GUEST WRITER

SWAIBAH BILAL

After the recent heinous attack in Sehwan, a lot of activists and writers seem to be engrossed in extolling and advancing Sufism. But a compelling question arises; why is that relevant at this point?

When a heart-wrenching act of terrorism is committed against a community, it is unanimously condemned regardless of the communities' beliefs. The reflexive response of an individual regarding such an attack is excruciating grief and concern. Unfortunately, some media factions tend to desensitize the situation and channel their attention to aspects of the concerned community that are bound to divide and provoke rather than unite, at a time all communities need to stick together more than ever. That is not just tantamount to breeding sectarian conflict and debate, it tacitly endorses a notion about checking if a community's beliefs are in line with yours before condemning an attack and sympathizing with the victims. Preaching Sufism, to put it simply, is not going to solve a lot of problems. An attack is unfortunate as it is, inciting sectarian conflict by bringing a controversial side of a community to surface which some might not react to favorably should be the last thing on a concerned agenda.

For the past couple of days, a shocking stereotype has been surfacing; if someone does not endorse the act of dhamaal they must in some way, be related to the perpetrators of such acts of terrorism. This is a classic example of intolerance and provocation. To condemn an act of violence committed against Sufism, a person does not need to be associated with Sufism. To stand with a faction they do not have to be one of them or bend away from their own notions.

If anything, perpetrators of terrorism would love to see Pakistan split through the same means it came into existence; ideological differences. One effective way of achieving that is to bring controversial aspects of a certain sect to the attention of another. The second, more effective way, is to categorize Islam into two diametric sides of a spectrum; liberal and radical. Nothing abates their intimidation as effectively, as does the endorsement of this categorization. Many people fail to remember that all Muslims unanimously agree upon following the Quranic teachings; our roots are deeper and closer than they may appear. There really is only one version of Islam. Classifying ourselves into groups and factions does not make sense when we all have a preserved legacy in common: belief in Allah, the last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Quran. Contrary to popular belief, we need not associate with any particular sect or school of thought. Rather, there is a dire need to call for a stop to recognition of these because we already have an identity that we are Muslims; we belong to our legacy through Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions. To be true to it, we must not divide ourselves. Our Muslim identity is not dependent on affixes.

These attempts to create divisions among us are an incitation. We need to stick together henceforth and remain more united than ever, in face of terrorism and attempts to divide Muslims and resultantly, Pakistan.