It may sound strange but it is not. Love and peace are two sides of a single coin. Idealistic as love is, we can make a sense of it through idealistic lens only. For idealists, autarky—the flow of goods and services within the geographical jurisdiction of a state—leads to war. Every state longs for economic prosperity. In order to increase wealth and expand its power the strong state would attack its weaker counterpart to extract more resources.
In this arrangement, the gains of one state were the losses of the other. Since autarky engendered exclusion, the scourge of power became an ailment on body politics. The remedy idealist envisaged was one of inclusion. If autarky or protectionism was the cause of conflicts, free trade was the solution. The inter-state free flow of goods and services causes the commonality of interests. Under this arrangement, both parties gain without going to war.
Hatred in relationship performs the function of autarky in neo-liberal economics. It leads to exclusion only to result in conflicts. Although no party gains much the weaker suffers more. Thus, because of entrenched hatred we suffer immensely. Love in humanly relations brings about peace as does free trade in interstate relations. While no body suffers here, everybody is set to gain. Hatred leads to conflicts because the contending parties share nothing or very little in common. People damn care about an arrangement whereby they gain nothing. This is what is known as the disharmony of interests.
Love is the hypnotisation of a lover by the beloved. Its purpose is the sheer happiness of the loved. No true love is informed by materialistic calculations. No matter it is one sided or mutual, love breeds strong bondage. Look at the love of a mother. Despite deserted by her children in the old age, her heart beats for their safety and pleasures. On the other hand, Qays and Layla are the epitome of mutual love. Qays would kiss the eyes of Layla’s street dog in the hope that these eyes might have embraced the look of his darling.
Hatred has a multiplier effect; so has love. Hatred with a single person paves the way for hating the whole family and even the whole caste and tribe. It is not uncommon to listen to mythical folklore ridiculing various nationalities in stupidity, boasting and among other miserliness. No different is the story of love. It multiplies. Love with one is love with the whole caste and tribe.
Both hatred and love have multiplier effect, but it does not mean that they are not different. The present mayhem we have slid into is the result of hatred. We kill in all falsehood that by eliminating our opponent we will kill the idea he represents. The target is not the messenger who the militants ironically kill but the message he embodies. In fact, one can kill a thousand men but not an idea. An ideology can only be countered by an ideology.
Hatred as an ideology can be effectively encountered by love. Whereas hatred looks at the glass as half empty, love cherishes in its being half filled. Thus, while hatred loathes difference, love embraces it. For hatred being different is being disliked, for love being different is being beautiful. Uniformity produces monotony, diversity begets change. Hatred flourishes in exclusion, love blossoms in inclusion.
The message of Islam is love. Justifying killing within Islamic edifice is as ironical as it is paradoxical, to say the least. At least twenty two times the Holy Quran directs the followers of Islam to be Muslims. Sunni and Shia are later inventions. Any religious practice neither enshrined in the Holy Quran nor practiced or allowed by the Prophet (PBUH) is Bid’ah or innovation. Any innovation which contradicts the spirit of Islam is led astray leading to Hell, the Prophet is quoted to have said. What the hell more could we find ourselves in than what we are already!
Shia and Sunni binary division has done no service to Muslims. Thousands of people have fallen prey in the race for possessing the exclusively true version of Islam. Paradoxically, the followers of the religion of peace—Islam—are killing more from among themselves than without. Can we not be a good Muslim without being either Shia or Sunni? Is it not the message of Islam to hold fast to the rope of God and avoid division within ranks? Sectarian extremism is annihilating us from inside.
The message of Islam is to enter into its fold only completely. Is the time not ripe to prove through actions than rhetoric that Islam means peace? After all, “action speaks louder than words”. If the killing spree has any lesson then it is that stubbornness in thought is fatal. “A roaming donkey is better than a stationary man” goes a wise Pashto saying.
Flexibility in thoughts with rational thinking is the way out of the quagmire we are mired in. The time is to say good bye to our stubborn identities and dive deeply into the unfathomable depth of the ocean of love. This is one message of Muharram.