Originally published at http://www.viewpointonline.net/site/component/content/article/38-bottomnews/3508-two-nation-theory-part-x-minoritizing-the-shia.html
As the law and order situation deteriorates and confrontations become more common, moderates step in to suggest “compromises”, chipping away at various Shia practices and privileges one by one
It is not new for religious leaders to insist that other religious groups are on the wrong path. In the Semitic (Judeo-Christian-Islamic) religious tradition, the lines between the “correct” religion and all others tend to be especially sharp. This tendency carries over into the various sects within the religions, with leaders routinely branding other sects as deviants and heretics. But what happens in practice in social life is notalways (or only) determined by religious fanatics. European societies, where church and state were heavily intertwined in the middle ages and persecution of heretics was routine, were gradually secularized; the practice of declaring other sects as heretics and burning them at the stake died out centuries ago, though anti-Semitism remained and had it climax just a few decades ago.
In the Islamicate world, religion provided a critical early motivator and glue for empire building, but Islam did not develop a serious theory of politics and politics mostly developed from pre-Islamic Persian, Roman and Central Asian models. Shias did have a certain separate identity (though with great variety within the Shia tradition) and revolts occurred with some regularity in the first centuries, but the later empires were rarely concerned with regulating religious belief in the way the church tried to regulate belief in Europe for several centuries (the Safavid enforcement of Shia orthodoxy in Iran being an exception). In the Indian subcontinent, the Turko-Aghan invaders were mostly Sunni, but Shias joined the ruling class in the Mughal Empire and were rarely persecuted on purely religious grounds. Modernization introduced mass-based politics into Indian society and existing religious differences, British imperial policiesand emergent bourgeois politics combined in various proportions to lead to partition and the creation of Pakistan as “a Muslim homeland”. Jinnah and his fellow Muslim league leaders were mostly ignorant of Islamic theology and relatively unconcerned about sectarian differences within the Muslim community. But once Pakistan had been created, it proved easy for Islamist politicians (even those who had strenuously opposed Pakistan because they saw the leaders of the Pakistan movement as Westernized pseudo-Muslims) to grab hold of the “Islamic state” lever and aim for real power.