I’m an ordinary girl, who used to keep her sect hidden when I was a little girl. The reason behind this? Society. We Shias, make up only 10% of the ummah (the worldwide Muslim population) but this society has always been on the on-going rise of targeting us. My classmates used to interrogate me by asking, “Are you a Shia?” and then I used to lie to them saying, “No, I’m not”. Because where ever I went, they were already well-prepared to mock the one who confessed to them about their sect.
“Shias spit in water while offering it to anyone”, “Shias do matam and it’s very horrible”, “Why do you people wear black in Moharram?”, “Why do you people block roads in Juloos”? And these questions were literally hard to answer for a 7-year-old girl. That ‘face-saving’ thing got so tenacious that I kept this profile of me in my early teenage years too.
Everywhere I went, I heard slogans like ‘Kafir Kafir Shia Kafir’. Why on earth would anyone say something like this? Our God is the same. Our Quran is the same and we both even pray five times a day (please stop bragging about five times prayers. Yes, we pray five times a day). We even love Maulana Tariq Jameel. And they have confessed their love for Nadeem Sarwar.
When one of my teachers deliberately deducted 5 marks, stupefied, I asked her that my answer to the question was perfectly fine. Her reply made me suppress more of my identity. “I deducted your marks because you are a Shia”. “But I’m not”. I lied. “Don’t fool me. You are Abidi and they all are Shia”. I cursed myself that I’d been branded by this surname; a name that is easily traceable to find out a sect. Then I started to change my surname. I used to write the name of my father. But a child is always a child. I didn’t know about the whole process of changing one’s name. And ended up being ‘once again’ an Abidi.
Later when I grew up at the age of fourteen, I started accepting half-truth about being a Shia that ‘never ever did matam in my life’. All my friends used to say ‘oh it’s much better, then’. But for how long could this be done? For the whole of my remaining life? Could I be living in disguise? Am I really a shame to this state?
I was so very wrong. I was being so disgraceful for the whole of my childhood, for the fact that I should be proud of. That I should be proud of myself for loving Ahl al-Bayt truly. I shouldn’t be worrying about myself, for being a Shia because of the fact that anyone could be made a toy to tease. This debate is so deep for the Islamic scholars to decide who is right and who is wrong. What’s not debatable is the fact that a man with a good heart is nearer to God.