Archive for November, 2012

After the 2011 Hazara Town shooting Lashkar e Jhangvi exclusively talked about Hazara Town shooting in one of their night letters distributed in Quetta by LeJ Balochistan Unit. Please find the English translation of the letter as following.

Lashkar e Jhangvi Pakistan

Balochistan Unit.

All Shias are liable to be killed. We will rid Pakistan of [this] impure people. Pakistan means land of the pure, and the Shi’ites have no right to live here. We have the decrees and signatures of the revered clerics in which the Shias have been declared infidel (kaafir). Just as our fighters have waged a successful jihad against the Shia-Hazaras in Afghanistan and buthchered them, our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people, the Shias and the Shia-Hazaras, from every city, every town, every village, every nook and corner of Pakistan. Like in the past, [our] successful Jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta is ongoing and will continue [in the future].

We will make Pakistan their graveyard — their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers. We will only rest when we fly the flag of true Islam on this land. Our fighters and suicide bombers have [already] successfully operated in Parachinar, and are awaiting orders to operate across Pakistan. Jihad against the Shia-Hazaras has now become our duty. Our suicide bombers have successfully operated in Hazara Town on May 6, 2011 (referring to a massacre of Hazara people on May 6, 2011 in Hazara Town, Quetta city of Pakistan which left 8 dead and at least 15 wounded) and now our next target is your houses in Alamdar Road.

As long as our innocent friends aren’t freed [from incarceration], we will continue our operations.

The Chief,

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Pakistan

LeJ threat letter

Scanned copy of the threat letter distributed by Lashkar e Jhangvi Balochistan Unit

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Editor’s NOTE: The following piece, penned by Majid Sheikh, was published in Dawn on November 24, 2012. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from Dawn without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

IN our school and college days we all loved to assist friends set up `sabeels` alongside Lahore`s traditional `Ashura` procession, providing cold drinks to the thousands who mourned. Sects and beliefs never mattered then. But then neither did one`s religion.
For well over 1,332 years, the tragedy of Karbala moves everyone who hears about it, be they Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh or any other religion. This is one incident that brings out the need to support those with a moral position.

As children we attended the `sham-ighareeban` with our Shia friends, and learnt the lesson of supporting those in the right. Everyone respected the beliefs of others. Yes, there were always a few silly chaps who wanted attention, but they were at best ignored.

The ancient city of Lahore is connected to the tragedy in no uncertain terms.

Historical accounts say seven brave warriors from Lahore died while fighting in the Battle of Karbala. It is said their father Rahab Dutt, an old man who traded withArabia in those days, had promised the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) to stand by his grandson in his fight to uphold the truth.

That pledge the brave Rajput Mohiyals of the Dutt clan from Lahore upheld.

Today they are known as Hussaini Brahmins, who lived in Lahore till 1947.

Then there is the fact that besides the Hindu Rajputs of Lahore, in the battle also fought John bin Huwai, a freed Christian slave of Abu Dharr al-Ghafari, whose `alleged` descendents, one researcher claims, still live inside the Walled City of Lahore.

I have been on the track of these ancestors for quite some time and have been able to trace one Christian family living inside Mori Gate. They claim to have a connection with a `Sahabi` whose name they cannot recollect. M. A. Karanpikar`s `Islam in Transition`, written over 250 years ago, made this claim, but I do not think it is a claim worth pursuing.

But the most powerful claim of Lahore as the place where the descendents ofHussain ibn All came lies in the Bibi Pak Daman graveyard, where the grave of Ruquiya, sister of Hussain ibn Ali and wife of Muslim ibn Ageel, is said to exist.

Also graves here attributed to the sisters of Muslim ibn Ageel and other family members. Many dispute this claim.

But then no less a person than Ali Hasan of Hajweri, known popularly as Data Sahib, came here every Thursday to offer `fateha` at the grave, informing his followers that this was the grave of Ruquiya. The place where he always stood to offer `fateha` has been marked out, and his book also verifies this claim. Mind you detractors exist, of this have no doubt, but the supporting evidence is quite strong.

Let me begin the story of the Dutts by going through the record of the Shaukat Khanum Hospital and the recorded fact that Indian film star Sunil Dutt, who belonged to Lahore, made a donation to the hospital and recorded the following words: `For Lahore, like my elders, I will shed every drop of blood and give any donation asked for, just as my ancestorsdid when they laid down their lives at Karbala for Hazrat Imam Husain.

Makes you think -but then there is this account which says that the seven sons of Rahab Dutt lost their lives defending the Imam at Karbala. The Martyr`s List at Qum verifies this. History records when the third thrust by Yazid`s forces came, the Dutt brothers refused to let them pass. The seven Punjabi swordsmen stood their ground till they were felled by hundreds of horsemen. In lieu of the loyalty of the Dutt family to that of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) was coined the famous saying: `Wah Dutt Sultan, Hindu ka dharm, Musalman ka iman, Adha Hindu adha Musalman.` Since then, so the belief goes, Muslims were instructed never to try to convert the Dutts to Islam.

A grieving Rahab returned to the land of his ancestors, and after staying in Afghanistan, returned to Lahore. I have tried my very best to locate their `mohallah` inside the Walled City, and my educated guess is that it is Mohallah Maulian inside Lohari Gate. Later theymoved to Mochi Gate, and it was there that the famous Dutts lived before 1947 saw them flee from the hate of the people they gave everything for.

The most interesting thing about the Hussaini Brahmins is that they are highly respected among Hindus, and even more amazingly it is said that all direct ancestors of Rahab Dutt are born with a light slash mark on their throat, a sort of symbol of their sacrifice. I was reading a piece by Prof Doonica Dutt of Delhi University who verified this claim and said that all true Dutts belong to Lahore.

I must point out to an amazing version of these events that an Indian historian, Chawala, has come up with. It says that one of the wives of Hazrat Imam Husain, the Persian princess Shahr Banu, was the sister of Chandra Lekha or Mehr Banu, the wife of an Indian king Chandragupta. We know that he ruled over Lahore. When it became clear that Yazid ibn Muawiya was determined to eliminate Hussain ibn Ali, the son of Hussain (named Ali) rushed off a letter to Chandragupta asking for assis-tance. The Mauriyan king, allegedly, dispatched a large army to Iraq to assist. By the time they arrived, the Tragedy of Karbala had taken place.

In Kufa in Iraq a disciple of Hazrat Imam Husain is said to have arranged for them to stay in a special part of the town, which even today is known by the name of Dair-i-Hindiya or `the Indian quarter` The Hussaini Brahmins believe that in the Kalanki Purana, the last of 18 Puranas, as well as the Atharva Veda, the 4th Veda, refers to Hazrat Imam Husain as the avatar of the Kali Yug, the present age. They believe that the family of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him)is Om Murti, the most respected family before the Almighty.

All these facts bring me back to our days as school children working hard to provide relief to the mourners on Ashura. Reminds me of our neighbour Nawab Raza Ali Qizilbash, who invited us to his `haveli` every year to see the preparations before the event. Raza Bhai is no more, and neither is the tolerance that we all enjoyed so much.

Source:  Karbala and how Lahore was involved  – Majid Sheikh

Raat aai hai Shabbir (AS) pey yalgaar-e-bala hai
Sathi na koi Yaar na ghamkhawr raha hai
Moonis hai to Ek dard ki Ghanghore Ghata hai
Mushfaq hai to Ek Dil key Dharrakney ki sada hai
Tanhai ki, gurbat ki, pareshani ki shab hai
Yeh Khana-e-Shabbir (AS) ki Wirani kee shab hai

Dushman ki sipaah khawab mein madhosh pari thi
Pal bhar ko kisi ki na idhar Aankh lagi thi
Har ek gharri Aaj qyamat ki gharri thi
Yeh Raat bohat Aal-e-Muhammad (AS) pey karri thi
Reh reh key bukaa Ahl-e-Haram kartey they Aisey
Tham tham key Diya Aakhri shab jalta hai jaisey

Ek goshey mein Un Sokhta Samaano’n key Salaar,
Un Khak basar, Khaknuma Weerano’n key Sardaar,
Tashna lab-o-Darmanada-o-Majboor-o-Dil-Figaar,
Is shaan sey bhaithay they Shah-e-Lashkar-e-Ahraar,
Masnad thi, na khillat thi, na khuddam kharrey they,
Haa tan pey jidhar dekhiyee, So Zakham Sajay they…

English Translation:

Night has set in; manifold miseries have Shabbir chained,
No friend, no companion and no well-wisher has remained,
The dark clouds of pain and suffering are but his soother,
And the throb of his wounded heart, is the only comforter,
It’s the night of a lonely being, stranger, stranded and molested,
It’s the night of Shabbir’s house, which is desolate and devastated.

Fast Asleep, the enemy soldiers were senselessly lying,
But this side, non could even wink in a situation trying,
This day, each and every moment was mortifying,
To the progeny of the Holy Prophet, this night was most terrifying,
The house-folks bewailed so, at times but helplessly,
As if the snuffed-out candle, flickers at the night-end slowly.

In a nook there was, the Commander of the deprived creatures,
The Chief of those uprooted and molested creatures,
Broken-hearted, exhausted, helpless and thirsty,
The Leader was sitting but with great dignity,
Neither was royal cushion, nor robe, nor were the attendants standing,
Multiple wounds were on his body, blood from each was oozing.

Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was published in Daily Times on November 17, 2012. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from Daily Times without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

Fanaticism has been kept in the mainstream by those for whom it is a game to extract money out of organisations after rampant looting and killing. People then think of only an exodus as a means of survival, hence leaving behind the land to be ruled by those who have a singular aim to grab power by means of terrorism. Swat, with high mountains, green meadows and clear lakes, once known as the Switzerland of the region, where winter sports and tourism were a normal trend, is now marred by the chilling account of the barbarous and bloodied persecution of those who tried to defy the Taliban. Vested interests of ‘some’ with terrorism have destroyed the region as a business hub, which in turn has cracked the backbone of the economy of Pakistan and has left the state with no tourism. Hundreds of the inhabitants of Swat region were massacred by the Taliban and their misery only came to an end when the government launched a major military operation in 2009, despite facing opposition from the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and religious parties.

The fanatical bent of the human mind always opposes any kind of progressive, scientific education since it will inevitably make the succeeding generations question their diktat, which will consequently topple their kingdom of regressive dogmatism complemented by terror logistics. Religion galvanises people, but misinterpreted religious sermons galvanises the ignorant and uneducated. These people form the vote/power bank of such voices, because due to ignorance their sermons sell; therefore, education is only opposed by fanatics. More than 800 school buildings have been blown up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA to date and the campaign is not over yet. The silence of religious parties in Pakistan over this destruction is quite meaningful, which clandestinely endorses the militants’ argument that educating girls is in breach of the teachings of Islam. Islam does not ask its followers to keep girls uneducated. In fact, it holds education for girls as obligatory as for boys. Malala Yousafzai, who stood for the principles of peace and education, thus jeopardising the hegemony of these thugs, was an obstacle in their greater plan of destabilising Pakistan further.

Malala spoke about education and a secular Pakistan, which is the biggest thorn in the side of their business agenda of terrorism, and that is the reason why she was added to a Taliban hit list in 2011 and, subsequently, attacked in 2012. After an abhorrent campaign run by Islamist goons on social media, casting all sorts of doubts on the assassination attempt on Malala, their full of hot air leader, Fazlur Rehman stamped his approval upon the lamest of conspiracy theories about the 15-year-old who is undergoing medical treatment after surviving miraculously in the attack.

Almost four weeks after Malala and her two friends, Shazia and Kainat, came under attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in her hometown, Swat, the eponymous chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazlur Rehman termed the assassination attempt a drama. Addressing the ‘Islam Zindabad Conference’ in Karak, he said, “Pictures shown on social media have shown the whole character as suspicious because there was no sign of injury after the bandage on her head was removed.” This meant that Malala had not received any injury in her head since there was no sign of one after the bandage on her head was removed.

A couple of weeks ago, in the op-ed pages of a national English daily, a similar article with the title, “Shame on You, Mr Khan” was published in which the writer had bashed the chief of the PTI, Imran Khan, for being a ‘coward’ on account of his statement he gave in a television programme. While condemning the attack on Malala, Khan had said that his party had local affiliates and supporters in the restive areas of Pakistan, of the likes of Waziristan and FATA, and thus he could not give statements against the Taliban because that would make them [supporters] the Taliban’s targets. The column went viral on the social media, so much so that Hamid Mir invited Khan to his show and grilled him about that column and throughout the programme, he kept repeating the title of the aforementioned show. While I agree that Khan’s statement was not a brave one, I am taken aback to see that none of the writers have penned down any criticism on Fazlur Rehman for his despicable statement. Or maybe Mir should invite the maulana to his programme only to fire a barrage of ‘Shame on you, Fazlur Rehman’ for the sake of fairness, if not for anything else. The whole world of some of the writers would have come crashing down around them had such a statement, similar to Rehman’s, come from Imran Khan. Just because Khan listens to all the criticism directed towards him should not become license for his unabated bashing.

I am not surprised to see a group of politically ignorant people celebrating ‘Aafia Day’ on November 10 as a rebuttal of the Malala Day declared by the UN on the same day. Trying to compare apples and oranges, Maulana Fazlur Rehman went on to compare the case of Malala with the case of Aafia Siddiqui in an attempt to cash in on the sentiment of the public associated with Islam, since using religion and anti-Americanism always works wonders in Pakistan, bearing in mind people’s sentiments. Maulana Rehman said, “While everyone was outraged over the attack on Malala Yousufzai, there was silence on the issue of Aafia Siddiqui.” Malala became a victim of a fanatic’s bullet, which wanted to silence her struggle for awareness, whereas Aafia Siddiqui wanted to make many victims.

Let me make it very clear that the two cases cannot and should not be compared. Aafia Siddiqui, 40, was convicted by a US court for attempted murder, armed assault and other charges; Malala Yousafzai, 15, on the other hand, stood against extremism and terrorism, vowing for peace and girls’ education in a time when the Taliban were bombing schools in Swat to deter girls from going to school. During the five years of her disappearance, Declan Walsh, who was The Guardian’s correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan from 2004 to 2011, reported that Aafia visited her uncle, Shamsul Hasan Farooqi, and pleaded with him to smuggle her into Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban, insisting that she would be safe with them. Aafia’s first husband, Amjad Mohammed Khan, an anaesthesiologist, has already disclosed that after the September 11 attacks, Aafia pressed him to go on jihad to Afghanistan and work as a medic for the Mujahideen.

Malala epitomises bravery and peace in the face of terror and barbarity. Her courage has won the hearts of hundreds and thousands of people across the globe. As the government of Pakistan plans to honour Malala by opening special schools in her name for poor children, the world calls for a Nobel Peace Prize for the 15-year-old. She, now, has the support of more than 124,000 people who have signed an online petition asking the Nobel Foundation to nominate her for the prestigious award. Forlornly, there was no Malala Yousafzai moment in Pakistan. The attack on Malala could have been a turning point in the war of our survival but it was not to be. Conspiracy theories got the better of the bitter reality, commandeering vulnerable minds. Here’s hoping Malala would recover soon and resume the fight against bigotry, extremism and oppression. Here’s hoping that Kainat and Shazia pursue education with a rejuvenated resolve. It is high time we stood for all the Malalas who are deprived of education and basic human rights to strive for a better, progressive and tolerant Pakistan.

Source: VIEW : Guillotine of intolerance and guile of hypocrisy — Ali Salman Alvi

Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was published in Daily Times on November 10, 2012. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from Daily Times without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

Places of pilgrimage are not the property of the country they are situated in; they belong to the entire community of the people of the same faith. Therefore the demolition of revered sites should be done only when the entire community gives its endorsement to it. In the case of Saudi Arabia, where the richest heritage of Islamic history is located, the demolition of such sites has been carried out dictatorially, merely keeping the teachings of one school of thought — Salafism — in mind. There is not a thought about the sentiments of millions of Muslims all over the world who hold these places in profound reverence for their religious significance.

The Saudi monarchy is all set to raze at least three of the world’s oldest mosques and the green dome over Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) grave as a multi-billion expansion project of the Masjid-e-Nabvi is initiated. The current expansion plan is a continuity of the Salafi agenda pursued by the Saudi monarchy that kicked off in 1925 when the first monarch Ibn-e-Saud demolished the cemetery al-Baqi that contained the graves of many of the Prophet’s (PBUH) relatives and companions. In the same year, the monarch also demolished the tombs at Jannat-ul-Mualla in Makkah where one of the Prophet’s (PBUH) wives, grandfather, and other ancestors are buried. All this happened despite protests by the international Islamic community.

In Medina, the Saudi regime bulldozed the grave of the father of the Prophet (PBUH); the house of Sayyeda Fatima (SA); the Salman al-Farsi Mosque; the Raj’at ash-Shams Mosque; the Prophet’s (PBUH) house where he lived after migrating from Makkah; the house of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq; the house of Imam Ali where Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husayn (AS) were born; the house of Hazrat Hamza; the graves of the martyrs of Uhud and the complex (mohalla) of Banu Hashim in Medina. Last but not the least, the Saudis demolished house of the Prophet’s (PBUH) first wife, Khadijah, and built, of all things, a public toilet block on the site. Makkah is fast turning into the Manhattan of Saudi Arabia with the construction of scintillating shopping malls, seven-star hotels and skyscrapers.

While no one denies that due to the increasing number of pilgrims on the occasion of Hajj, the expansion of Masjid-e-Nabvi is indispensable, one can conveniently preserve these holiest and richest heritage sites of Islamic history without hampering the expansion project. But given the track record of the Saud family and the manner in which the Saudi regime is going about it, the expansion project remains a worry. Has any authority other than the Salafis been taken into confidence regarding all this expansion? The answer is no. Solely, the Saudi monarchy’s consent to demolish ancient mosques, shrines, and other historical and archaeological heritage sites of Islamic history is clearly antipathetic towards other schools of thoughts of Islam and the sentiments of millions of Muslims living worldwide. This plan of destruction is not about the Saudis’ obsession with concrete and steel; it is not merely about, as generally perceived, accommodating more and more pilgrims; in fact, it is about the Saudis’ adoption of Salafism, an austere and uncompromising elucidation of Islamic teachings that is in vehement antipathy towards mounted graves and shrines.

Rambunctious rioting on various issues has given Muslims an aggressive, intolerant tag, but the issue on which a protest should happen, there is an absolute white lull. Why on earth are all those enraged Muslims who went on a rampage not too long ago, protesting against a reprehensible video ridiculing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as silent as the dead on this plan of demolition? In my humble opinion, there are a couple of reasons behind this disastrous and hypocritical silence. Firstly, it is the rise of Salafism, courtesy countless seminaries funded by Saudis, and the second reason is lack of awareness about the demolition plan in the Muslim world.

I am not surprised to learn it was The Independent, a British newspaper, which carried the report, uncovering the plan of the Saudi regime. In an ideal world, the very same report should have been aired from the platform of a television network of the likes of Al-Jazeera. Needless to mention it was the Egyptian Al-Nas, a very religious channel with the motto: “A channel that will take you to heaven” that aired the trailer of The innocence of Muslims. Unheard of until that point in time, it led to widespread violent protests in the Muslim world. Even after the publication of the aforementioned report in The Independent, why Muslim media in general and Pakistani media in particular is mum over this grave issue remains a serious question. The silence speaks volumes about the Saudi influence over the so-called free media.

In most of the Muslim world, shrines have been built over the graves of some of the Prophet’s (PBUH) relatives, his companions and some saints. Paying visits to these shrines is also commonplace, but Salafism despises such practices and views them as a pagan practice before the call to Islam. Contrary to Salafi beliefs, there is a deep reverence attached to visits to these places among a significant populace of Muslims. Millions of Shia pilgrims gather at the Shrine of Imam Hussain at Karbala every year on the occasions of Ashura and Arb’een. Shias from all over the world pay visits to holy places in Iraq, Iran and Syria throughout the year.

The Saudis’ obsession with annihilating the graves has gone to such an extent that in 2007, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs of Saudi Arabia published a handbill calling for the much-venerated green dome over the Prophet’s (PBUH) grave to be demolished and the graves of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Abu Bakr and Umar to be flattened. The pamphlet was endorsed by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz al Sheikh. Similar decrees were issued by one of the 20th century’s most prolific Wahabi clerics, Sheikh Ibn al-Uthaymeen. The connection between flattening graves and bombing shrines becomes obvious. In a nutshell, where Salafis are in power they are flattening graves, and where they are not they use violent tactics such as bombing shrines in order to deter people from visiting them. Al‘Askarî Mosque, a Shî‘ah Muslim holy site located in the Iraqi city of Sâmarrâ, is one of the most important Shî‘ah mosques in the world. Its dome was destroyed in a bombing by Salafi extremists in February 2006 and its two remaining minarets were destroyed in another bombing in June 2007, causing widespread anger amongst Shî‘ah Muslims. I strongly believe that Allah Almighty is not intimidated by mounted graves, and on a relevant note, Islam, as a religion, is in no danger from shrines. Those who think this is the case should look for another religion to embrace.

Whilst their masters are authoritatively bulldozing graves in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Islamist fanatics are busy in bombing shrines in Pakistan and curbing the entry of women into shrines in India. This is dealing a deadly blow to the Indo-Pakistan culture where scores of people, irrespective of the religion they follow, participate in festivals and devotional fairs celebrated at the shrines of the saints who spread Islam in the subcontinent with the power of the word, not the sword.

As per a report by the Washington-based Gulf Institute, 95 percent of the 1,000-year-old sites in Makkah and Medina have been demolished in just the past two decades. The silence of the Muslim world and especially of those Muslims who do not get tired of offering their lives in the name of the Prophet (PBUH) is not only disastrous but hypocritical as well. The rate at which these sites are being razed is beyond appalling. After all this ‘expansion’, what will be left in the name of Islamic heritage and history? This question haunts me big time. It is a matter of conscience and faith and it can be only be aroused by self-introspection.

Source: VIEW : A whiff of Misoneism towards history and heritage — Ali Salman Alvi