SHAFAQNA – What is righteousness? It has been related that a devout worshipper by the name of Humam came to Imam Ali (AS), and asked him to describe righteous souls so vividly that he could almost see them. Imam Ali then responded: “Their speech is truthful; their clothing is moderate; and they walk with utmost humility. They lower their gaze from everything God has forbidden. They allow their ears to listen only to that which is beneficial. Their souls accept exposure to trials and tribulations [in adherence to the truth] as easily as others accept luxurious living. Were it not for their appointed term, their spirits would not have remained in their bodies the span of a twinkling of the eye due to their intense longing for their Lord. Because the Creator is magnified in their souls, everything else is viewed as insignificant in their sight. Their hearts are sober; people are safe from any wickedness from them; their bodies are slim [they don’t overindulge their appetites]; their basic needs are few; and their souls are chaste. They patiently endure the few days they spend in this world knowing that they will be followed by a long, peaceful rest—this is the profitable life-transaction which their Lord has allowed them to enter into. The world desired them; however, they had no desire for it. It imprisoned them, but they ransomed their souls from it [with their restraint and righteous deeds].”
Now let me tell you of Sheikh Isa Qassim and give this righteous man what his love for Bahrain, Truth, and Islam bought him.
As innocent lives are being claimed to tyranny, capitalism, and imperialism there are still men … clerics, which voices, light, and true courage in the face of tyranny have served as both inspiration and rampart against despair. Such is Sheikh Isa Qassim.
The forefather of modern day Bahrain, Sheikh Qassim was instrumental in shaping the country’s constitution, and thus affirm his people’s right to political self-determination, and freedom of religion. A man of peace, compassion, and reason, Sheikh Qassim is, put simply, a true man of God – one of those righteous souls our Imam so eloquently spoke of.
Bahrain today has risen in the protection of its father, and its imam.
Bahrain today is pushing against the tyranny of a monarchical house for it has denied an entire people the courtesy of its faith, the courtesy of its traditions, the courtesy of its identity.
A small kingdom island it may be, but Bahrain has a heart which beats louder and stronger than most so-called grand nations.
Bahrain stands taller too for its people understand loyalty and sacrifice. It is those two principles Bahrain has enacted this Summer 2016 as it has defied the rule of al-Khalifa to defend the one man an entire nation has identified as its natural leader.
Beyond Bahrainis’ protest it is the world which has recognised the grave injustice which was committed against a peace-loving man of God for he uttered righteousness where there was ignominy.
If Sheikh Qassim in fact spoke against the regime he did so not out of a pernicious desire to forward a political agenda but to empower a nation, and free a people from the shackles of oppression. When the Sheikh spoke criticism he did so as a father admonishing a child, so that he or she would go on to become better.
When the Sheikh offered his hand in dialogue he did so honestly – he did so, so that a people would learn that in the face of evil, one answers with what is better … as such are the injunctions of the Quran.
Still, he was attacked and exposed to slander. Still, his person was targeted and his rights trampled over. Still, he was subjected to a vicious and unlawful judicial campaign so Manama could strip him from his nationality.
In a Bahrain News Agency statement published June 20, 2016, the Interior Ministry said it was revoking the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qasim, considered the spiritual leader of the main opposition group, Al Wefaq. It accused him of “creating an extremist sectarian environment” and saying he had “encouraged sectarianism and violence.”
On the wake of such an announcement Bahrain Shia community came to face to face with yet another wave of senseless violence and repression by the hands of the authorities.
“Bahrain’s government and ruling family are slamming shut the door on political reform, while simultaneously stoking dissent,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Bahrain’s allies in Washington and London should be unequivocal and public in their condemnation and make it clear that these provocations will have an impact on military assistance and strategic relations.”
This attack against Sheikh Qassim runs deeper than a simple exercise of dictatorship, it betrays a desire to force a people into taking up arms. It speaks of a murderous agenda whereby the authorities are looking to cross the proverbial red line to provoke outburst of violence, so that it could rationalise a grand cleanse.
Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency in July 2016, Yousef Al-Houri stressed: “The Bahrain nation has explicitly declared that Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim is a red line and Bahrain is meaningless without the cleric.”
His warning materialised into a grand sit-in before Sheikh Qassim’s residence to prevent the armed forces from forcing their way through.
Despite the dangers such a move inherently poses, thousands have already vowed to defend the Sheikh’s honour, and through him, that of Bahrain, by pledging their lives to his protection.
In a statement released during an open session of the parliament this August, Iranian MPs pointed to recent measures taken by the Manama regime against Sheikh Qassim, saying that such “unwise” steps are in violation of human and civil rights as well as freedom of religion.
“There is no doubt that the inhumane moves will reinforce the Islamic Revolution of Bahrain and lead to formation a destructive uprising against the regime,” the statement added.
Through Sheikh Qassim’s expulsion it is true legitimacy al-Khalifa wants to forfeit.
By Catherine Shakdam for the Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies