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Dr Haider Shah: Rationalizing Prejudice


This refers to the one sided and insensitive polemic on Rawalpindi Ashura violence (in Viewpoint Online) by Dr. Haider Shah, an academic who also introduces himslef as a founder of a facebook page namely, Rationalist Society of Pakistan.

By removing the context and omitting crucial facts about the pre-planned attack by Deobandi terrorists on Sunni Barelvi and Shia participants of the Ahsura procession in Rawalpindi, Dr Haider Shah converges with the agenda of the Sipah Sahaba Taliban (ASWJ-TTP). http://www.viewpointonline.net/site/component/content/article/37-columnnews/3509-mayhem-in-rawalpindi-who-did-it.html

Dr Shah claims to be a rationalist Muslim and poses as a non-sectarian, non-religious person but seems to be unable to overcome the ShiaPhobia, which is abundantly found in Wahhabi and Deobandi fanatics.

In his recent article in Viewpoint Online, Dr Shah’s arguements are vague and shifty and he lays the onus of responsibility on the victims and not the perpetrators.

No admission of the fact that the attack on the Rawalpindi Ashura procession was pre planned.

No admission of the facts that Sunni Muslims both established and did their best to save the Shia Imambargah in Rawalpindi (clip on Shia Killing Media)

Dr Shah fails to explain that the Eid Milad Un Nabi Jaloos is a happy festival but that too gets attacked by the same Deobandi terrorists who attack Shia Muslims.

Hindus who barely have any temples left outside of interior Sindh were attacked and their bodies dug out by the Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ-SSP).

Same terrorits attack Christains everywhere, including the recent massacre in Peshawar. Was that too an outcome of Sunni-Shia sectarianism? Was the Sunday Service in Church too a mourning and dividing event?

Dr Shah’s analogies are subjective, nonsensical and intellectually dishonest! He reveals his true prejudice in his endorsement of terrorist hate monger leader of the ASWJ-SSP, i.e., Ludhianvi.

So a terrorist group who has murdered over 100 doctors, denied medical treatment to Shias, suicide bombed hospitals and whose TTP partners blow up hundreds of schools have the audacity to talk about denying Muhurrum processions security and divert funds to the very sectors (health, education) that they have destroyed!

If it was not for ASWJ-TTP, we would not need security!

In his article Dr Haider Shah discredits the entire Muharram for being a failure in bringing people together. His indirect plea is to ban Muharram. In his words: “As a rationalist I view any ritual in its entirety in terms of its social costs. Various faith communities celebrate rituals and festivals as a manifestation of social bonding. These rituals bring moments of happiness and social cohesion and hence play an important part in promoting stability and order. The rituals associated with Muharram unfortunately don’t play this role.”


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  • pejamistri

    It would be a good study to interview Pakistani “Liberals” and “Atheists” about their religious background. Apparently the “Liberals/Atheists” coming from Bralvi, Shia, Deobandi and Salafi end up having a little bit different “liberal” values and thoughts from each other.

    Ale Natiq
    It’s easy to take on Barelvis (who don’t have state support and are not armed to teeth) and so countless Facebooki lifestyle liberals have shared the photo of a guy with green scarf and lights making himself look like a Christmas tree. Majority of them would not dare say a word when Takfiri Deobandis blast their ass off in a market or Salafi beasts chew livers. You can only ridicule and bash Shias and Barelvis apparently, it’s sectarian for others. But you seem to forget that superstition won’t take your life fake liberals, state sponsored Takfiri terrorists will even if you give them cover by remaining ‘impartial’.
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    Abdul Nishapuri Given that Sunni Sufis/Barelvis, Shias and Ahmadis, in general, do not aspire for global domination or caliphate of islam, they are relatively more inclusive and tolerant, as compared to (with some exceptions) deobandis and salafis/ahlehadith who, even though some of them may claims to be ‘real liberals’ (eg JI folks) or secularists or atheists etc, remain full of hatred of the Rafizis, Qadyanis and the Qabar Parast people.
    2 hours ago · Like

    Abdul Nishapuri Suggestion: Instead of only Barelvis, we should describe them as Sunni Barelvis. Ditto for Sufis. Instead of Sufis, call them Sunni Sufis. It is important to challenge the exclusive claim of Deobandis & Salafis-Wahhabis on Sunni Islam. Radical Deobandis & Salafi-Wahhabis are a tiny minority when compared with dominant majority of peaceful, tolerant Sunni Muslims in Pakistan and other countries.


  • The social cost of enjoying religion
    — Dr Haider Shah

    A few days ago, I happened to listen to Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi and felt devastated. Not that what he said was repugnant but rather surprisingly whatever he said, I felt he had stolen my ideas. He very eloquently stated that billions of rupees were lost on account of extraordinary security arrangements necessitated by a few rituals of a religious sect. This money could have been utilised for alleviating poverty in the country, he argued. Quite rational and sensible comments from someone who is considered an icon of sectarian hatred in the country. There is one problem though, which is not unique to Ludhianvi sahib alone.

    From our experience of debates at the Rationalist Society of Pakistan (RSOP), we realise that all believers use rationality as a weapon of offence but will instantly turn the filter of rationality off when others question their faith as well. We have seen Ahmedi brothers rationalising religion and criticising traditional beliefs but when their own belief system is opened to scrutiny they also run for the shelter of beliefs. Similarly, even Christian members of our forum are found wanting when the spotlight of rationality is fixed on them. Mr Ludhianwi made a strong case for banning all rituals that resulted in massive economic waste but then we should be ready to consider the whole faith industry and ask what net contribution it makes to the GDP of the country. The reality is that the economy is bleeding profusely in order to continue supporting these non-productive clerics.

    As the days of Moharram drew nearer, the governments in all provinces nervously finalised security plans to thwart any terrorist attacks. But, on the 10th of Moharram, we learnt a very clear lesson: you can safeguard against a suicide bomber, you can prevent a terrorist act by bringing life to a standstill but what will you do with your own blood that is brimming with the poison of faith-led hatred? How can you guard every mosque, bazaar and imambargah? When thousands feel motivated by religious identities of all sorts, it is only a matter of time before acts of violence erupt at the slightest provocation. Yes, a few scapegoats can easily be found and, after hopeless reliance on religious leaders, we imagine that we have remedied the situation. We are in the habit of sleeping over grave issues.

    The social cost of enjoying religion, Daily Times, 23 November, 2013


  • The article and the comments are such that it makes one cry. Can someone pl tell us what is the basic responsibility of a state? It will not be to much to ask if the state cannot protect its citizens why do they have the right to tax. Have we gone back to the era of Ranjeet Singh were the troops would be quartered in forts and would come out only to collect tax. If so, than even that is not true for our income tax dept is worthless. Do we have to tell the so called sudo intellectuals that law and order and protection of life and property is the responsibility of the state. When the only solution is not to gather for any sort of activity be it marriage or eid why do we gather. If we have to give up all our liberties why not call back the British. I am positive that the Crown will spent millions to build the society as peacefu as in Britian. These 2 no and 3 no sahabs can go to hell. The common man wants freedom for work and protection of life and property. I am positive with proper taxation system the taxes will also be minimum. If you dont agree then gear up and eliminate the un wanted elements of the society lets build our society free from all terrors and lets this land a better place for our coming generation. We won’t have to invent the wheel a fresh just follow what other had done to build their societies.

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