To say that the murder of 82 of our fellow citizens is an atrocity is stating the obvious: But to make the Laskar-e-Jhangvi and members of other such monstrosities to see it as a monstrous act is another questions. How did we get here? What has brought us to a place in our history where one group from amongst us declares another “killable” and then goes on to perform a cowardly act of murder? And all in the name of religion?
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a monstrosity that arose from Sipa-e-Sahjaba in 1996, the organization that was launched by Maulana Jhangvi during the time of Zia-ul-Haq. Lshkar is a group of brainwashed sunni youth fed upon the myths of shia practices that, somehow, insult the three of the four caliphs. There is no truth to these claims, but when it comes to indiscriminate killing of minorities, it seems, truth happens to be the first casuality. That most of our Sunni Ulama are openly hostile to their Shia brothers and sisters is beyond doubt. Even some as learned as Dr, Israr Ahmed displayed a pathological hatred of the shia. What distinguishes the Lashkar is that the entire edifice of their bloody politics is built around an open hatred of the shia.
While it is absolutely fine to have differences of opinion and have an open discussion about issues of right and wrong, sacred and profane, the current practices in Pakistani public sphere about all minority groups–Muslim-or non-Muslim–have left the so-called “state of exception” and become the norm. This should not come to us as a surprise, especially since we have allowed our mullahs to use their mosques to spew hate about other groups without any legal or governmental restraint to their rhetorical acts of terror against other citizens of Pakistan.
The tragedy in Quetta, is, therefore, not just an event; it is a symptom of our larger problems. It is also a reminder that no religion, no matter how pure and unsullied can bring us peace and love if its practitioners do not want to practice peace and love. It is sadly ironic that when we are asked about Islam, we always tell people that Islam means “the religion of peace” but in our every day lives, those who have hijacked the so-called Islamic identity understand only the politics of death and destruction. Obviously, we are to blame for this. In the last sixty years as a nation we have neither altered the socioeconomic hierarchy of our inherited colonial national identity, nor have we been able to construct a public sphere of civilized discourse. And now, surprisingly, the most vengeful and hateful elements of our religion have somehow taken it upon themselves to force upon us a nightmarish interpretation of the very sacred core of our religion.
I know this atrocity has brought a large number of Pakistanis to the streets to condemn these attacks and to stand in solidarity with their shia brothers and sisters. We need more of this solidarity. And we need a perpetual critique of every action that the murderers perform and we need to challenge them at every step, for what they do, have done, and propose to do is not Islam, and if this is the only interpretation of Islam then we are all doomed. A religion without love has no hope to create a transformative way of life. I do not think Islam is a religion without love: one glance at the life of the Prophet is enough to teach us that “muhabbh” is the ultimate essence of Islam.
So, let us force these lashkaris and their sympathizers to show us if they are truly Muslim. We need to ask them to show us something more than death and destruction and we need to ask them about love.