Murder in Blackburn: Aya Hachem Was a Shia Muslim, So What?

Danya Jafri (with minor edits)

On the 18th May 2020, 19-year-old Aya Hachem was tragically shot dead on her way to get groceries from her local Lidl supermarket in Blackburn, UK. The Muslim community has been mourning the death of Aya, a law student, who has been described as “truly remarkable”.

And the response to her life lost? Outrage. Outrage not just for the unnecessary and tragic death of a young girl who had her entire life ahead of her, but rather outrage against an undying flame of ignorance.

Outrage has broken out on social media as some Takfiri (who believe in excommunication of other sects) Islamists chose to withdraw their donations for a well to be built in honor of Hachem and divert their fundraising to support her grieving family, after learning her family were of a Shia Muslim background.

The loss of a life and efforts to support the Hachem family were met with a Takfiri Islamist Twitter user @humbleakh1 tweeting, “I didn’t know she was a Shia… no way do I want to be in a situation where all this cause could go against me on the Day of Judgement.”

Such a hateful attitude against Shia and Sufi Sunni Muslims is often promoted by hate clerics who allege Shias and Sufis of shirk (polytheism) and bidda (religious innovation).

And while this may surprise some and raise eyebrows for others, this is an incident, a sentiment, a backlash that is not foreign to the Shia and Sufi Sunni communities. Shia and Sufi Muslims, on a global scale, face a continued pattern of alienation and genocide.

Microaggressions, erasure, deadly attacks, dismissiveness, and glaringly anti–Shia and anti-Sufi utterances are well documented.

Replying to @usamafareed2 @hennaahmedx
It is totally permissible to disrespect and hate rafidhism, because that shirk is done in the name of Islam, the rawafidh offend us muslims through their shirk and bid’ah. All done in the name of Islam. This is why we hate them. We don’t owe any respect to pagans, especially them

2:55 AM – May 20, 2020

Even in times of tragedy, Shiaphobia and Shia-alienation rear their ugly heads – this is a reality which we must recognize and reconcile. Anti-Shiism and anti-Sufism are constant and systematic. It bears a long history woven into the fabric of a global society that claims to embrace differences, that claims to uplift the marginalized, a society that claims to fight against oppression and of tenacity against tyranny. Right from Mali to Iraq and Pakistan, Takfiri Islamist militant groups are attacking Sufi shrines and saints.

But, where has this society gone now? Where has it gone when justice calls its name? Where now are the chants of holding firmly to the rope of Allah (Quran 3:103) and being a brother in faith or equal in humanity?

Recognize this collective and deafening silence as oppression. Recognize this collective and unwavering ignorance as a seed of planted hatred and discrimination. And if you cannot bring yourself to share an ounce of pain felt by the Shia and Sufi communities, recognize one thing: we are dealing with the loss of an innocent human life. We are dealing with a continued injustice that took the life of an individual, whose life was sacred, for the Holy Quran teaches us that every life is sacred (5:32).

And yet, we are numb. We have become numb and we have become desensitized because we live in a world colored by anti-Shiism in which a life lost is not always remembered like a life lived.

Hussain Makke
It is reported that when a jewish man’s coffin came by the Prophet Muhammad, he stood. When told: ‘but he is Jewish…’ The blessed Prophet responded: ‘is he not a human being?’ I wonder what the Prophet would have said for a young sister killed in cold blood whilst fasting.

4:49 AM – May 20, 2020

The Sunni/Shia beef that’s been on the TL today is actually disgusting. A Muslim sister has died and people are cancelling fund raisers after finding out she’s shia? Are you guys worshipping allah swt or your culture/believes?? May Allah swt guide you all

2:47 AM – May 20, 2020

There were of course voices of pluralism and diversity from Sunni and other communities within and outside Islam, which condemned the Takfiri mindset.

Dr Bilal Hassam
· 20 May 2020
Let’s be absolutely clear folks. Our sister, Aya Hachem, was tragically killed in a horrific attack. If you think Sunni Islam stops you from expressing solidarity/support to our Shia sisters and brothers, you haven’t understood the Sunnah and haven’t understood Islam.

Dr Bilal Hassam
As a Sunni Muslim I am disgusted at the anti Shia sentiment expressed in the wake of Sister Aya’s death. Let this be a wake up call. Never underestimate the dangerous undercurrents of sectarianism. We must build bridges of understanding to counter this nonsense.

06:01 – 20 May 2020

Aya was Shia. Aya was Muslim. Aya was a human being. These characteristics, these components of her identity – our identity – are not mutually exclusive. Yet, at the hands of xenophobia and ignorance, the schism of difference has widened.

And I, as a Shia, as a Muslim, as a human being, as all of these things as a single entity – I am outraged. I am heartbroken. And I am tired. Have we become so numb that we stand silent, afraid of facing differences and diversity, that we are left indifferent to human suffering?

When will we, as a society, admit our complicity in the face of oppression?