Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, Symbol of Patience & Resistance

by Tauqeer Abbas

Shafaqna Pakistan: Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim is Bahrain’s leading Shia cleric. Today Ayatollah Qassim has the largest popular base in the country. He is considered by the popular majority in Bahrain as their leader and has many national positions. Sheikh Isa Qassim was born in 1937 to a fisherman in Diraz, Manama.

During his academic study Isa Qassim went to Noaim at night to study Islamic teachings under Sheikh Abdul-Hussain Al-Heli (Died in 1957). In 1962 Qassim began studies at the Najaf Religious Institute in Iraq, where he studied under many Marja’s including Mohammad Baqir Al-Sadr.

Shaikh Qassim travelled to Qom in 1991 to continue his studies. Qassim studied under Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Hashemi and Ayatollah Seyyed Kazem Haeri, Kerbela.info mentioned. Sheikh Isa Qassim is the leader of the Shia majority of Bahrain who alongside the Sunni have been calling for democracy and the rule of law in the Persian Gulf kingdom since 2011.

In 2016, he was stripped of his nationality on charges of “serving foreign interests”, Middleeasteye reported. Sheikh Qassim was under house arrest for months and left Bahrain to seek treatment overseas in 2016 but Bahrain government stripped him of his Bahraini citizenship. Ayatollah Qassim is currently living in the Iranian holy city of Qom. This move by the Bahraini government was met with international criticism.

On 20 June 2016, the US State Department said it was “alarmed by the Government of Bahrain’s decision to revoke [his] citizenship” and “remain deeply troubled… by the practice of withdrawing nationality of its citizens arbitrarily.” The European Union also warned that “revoking the citizenship of prominent figures such as Sheikh Isa Qassim risks increasing divisions and sectarian differences”.

Ahead of the hearing on 7 May 2017, several US-based NGOs that work on international religious freedom issues sent a letter to Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s king, urging the government to drop all charges against Sheikh Isa Qassim and reinstate his citizenship. Additionally, a group of international NGOs sent letters to the heads of state of the US, the UK, the EU, and to the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, asking officials to publicly call on the Bahraini government to drop the charges against the three defendants.

The Bahraini authorities, by denaturalizing and prosecuting Sheikh Isa Qassim for religious practices, have shown they will criminalize actions of individuals based solely on religion. This will only continue to cause further instability in Bahrain. The Leader of the Bahraini Islamic Movement said that the aim of the Bahraini Nation Movement is to reform and put an end to the idea that the nation is in a position of slavery and if it wants to interfere in matters concerning its own destiny it will be condemned.

The Leader of the movement Bahraini Shia stated: “The Bahraini regime wanted to determine the fate of the nation as it pleased, and no voice of protest or opposition was raised and no one heard it. But neither the brutal and excessive clashes, nor the internal and external fighting forces, nor the colonial army and security forces, nor the inhumane methods, including torture, nor the atmosphere of terror, could silence the voice of the nation and calm its protest, Nournews reported.

He said: “During these years, methods of pressure, including imprisonment and torture, as well as suppression of religious freedom and expression and deprivation of citizenship, have been used by the government.” The people are either in prison or under tremendous pressure outside of prison. All the protesters and the ruling party insist on their position. His high moral value is one of the most important aspects of Sheikh Isa character. His humility, kindness and friendship with the younger generation, forms part of moral virtues of him, ABNA told.

Ayatollah Shaykh Isa Qasim by his sermons always invites people to peacefulness and awareness and calls on the government to legislation and fairness and has the best role in Bahrain’s peaceful uprising. He also warns the nation of Bahrain of division and separation and seeks to neutralize the plot of religious and sectarian sedition in Bahrain. He is a man who is known for his adherence to the principles. These principles are based on two things: ‘Calling for reform’ and ‘Staging peaceful protest’. Therefore, he successfully prevented Bahrain from being caught in violence.

Source: Shafaqna English

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