Pakistani Islamic Scholar Engineer Muhammad Ali Mirza, who had created a huge uproar in the Islamic nation by supporting former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, has again invited controversy. And just like Nupur Sharma was accused of blasphemy for quoting something mentioned in Hadith, which are believed to be record of sayings of Prophet Mohammad, Ali Mirza had also quoted such a Hadith.
A huge battle is going on at present between two groups on social media in Pakistan, where one group is demanding punishments ranging from arrest to beheading of Ali Mirza for alleged blasphemy, the other group is supporting him saying he did nothing wrong. Several hashtags are being used in the online battle.
The Urdu hashtag #انجینئر_مرزا_کوگرفتار_کرو, which translates to Arrest Engineer Mirza, was trending on Twitter, with netizens demanding the cleric’s arrest. Similarly, a large number of people are also trending the tag WeStandWithEMAM on Twitter. Similary, Bukhari_2812, the hadith in question, and other related hashtags are also being used by netizens.
The entire debate is related to Hadith 2812 from Sahih al-Bukhari, and its interpretation in relation to Hazrat Ameer Muawiya, the first Caliph of Islam. He was a companion of Prophet Mohammad, but remains a controversial figure among Muslims. Sahih al-Bukhari is one of the six major collections of hadith compiled by Imam Muhammad al-Bukhari.
Most Sunnis recognise Muawiya as a companion of prophet, and respect him as one who was among those who had gone to heaven, even though some of them question his violent methods of establishing the first Islamic state. On the other hand, Shias does not recognise him as a companion of Prophet, and curse him for his war against Ali, who is regarded as the true successor of Prophet Mohammad by the Shias.
In the last few weeks, there have been clashes among supporters and opponents of Muawiya, and Muhammad Ali Mirza added fuel to this controversy in one of his video sermons. Quoting a Hadith, he implied that Prophet Mohammad had called Muawiya an aggressive rebel.
The Hadith that Mirza quoted says, once the prophet had said, “May Allah be merciful to Ammar. He will be killed by a rebellious aggressive group. Ammar will invite them to (obey) Allah and they will invite him to the (Hell) fire.”
According to the Hadith, the Prophet had said this when Ammar was participating in the construction of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. Prophet had said that Ammar will be killed by a band of rebels after Ammar had complained that he was being overloaded with bricks, saying they are killing him as he can’t carry the big loads of bricks for the construction of the mosque.
After quoting the Prophet’s prophecy mentioned in Hadith 2812, Mirza said, ‘How can I question Mohammad why he called Muawiya a rebel inviting Ammar to Hell’. He added that those who want to question the Prophet for his prophecy, they can do that, but he won’t.
Ali Mirza also said that he supports Husayn Ali and Hasan Ali, grandsons of Prophet Mohammad, who were among the first Shia Imams.
The Hadith in itself is just a prophecy of Ammar’s death, and the controversy around it is not apparent. But the story behind Ammar’s death, combined with the prophecy mentioned in the Hadith, makes it one of the most controversial topics in Islam, which dates back to the first civil wars among Muslims years after the death of Prophet Mohammad.
The Ammar referred to here is Ammar ibn Yasir, a loyal companion of the Prophet. He was one of the most local companions, and therefore occupies a position of highest prominence in Islam. After the death of Prophet Mohammad, he had become loyal to Ali, and thus, is revered by Shias. Ammar was also a major military commander, and had participated in the battles the Prophet had fought.
Ammar ibn Yasir was killed in by the forces of Muawiya in the battle of Siffin, which was fought between the Sunni forces of Muawiya and the Shia forces of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shia Imam.
Now, as Ammar was killed by Muawiya’s men in the war, and as the Hadith 2812 says that Prophet had said that Ammar will be killed by a rebellious aggressive group, it is interpreted by Shias as Prophet calling Muawiya an aggressive rebel, and that is the root of the controversy.
Sunnis refuse to call Muawiya a rebel just because of one Hadith, as otherwise he was known as a companion of the Prophet, and in his lifetime the Prophet didn’t say anything against him. This has led to the long-time debate over the issue. With rising religious sectarism among Muslims, controversy over Muawiya has deepened, with strong sentiments against him by Shias against strong pro-Muawiya views of Sunnis.
It is notable that Engineer Muhammad Ali Mirza claims that he is neither Sunni nor Shia, and he is just a Muslim. He reads scriptures from both factions of Islam, and quotes them widely in his speeches.
Earlier this month in Pakistan, a mob had vandalised Samsung billboards, alleging that the name of WiFi network installed by the company was insulting Muawiya, and therefore it was a blasphemy. Police had arrested as many as 27 Samsung employees for this blasphemous act.