Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Mystical Islam" Viewed As A Threat By Taliban

While the article's main focus is on Pakistan, and thus the destruction of Muslim shrines and tombs by the Taliban, it notes that this is an issue with the Wahhabi sect generally (and I would note that we are seeing the same in Mali). From Deutsche Welle (DW):
The militants - most of whom belong to the Saudi-Wahhabi sect of Islam - have attacked a number of Sufi shrines in many Pakistani cities in the past, killing scores of devotees, who mostly belong to the minority Shiite Islamic group or the majority Sunni Barelvi sect.

Historians say that both Shiites and Barelvis believe in a wide cultural interpretation of Islam and seek inspiration from the Persian and Arabic saints, who played a role in spreading Islam throughout the Indian subcontinent. Many Shiites and Barelvis also revere mystics of Indian origin and regularly visit their shrines which are spread throughout India and Pakistan. These Muslims saints are equally loved by Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Jews in South Asia.

On the contrary, the Wahhabis, which are a relatively smaller group among the Sunnis, believe in "puritan Islam" and consider pilgrimages to shrines outside of the Islamic faith to be against the teachings of Muhammad.

Dr. Mubarak Ali, a renowned Pakistani historian, told DW that the Taliban were against cultural variation. "Wahhabis are against any cultural plurality so they attack shrines, music festivals and other cultural centers that are not Islamic in their view," he said.

The historian said that the influence of Saudi Arabia had seeped into the psyche of many Pakistanis, causing an "Arabization" of their many traditions.

Many Pakistani analysts, including Ali, say that the zealot Wahhabi groups and political parties not only frown upon pilgrimages to non-Islamic shrines, they also endorse the demolition of historical Muslim sites, and emulate Saudi Arabia in this regard. A recent article in The Independent newspaper titled "Media: Saudis take a bulldozer to Islam's history" claims that the Saudi regime had destroyed a number of graves of known Islamic figures and historical sites such as the prophet of Islam's birthplace and the house of the prophet's first wife Khadija for the fear that people might convert them into places of worship.

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