SHAFAQNA – “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The ultimate tragedy I would say today goes beyond injustice, and cruelty since it involves the disappearing and negation of our collective history, and most important of all, our spirituality. If wars continue to wage across the world, claiming lives, and communities there is a greater war still which has gone mostly unnoticed, although it betrays a sickeningly cunning agenda.
Who are we if not the product of society? Who are we if not our compounded knowledge, social markers, and beliefs?
Now to the real question: What makes us, us? In other words, how do we define our identity?
Again, we are, as individuals the products of our environment – this means that our personality, sense of self, sense of the divine and grasp on Society sit, flow and stem from what we have been taught, what we have discovered for ourselves and what we have experienced.
What happens now when the very things which define you, hold you and carry you are attacked, laid waste to, or mocked into oblivion? What happens when everything you thought was part of you is suddenly denied to be reengineered into an aberration you don’t recognise anymore?
What happens when all your social, cultural and religious markers are disappeared to be replaced by an aberration?
I would love nothing more than for this question to be rhetorical. Sadly it is not … As I write those words, communities of men stand besieged by those who ambition to remake them to their abominable image: that of fanaticism, that of radicalism.
As you look onto the horrors being committed across the world in the name of Wahhabism – this evil which has cloaked itself under the banner of Islam, claiming to express its principles when in fact it has murdered its faith, recognize what injustice is being perpetrated against History.
See in the destruction a desire not to drive God out of the public sphere, but an ambition to reclaim His name, His religions and His message to impose that of another kind altogether.
History today is being redacted before our eyes and we have stood blind and deaf to such a tragedy.
History is being recalled away from us so that we would forget who we are, and where we come from. There is no greater barbarity in my mind than to steal someone’s history.
There is no greater crime but to deny communities the courtesy of their heritage – regardless of what we may think or feel about that heritage. It is a great tragedy to assume that cultures, faith, and communities can be measured, and valued according to a scale.
History should serve as a reminder of our journey – a cautionary tale maybe against that we ought to not repeat, an example too of what we could be or should be. History is an inherent part of all of us, and allowing for its raiding is paramount to genocide.
Genocide is not a word we should use lightly … still, we must recognise that we are living today under its vengeful blade.
When I say we, I am referring to humanity, not any particular group, even though tyrants have so far limited their attacks to specific groups. How long before oppressed minorities become the majority? How long before we realise that injustice requires to be spoken against for its miasmas affect all of us?
Much of the Judeo-Christian world has stood in silence as the Islamic world has burnt bright red under the hateful dogma of Wahhabism – which media still refer to as Muslim for they have failed to acknowledge its true nature.
How many nations looked away as communities lie in abject oppression for they did not recognise their own in the faces of brutalised children? Today that evil has caught up with all of us.
Today this evil has laid waste the world religious heritage, one stone after the other, one holy site at a time – one silence after the other.
We have lost too much of our world heritage already for our silence to still offer cover to the abominable hunger of radicalism. We have stood helpless as the Taliban exploded Afghanistan Buddha, we have watched in horror as Palmyra Temple was brought down … how much more of our History are we willing to give up before our recollection of past events becomes but a vague concept?
The World Heritage cannot be measured in political or financial terms. Our past is inherently valuable for it stands a keeper of our global consciousness.
Radicalism it needs to be said, stands an enemy to all faiths, cultures and manners of thinking. Radicalism knows no border … radicalism only knows destruction and violence.
Radicalism did not stop at one particular community, its wrath has not limited itself to the obliteration of Islam’s monuments and tradition.
Its legions have long vowed to forever disappear all which does not testify to its absolutism.
One organisation has stood in resistance and in denunciation of such abominable criminality – the Baqee Organisation.
Since Wahhabism first rose its head in the desert of Nejd (in Saudi Arabia) in the 18th century, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and all other religious denominations have suffered a veritable cultural genocide.
Over 7000 Islamic sites have been destroyed to assuage Wahhabis’ own sense of self-righteous bigotry – still the world has sat in silence. Firmly anchored in intolerance for they think their ideology holy, and pure, Wahhabi clerics have rationalised religious oppression and brutality, turning it into a well-honed system.
Amid the many crimes which were committed over the years al-Baqee cemeteryhas towered over all as it speaks of a hate so entrenched in itself it could never be defined other than in ideological absolutism.
As it lies in ruins, al Baqee came to represent Resistance – the call of a people against the injustice of radicalism, the need for a people to reclaim its History so that cultural and religious identity would not be lost.
We need not be silent and blind to injustice and radicalism.
We need not to see our faiths and traditions be forfeited for we failed to speak for each other.
We need to realise that as radicals’ armies march on, it is God they are trying to claim away from us.
By Catherine Shakdam – Director of the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies