Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Inhuman atrocity.

Among the holy days, observances, and celebrations of the Muslim calendar is the Celebration of the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad (in Arabic: 'eed mawlid an-nabee; Urdu: eed meelaad-e nabee, eed meelaad an-nabee). The date upon which this falls varies between Sunnis and Shiites. According to Sunnis, it is on the twelfth day of the Islamic month of rabee' al-awwal (literally "first rabee'"; the next month is rabee' ath-thaanee, literally "second rabee'"); according to Shiites, it is on the seventeenth day of the same month. (This cannot be conducive to rapproachment between Sunnis and Shiites.)

Muslims celebrate this day with great pomp and festivity. For weeks before the date, lights are strung up on public buildings, mosques, and homes. Every night for many days prior to the date, after the last prayer, mosques blare lectures and songs praising Muhammad. On the day itself, many attend a meelaad, a celebration praising Muhammad with songs and lectures. People dress up in their finest clothes. Wishes are sent. Businesses are closed. It is, veritably, the Islamic version of Christmas, but without the gift-giving and commercialism.

Although this day is celebrated by most Muslims, not all Muslims do so. Salafis (fundamentalist Muslims) believe such celebrations to be bida' (innovations; singular: bid'ah) and, as such, forbidden in Islam. This is met with vociferous opposition by non-Salafi Muslims, some of whom claim that Muhammad himself celebrated his birthday. In any case, in countries like Pakistan where Muhammad has been virtually deified, opposition to this celebration would be met with immense opposition, so those who do not approve of it (like Our maternal grandfather, may he rest in peace) simply keep quiet.

We, naturally, object to such celebrations, but We will detail why We object at a later date.

Considering how sacred this day would be and how commendable the activities thereon would be, a recent event has utterly flabbergasted Us. It was a suicide attack. Now, considering militant Muslims see nothing wrong in flying passenger airplanes into two office buildings, We ought to realize that nothing is sacred or off-limits to them. Also considering their propensity to attack places of worship, pilgrims, and events of worship - harming thereby their own fellow Muslims - We ought to realize that nothing is sacred or off-limits to them. Nevertheless, We remain absolutely stunned by what happened.

According to the online version of the Urdu newspaper Jang, Jamaat-e Ahlesunnat (Urdu version of jamaa'at ahl as-sunnah, both meaning "Group of the People of the Sunnah" or "Group of the Sunni People"), a Sunni organization, was holding a gathering at Nashtar Park on the life of Muhammad. As namaaz-e maghrib (Urdu and Persian for "prayer of maghrib" or "prayer at sunset," one of the five daily prayers; in Arabic: Salaat al-maghrib) was being performed, a suicide terrorist detonated his bomb. Around 50 people have died so far with an unconfirmed number of people injured. The suicide terrorist was towards the front of the congregation, so most of the leaders of the organization were among those killed.

A suicide terrorist. A bomb. Detonation. During prayers.

Who could have done such a dastardly deed? In Our mind, there can be only one of two groups: a Salafi group or a Shiite group.

We seriously doubt it was a Salafi group. Even a Salafi group, despite Salafism's strident denunciation of bida', would not stoop so low as to attack fellow Sunnis while they are praying. Shiites, on the other hand, are all together different. Remember, for them this was not 'eed mawlid an-nabee. For them, that day is still five days away. They do not believe that Sunnis' prayers are valid. What is most important is that sectarian violence has plagued Pakistan for some time now. This makes Us initially believe that a Shiite militant group would have been behind this suicide attack. Of course, this has not been the most disastrous sectarian attack but its circumstances make it especially horrific. Whoever has been responsible, the only outcome of this will be more violence. If it turns out to have been carried out by a Shiite group, this violence will soon spiral out of control as vengeance and counter-vengeance is sought. Those who will be most impacted will be innocents.

The extent of Our disgust at the moment knows no limits.

Update: A news article Zarar Khan of AP available via Yahoo! News states: "Hardline Pakistani Sunni groups are at odds with moderate Sunnis in the country, and regard public ceremonies marking the prophet's birth as offensive." This is an important item to keep in mind. As much as this was likely perpetuated by Shiites, the chance it was done by a Salafi group still exists until it is found out who did this.

inna naHnu-l-a'lam.


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