General Ziaul Haq was Pakistan's first ruler to use Islam to perpetuate himself. Hecategorized citizens into sects. A ruler who divides his people into sects is a mufsidun,that is one who commits great sins and crimes, an oppressor, a tyrant. "Verily, Firaun(Pharaoh) exalted himself in the land and made its people sects ... Verily, he was ofthe Mufsidun" (28:4).The Shia and the Sunni came to have different legal obligations. The Hudood andother "Islam"-labelled laws in respect of the crimes of murder, rape and theft wereapplied on the basis of sectarian interpretation.General Zia also granted madressahs the power to award BA and MA degrees inIslamic Studies. Each sect and sub-sect (maslak) was permitted to teach its owncurriculum.Degrees were obtained without acquiring knowledge of all aspects ofthe discipline. The Shias demanded and got exemption from the compulsorydeduction of Zakat. Unity with the sect and not the faith, became important.
Study Notes by Aamir Mahar50The question of sect (shiah), division (firqa), dissension (fitnah) and groups (hizb)has been considered in the Holy Quran. "...Do not be divided (tafarraqu) in religion"(42:13). "...And be not of al-mushrikun (hypocrites, dividers, polytheists).Of those who split up (farqawa) their religion and become sects, each sect rejoicing inthat which is with it" (30:31 and 32). "And be not as those who divided (tafraqu) anddiffered (ikhtalafu) among themselves..." (3:105)."And verily, this is My Straight Path (serate mustaqeema), so follow it, and follow notother paths (fatafaraqa), for they will separate you away from His path. This He hasordained for you that you may become the pious (al-muttaqun)" (6:153).The path is clear and the pitfalls identified. As to the consequences of disobedience,"Say: 'He has power to send torment on you from above or from under your feet, orto cover you with confusion in sects (shiaan), and make you to taste the violence ofone another'. "See how variously We explain the Ayat [signs] so that they mayunderstand" (6:65)The gunshot wound, the devastating bomb and the exploding grenade in oursectarian midst, has made us taste blood, as we trudge the sectarian divide. Most menand women blindly following their parents schismatic proclivities. A child in hisinnocence wants to know, "What a Sunni or a Shia is?"The difference in fiqh may be unknown to the parents but the prejudice is passed on.Teachings of the faith lie beneath the murky waters of sectarian practices, adherenceto which is vigorous and abiding.The Quran continuously confirms the timeless quality of the Message. "But they (men)have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in what iswith it" (23:53). The words "what is with it" excludes the sacred whole.The invader in Iraq knows about the 'Sunni Triangle' and about the Shiah in the southbefore he has learnt anything about Islam, or maybe he perceives these divisions asIslamic.The Shiah Northern Alliance fought the Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan, andtheir neighbours resolutely stood by their favoured sect. Sect precedes faith in thesedivisive times.