SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The estimates show that nearly 50000 Alavides have been killed so far in Syria and it seems that they are facing a revenge campaign against them. According to Shafaqna reports from village of Alhaterieh in Alghadmoos region with population of 1500 so far 2% of the population has been killed and they call this village the place of martyrs and braves. However it is thought that the number of people killed in the village is more than the 2%. Women of the area wearing black and are constantly morning their dear ones who are killed daily. No one knows the exact number of those that have been killed so far. Some families do not even receive the body of their dear ones and just get a verbal message.
Current estimates show that just from the Alavide tribe nearly 50000 or half of the war casualties have been killed. This figure gets significant when it is revealed that only 15% of Syria is Alavides and most of the dead are men. The truth of the matter is that the number of dead from the Alavides is much more than the figures reveal and the world media have totally ignored them. Unfortunately it seems that there is no one to defend the rights of Alavides. The countries of the region only talk about the number of dead from Sunnis and ignore the casualties from Alavides and other minorities. The minorities in Syria say that it is a sad situation when in today’s world; tribalism is blinding the society’s vision.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Maleki warned against his country’s division based on tribalism. According to Al-Ahd News Association, in a conference, Maleki spoke about the demands of some groups for formation of Shia and Sunni regions in Iraq. Maleki warned against such moves and warned that these acts may lead to breakdown of Iraq into tribal areas. He added that all of us should feel responsible and be aware of the plots which threaten the unity of Iraqis. Iraqi Prime Minister revealed the plots by Ba’ath party to divide Iraq by sewing discord amongst the various racial groups in order to breakdown the country into tribal regions.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- This question is in reality divided into two segments:
1. The first is that who, from the perspective of the Shias, does the Holy Quran specify when it speaks of the ‘Ahlul Bait’. Also, are the wives of the Holy Prophet (s) considered as part of this group?
2. The second question is whether the absence of the names of the Shia Imams (a) in the books considered reliable by the ‘Ahlul Sunnah’ weakens their positions as imams? The answer to the first segment of the question has been answered in the following questions: 834 (site 903).
In respect to the second segment of your question, ponder on this example: Imagine that someone has taken a decision to go on a trip and in regards to the city of destination they have a doubt. It is natural that in such a case the individual, in order to make a better decision, will ask informed individuals as well as study maps and travel guides of various cities. He will do all of this in order to find out which city is the most appropriate and select that city.
With this said, the question is whether after we have entered our city of destination do we still have a need for the maps of the other cities that we were researching earlier and decided not to travel to? If we were to try to find a street name in the map of a city which we were not in, would we have any right to become surprised when we are not able to find it? It’s certain that you will give a negative response to this question! When we have entered a certain city, then the roads and streets that exist there can only be found by searching the correct map of that very city. Now we will return to the question that was at hand.
The Shias, in order to select the correct pathway, studied the books of both the Shia and Sunnis and after doing their research have found that even in the books of the Ahlul Sunnah the Holy Prophet (s), in various speeches, selected Amirul Mumineen Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) as the Caliph that was to come after him. This is clearly seen in traditions such as the tradition of Thaqalain which expounds on the idea that the only correct path of Islam is possible through following the Holy Quran and the ‘Ahlul Bait’ (a)  . After this the Shias don’t see the need for finding the names of their Imams (a) in certain books or for proving their jurisprudential, ethical, or political rules… There is no need to set up the reliable books of the Ahlus Sunnat as documentation for the beliefs of the Shia and in the event of not finding anything, falling into doubt due to it. Of course it’s possible to research secondary viewpoints and matters through these sources and consider them as documentation for these matters. Except in matters of finding that primary path, that we spoke about earlier (which needs varying viewpoints and sources), there is no need after that primary path is found for the Shia to prove their ideology and jurisprudential laws based on the books of the Ahlul Sunnah. The Shia use the rich resources that they have at their disposal and the lack of finding the names of their Imams (a) as being called Imams (a) in the books of the Ahlul Sunnah will not really cause any doubts or other issues to crop up.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- uprising that began as a challenge to monarchic rule has become a largely sectarian movement by majority Shia Bahrainis against the Sunni leadership. As American scholar on the Persian Gulf region Joseph Kéchichian details — presented in partnership with the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism — Sunni-Shia conflict appears to haveentrenched itself in Bahrain under the regime.
Two years after the first skirmishes that led Bahrian’s ruling Al Khalifah family to order the destruction of the old and elegant Pearl Roundabout monument on March 18, 2011, Sunni-Shia tensions continue.
Timid efforts to defuse conflict between Muslim sects have been made though confrontations persist as the underlying causes — discrimination and favoritism — remain intact. Discussions of Islamic unity have fallen on deaf ears with few concrete recommendations under review.
One of the smallest kingdoms in the world, Bahrain boasts a 1.2 million population figure of whom less than 600,000 are indigenous, with the balance hailing from numerous Arab as well as non-Arab countries. Densely populated, though concentrated in the north of the country around the capital city of Manama, an estimated 65-70 percent of the indigenous populations are Shia Muslims even if the ruling family is predominantly Sunni.
The oldest traceable Shia community, known as the Baharnah, track their roots to Arabian tribes that were present in the area since pre-Islamic times. They accepted Islam and became Shias nearly 1300 years ago. In addition to Manama, many live across the causeway on the Island of Muharraq, though exclusive villages exist elsewhere.
Sunni Bahrainis are relatively recent arrivals on the island kingdom, as most came with the Al Khalifahs about 200 years ago from Qatar, where the Al Thanis defeated and expelled them from the promontory. Sunni Arabs, including the ruling family trace their origins to Central Arabia, Najd in particular, which underscores their ideological proximity to the Saudi royal family, though they are not Muwahhidun (Wahhabis).
In addition to the Baharnah and Sunni Bahrainis, another significant and influential ethnic minority arrived nearly 400 years ago as laborers, artisans and merchants, and were known as the Ajam (Persians Shias). Unlike the Baharnah, the Ajam have maintained a distinct culture and language and though most assimilated over the years, identifying themselves as Persian Bahrainis.
Bahrain's Constitution ensures “freedom of conscience, the inviolability of worship, and the freedom to perform religious rites and hold religious parades and meetings, in accordance with the customs observed in the country.” In reality, however, strict rules have governed how citizens exercised these rights, as Manama practiced subtle discrimination against Shias. Little or no criticisms of the ruling family are tolerated.
Considerable restrictions have also been placed on how many places of worship can be constructed along with myriad personal aggravations against the Shia. The sum total of dormant frustrations boiled over into the 2011-2012 uprising that took on a purely sectarian dimension.
To maintain strict political control, Manama requires that religiously based, political, and nongovernmental organizations register as “societies,” which must function and operate somewhat like parties with some legal rights to conduct political activities. In other words, only such societies were authorized to participate in parliamentary and municipal elections, even if most Shia societies boycotted the last elections, held in 2007.
Even more ominous is the requirement for religious groups to obtain a license from the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs to operate, for example, religious schools or clinics. In fact, holding religious meetings without permits is illegal in Bahrain although such permits have routinely been issued. Moreover, Manama exercisesconsiderable control over the High Council for Islamic Affairs, which reviews and approves all clerical appointments within both the Sunni and Shia communities. The Council vets all candidates who express a desire to join the armed forces even if very few Shia Muslims are recruited to serve in the military and in various domestic security services.
Ministry of Education requirements are equally discriminatory, as they designed the school curricula, which discussed all branches of Islam but emphasized the Maliki school of Sunni theology. Ja‘afari traditions of Shia Islam were rejected in the past even if civil and criminal legal systems were a mixture of the Sharia, strictly respected tribal laws, and other civil codes and regulations.
Personal status concerns, including women’s rights, marriage contracts, inheritance, and legal representations are all governed by Sharia. Interestingly, and in the absence of a direct male heir, a Shia Bahraini woman inherits the totality of bequeathed property, whereas a Sunni woman in similar circumstances inherits only a portion, with the balance divided among brothers, uncles, and male cousins of the deceased.
No restrictions exist on citizens to make pilgrimages to Shia shrines in Iran, Iraq or Syria, even if Manama monitors all travel to Iran and carefully scrutinizes those who pursue religious studies in Iranian Shia seminaries.
Manama has funded, monitored, and closely controlled all official religious institutions, including Shia and Sunni mosques, Shia ma‘tams (religious community centers), waqfs (religious endowments) and religious courts, and has seldom interfered with legitimate religious observances, including the annual Ashura commemorative marches that combined religious ceremonies with political frenzy.
Bahrainis were disappointed when their leader Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa failed to follow up on promises he made in 1999 after he succeeded his father on the throne. Many more wished that he would implement the reforms outlined in the 2001 National Charter that anticipated a return to constitutional rule.
Instead, Al Khalifa family disputes postponed the concrete measures that were voted upon in a popular referendum, something the people could no longer tolerate in the 21st century.
Indeed, the 2011-2012 uprisings and the crackdown that followed essentially meant that the monarch’s uncle, Shaikh Khalifah bin Salman Al Khalifah, the immensely powerful prime minister and the richest man in the kingdom, was not replaced.
To be sure, the monarch elevated his heir apparent, Shaykh Salman bin Hamad, to the deputy premiership, though the appointment was merely cosmetic. Chances that bin Hamad would be allowed to resurrect the 1973 Constitution, which the heir apparently wished to do, remain small.
That 1973 statute allowed free parliamentary elections but was suspended because the ruling family perceived it as pledging too many rights to citizens that, it was worth repeating, were Shia. Moreover, and although Bahrain sustained violent demonstrations in the 2011-2012 uprisings, the ruler commissioned an independent judiciary body to examine the charges of torture and welcomed the November 23, 2011 report drafted by an international team of scholars led by Cherif Bassiouni.
The Bassiouni Commission took 9,000 testimonies, documented 46 deaths, numerous allegations of torture, and a variety of grievances against the monarchy. It also offered a series of recommendations, some of which were implemented by the government. Several Shia mosques, destroyed ostensibly because they were built illegally, were slated for restoration.
The Bassiouni Commission Report notwithstanding, Bahraini authorities held several secret trials where protesters were sentenced to death, while many opposition politicians were arrested. Members of the country’s civil society, especially nurses and doctors who treated injured protesters, were jailed ostensibly because they cared for the wounded that were brought to emergency rooms during the uprisings. Hundreds of Shia professionals were fired from government positions and their pensions were canceled, while students and teachers who took part in the protests were routinely detained.
source : Globale Post
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Paying attention to several points can clear up the answer to this question:
1- The transcription of hadith was banned by Umar and since there was no written proof around and also, because there were more than enough motives for the heads of the Umayyids to forge hadiths on false virtues, not to mention all the necessary resources and wealth that was at their disposal and they used for this task, the forging of hadiths was quite common then, and subsequently, the sources that were later compiled (after the writing of hadiths was made legal) were based on these same forged hadiths.
Ibn Abil-Hadid narrates from Abul-Hasan Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Seyf Mada’ini in his book of Al-Ahdath that after the year in which Imam Hasan gave up going to battle with Muawiyah (Aamul-Jama’ah 41 ah), Muawiyah wrote a letter to his governors saying that he has no responsibility towards anyone who says anything about the virtues of Imam Ali (as) and the Ahlul-Bayt. Abil-Hadid also says: He asked the province governors to gather the people so that they narrate hadiths about the qualities of Uthman, the Sahabah and the first three khalifahs and to also counter any hadiths mentioned about the virtues of Ali (as) with the opposite in praise of the Sahabah. Muawiyah’s letter was read for the people, money was spent for this purpose and many forged hadiths about their virtues were narrated here and there and were widely taught to the people’s children and they engaged in learning and memorizing them the same way they would learn the Quran. Jurists, judges, and governors all endorsed this policy and continued it. During this time, the Qaris (reciters) of the Quran were in worst shape, they would display asceticism and humility, but would forge hadiths to draw the attention of the governors and gain wealth in the process. When the reciters of the Quran did this, the trust of the devout believers was gained (because of the important status the reciters of the Quran had then; they were trusted by all) and even they began accepting and narrating these forged hadiths. Abil-Hadid goes on to say: Ibn Arafah, known as Naftawiyyah, which is a great hadith scholar, has narrated things like this report in his history book.
Through this strategy, many of Imam Ali’s (as) virtues were wrongfully concealed, although a portion of it remained untouched by the enemy, who wasn’t able to keep it away from the nation; this is a blessing from Allah (swt) and special attention that He gave to the preservation of Islam. What informs us of this concealment of Imam Ali’s virtues is what Abu Ishaq has narrated: “A man asked Bara’ – while I could hear what they were saying – : Was Ali present in the battle of Badr? He replied: “It is clear and obvious.”
Do you think that Imam Ali’s status in Badr was unknown and unclear in the advent of Islam to the extent that it needed to be asked about?! This is while the victory of the battle of Badr laid on the shoulders of Imam Ali (as) and if it wasn’t for his sword, the Muslims would have definitely lost the battle. This shows to what extent the people then had strived to cover Imam Ali's (as) virtues and accomplishments, and even if they ever did narrate anything about him, they would do it incompletely and deficiently.
Take this incident for instance: Muawiyah gave four hundred thousand dirhams from the Beytul-Mal(the nation’s treasury) to Samurah Ibn Jundub to speak among the people of Sham and to say that the verse “وَ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ یُعْجِبُکَ قَوْلُهُ فِی الْحَیاةِ الدُّنْیا وَ یُشْهِدُ اللَّهَ عَلى ما فِی قَلْبِهِ وَ هُوَ أَلَدُّ الْخِصامِ وَ إِذا تَوَلَّى سَعى فِی الْأَرْضِ لِیُفْسِدَ فِیها وَ یُهْلِکَ الْحَرْثَ وَ النَّسْلَ وَ اللَّهُ لا یُحِبُّ الْفَسادَ”(Among the people is he whose talk about worldly life impresses you, and he holds Allah witness to what is in his heart, though he is the staunchest of enemies. And if he were to wield authority, he would try to cause corruption in the land, and to ruin the crop and the stock, and Allah does not like corruption) was revealed about Ali ib Abi Taleb, and to also say that the verse “وَ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ یَشْرِی نَفْسَهُ ابْتِغاءَ مَرْضاتِ اللَّهِ” (And among the people is he who sells his soul seeking the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is most kind to His servants) was revealed about the wretched of all people, Ibn Muljam.
It is also good to draw your attention to two books of Mahmoud Abu Riyah, one of the top Sunni scholars in
Al-Azhar University and ask you to closely study them. In his book of “Adwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah” (اضواء علی السنة المحمدیة), he writes:
Scholars all agree that hadith forgery began towards the end of Uthman’s rule, and in order to justify taking away the caliphate from Ali (as), forgery reached its highest during the Umayyid period.”
For further information on those who fabricated hadiths, see: The Personality of Abu Hurayrah from the Perspective of the Sahabah, Question 969 (website: 1044).
2- Although the Abbasids took power with the slogan of supporting the Ahlul-Bayt, but as time passed, they followed the footsteps of the Umayyids, because if they were not to do so, they would have no choice but to hand over the power to the imams and their followers. Some scholars even believe that their transgression exceeded that of the Umayyids.
In closing, it should be mentioned that in the tenth volume of his book, Al-Ghadir, Allamah Amini (rah) has a comprehensive and interesting investigation about hadith and fabricated hadiths and has listed around seven hundred narrators who were liars and forgers of hadith, pointing to about half a million hadiths narrated from forty three of them alone. He also narrates around a hundred false hadiths in which not only the caliphate and virtues of the first three khalifahs are confirmed, but Mu’awiyah, Yazid and Mansur Davaneqi and other Umayyid and Abbasid rulers have all been deeply praised in!!!
1) The biography of Bukhari and criticism of Al-Jame’ Al-Sahih (Sahih Bukhari), Question 623 (website: 681).
2) The Sunnis and Hadiths Fabricated in Praise of their Virtues, Question 2928 (website: 3186).
 The details of this incident can be studied in Al-Ghadir, vol. 6, pp. 417-428 by Allamah Amini, or in the Farsi translation of Al-Ghadir, vol. 12, pp. 192-208. See: The Nurul-Wilayah software of the Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences.
 قال الذهبی بترجمته: «المدائنی، العلّامة الحافظ الصادق أبو الحسن علی بن محمّد بن عبد اللّه بن أبی سیف المدائنی الأخباری، نزل بغداد، و صنّف التصانیف، و کان عجبا فی معرفة السیر و المغازی و الأنساب و أیام العرب، مصدّقا فیما ینقله، عالی الإسناد ... و کان عالما بالفتوح و المغازی و الشعر صدوقا فی ذلک» توفی سنة 224، 225. سیر أعلام النبلاء 10/400. ترجمته فی: فی: تاریخ بغداد 12/54، مرآة الجنان 2/83، معجم الأدباء 14/124، الکامل فی التاریخ 6/516 و غیرها
 ترجم له الذهبی و قال: «نفطویه الإمام الحافظ النحوی العلّامة الأخباری أبو عبد اللّه إبراهیم بن محمّد بن عرفة بن سلیمان، العتکی الازدی الواسطی، المشهور بنفطویه، صاحب التصانیف ... و کان ذا سنّة و دین و فتوّة و مروّة، و حسن خلق، و کیس، مات سنة 323» سیر أعلام النبلاء 15/75. و توجد ترجمته أیضا فی: تاریخ بغداد 6/159، وفیات الأعیان 1/47، المنتظم 6/277، الوافی بالوفیات 6/130، معجم الأدباء 1/254، و غیرها
 Sharh Nahjil-Balaghah Ibn Abil-Hadid, vol. 11, pg. 44, The Manhaj Al-Nur software of the Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences; The translation of Al-Ghadir fil-Kitabi wal-Sunnati wal-Adab, vol. 21, pp. 43-46; Abaqatul-Anwar fi Imamatil-A’immatil-At’har, vol. 12, pg.24, The Nur Al-Wilayah software.
 Sahih Bukhari, vol. 3, the book of battles, the chapter on the killing of Abu Jahl.
 Translation of Dala’ilul-Sidq, vol. 1, pp. 5-6.
 Sharh Nahjil-Balaghah Ibn Abil-Hadid, vol. 4, pg. 72.
 Titles: “Sheikh Al-Mudirah Abu Hurayrah”, “Adwa’un alal-Sunnah Al-Muhammadiyyah” ("شیخ المضیرة ابوهریرة"and"َاضواء علی السنة المحمدیة").
 Adwa’un alal-Sunnah Al-Muhammadiyyah, pp. 118-119 and 126-135. Imam Muhammad Abduh, in his book on tawhid “Theology of unity”, pp. 7 and 8, stresses on this same point.
 In this regard, Allamah Mir Hamed Hosein (rah) says: “و لم یزل الأمر على ذلک سائر خلافة بنی أمیّة حتى جاءت الخلافة العباسیة، فکانت أدهى و أمرّ و أضرى و أضرّ، و ما لقیه أهل البیت علیهم السّلام و شیعتهم من دولتهم أعظم ممّا مضوا به فی الخلافة الامویة کما قیل: و اللّه ما فعلت أمیّة فیهم معشار ما فعلت بنو العباس ثمّ شبّ الزمان و هرم، و الشأن مضطرب و الشنآن مضطرم، و الدهر لا یزداد إلّا عبوسا، و الأیام لا تبدی لأهل الحق إلّا بؤسا، و لا معقل للشیعة من هذه الخطّة الشنیعة فی أکثر الأعصار و معظم الأمصار إلّا الانزواء فی زوایا التقیّة، و الانطواء على الصبر بهذه البلیة”. See: Al-Darajat Al-Rafi’ah fi Tabaqat Al-Shia, pp. 5-8;Abaqat Al-Anwar fi Imamat Al-A’immah Al-Athar, vol. 12, pg. 24; Nafahat Al-Azhar fi Kholasat Abaqat Al-Anwar, vol. 15, pp. 42-45.
 Of course, this shouldn’t be very strange, because in the introduction of the book “Fath Al-Bari”, Ibn Hajar says: “Aba Ali Ghasani narrates from Bukhari that he said: “I have selected this collection from six hundred thousand hadiths”, while we know that the number of hadiths (not counting repeats) in Sahih Bukhari don’t exceed 2,761.
 Translation of Al-Ghadir fi Al-Kitab wa Al-Sunnah wa Al-Adab, vol. 10, pg. 8.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Thousands of Sunni protesters have held anti-government protests in Iraq's Anbar province, complaining of marginalisation by the Shia-led government.
Big rallies were held in the provincial capital of Ramadi and in Fallujah on Friday. Protesters also marched in the capital Baghdad and in the central city of Samarra.
In Fallujah and Ramadi, demonstrators performed Friday's noon prayers, the highlight of the religious week, on the highway, which links Iraq with Jordan.
Protesters complain of official discrimination, saying anti-terrorism laws and other policies largely target minority Sunnis. The protests were sparked by the December arrests of bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi, a Sunni.
Tribal leaders and political activists also called protests in Fallujah in solidarity with seven young men killed in clashes between government forces and protesters in the city last week. Tens of thousands of protesters held photographs of those killed in last week's demonstrations and shouted anti-government slogans.
Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Fallujah, said many had walked for hours to attend Friday's protest and had turned the highway into a mosque for the weekly prayers.
"Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is under increasing pressure to listen to their demands," she said, adding that a lot of the protesters, mostly young men, were unemployed and that a lot of them have been in jail.
"They feel they've been neglected by the Shia government," she said.
Maliki's government has offered some concessions, including the freeing of hundreds of prisoners, but protesters have grown more defiant since the deaths in Fallujah last week.
"We will never forget what the army did to us, not only last Friday, but all of their behaviour has been sectarian against
us," Omar Al-Jumaili, 51, in Fallujah city. "Our new demand; the Iraqi army should leave this area."
The prime minister has appointed a senior Shia figure to talk to demonstrators about demands such as an amnesty law and easing of so-called de-Baathification campaign against former members of Saddam' Hussains outlawed Baath party.
Meanwhile, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group called on Sunnis to take up arms against the government.
In an audio statement posted on Friday on the website of the Islamic State of Iraq, spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani says Sunnis can bow to the Shias or take up arms to restore "dignity and freedom".
Al-Adnani said the ongoing protests against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki mark the end of Sunni humiliation in Iraq.
Protest organisers in Ramadi, Fallujah and elsewhere, however, said that they had no links to the group, and that they aimed to hold only peaceful demonstrations.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – HUMAN history may be seen as a record of the eternal struggle between right and wrong, virtue and vice, good and evil, and righteousness and wickedness. This struggle was decreed by God when Adam, an earthly creature, was sent to earth to engage in this eternal battle. It is through this struggle that human beings can earn their eternal bliss in the Gardens of Paradise, or their eternal punishment in the Fire. In the history of nations this struggle often attains universal significance as that moment of the struggle can speak to all subsequent times and situations. Thus the Qur'an urges us over and over again to ponder the end of those who were before us, and how God dealt with them. In every case, moreover, a prophet or messenger of God was rejected by his people and killed or driven out. In this sense, therefore, the struggle is in the end between God and humankind, between truth and falsehood, and between right guidance and manifest error.
Nowhere is this struggle placed in sharper relief than in the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and the lives of the people of his House. The life and witness of the Imam Husayn in particular, has acquired special significance in Muslim piety. This is because he has provided a model for all martyrs in the way of God, for all time.
The purpose of this paper is to emphasize the universal significance of the Imam in Muslim tradition. It is important to observe that all the traditions cited in this essay are found in both Shi'i and Sunni hadith literature. But while in the Sunni community such traditions remain purely pietistic, Shi'i tradition has made them the basis of a complex theological system.
However, to appreciate the place of Husayn, 'the prince of martyrs', in Muslim history, a word must be said about the place of the Prophet's family (the ahl al-bayt) in Muslim piety. At the same time the people of the House of the Prophet Muhammad are not unique in the prophetic history of human societies. A word is, therefore, necessary concerning the families of other prophets, if we are to appreciate fully the devotion which Muslims throughout their long history have accorded the people of the House of Muhammad, the seal of the prophets.
Prophetic history begins, according to the Qur'an, with Adam, called safwat Allah (the elect of God). He was followed by Noah, the first of the prophets of power or resolve (ulu al-'azm). Noah was sent as a messenger by God to his people who rebelled against God's message, and were thus destroyed by the flood. Then came Abraham, the father of prophets. With his son Ishmael he built the Ka'ba, the first house for the worship of God. Ishmael was also a prophet, and the ancestor of the prophets Shu'ayb, Salih, Hud, and finally Muhammad, the last messenger of God to humankind.
Isaac, Abraham's second son, was also a prophet and the father of prophets. Among his descendants were the family of 'Imran, the father of Moses, and Jesus, as well as other earlier prophets who were sent by God to the Children of Israel. The Qur'an declares that God has elected Adam, Noah, the family of Abraham and the family of 'Imran. It further states that they were a single progeny, one from the other'. All the prophets and their families are therefore of one physical and spiritual lineage They and their households are the elect of God, purified and honoured over the rest of humankind.
The people of the House of the Prophet Muhammad were likewise chosen by God and purified from all evil and sin. The Muslim community did not, however, infer the status of the family of Muhammad from that of earlier prophets and their families.
Rather they too were chosen by God and purified from all evil and sin. Yet because Muhammad was the last prophet sent to guide humanity to God and the good, his descendants could not assume his prophetic role. Their mission was to be the Imams, or guides, of the Muslim community. Their task is to safeguard the message vouchsafed to Muhammad by God for humankind. Like many prophets, the Imams had to endure rejection by their people and much suffering at their hands; martyrdom in the cause of God was often their lot. Yet the greater the suffering, the greater is the reward and honour which God promises His prophets, friends (awliya'), and righteous servants. Thus the Prophet was asked: 'Who among men are those afflicted with the greatest calamity?' He replied:
The prophets, then the pious, everyone according to the degree of his piety. A man is afflicted according to his faith (din); if his faith is durable, his affliction is accordingly increased, and if his faith is weak, his affliction is made lighter. Afflictions continue to oppress the worshipful servant until they leave him walking on the face of the earth without any sin cleaving to him. 
EXCELLENCES OF THE AHL AL BAYT
In both Sunni and Shi'i Muslim tradition, one important event symbolizes the status of the ahl al-bayt and the human as well as spiritual dimensions of their relation to the Prophet. This is the tradition or episode of al-kisa' (the mantle, or cloak) which the Prophet spread over himself and Fatima his daughter, 'Ali, and their two sons Hasan and Husayn. This tradition has come down to us in a number of versions, each stressing one or another aspect of the excellences of the family of the Prophet and his love for them. Ahmad b. Hanbal relates on the authority of Umm Salama, the Prophet's wife, that he said to Fatima one day:
'Bring me your husband and two sons.' When they had all come together he spread over them a mantle, and laying his hand over them, he said: 'O God, these are the people of the House of Muhammad! Let therefore your prayers and blessings descend upon Muhammad and the people of the House of Muhammad; for you are worthy of all praise and glory.' Umm Salama continued: 'I then lifted the mantle to enter in with them, but he pulled it away from my hand saying, "You too shall come to a good end". 
The point which this version of the kisa' tradition emphasizes is that the ahl al-bayt are only the five: Muhammad, 'Ali, Fatima, and their two sons Hasan and Husayn. Umm Salama, one of the most highly venerated of the Prophet's wives, was denied this special status. We shall have more to say about this point, as it is emphasized in almost every version of this tradition.
In another highly interesting version of the kisa' tradition, related on the authority of 'Abd Allah b. Jafar b. Abi Talib, we read:
As the Apostle of God saw mercy descending, he demanded: 'Call them for me, call them for me!' Safiyya asked: 'Who should we call, O Messenger of God?' He answered: 'Call the people of my household: 'Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husayn.' When they were brought, he spread a mantle over them; then lifting his hands to heaven said: 'O God, these are the people of my House; bless, O God, Muhammad and the people of the House of Muhammad!' God then sent down the verse: Surely God wishes to remove all abomination from you, O People of the House, and purify you with a thorough purification. 
This version of the tradition provides the meaning of the kisa' and the basis of its significance. The mantle is a symbol of divine mercy and blessing covering the Prophet and his holy family. It is, moreover, a source or haven of consolation and serenity in the face of the great sufferings and martyrdom which the Prophet's family had to endure after him. In this infinite source of divine mercy, the pious also share in times of sufferings and afflictions. The kisa' finally sets apart the 'holy five' from the rest of the faithful, and distinguishes them from the rest of the Prophet's family.
The event of the kisa' provides the occasion for the revelation of the verse of purification just cited. Before the sectarian conflicts which split the Muslim community set in, classical tradition was almost unanimous in interpreting this verse as referring to the Prophet, his daughter Fatima al-Zahra' (the Radiant), her husband and cousin,' Ali, and their two sons Hasan and Husayn. 
In still another version of the kisa' tradition, the continuity of the Prophet's family with those of earlier prophets is clearly indicated. Wathila b. al-Asqa', on whose authority this tradition in most of its variants is related, reports the following prayer uttered by the Prophet:
O God, as you have bestowed your blessings, mercy, forgiveness, and pleasure upon Abraham and the family of Abraham, so they ['Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn] are of me and I am of them! Bestow, therefore, your blessings, mercy, forgiveness and pleasure upon me and them.' 
This prayer echoes a prayer which Muslims repeat daily:
O God, bless Muhammad and the people of the House of Muhammad, as you have blessed Abraham and the people of the House of Abraham among all beings.
The House of Muhammad is, therefore, for all Muslims, 'the household of prophethood and the frequenting place of angels'. The famous Qur'an commentator al-Suyuti quotes a tradition attributed to Umm Salama in interpretation of the verse of purification:
This verse was sent down in my house ... There were in the house then, seven: Gabriel and Michael, and 'Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husayn, and I stood at the door of the house. I asked: 'O Messenger of God, am I not of the People of the House?' He said: 'You shall indeed come to a good end! You are, however, one of the wives of the Prophet.' 
The close friendship between the Prophet and the holy family, a relationship which went far beyond the bond of blood relation, may be seen in the incident of the mubahala, or prayer ordeal, with which the Prophet challenged the Christians of Najran. In the mubahala verse of the Qur'an, God orders the Prophet and his opponents to 'Call together our sons and your sons, our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves.' In the view of most Qur'an commentators and traditionists, the Prophet's sons are Hasan and Husayn, 'his women' refers to Fatima, and 'his self' refers, apart from himself, to 'Ali. When the people of Najran saw them, they recognized their high status with God, and with great trepidation they declined the mubahala and opted instead for peace.
Tradition asserts that the Prophet sensed the hostility which his community was to show to the People of his House after him. He is said to have often declared, 'I am at war against him who fights against you, and will show peace toward him who shows peace to you.' This invective is strongly put in a tradition related on the authority of Abu Bakr, the Prophet's famous Companion and the first caliph. He said:
I saw the Messenger of God pitch a tent in which he placed 'Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husayn. He then declared: 'O Muslims, I am at war against anyone who wars against the people of this tent, and am at peace with those who show peace toward them. I am a friend to those who befriend them. He who shows love toward them shall be one of a happy ancestry and good birth. Nor would anyone hate them except that he be of miserable ancestry and evil birth.
Love for the Prophet's family is enjoined by God in the Qur'an, where He says: Say, 'I ask no other reward of you save love of my next of kin' (42:23). Qur'an commentators have generally agreed that 'the next of kin' here intended are the ahl al-bayt. 
The People of the House of the Prophet Muhammad have been for the pious an example of generosity, steadfastness in the face of hardship, and a source of solace in time of trials and afflictions. After days of fasting and prayers for the health of the two sick children Hasan and Husayn, the family fed the few morsels of dry bread and dates for which 'Ali had laboured so hard to the needy. On the first evening, we are told, a beggar came. On the second, it was an orphan, and on the third, a captive. To each in turn, they gave the loaf of barley bread and few dates which Fatima had prepared for the family to break their fast. Thus God sent down the verse: They give food to eat, even though they cherish it, to the needy, the orphan and the captive.  Yet, in the end, God sent down a celestial table to feed His friends.
Early tradition shows a tension in the relationship of the Prophet to the community and in the relationship of the latter to the holy family. Much of the literature reflecting this tension was most likely the product of a later age, but projected back to the time of the Prophet and his Companions. Here love for the Prophet's family is not simply recommended as a pious act, but is presented as a challenge, and in a harsh reproaching tone. Furthermore, it is on this love to the ahl al-bayt that rewards and punishments on the Last Day are predicated. Thus we are told that the Prophet said:
He who desires the pleasure to live my life, die my death and dwell in a garden of Eden which my Lord has planted, let him be a friend to 'Ali after me. Let him also be a friend to his friends. Let him finally be guided by the Imams after me, for they are my progeny. They were created of my clay, and have been vouchsafed knowledge and understanding. Woe to those of my community who deny their superiority, and those who violate the demands of kindness to my next of kin. May God not grant them my intercession.' 
In another tradition, the Prophet promises his intercession to those who honour his descendants, provide them with whatever needs they may have, and those who love them with their heart and profess this love with their tongues. 
It has already been stressed that the ahl al-bayt share with the prophets of old and their descendants a high status and divine favour, but not the office of prophethood. They share, moreover, with the Prophet Muhammad the prerogative of intercession. This is expressed in hagiographical language, a language common to both Sunni and Shi'i tradition. One such common example may suffice to demonstrate the devotion in the piety of both traditions to the Prophet and the people of his household.
The Qur'an tells us that Adam received certain words of God which earned him God's forgiveness and mercy: Adam received words from his Lord, and He turned towards him; for He is relenting, compassionate (2:37). Suyuti reports that Ibn 'Abbas, the famous traditionist and authority on the Qur'an, asked the Prophet about the words which Adam received. The Prophet answered: 'He prayed saying, "O God, for the sake of Muhammad, 'Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn, do turn toward me", and He turned toward him.'  In another highly dramatic version of this tradition, Adam is taught the words as the only means by which God would accept his repentance and forgive him. 'Ali, we are told, enquired of the Prophet concerning the verse under discussion. The Prophet told him that when Adam and his wife were expelled from Paradise, Adam wept bitterly over his sin for a hundred years. Finally, Gabriel came to him and spoke thus on God's behalf:
O Adam, did I not create you with my own hand? Did I not breathe into you of my spirit? Did I not command my angels to bow down before you? Did I not provide you with Eve my servant?' 'Yes', Adam answered. Gabriel asked: 'What then is the cause of this weeping?' Adam replied, 'Why should I not weep when I have been expelled from the proximity of the All-Merciful?' The angel then said: 'You must pray fervently with these words, and God will accept your repentance and forgive your sin. Say: "O God, I beseech you for the sake of Muhammad and the people of the household of Muhammad; nor is there any god but you. I have done evil, and have wronged my soul. Turn towards me for you are relenting, compassionate." 
HASAN AND HUSAYN
Islamic tradition has preserved numerous anecdotes depicting the tender care and love which the Prophet showed Hasan and Husayn. They were both born in Medina, and thus knew the Prophet only as children. It is therefore with the intimacy and love of a grandfather that the early life of the two Imams is coloured. Once more, these family anecdotes also reflect clearly the theological and political tension within the community, a tension which largely centered around Hasan and Husayn. One such anecdote is the following.
One day, we are told, Hasan and Husayn were lost, and their mother Fatima came to the Prophet greatly alarmed. The angel Gabriel, however, came down and told the Prophet that the two youths were asleep in an animal fold some distance away. God, the angel reassured the anxious family, had charged an angel to keep watch over them. The Prophet went to the spot and found the angel had spread his two wings: one under them and the other over them as cover. The Prophet stooped over the two children and began to kiss them until they awoke. He then carried them on his shoulders back to the city. A large crowd of Muslims followed the Prophet and his two grandsons to the mosque. The Prophet then addressed the assembled people and said: 'O Muslims, shall I inform you of those who have the best grandfather and grandmother of humankind?' 'Yes, O Apostle of God', they all replied. 'They are Hasan and Husayn', he said. 'Their grandfather is the Apostle of God, the seal of the Messengers, and their grandmother is Khadija, daughter of Khuwaylid, mistress of the women of Paradise.' The Prophet then declared Hasan and Husayn to have the best maternal uncle and aunt: Jafar and Umm Hani', son and daughter of Abu Talib. Their maternal uncle and aunt were likewise the best of all uncles and aunts: they were al-Qasim, son of the Messenger of God, and Zaynab, daughter of the Apostle of God. The Prophet concluded: 'O God, you know that Hasan and Husayn shall be in Paradise, their uncles and aunt shall be in Paradise, and those who love them shall be in Paradise, while those who hate them shall be in the Fire." 
Abu Hurayra, the famous hadith transmitter, related that often when they prayed behind the Messenger of God Hasan and Husayn would jump on his back while he was prostrate in prayer. When he lifted his head, he would move them gently and place them beside him.
One evening, after prayers, Abu Hurayra offered to take the two youths home, but the Prophet wished them to stay. Soon, however, a flash of lightning illuminated the sky, and they thus walked in its light until they entered their home. 
The friends (awliya') of God, like the prophets, are favoured with miracles. These are not miracles proper (mu'jizat), but ratherkaramat (divine favours). The lightning incident was one such divine favour by means of which the Prophet wished to inform the community of the special status with which God had favoured the two Imams.
There is a unity between the Prophet and the ahl al-bayt, a unity not simply of blood, but also of the spirit. It is a unity symbolized by the kisa' event. It is, therefore, a unity of love, as the following statement of the Prophet clearly indicates. He said, as related on the authority of Salman the Persian: 'Whoever loves Hasan and Husayn, I love him, and whomsoever I love, God also loves, and whomsoever God loves, He shall cause him to enter into the gardens of bliss.' Likewise he who hates Hasan and Husayn shall be consigned to the Fire, because both God and his Messenger will hate him, 'and a terrible punishment awaits him'. 
Muslim hagiographical piety extended this unity and intimacy between the Prophet and his two grandchildren to include the angels of heaven. Thus Hudhayfa, a well known companion and traditionist, reported that the Prophet said: 'An angel is here who never came down to earth before this night. He sought permission from his Lord to come down and greet me, and to bring me the glad tidings that Fatima is the mistress of the women of Paradise, and that Hasan and Husayn are the masters of the youths of Paradise.'
There is no doubt that the special status of the Imam Husayn in Muslim piety and devotion has in large measure been due to the Imam's great sacrifice of family, wealth, and life itself in the way of God. Husayn's martyrdom - his courage, steadfastness, dignity, and true devotion in times of great crisis - have inspired Muslims of all walks of life. Husayn has inspired the best poetry in all Islamic languages; even non-Muslim poets celebrated his great virtue and valour. Above all, however, the Imam Husayn's martyrdom became a source of strength and endurance for Muslims in times of suffering, persecution and oppression. He has stood with every wronged man or woman before oppressive rulers, reproaching wrongdoers and encouraging the oppressed to persist in their struggle for freedom and dignity. The following encounter between Zayd b. Arqam, a venerable companion of the Prophet, and 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad is a living testimony to the struggle between illegitimate authority and the power of right. When the head of the Imam Husayn was brought before him, Ibn Ziyad began to poke its teeth and lips with a stick.
Zayd protested: 'Take away your stick! For, by God, I saw the Apostle of God often kiss these lips.' Saying this, Zayd began to weep. Ibn Ziyad reprimanded him, saying: 'May God cause your eyes to weep! Had it not been that you are an old and senile man, I would have cut off your head.' Zayd then walked away, exclaiming: 'O men, you are slaves after this day. For you have slain the son of Fatima and set as amir over you the son of Marjana [i.e., Ibn Ziyad]. By God, he shall kill the best of you and enslave the most wicked among you. Perish those who accept humiliation and shame.' Zayd then said, 'O Ibn Ziyad, I shall tell you something that will enrage you even more. I saw the Apostle of God seating Hasan on his left leg and Husayn on his right, and say, "O God, I commend them and the most righteous of the people of faith to your trust." How have you dealt with the trust of the Prophet, O Ibn Ziyad?' 
Divine wisdom in creation can be best discerned, according to the Qur'an, in the order of nature, and in the human individual and his society. Muslim hagiography has recorded the dramatic effect the death of Husayn had on nature. Thus the famous traditionist al-Bayhaqi reported that when al-Husayn b. 'Ali was killed, the sun was so deeply eclipsed that stars were seen at midday. People feared that it was the Day of Resurrection. Nadra al-Azdiya, a woman who was contemporary with the Imam Husayn, is said to have reported: 'When al-Husayn b. 'Ali was killed, the sky rained down blood, so that next morning we found our wells and water jugs filled with it.' 
The memory of the martyred Imam has been kept alive and nourished by the tears of the faithful who vicariously share in the tragedy of the Imam Husayn and his loved ones and friends. Here again, tradition has extended the grief displayed by the pious for the tragedy of Karbala' to the cosmic order. Thus al-Suyuti reports in his commentary on the verse describing God's compassion towards the ancient martyr John son of Zachariah that 'The heavens did not weep for the death of anyone except John son of Zachariah and al-Husayn b. 'Ali. Its redness [at sunset] is the sign of its weeping.'
It has already been argued that there is an existential and all-inclusive unity between the Prophet and his daughter Fatima, her husband, 'Ali, and their two sons. This unity makes it impossible to discuss one without discussing all the others. We have, therefore, been concerned throughout this study with the Imam Husayn in the context of this essential unity. It must be added, however, that the Imam Husayn was especially close to the heart of his grandfather, the Prophet Muhammad. It is of Husayn alone that he declared: 'Husayn is of me and I am of Husayn. May God love those who love Husayn.' When sura 108 (al-Kawthar) was revealed, the Prophet announced this great favour to his close companion Anas b. Malik, on whose authority this tradition is reported. Anas asked: 'What is al-Kawthar?' He answered: 'It is a river in Paradise, but neither those who violate my covenant (dhimma), nor those who shall kill the people of my House will be allowed to drink of it.' 
Finally, Shi'i tradition has always insisted on the great merit the faithful earn in making pilgrimage (ziyara) to the tomb of the Imam Husayn and the tombs of the men who were martyred with him.
Yet Sunni tradition has likewise seen great merit in this pious act. The ziyara to the tomb of the martyred Imam has acquired this great significance in all Muslim tradition because the Imam and his fellow martyrs are seen as models of jihad in the way of God. It is related that the father of the Imams, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, passed by Karbala' after the battle of Siffin. He took a handful of its soil and exclaimed: 'Ah, ah, on this spot some men will be slain, and will enter Paradise without reckoning!' 
The spiritual unity of the ahl al-bayt, symbolized by the kisa', is in turn a symbol of the unity of all Muslims. It is for the sake of this unity in faith and commitment (islam) to God and the truth that the Imam Husayn sacrificed his life. He refused a partisan Islam when he refused to legitimize Umayyad rule. Because he refused humiliation, wrongdoing and deviation from the ideals of Islamic leadership as exemplified by the Prophet and his own father 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, the Imam Husayn drew once and for all the distinction between a true khalifa (representative) of the Apostle of God and the kings of this world. But above all, the Imam Husayn and his fellow martyrs accepted God's bargain with the people of faith to exchange their lives and wealth for the eternal bliss of Paradise. This divine challenge is no less relevant to the Muslim community today than it was fourteen hundred years ago. It invites us still to 'a garden whose breadth is greater than the heavens and earth, prepared for those who fear God'.
 See 2:127, 3:96.
 See 3:33.
 Musnad Ibn Hanbal, quoted in M. Ayoub, Redemptive Suffering in Islam (The Hague, 1978), p. 25, and see also pp. 25-6
 Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad (Cairo, 1313), IV, 323.
 Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad b. Abd Allah al-Nisaburi, Mustadrak al-sahihayn (Haydarabad [Deccan], 1324), III, 147. See also 33:33.
 See, for example, the commentary on this verse in al-Zamakhshari and al-Tabari.
 Ala al-Din Ali al-Muttaqi b. Husam al-Din al-Hindi, Kanz al-'ummal (Haydarabad [Deccan], 1312), p. 217.
 See the commentary on 33: 33 in al-Suyuti, Al-Durr al-manthur.
 See 3:61. see also Muhammad b. 'Isa al-Tirmidhi, Sahih al-Tirmidhi (Cairo, 1920), II, 300, and Ibn Hanbal, I, 185.
 Abu Ja'far Ahmad al-Muhibb al-Tabari, Al-Riyad al-nadira (Cairo, n.d.), II, 199 For other versions of this tradition, see Murtada al-Husayni al-Fayruzabadi, Fada'il al-khamsa fi sihah al- sitta (Najaf, 1384), p. 252.
 See the commentaries on this verse in al-Zamakhshari, al-Tabari, and al-Suyuti.
 For a detailed discussion of this tradition, see M Ayoub, pp 43-5.
 Abu Nu'aym, Ahmad b. Abd Allah al-Isbahani, Hilyat al-awliya' (Cairo, 1351). I, 86.
 Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, VIII, 151, and IV 217. See also Shihab al-Din Ahmad b. Hajar al-Haytami al-Asqalani, Al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqa (Cairo, 1312), p. 150.
 See the commentary on 2:37 in al-Suyuti.
 Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, I, 234.
 Al-Fayruzabadi, III, 187.
 Ibn Hanbal, II, 513; al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, VII, 109.
 Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, p. 221
 Al-Tirmidhi, II, 307
 Ibn Hajar, p. 118.
 Abu Bakr Ahmad b Husayn b. al-Bayhaqi, Al-Sunan al-Kubra (Haydarabad, 1344), III, 337.
 Ibn Hajar, p. 291.
 See the commentary on 19:13 in al-Suyuti.
 Al-Tirmidhi, II, 306.
 See the commentary on sura 108 in al-Suyuti.
 Muhibb al-Din Ahmad b. Abd Allah al-Tabari, Dhakha'ir al- 'uqba (n.p., 1356), p. 151. Note also the popularity of the Mosque of the Head of the Imam Husayn in Cairo as a place of pilgrimage.
 Shihab al-Din Ahmad b. Hajar al-Haytami al-Asqalani, Tahdhib al-tahdhib (Haydarabad [Deccan], 1325), II, 348.
 See 9:111.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Police say gunmen have wounded a prominent Sunni cleric and killed his three guards and his driver in an apparently sectarian attack in southern Pakistan. Police official Imran Shaukat says the vehicle with Auranzeb Farooqi came under attack on Tuesday as the cleric was passing through the heart of the port city of Karachi. Farooqi leads Ahle Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat, a small political party. No one has responsibility for the attack but Shaukat says it is linked to Monday's attacks in Karachi in which gunmen shot and killed three Shiites and a Sunni cleric.
Pakistan is a majority Sunni Muslim country, and most Sunnis and Shiites live peacefully together. But the country has a long history of sectarian attacks by extremists on both sides of the divide.
Source : AP
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)Political and religious divides between Sunnis and Shiites have relegated local Arab Spring protests to little more than a memory in Bahrain. But some are trying to bridge the differences. Jihan Kazerooni sits down on a comfortable chair in her large living room in an upscale neighborhood of Manama, the capital of Bahrain. She explains how she got involved in her country's Arab Spring uprising. "When the revolution started on February 14 last year, I wasn't a participant," she says. "I was a government supporter, because I didn't know we had poor people in Bahrain."
Kazerooni was an investment banker who drove a Lexus and came from an elite family. She is a Shiite Muslim. Most Shiites in Bahrain supported the Arab Spring opposition movement. But Kazerooni's class background played a much more important role in her initial reaction to the pro-democracy protests than her religious affiliation. "I believed Bahrain TV that the demonstrators had weapons and they took blood bags from the hospital and poured it on themselves as propaganda," she said. "One day I took it upon myself to discover what's going on." She visited Pearl Square, the center of protest. It was packed with tens of thousands of Bahrainis - Shiite and Sunni.
"When I reached [Pearl Square], I saw something I would remember for the rest of my life," she said. "I couldn't sleep for three days. I saw the police attacking the protestors, unarmed people." Within days Kazerooni went from arranging corporate financing to promoting human rights. She became a researcher at the Bahrain Center on Human Rights, the country's leading human rights organization. Divide-and-rule tactics? Kazerooni recalls the solidarity of Sunni and Shiite in those early demonstrations. But since then, she says, the government has worked hard to divide the country along sectarian lines in order to weaken the opposition.
Many Sunnis know the government is a corrupt dictatorship but fear a Shiite takeover even more, according to Farida Ghulam, a leader in Waad, a center-left opposition party. The government has convinced them that the Shiites are determined to create an Iranian-style religious state. Ghulam said the government has fostered an atmosphere in which Sunnis don't trust even their old, Shiite friends. "They forgot they were neighbors," she said, "and denounced them for supporting the opposition. It's like McCarthyism in the US."
Ali Salman, head of Al Wefaq Islamic Society, the largest opposition group in Bahrain, acknowledges prejudices on both sides. He blames the monarchy for using clever, divide-and-rule tactics. "The government told us to hate the Sunnis," he said, "especially the Moslem Brotherhood and the Salafis," groups with sharply conservative views on politics and religion. "Meanwhile the government tells the secular opposition that Al Wefaq is hopelessly backward." With each group distrusting the other, said Salman, "their only connection can be with the royal family."
Links to Iranian Shiites
The government denies stoking sectarian differences. "We don't have an issue with what sect of Islam faith agrees or differs with the government," said Abdul-Aziz al Khalifa, a second cousin to the king and a government spokesperson. "The issue is when elements within the group turn to violence to express their views. Unfortunately they are political and religious views." At the same time he noted that Shiites are beholden to their religious leaders, something he didn't assert about other religious groups. "It's very difficult for them [Shiites] to separate the directives of a religious cleric and the directives of a political movement."
"There are significant numbers who want to follow the state system that is present in Iran today," he continued. "There have been calls for an Islamic republic in the past. I think under the surface, there are many more who believe in that form of government." Historically, there have been ties between Shiites in Bahrain and Iran, which is just across the Persian Gulf. The Al Wefaq Islamic Society gained inspiration from Iran's 1979 revolution against the Shah.
But Wefaq leader Salman doesn't consider the current Iranian government a model for Bahrain. He said Iran's system is far from perfect. "My opinion is that more freedom would be better in Iran," he said. Al Wefaq leaders also support the popular uprising against Syria's regime, which puts them at odds with Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. While the Shiite community recognizes the differences between the Iranian government and Bahrain's opposition movement, many Sunnis do not. And whatever the cause of the division, both sides agree it is getting wider.
Newly minted human rights activist Jihan Kazerooni does what she can to bridge the Sunni-Shiite divide. She helped found BRAVO, the Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti-Violence Organization. "We concentrate now on rehabilitating torture victims, physically and psychology," she said. BRAVO treats Sunni and Shiite without discrimination. Helping such victims is Kazerooni's way of overcoming religious divisions and building a new, non-sectarian Bahrain.
The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting provided a grant for Reese Erlich's coverage of Bahrain.
Source : DW
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)A video posted on the Internet shows Sunni Muslim rebels burning a Shi'ite mosque in north Syria - a sign that the country's civil war is spiralling into a sectarian conflict.Dozens of fighters dressed in camouflage gear with Sunni-style beards are shown in the footage congratulating and kissing each other outside the burning Shi'ite 'Husseiniya' mosque. They also burned flags they said were Shi'ite.A fighter holding a rifle says the rebel group is destroying the "dens of the Shi'ites and Rafida," a derogatory term meaning "deserters," which is used against Shi'ites.Reuters could not independently verify the video, which was posted on YouTube on Wednesday and purports to be filmed in the northern town of Jisr al-Shughur.Syria's revolt, like its population, is majority Sunni. President Bashar al-Assad and his late father President Hafez al-Assad are from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, that has dominated power since the 1960s.Minority groups fear an Islamist takeover and many Christians, Shi'ites and Kurds are reluctant to support an armed revolt that included several Sunni extremist rebel units.Syrians took up arms against authorities after attacks by Assad's security forces on protests that called for a democratic Syria. Since March 2011, 40,000 people have been killed.
Source : Reuters