Yesterday in the evening, I sat down with a drink in small bar to relax and reflect on all that is happening around us. As I started typing my thoughts, I couldn’t help but think about the news that greeted me yesterday morning on the Internet. It was about the massacre of the Ismailis in my home-town, Karachi.
Words will do no justice in lamenting over the tragedy that has beset the Pakistani nation. At the same time, a train was derailed in Philadelphia yesterday killing some and injuring many. Sad news is all around us. The axioms of the fragility of human life are reinforced ever more forcefully.
Why are people killed in the name of God? Why are religious minorities not safe in Pakistan? According to the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, “this is the first such incident of its kind towards the Ismaili community.”
I am not an expert on Isma’ilism. I do, however, wholeheartedly support the religious rights of Ismailis. I believe that modern, mainstream Islam needs a thorough revamping. This can happen, in part, through the “explicit concentration on the deeper, esoteric meaning (batin) of the Islamic religion.” This is, in fact, a common Ismaili belief.
Am I an Ismaili? Certainly not. Does Isma’ilism bring a valuable Islamic view-point to the table? Most certainly. In fact, and at a more abstract level, what’s common between all the Muslims being targeted in Pakistan is their belief in the spiritual interpretation of Islam. Barelvis, Shias, Ismailis and even Ahmadis believe in some form of Islamic spirituality which is antithetical to the puritanical, Wahabi school of thought.
What is truly in danger is the mystical dimension of Islam from the Wahabi onslaught. Much to my chagrin, it seems as if the days of gradual reformation through education are over. Senior educationist, Dr. Bernadette L. Dean, recently had to leave Pakistan as she was receiving death threats from political and religious parties regarding her work on curriculum and text-book reform.
There seems no option for the secular, liberal and mystic Muslims but to form a united front to ward off the Wahabi evil. If left unchecked, as it is now, the Wahabi mindset will engulf and subsequently destroy Pakistan.
Islam entails one of the greatest ironies of modern times. In order to preserve the so-called ‘peaceful’ side of Islam, the peace-loving Muslims will have to wage a bloody war against the so-called ‘violent’ Muslims. Which faction will win this epic battle is an open ended question, which only time will answer. I just hope for sanity and peace to prevail. Islam is a complete mess.