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A Sunni Karbala

The killing of Hussain happened around 1,400 years ago and the incident was condemned by all Muslims

Mashari Althaydi

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A Lebanese friend, who happens to be a university professor and a distinguished researcher, told me about this conversation he had with a Lebanese Shiite intellectual. He was a sympathizer but not a member of Hezbollah. The discussion hovered around the injustice Sunnis have encountered in Lebanon in recent years.

This Lebanese Sunni told his Shiite friend that the Sunnis in Lebanon are suffering from injustice and terrorism, because of the arms, militias and intelligence of Hezbollah which is organically linked to the Khomeini revolution guards.

The Shiite friend responded by saying: “We are the ones suffering as a result of injustice.” He said that they belong to the weak category and are being subjected to revenge for being Imam Hussain’s killers. We are loyal to those who grieve over injustice and persecution in annual ritual during Ashura. Every land is Karbala and every day is Ashura.

The Sunni friend said that what concerns is the current situation in Lebanon. “Who is the strongest? Who is the armed party? Which party controls the country on the military level or exports its power to Syria to its far north in Aleppo and far east in Palmyra and to Iraq, Yemen and Gulf countries?”

“And what have we done?” he asked. Even ISIS and al-Qaeda – and you accuse us of belonging to them – actually murder us, accuse us of infidelity and distort our positions. The madmen of ISIS and al-Qaeda have wreaked havoc and have harmed the security of our major countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and other Gulf countries, while there has peace inside Iran.

Grieving, lamenting and instilling angry emotions and appealing to the desire to avenge for Imam Hussain have, throughout history, been an emotional path and a means for politically mobilizing the public

Mshari al-Thaydi

‘Monopolizing injustice’

He concluded this interesting conversation by telling his nice Shiite friend: “Oh dear brother, for God’s sake, just give us the right to lament over injustice, just this once! Don’t monopolize injustice”.

Grieving, lamenting and instilling angry emotions and appealing to the desire to avenge for Imam Hussain have, throughout history, been an emotional path and a means for politically mobilizing the public under the guise of avenging the blood that was shed on the soil of Iraq. All this is done in the name of Imam Hussain.

The killing of Hussain happened around 1,400 years ago and the incident was condemned by all Muslims. I remember how during my teenage years I felt very sad reading about the murder of Hussain in the book The Beginning and The End by Ibn Kathir, the Sunni Shafi’i historian.

Some may say why bother with all this as the Shiites will remain Shiites while the Sunnis will remain Sunnis and no one will change his mind after all these centuries since the entire incident has turned into a matter of social identity.

This is true. However, the aim here is not religious or scientific debate but to indicate an interesting note which is that ordinary Sunnis today are the ones being subjected to oppression of “Karbala” proportions. Or perhaps everyone should take notice of the call for unifying patriotism and abandon this talk of history.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 16, 2016.
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Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.