APS – A Tragedy Never to be Forgotten!

The rarest moments of life are those when expression by language fails, words lose their meaning and no speech is rational enough to justify the weight of emotion, and to think, these moments are not rare anymore.

Death is a solid reality of life that only happens for us to witness in order to accept that life does go on, and nothing lasts forever. But death itself acts in prudence; when it happens where expected, and when it happens where least expected, both, leaving us with a lesson of its certainty.

On the 16th of December, 2014, death itself shook with the absurdity of its occurrence. When the skies were filled with angels welcoming souls into the Heavens above, Death watched the hurried feet of a mother running towards the gates, eyes brimming with tears, and a soul aching with pain, in search of the departed… and Death, gazed down upon its hands and perhaps, for once, felt ashamed of its job.

we as a nation, have travelled so far, far enough to perhaps still live on with the burden of losing 148 young souls, all at once, because of, and in return for – absolutely nothing!

For once, life itself seemed to stop.

What has caused us to become so resilient that we feel but we do not react? How many lives have been lost in this wait that every blow is like a tide that hits the rocks and dies back into the sea?

And in this war, we are not alone. A recent massacre in a University in Kenya has left the world shaken. It is almost as if the numbers were matched; 147 students killed mercilessly, leaving one wondering what has caused man to descend to this level of barbarism, that too in the name of religion?

If one seems to believe that the problem with the unrest in the Muslim world is too much Islam, it is safe to conclude that they suffer from a serious lack of it.

It is not a secret how the Arabs before the time of the Prophet SAWW were widely known as ignorant. They were known to treat their slaves worse than cattle. The females were buried alive, and if not, dealt with such cruelty that they wished for death.

This is where the beauty and the broad spectrum of Islam comes in; a Messenger of Allah SWT is sent to not just fix the lives of the Arab people, but also bring the message of Peace to the whole world. He came with the rights of women, orphans, slaves, neighbors, children, parents, the bosses and the employees. He delivered Allah SWT’s perfect regulations on how to live your life, from what to eat and what not to eat, what to wear, and how not to dress. He spoke of education and marriage and health and property. There is more to Islam that has absolutely nothing to do with the image being painted by Anti-Muslims.

The true Islam is not the one that talks about murdering students in their schools. Nor does it preach suicide bombings and death threats to non believers without reason. The message of Islam is Crystal Clear, and comes with a note; “There is no compulsion in religion”.

The solutions to this can be immediate actions, however not all can benefit in the greater run. What needs to be understood is that this problem is not local, or limited. It is like a cancer metastasizing with every passing moment, while we are busy treating symptoms, and not the disease.

The name of this cancer is Takfir-ism and several militant organisations are now working on this rule. From TTP, to ISIS, AQ, and now the Houthis, they perform in a preplanned, coordinated method, while pledging approvals to one another and hijacking the essence of the very religion they claim to be following. Disguised as staunch believers yet killing Muslims in the name of Islam is a whole new level of absurdity and this is what it’s all about. There are several Ahadith available in reference to this menace, but the real question is, how do we counter

The true Islam is not the one that talks about murdering students in their schools. Nor does it preach suicide bombings and death threats to non believers without reason. The message of Islam is Crystal Clear, and comes with a note; “There is no compulsion in religion”.

Pakistan too, has been suffering from this evil since over a decade now. While the Army battles these terrorists in the mountains, the clerics and scholars back in the cities are liable to promote the correct image of Islam and denounce the actions of these so-called Muslims. Unfortunately, the response hasn’t been as strong as anticipated. In spite of the presence of several scholars and various Islamic schools, only a mere fraction has condemned the attacks, and even of those, most have avoided naming the culprits. One is forced to wonder what keeps our scholars from standing up and speaking the truth in the face of these lies that are tarnishing the image of the very religion they preach.

There are two probable reasons:

1) – Our Imams and scholars need to be valued and protected. There have been reports of well known Scholars and Clerics being gunned down in the past years but as always, their loss has been easily and painfully disregarded. This is perhaps one of the main explanations for the lack of first scale responses every time there is a terrorist event.

2) – A serious lack of coordination between similar as well as varying schools of thought has caused the very religion of unity to collapse all over. This is a grave reality that must be countered at the earliest. In this struggle for Islam, prominent schools of thought have in fact drawn lines around themselves and refused to come together even for the sake of the country or the Ummah itself.

This is why in the current situation where every neighborhood has at least 3 different masajid connected to three different sects of Islam, all Imams give khutbas to their own understanding regardless of the situation of the country and the minds of the people. While some give peaceful, productive sermons, there are a few Imams who cross the limit out of emotions, often resulting in a backlash which is a stark example of extremism.

Fortunately, the Prime Minister has called for a thorough analysis of the seminaries presently running throughout the country. For now, all running Islamic Schools have been asked to register themselves. Also, from the 1st of May, all mosques belonging to any sect will be calling out the adhaan at the same time.

It would also be another step forward if a board (Wifaaq) of picked Imams and scholars from all schools of thought can be selected to authorize the schools and masajid working across the country. No masjid should be constructed without registration from the Wifaaq. From students giving exams prepared by the Wifaaq and graduating with proper degrees attested by the Wifaaq to Friday sermons prewritten and approved by the Wifaaq, would solve a lot if not all the problems spreading all over the state at the moment.

The second solution comes by checking the mode of action that these terrorists acquire to carry out their atrocities; manipulation. By brainwashing youngsters and recruiting them for their evil purposes, these organizations currently work with great stealth and progress slowly but persistently. From online forums to pamphlets at schools and colleges, a number of students are easily convinced by the use of appealing statements, half pictured facts and fallacious claims. These orgs have not only succeeded in turning a great number of youth against the Army but have also convinced them that whoever supports the Army is basically a traitor to the country. By crying false tears to false claims of lives being lost in the operations, they play innocent while carrying out their terrorist activities at the same time.

While the Army  battles these terrorists in the mountains, the clerics and scholars back in the cities are liable to promote the correct image of Islam and denounce the actions of these so-cadlled Muslims.

If they target the brains of our kids, it is important for us to shield them prior to an offensive. Schools must start taking Islamic education seriously and should introduce Quran classes and lectures at a young age so their minds can develop with a fondness of their religion. These classes and lectures can be endorsed by the Islamic Board (Wifaaq ul Madaris) that has been suggested earlier. In addition to that, and in perspective of the current events, it is also pertinent to reinitiate boy scouts and girl guides in schools. This method of training is in accordance with international standards and not to be considered as a militant practice. It is extremely vital with respect to the present circumstances of terror threats everywhere in the country.

Safety, is second to trust. It is important for the authorities responsible for civilian safety, to take the masses in confidence. Some details must be provided and civilians must be recruited in official training camps to be registered as members of a workforce. This would allow a gateway into neighborhoods when these members would work as a conduit for the intelligence. It would also help revive the faith that a number of people lost in our military.

It is imperative that we must not let the menace of Takfiris spread any further. Countless lives have been lost and forgotten countless times. Still, it is hoped that the loss of 148 souls will never be over and done with. Perhaps these fallen stars of this nation will now write a different story. However, as it is, the steps taken by the government to address this grave problem are few and far between. To curb and hit at the very root cause of sectarianism and Takfirism, monumental effort is required, and therefore, there should be no delay and an absolute sincerity of purpose in the implementation of the few decisions that have been taken to address the issue.

Great nations are not the ones that suffer blows one by one, but their greatness is defined by their response to each blow that hits them. Our resilience as a nation has been extraordinary, but now Pakistan has endured enough. Victim to ethnicity, she lost a major chunk just two decades after independence. Suffered two wars and underwent never ending trials of corrupt, conscienceless leaders. This nation has great potential, a fertile soil that still produces even after constant floods, and drought. A soil, that produces generations meant to take over the world, in the form of child prodigies, and mothers, who send every one of their sons to war.

But Pakistan bleeds every day. And it is time to heal her wounds, because if not us, then who? If not now, when?

About the author

Dr. Aaminah Siddiqui

Dr. Aaminah Siddique is a Doctor of Pharmacy from JMDC, Karachi.
She leads the section “Diagnosis” at Stratagem. Her interests include writing on religious and social issues. She can be reached at dr.aaminah@stratagem.pk

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