This blog post was published on August 14 2011. §
Hassan, Hussein and those in between
There is a very limited zone for what is defined as sacred in the Islamic thoughts and culture, everything beyond this space is subjected to criticism and in many cases lead to violence.
We can see this clearly in the recent historical TV soap opera “Al Hassan wa Al Hussein” broadcast in many Arab TV channels during Ramadan (changed name from “Al Hassan wa Al Hussein and Muawiyah”).
The soap deals with the idea of “the age of the Caliphate and the rise of the King in Islam” which led to the “great sedition” that will split Islam into Shiite and Sunni which effects the region ’till today. Since there are two versions of the real historical event, based on Sunni sources and Shiite sources, the soap opera tries to balance both views taking the middle line and in many cases based on fictional events.
Both Shiites and Sunnis, the soap opera and even the idea to debate the historical events is crossing the “forbidden zone”. The Sunnis argument represented by Al-Azhar in Egypt is that the Sunnis forbid and refuse to embody the prophets and all historical religious figures in any kind of work of art.
For the Shiite, there is no objection of showing the sacred symbols in art (see the image above, two actors posses as Hassan and Hussain in Karbala-Iraq), the objection stated by Sistani as the historical events of this soap opera is disputed among the religious leaders and will lead to more division and differences among Muslims.
In Iraq the soap opera took a political turn, The Iraqi parliament passed a legislation that ban the broadcast of “Al Hassan wa Al Hussein” (video of the Parliament decision), the only Iraqi satellite TV shows the soap is “Baghdad TV” which belongs to the Islamic Party.
For its part, the Iraqi Islamic Party called on members of Parliament to determine the type of abuse raised by the series, noting that the Parliament members agreed to stop the series knowing the nature of the violation.
For his part, the Iraqi Islamic Party called on Members of Parliament to determine the type of abuse raised by the series of Hassan and Hussein, noting that the House of Representatives and signed into corners with their vote to stop the series with some voice he did not know the nature of the violation.
Even after the Parliament vote, the channel continued to show the series, citing a statement repeated on the screen saying:
We are surprised that such a decision is agreed upon within few minutes without taking into account the rules of the Parliament, and comes days after the passing a law of the rights of journalists which supposed to protect freedom of expression.
The above religious, cultural and political debates are described by the Arab poet Al-Ma’ari 1000 years ago as:
We mortals are composed of two greats schools
Enlightened knaves or else religious fools.