Did you read about the deadliest attack in more than two years in Pakistan? A suicide bomber struck a crowded Sufi shrine, killing at least 75 people, including women and children. Hundreds of others were wounded in the attack as they performed a ritual at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in the southern Sindh province.
It is believed that the shrine, built in 1356, is by the tomb of Muhammad Osman Marwandi, the Sufi philosopher poet, better known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, one of Pakistan's most respected scholars.
Have you ever been to what they call a "Sufi Shrine"? Since there are no intermediaries between man and the Almighty, this is mainly a praying area next to the tomb of a well-known "imam" or "hoca." People go there for a quiet moment with the Creator.
In Turkey we too have a Sufi philosopher poet. In the Western world he is known as Rumi; we call him Mawlana Jalaluddin. We too have a large "tekke" beside his tomb in Konya. We too have hundreds, sometimes thousands of people gathering there to remember him and read from his poems. You might know that Rumi's book of poems, "Mathnawi al-Ma'nawi" is the second top selling book in the U.S. after the King James Bible.
The non-mainstream, Wahhabi exegesis of Islamic thought says that the veneration of a mortal human being in the form of erecting shrines for him, visiting his tomb, et cetera, is not acceptable. Some say such actions are an outright rejection of Islam as religion.
A group of men had gathered in Raqqa in northern Syria (in 2006) and said that if you accept such behavior they would have the right to kill you. They called themselves the Islam State in Iraq and Levant (East) and Sham (Damascus) (ISIL, ISIS or Daesh). They found money, arms and brand-new Toyota trucks and occupied almost half of Iraq and Syria in no time. They thought the terror they resorted to would scare Muslims into accepting their interpretation of Islam. Hence, the public ceremonies of beheading and burning men and women and the waging of wars against Muslim countries began.
On the ideological side, they profess a selective and ill-informed adherence to the prophetic tradition and no adherence to any traditional school of Quranic interpretation. On the practical side, they sell the oil that does not belong to them; they steal weapons from the Iraqi and Syrian armies, they snatch little boys to be raised as their foot soldiers and girls to be sold as wives of their leaders and aldermen in the villages. Their wealth is gauged to be in the billions of dollars. They have an effective "underground railroad" going to western (and eastern) countries to import disconcerted youth as militants and export their pillage.
In fact they are a bunch of terrorists, using religion as a facade to camouflage their true intentions and they are now squeezed in two major cities: Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Arab and Turcoman brigades, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), organized and trained – and sometimes also led – by Turkish ground forces overtook the control of the town of al-Bab in Syria. As the name of this town suggests, it is a gate to Raqqa.
That is where the military forces of FSA and Turkish forces are now headed, and to end the ruin of innocent lives and the perversion of Islam is why it must be retaken.
About the author
Hakkı Öcal is an award-winning journalist. He currently serves as academic at Ibn Haldun University.