Willayat’s eldest sister, Taleh Bibi, divorced and living with her brother, lost one daughter in the incident. She herself survived because she was in the trunk that did not sink. She, too, believes the miracle will continue through a male member of their family. In relation to the Islamic concept of death, it is significant that she had mixed feelings about her own survival. While relieved to be alive (although she gives this as another proof of the miracle), she is, nonetheless, envious of those who died and thereby gained paradise. Was the psychological condition of Naseem cause or effect by her religious experience? We know that her peculiarities of temperament became acceptable after the revelations. Her fits, her rapture, her ecstasy now made sense. She was touched by the divine. Even her acts defying tradition in Chakwal-such as abandoning the veil or being alone with a man-expressed her transcendent independence. Examples of trance, spirit possession and ecstatic behaviour have been recorded among Muslim groups from the Turkmen to the Baluch. It is commonplace that highly gifted but disturbed individuals adapt religious idioms to consolidate their social position or to dominate their social environment. Women have heard voices before, all over the world. Joan of Arc’s voice advised her to lead her nation in fighting the English. Naseem urged her to lead her followers into the sea. To understand the motives of those involved in this case, we need to combine an appreciation of religious mythology with an examination of certain sociological factors. There was more than just jazba (emotion, ecstasy, passion) at work in Chakwal. What did the followers think was awaiting them in Karachi? Both local leadership and kinship helped to determine who would be on the beaches that night. The importance of a leader in an Islamic community, Shiah or Sunni, is critical. The group is judged by its leadership (The Holy Quran, Surah 5: ro9; and Surah T 6-7). In different ways, Willayat, Naseem and Sakhawat Jaffery played leading parts in the drama, but we look in vain for a Savanarola figure in either Willayat or Sakhawat. Leadership was by consensus. In Islam-both Shiah and Sunni–life and death are conceptualised as binary opposites. They all agreed upon Naseem’s special role in the drama. She led, as much as she was led by, her father and the Zakir. The followers were responding not to one leader in their immediate community but the concept of leadership in Shiah society. They were responding to symbols centuries-old and emotions perennially kept alive in Shiah society. What is significant is the lack of ambivalence in the majority of the followers. Even the call for the ultimate sacrifice evoked an unequivocal response among most of them. Asad’s interesting question, “how does power create religion?” may therefore be turned around. The Hawkes Bay case provides an interesting example of how religion may create power. Willayat Shah was a forceful person who mobilised public opinion behind his daughter. The zakirs, especially SakhawatJaffery, supported him and he, in turn, assisted Sakhawat Jaffery financially. Apart from assisting the zakirs, Willayat also paid sums to a variety of other people. Among the beneficiaries were members of the traditionally lower social class-mostly artisans, barbers and blacksmiths. The seventeen people from Mureed who were prepared to walk into the sea were from this class. Four of this group backed out at the last minute and although thirteen entered the sea, only three of them died. The people of Mureed were recent converts to Islam and, like all converts, they were eager to exhibit their religious fervour. They looked to Willayat Shah for religious and financial support. For them, he was both a Sayyad and a man of means and they were enraptured by his daughter. Through him and his daughter, they found access to a higher social level. Whatever the levelling effect of religion, and the loyalties it created, the Sayyads rarely allowed their genealogy to be forgotten: the rural Punjab class structure was recognisable despite the experience at Hawkes Bay. Even in death class distinctions remained: three of the four men who held the taboot as they stepped into the waters were Sayyad, and the non-Sayyad was swept into the sea. Later, with a strange twist of logic, Willayat explained this by suggesting that his faith was weak. His faith was weak because he was not a Sayyad, while the three Sayyads who survived did so because their intentions were pure. And yet he also argued that those Sayyads who died did so because of their purity. Sayyads won whether the coin landed heads or tails. The Sayyads, of course, provided Willayat’s main support and many of them were his relatives. Of those who walked into the sea, 25 were related. For these, Willayat was the elder of the family: father to one, brother to another and uncle to yet others. Of the eighteen who died, fifteen were his near relatives, while ten of his kin survived. Religious loyalty was here clearly buttressed by ties of kinship. There was, however, structural resistance to Naseem and her revelations. The Sunni dismissed them out of hand and even the Shiah were not unanimous in supporting her. The Sayyads, senior in the Shiah hierarchy, ill-treated Naseem’s followers, especially the poorer ones, and teased her family. The older, more established, Shiah lineages felt threatened by the emergence of Naseem since she challenged their authority. Willayat’s brother, Ghulam Haider, suspected of having Sunni affiliation, kept away from the entire affair. The Zakir, himself a close confidant and beneficiary of Naseem, but worldly-wise, chose not to accompany the party on some pretext. And at the last moment, by the sea, four followers backed out. But, although there was opposition and resistance at every stage, thirty-eight people were prepared to sacrifice their lives based on Naseem’s commands and revelations. The explanation for their behaviour partly lies, I have argued, in the forces of social change, leadership and kinship in Chakwal society. But there are also other, more ideological and mythological dimensions to consider. Death, sects and women in Muslim society: There is no substantial difference between the core theological beliefs of Shiah and Sunni. Both believe in the central and omnipotent position of Allah; both accept the supremacy of the Holy Prophet as the messenger of Allah. The Holy Quran is revered by both as the divine message of Allah and its arguments relating to notions of death and the afterworld are accepted by both. Discussion of death is indeed central to the Holy Quran, which has many verses on the theme that “every soul must taste of death.” Death in Muslim society is seen as part of a natural pre-ordained, immutable order, directly linked to the actions of the living and part of a continuing process in the destiny of the individual. It becomes, therefore, a means to an end, “the beginning of journey.” Humans ‘transfer’ from this to the next world (the word for death in Urdu and Arabic, inteqal, derives from the Arabic muntaqil to “transfer”). The Holy Quran warns ‘unto him you shall be made to return’ (Surah Al-Ankabut: verse 21). On hearing of someone’s death, a Muslim utters the words “from God we come, to God we shall go.” For Muslims, there is no escaping the consequences of death. In Islam-both Shiah and Sunni–life and death are conceptualised as binary opposites. Al-akhira, the end, is the moment of truth, determining the future of a person. The individual is alone in that hour; all ties including those with parents and family are repudiated (Surah 82: 19). At that time all veils between man and “the objective moral reality will be rent.” Al-akhira is opposed to al-Dunya, the here and now, which may mean base pursuits. Indeed, Alam-e-Uqba, a popular book in Urdu on death in Islam, has sections called “Your death is better than your living.” Given the awesome facts of al-akhira, human beings must prepare for it in this life. Together, al-akhira and Dunya are a unitary whole, the latter determining the nature of the former. Life after death is explicit in Islam and central to its theology. In a general sense, this partly explains the attitudes to death shown both in the traditional religious war, and jihad, and in contemporary events in the Muslim world. Those who killed President Sadaat in Cairo and, like Lt Islambuli, awaited death calmly, during the trials and those who died following Imam Khomeini’s call in Iran, first against the Shah and later against the Iraqis, believed they were dying for a just, an Islamic, cause. Matters are complicated when jihad is freely translated as a struggle against any enemy, including Muslims. But the problems between Shiah and Sunnilie in this world are rooted in the history, not theology, of Islam. (To be Continued) The writer is Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies (School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC) and a Wilson Center Global Fellow.