announced the next day, ‘only 1 piece of ‘Date’ is allowed to break the fast for everyone as per Fiqa-e-Hanfia’, I further informed. ‘We all will break our fast with a piece of ‘Date’ & go to offer Maghrib Prayers, this way it will be the time of Iftaar as per Fiqa-e-Jafria, so that we all would have meal together without any discrimination’, I explained the whole plan. Not only they all accepted the plan but also apologized for their earlier ignorance for our Shia friend, especially they thanked me for noticing & taking care of everyone.

Now, if someone asks me to kill Shias declaring them Kafir, how can I kill my childhood friends Salman and Mansoor, how can I forget Munawwar Bhai and how much he loved me, how can I forget the innocent questions of my office colleague, how can I forget the golden days of university, the loving friends specially those days when we used to do group study in Ramzan and wait for the Iftaar.

Above all being a Sunni-Deobandi how can I denounce my parents, & why should I do that? Only because my parents or my friends had a little bit different beliefs? Is having different beliefs really a great sin that we just kill them ignoring all the relations, and love we got from them?

Neither any of my Shia or Ahl-e-Hadith friends changed their beliefs inspiring from me nor did I necessarily adopt my parent’s beliefs. Belief is one’s personal matter, neither is it inherited nor it is adopted, but we can learn to respect each other’s beliefs. I don’t care if anyone criticizes me for this or make fun of it but I can proudly say, Yes! I am a Deobandi-Brailvi-Ahl-e-Hadith-Shia because I respect everyone’s beliefs.

Based on my own personal experience, I can vouch that majority of Sunnis and Shias, Barelvis, Deobandis, Ahle-Hadith etc love and respect each other, and are very tolerant of sect differences. Therefore, the violent acts of terrorism by a few radicalized individuals and groups (Taliban, LeJ, ASWJ etc) cannot be attributed to the majority of peaceful Sunnis. Terrorism by radicalised extremist must not be described as sectarian violence.

I know my memories can’t change the darkened hearts. A beast is always a beast. My call is for those who have a heart, beating inside them, whose blood is still red, who can feel the pain of others and who want to share their sorrows and joys with others. They need to come forward as the human needs to dominate here instead of beasts.

Author: Kashif Nawaz is a Karachi-based Pakistani blogger. He tweets at @s_k_nawaz

Source: Adapted and edited from Digital Journal



Latest Comments
  1. Raza
  2. Hafeez
  3. Syed Kashif Nawaz
  4. ali husein