Many human rights organizations remained silent about Sheikh Zakzaky/Shia Muslims under pressure anywhere Wahhabis are present: interview with an Africanist

The history of Shia Islam and Sadat’s presence in Africa dates back to the time of the Infallible Imams (AS); this is why Shia teachings have much in common with the nature of the African people and their traditional culture. In the last decades of the twentieth century, the Shia school came to the attention of the oppressed nations of the Black Continent. Indigenous African missionaries such as Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, using the devotion of the indigenous people to the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) and the promotion of peace and peaceful coexistence between religions were very successful in converting of African Shia newcomers to the school of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S).

But as a result of the influence of the Wahhabi sect which opened its way to African countries in the early 1960s, Wahhabis today have launched a wave of violence and terror in various countries against Shia Muslims. Undoubtedly the most brutal crime committed against African Shia Muslims in the last decade is the Zaria massacre in December 2015, which was happened with the green light of Wahhabi sect and the Israeli regime at the hands of the Nigerian army, during which hundreds of Shia Muslims and followers of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky were killed in Ashura mourning.

In order to get acquainted with the opportunities and threats facing the Shia Muslims in the African continent, we had a conversation with Hojjatul-Islam Seyyed Ahmad Seyyed Moradi, a researcher in African Shia Communities, the details of which are as follows.

Shafaqna: Historical events and Sadat’s presence in Africa show that the history of Shia Islam in Africa dates back to the beginning of Islam. What families are called Sadat in Africa? In which areas have they lived throughout the history of Islam, and what role and influence have they had on the region in the religious and social spheres?

Seyyed Moradi: The history of Shia Islam and Sadat’s presence in Africa dates back to the time of the Infallible Imams (AS). In the first phase, the survivors of Taf and the martyrs of Fakh in 169 AH, such as Idris I and Yahya bin Abdullah bin Hassan bin Hassan, migrated to the Arab Maghreb region (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco), which led to the formation of the Idrisid government.

In the second stage, by the direct order of Imam Sadiq (A.S), two of his students named Halwani and Abu Sufyan went to Africa in 145 and settled in Marmajneh, a region between Tunisia and Algeria, and played a very prominent role in spreading Shia teachings in Africa. This was narrated by the famous Egyptian historian Ahmad bin Ali Maqrizi.

The history of Shia Islam and Sadat’s presence in Africa dates back to the time of the Infallible Imams (AS)

Today, Sadat families in Africa are called “Honorables”. The word “Honorables” means high rank and has a noble lineage, and in the term of the people of Africa, it is usually used for the family of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) from the generation of Lady Fatima (S.A) and Imam Ali (A.S) and their children, especially Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hussain (A.S).

From ancient times, Honorables and Sadat have always enjoyed special respect and privileges from the rulers and people of the lands in which they lived, and even Christians respect Sadat and refer to them to solve their problems and ask for prayer.

Shafaqna: Due to the historical and political situation in Egypt, there is talk of the secret life of the Shia Muslims in Egypt, and it is even said that the majority of the Egyptian population are Sunni, but the spirit of the religion is Shia. How do these two issues manifest themselves in the lifestyle and social relations of the Egyptian people?

Seyyed Moradi: The religious culture and attitude of the Egyptians are based on Shia Islam, and their hearts are full of love of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S). The first reason can be found in the way the Fatimid government views the Shia Imams, which is still left in the historical memory of the people, and in other words, the friendship with the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) is the most important Fatimid monument that has continued to this day in Egyptian society. The existence of Sufi sects and Sadat in this country is another factor in the spread of the love of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) in Egypt.

The religious culture and attitude of the Egyptians are based on Shia Islam, and their hearts are full of love of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S)

The Egyptian Shia community has always been under security pressure and their rights have been violated many times. Therefore, many Egyptian Shia Muslims do not express their religious beliefs and secretly hold Shia ceremonies. In recent years, the Wahhabis have also taken many actions against the Egyptian Shia Muslims. One of the widespread activities of the Wahhabis in Egypt is their continuous efforts to counter the growing trend of Shiism in this country. They are constantly conspiring and carrying out various acts against the Shia Muslims and their leaders, the most brutal of which was the tragic martyrdom of Sheikh Hassan Shehata.

Their actions are not limited to intimidating Shia leaders, but they try to prevent any public activity of Shia Muslims by any means. One of these actions is to attack Hussaini mourners; Egyptian Shia Muslims have been holding mourning ceremonies at the Raas Al-Hussein (A.S) Mosque in Cairo for several years, and the Wahhabis have tried to violently prevent the ceremony from the beginning. In 2011, a number of them attacked the mosque and disrupted the ceremony, tore the commemorative writings for Imam Hussain (A.S) and the mourning flags and took their speakers; This event was repeated in later years.

Shafaqna: There are some news about the difficult living conditions of Shia Muslims in Algeria. Given the history of Shia Islam in this country, can it be said that there are social conditions similar to the conditions of Shia Muslims in Egypt, in this country?

Seyyed Moradi: In the early days of the Umayyad rule, one of the people of present-day Algeria was killed in defense of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S), whose grave is now in the east of the country; Therefore, many believe that the roots of the love of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) in Algeria date back to the first century AH. Algerian Shia Muslims believe that the school of Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) has deep roots in the country, and that the Amazighs (Berbers who were the early inhabitants of Algeria) were Shias. For this reason, the Algerian barbarians expressed their love for the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) and launched revolutions for them, especially after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S).

They were the first to open the doors of their homes and hearts to the Fatimids and fight alongside them. Algeria has been a region of influence and sometimes the rule of the lovers of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) for five centuries from the end of the second century to the end of the seventh century AH; So that the governments of the Idrisians, the Fatimids and the monotheists have scattered the seeds of the love of the Ahlal-Bayt (AS) in these areas. The Algerian people commemorate the day of Ashura and believe that Ashura is the day of giving alms and paying Zakat on property to those who are really deserving. The scholars and preachers of this country also consider Ashura as an opportunity to advise piety and transmit cultural and religious values ​​to the new generation.

Algerian Shia Muslims believe that the school of Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) has deep roots in the country, and that the Amazighs were Shias

Unfortunately, today the number of Wahhabi activities in Algeria is very high and twenty thousand books with Wahhabi teachings from Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt are expected to arrive in Algeria annually, many of which will be distributed free of charge in the country’s mosques. The widespread activity of Wahhabi missionaries is also supported by satellite programs and Internet sites, which seek to promote a new lifestyle, especially among adolescents and young people in the lower classes. For this reason, it can be said that the life of the Shia Muslims of Algeria, like the Shia Muslims of Egypt and the Maghreb, is under the pressure of government and the Wahhabis, and they have no choice but to hide their beliefs and rituals.

Shafaqna: Given the support of other religious groups for Sheikh Zakzaky such as Nigerian Christians and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, in your opinion, will the situation of Sheikh Zakzaky and Nigerian Shia Muslims improve in the near future?

Seyed Moradi: Today, Shia Islam, as an emergent religious and political phenomenon, has occurred in Nigerian society and is a fact. The populace of new Shia Muslims have accepted this religion as their way of life and are not willing to give up their beliefs due to the threats of the enemy and even the killing of the mourners and followers of Sheikh Zakzaky. The best evidence of this claim is their active presence in Hussaini religious ceremonies as well as the continuous marches demanding the release of their leader Sheikh Zakzaky.

Certainly the Nigerian Shia Muslims will soon achieve victory and will be free to perform religious rites, although they will be pressured or their leaders will be tried and imprisoned. Thank God, they have a very good spirit and sometimes consider themselves as Sheykh Uthman al-Fudi, the founder of the Islamic Empire in this country, and think of the freedom of their leader.

Sheikh Zakzaky and Hojjatul-Islam Seyyed Moradi, 1992

Shafaqna: Given the deteriorating the health condition of Sheikh Zakzaky in Kaduna Prison, have governments or religious and Islamic organizations around the world ever tried to free him as a religious leader?

Seyyed Moradi: Unfortunately, many international human rights organizations have remained silent on this issue, which reflects the multiple criteria that govern their circles. However, some non-governmental organizations, including the Islamic Human Rights Organization in London, have repeatedly commented on the efforts of Dr. Massoud Shajreh by holding demonstrations, issuing announcements, and being part of Sheikh Zakzaky’s medical team, trying to draw the world’s attention to this.

The Iranian government has also made limited efforts in this direction and unfortunately has not been able to do anything for the Nigerian Shia Muslims. It seems that the activities of governments, personalities and organizations of other similar Islamic countries should be increased in order, God willing, to prepare for the release of Sheikh Zakzaky and return to the arms of his followers.

Of course, this point should not be neglected that we think and try to free the Sheikh and improve the situation of the Nigerian Shia Muslims, but the Saudi regime and the Nigerian Wahhabis are conspiring day and night to lure the army and other Nigerian officials with the support of the dollars from oil sales. As a result, conflicting activities cancel each other out, and sometimes things do not go as planned.

Shafaqna: Is there such a threat and hostility in any other African country against the Shia Muslims?

Seyed Moradi: Yes, in any country where Wahhabis are present, the Shia Muslims of that country are also under pressure, although its intensity is different. There is strange news about the confrontation between the Wahhabis and the Shia Muslims in Africa and sometimes from a small country like Rwanda, which is a real shame. The fact is that today the Wahhabis have launched a wave of violence and terror in various countries against the Shia Muslims. In July 2013, they attacked the house of Sheikh Hassan Shehata, a Shia cleric, in the Egyptian province of Giza, killing him and three of his companions in a horrific manner, and wounding a number of others.

Also in January 2014, Sheikh Dr Abdul Kadhir Muwaya, the Leader of the Ugandan Shia Muslims and the Director of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) Institute, was attacked and martyred. This action was taken when Sheikh Abdul Kadhir Muwaya was returning home from Komeyl prayer, and the assailants fled on a motorcycle after firing several bullets at him. Also four days later, Sheikh Mustafa Behiga, a prominent Ugandan scholar who was driving south to Kampala to offer Maghrib prayers after giving a speech at the Kibuli Mosque, was shot dead by unknown individuals on a freeway.

In any country where Wahhabis are present, the Shia Muslims of that country are also under pressure, although its intensity is different

In May 2018, three Wahhabi assailants entered the Imam Hussain (A.S) Mosque in the city of Wurlam, near Durban, South Africa, and attacked the Congregation Imam and two other people in the mosque with cold weapon. In this attack, they cut the throat of a man named Muhammad Abbas Asup and martyred him, and seriously injured two others in the abdomen and groin. The library and the inner courtyard of the mosque were then set on fire by a gas bomb. But the biggest and most brutal massacre of African Shia Muslims in contemporary era is the Zaria crime committed by the Nigerian army on Ashura 2015.

Shafaqna: In recent years, Saudi Arabia and Israel have made great efforts to infiltrate Africa. How successful have the actions of these two regimes been in terms of intellectual, economic and political influence? What problems and dangers has this posed to Africa?

Seyyed Moradi: The Wahhabi movement, under the leadership of the The Muslim World League (Rabitat Al-Alam Al-Islami), has slowly opened its way to African countries since the early 1960s and Wahhabi propagandists infiltrated various parts of Africa, exploiting general poverty and illiteracy, as Muslim libertarians on the continent, along with other fighters, turned their attention to the independence of their lands from the clutches of the colonialists.

Of course, the countries below the desert line and the east of the continent, due to the deep Islamic background and the significant presence of Muslims, received more special attention from the Wahhabis. Following the warm ovation of African Muslims to the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S) school, they organized violent attacks against Shia Muslims and at the same time, in order to show a pleasant image of themselves, began to develop economic and seemingly charitable relations such as building mosques and religious schools, training centers, construction of hospitals and medical centers, digging drinking water wells in remote villages and areas, and repairing civil and urban infrastructures.

Even today, Wahhabis spend a significant portion of their financial and human resources in the fight against Shiism in Africa, and writing and publishing anti-Shia books, magazines, and pamphlets is only part of their policy. In addition, Wahhabi speakers and scholars always slander against Shia Islam. Officials of the Muslim World League (Rabitat Al-Alam Al-Islami), distribute a large number of books and magazines published by Saudi Arabia every year in Islamic mosques and schools throughout East Africa, most of which are against the Shia religion and the Sufi teachings; In these books and magazines, especially many accusations and lies against the religion of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) have been raised, and the authors of these books have tried to portray the Shia Muslims as apostates and out of Islam by fabricating false Hadiths and distorting the history of Islam.

Recognizing the importance of the agricultural sector in the economy of African countries, Israel has expanded its activities in the agricultural sector, livestock and irrigation and related industries, and using its experiences in this sector in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, etc., has created hundreds of agricultural farms and livestock.

The Israeli regime’s main goal in expanding relations with Africa is to cooperate with the security services of these countries and try to confront the Lebanese Shia minority in West Africa. Despite all the costly and continuous efforts of Saudi Arabia and Israel, their activities and projects have had the least effect on the psyche of the African people, and they have not been able to destroy the love of the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) and the interest in the Shia. Although the Shia Muslims are suffering from many problems, they are becoming more and more popular and their legitimacy and oppression are becoming clear to everyone.

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