SHAFAQNA – Back in 2013 Fanar Haddad, a Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute (National University of Singapore) raised the issue of radical sectarianism in Wahhabism, (Riyadh’s very own dystopian interpretation of Islam) when he warned that latent anti-Shiism in the Middle East had already metastasized into a full doctrinal ostracization movement – thus positioning Shia Islam, and all Shiites outside the Islamic realm.
He wrote for Foreign Policy: “The recent wave of anti-Shiite rhetoric and sectarian polarization has caused profound concerns across the Middle East. Sectarian tensions are not new, of course, but the vocabulary of anti-Shiism in the Middle East has changed dramatically over the last 10. Shiites who used to be accused of ethnic otherness are now being cast as outside the Muslim community itself. Exclusion on doctrinal grounds was a mostly Saudi exception in the framing of Shiism. It is now increasingly becoming the regional rule.”
This “vocabulary” Haddad refers to is course that of takfir – this concept Wahhabism introduced within Islam at the turn of the 18th century, at a time when Saudi Arabia was still known under its original name: the Hijaz. Takfir, which it needs to be noted stand in absolute negation of Islamic traditions, since rooted in intolerance, provisions for the exclusion of Muslims from Islam should they fail to abide by certain religious prerequisites: ie their absolute submission to the lunacy of Wahhabism/Salafism.
It is the alliance of the House of Saud and Wahhabi clerics which slowly eroded at Islam’s pluralist traditions, rising in its stead intolerance and exclusion as the pillars of a new Islamic paradigm. And while Wahhabism might have remained but a dark ideological experiment should it have stayed confined to the desert of Nejd (province of present day Saudi Arabia), al-Saud’s alliances with Western capitals: ie imperial London and neoconservative Washington, allowed for this one religious usurpation to sully, divide, and break the Islamic world into sects, and regions – pitting former allies against one another on account their cultural sensitivities or religious traditions did not conform to Wahhabis’ self-proclaimed puritanism.
This schism within Islam today needs to be understand from a political and hegemonic perspective, rather than a religious one. Shia Islam Wahhabis would have you believe is an apostasy born from the minds of insane clerics … What Wahhabis have omitted in their characterization of Shia Islam, is that Shia Islam stands the witness and keeper to Islam’s traditions. Shia Islam was born in resistance against ideological oppression, against despots’ desire to manipulate and exploit the Scriptures to assert and legitimize their hold on power. In Shia Islam it is really the affirmation of a people’s allegiance to the Words carried by the Prophet Muhammad and his progeny which is reflected.
And where Wahhabis see only apostasy, millions of Muslims see Islamic custodianship.
Today, and for two centuries now, Islam’s school of thoughts, and its intellectual riches have turned into weapons of mass destabilization to serve very geopolitical agendas.
None of the unrest currently taking place in Asia and Africa is religiously-motivated. And though it has been engineered to look, and talk like a sectarian spat, it is because powers imagined themselves a good cover story – one which their media, and their politicians would drum into the public’s consciousness, thus making the illusion a tangible reality.
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it,” said Adolf Hitler. The lie is simple really as partly rooted in truth. Islam indeed, holds within various schools of thoughts … but then again Islam speaks for humanity, and so like the communities it came to guide, Islam is multitude under the unity of the Divine.
What Islam, and Shia Islam most specifically does NOT do is preach hatred to assert itself. Unlike Wahhabism which carries within its own unravelling, Shia Islam is focused on bridging communities and building a fair society, where the rule of law and social justice do happen to mean something.
Prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, anti-Shiism was mainly expressed through ethno-centrism – where “real Muslims”, the Arabs, looked upon the ajam (non-Arab) with suspicious – as if ethnicity and faith somehow coalesced with their socio-political loyalty. Then, ethnicity and religious animosity were somewhat fused together to express political antipathies,, and not yet irrational sectarian hatred.
As Haddad explained in Foreign Policy, the Iraq war, which was meant to coincide with the rise of Saudi Arabia as THE regional superpower in the MENA, led to a dramatic shift – where anti-Shiism became a coat of armor for wannabe Wahhabi crusaders – a new weapon of war, the expression of Riyadh eugenicist agenda.
“… has emerged a style of anti-Shiism that was largely the preserve of clerical circles of the Saudi Arabian variant. This is a discourse of exclusion primarily based on religious otherness that is embodied by the word rafidha. This new form of sectarian animosity frames the Shiites as suspect not because of the allegedly ambiguous national loyalties of some nor because of the so-called “ethnic impurity” of others but because of the beliefs that define the sect as a whole. There is a qualitative difference between stigmatizing the Shiites as ajam and stigmatizing them as rafidha,” Haddad wrote.
The shift in how sectarian discourse is framed and the effect that authoritarianism had in shaping public discourse can be easily gleaned by comparing pre and post-2003 Iraqi Salafi discourse. Today anti-Shiism has become not only the expression of one’s loyalty to Wahhabism and beyond Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical power, but it also encroached itself on the anti-Iranianism.
Sectarian vitriol and sectarian violence have become so institutionalized, and so very generic, that few care to bloink anymore at the mention of raids, massacres and other Wahhabi-promoted niceties against Shiites.
In May 2015, Wahhabi radicals – if there is such a thing since Wahhabism is inherently radical … – organized under the Islamic State of Nejd declared that the recent deadly attacks on Shia mosques in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were the start of a campaign to rid the Arabian Peninsula of all the “polytheists” and “rejectionists” aka rafidha. A few months and such a warning did indeed prelude to a sharp increase in anti-Shia attacks across not just the Middle East but the Islamic world in general.
Africa stands a bloody testament to Wahhabis’ eugenitism – the new frontline of a nefarious crusadic movement.
News report from Kaduna, Nigeria, this January have confirmed that Shiite communities remain besieged by predatory Wahhabi militants, dressed up under a cloak of legitimacy thanks to certain officials’ propensity to accept Saudi Arabia’s financial largesse.
Jamila Awwal a public relations officer for Kaduna Shia community said Shiite women had been tortured and raped before being killed by soldiers, as part of an intimidation campaign run by Nigeria’s Wahhabis.
She was quoted by Punch Newspapers as saying “Some of the women were raped before they were killed by the soldiers as confirmed by some survivors who were also tortured after their arrest. The soldiers molested our women and removed their hijabs which is a serious violation of Islamic rights.”
In Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain Shiites have lived under siege – threatened with torture, imprisonment and death. Shiite Mosques, Shiite schools have been earmarked for destruction to quench Wahhabi Saudi Arabia’s irrational hatred of a faith which rooted itself in the love of the Prophet of Islam and his progeny.
If ever Shia Islam were to be defined it would a declaration of love and an eternal pledge of allegiance to Islam’s First Imam – Imam Ali.
“I am of Ali and Ali is of me,” said the Prophet Muhammad. Such is the faith Wahhabi Saudi Arabia wants to annihilate.
By Catherine Shakdam – This article was first published in the the American Herald Tribune