February 2, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10460

Shi'ite Groups In India Mark Third Anniversary Of 'Martyrdom' Of IRGC Qods Force Commander Soleimani, Shi'ite Scholar Blames Coronavirus Epidemic On U.S.'s Killing Of Soleimani

February 2, 2023
Iran, India | Special Dispatch No. 10460

On January 3, 2023, Shi'ite community leaders in Indian cities, especially Mumbai, organized commemorative events to mark the third anniversary of the "martyrdom" of General Qassem Soleimani, Commander of Qods Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, 2020.

According to a report distributed and published by Iran's Tasnim News Agency, at one of the events held at the Iranian Mosque in Dongri area of Mumbai, Shi'ite religious leader Maulana Seyyed Qazi Askari delivered a speech honoring General Soleimani and Iraqi PMU commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.

Maulana Askari, accusing the West of propping up the Islamic State (ISIS), said: "General Soleimani's unwavering efforts resulted in the annihilation of Daesh [ISIS]. Their (adversaries') diabolical ambitions to build a fake 'Islamic state' were met with General Soleimani's resistance strategy, which assisted the region in getting rid of their malicious presence."[1]

Maulana Seyyed Qazi Askari said at an event in Mumbai: "General Qassem Soleimani's bravery is exemplary and unparalleled" – according to a report in Urdu daily Roznama Sahafat.[2]

In the days following Soleimani's assassination in 2020, Shi'ite groups held large protests in India. In January 2023, Shi'ite groups organized commemorative events at several places in Mumbai, notably at Zaib Palace on Yari Road, Shia Qabrastan at Mira Road, and at the Iranian Mosque in Dongri.[3] Some of the commemorative events were organized on December 31, 2022, and others on January 1, 2023.

In an opinion piece on Hizbullah website Al-Manar, Mumbai-based Shi'ite writer Sayed Mahdi Rizvi wrote: "The bravery of General Suleimani remains unmatched and unrivaled. There are still some questions that the world still needs to answer. Who benefitted from his assassination? Who wanted him gone? It is only Daesh [i.e., ISIS] who wanted him gone."[4] He added: "However, Daesh had been hurt so brutally that they are yet to regroup themselves. General Suleimani, along with Iraq's military chief Abu Mahdi Muhandis ensured that peace returned in the region."[5]

"As the entire world rings in the New Year, millions in Iran, Iraq, and Syria mourn the martyrdom of a man who gave them a new life. A life without fear of Daesh," he said, adding: "General Suleimani's unwavering efforts ensured that Daesh was wiped off the face of the earth. Their evil plans to install a fake 'Islamic State' were met with resistance and the strategy of General Soleimani who helped the region get rid of their presence."[6]

An event to mourn the killing of General Qassem Soleimani at the Iranian Mosque in the Dongri area of Mumbai on January 3, 2023.

On January 3, 2023, Roznama Sahafat – an Urdu-language newspaper which caters to Shi'ite communities in Lucknow, Mumbai, and other regions – published an article by Indian Shi'ite religious scholar Maulana Syed Ghafir Rizvi Falak Chholasvi who observed: "By becoming a martyr and by separating his body from his hands, Qassem Soleimani proved that when we become martyrs, we do not die, but rather becoming qualified for eternal life. If you want to eliminate one Qassem Soleimani today, then you can succeed in your intention at the apparent level, but the consequences will be that after one Qassem Soleimani goes away, one does not know how many more Qassem Soleimanis will rise up!"[7]

In an article titled "The Events Emerging After Qassem Soleimani's Martyrdom," the author questioned the morality of America's killing of Soleimani: "It would be considered bravery if both parties are face to face and there is an attack from both the sides. Martyring someone through a bomb is not bravery, nor is it related to Islam. Because Islam has called neither for attacking unarmed people nor does it teach killing by deception..."[8]

Maulana Syed Ghafir Rizvi Falak Chholasvi wrote: "Daesh's military considered Qassem Soleimani and his close friend Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis thorns in its path. This was the reason it always tried to find Qassem Soleimani unarmed and alone so that he could be eliminated. In other words, the enemy did not have the strength and courage to face a lion like Qassem Soleimani. This was the reason that a cowardly attack was carried out."[9] He added: "It is also something to bear in mind that if Qassem Soleimani were in front of our eyes today, the establishment of the Taliban government in Afghanistan would have been impossible."[10]

Maulana Syed Ghafir Rizvi Falak Chholasvi's article

The Shi'ite religious scholar went on: "After the martyrdom of Qassem Soleimani, such transformations can be seen in the world that do not need to be narrated because all the scenes are present in front of the world! The series of deaths that has begun after Qassem Soleimani is not limited to any one region, but rather has the entire world in its grip.

"And a series of epidemics has begun that has troubled all governments and is not going away. One epidemic has not ended before the second epidemic knocks at the door. Sometimes, there is the first wave of the Coronavirus, then the second wave, then the third wave, as if a single epidemic changes its names and like Iblees [i.e., Satan] dons different clothing to appear before the world. Now, what the truth is, only god truly knows, but at the least, the world has reached the edge of destruction after the martyrdom of Qassem Soleimani."[11]

After having blamed the coronavirus on America's assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Maulana Syed Ghafir Rizvi Falak Chholasvi noted that another "unique and priceless incident" was seen in the aftermath. "America, which thinks of itself as a superpower, was proud of its spy aircraft and claimed that the aircraft could not be detected by any radar. Iran took control of that aircraft in a way that mesmerized the world.  

"America's face fell in the dust. Before that too, Iran had taken control of America's spy aircraft, striking America's nose in front of the world. America was so angered that, despite having thousands of sanctions on Iran, it imposed more sanctions."[12]

A protest in Mumbai in early January 2020, days after Soleimani's assassination in Baghdad.[13] Events celebrating Soleimani's life are held anually in Mumbai.

Maulana Syed Ghafir Rizvi Falak Chholasvi observed: "Perhaps [America] forgot that Imam Khomeini said, 'Once we utter Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest],[14] then no one except Allah is a superpower before us; we bow our heads before him, and we will continue to surrender our heads before him.'"[15]

"Although Qassem Soleimani is not among us, his thoughts, his mission, his thinking, everything is alive and will continue to exist until the end of the world. Because, if one Qassem Soleimani has been made to depart, then one does not know how many more Qassem Soleimanis have been born.

"The enemy will have to bow before this point: that martyring Qassem Soleimani was the biggest mistake of its life. Now, how many more Qassem Soleimanis will it martyr, or rain bombs on Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis! There is no such power in the enemy's arsenal that it can wipe out the memories of Qassem Soleimani..." the Shi'ite scholar said.[16]

In the city of Lucknow, formerly a seat of Shi'ite power, Shi'ites organized a protest at the Chhota Imambara monument soon after General Qassem Soleimani was killed in January 2020.[17]


[1] (Iran), January 4, 2023.

[2] Roznama Sahafat (India), January 3, 2023.

[3] (Lebanon), January 3, 2023.

[4] (Lebanon), January 3, 2023.

[5] (Lebanon), January 3, 2023.

[6] (Lebanon), January 3, 2023.

[7] Roznama Sahafat (India), January 3, 2023.

[8] Roznama Sahafat (India), January 3, 2023.

[9] Roznama Sahafat (India), January 3, 2023.

[10] Roznama Sahafat (India), January 3, 2023.

[11] Roznama Sahafat (India), January 3, 2023.

[12] Roznama Sahafat (India), January 3, 2023.

[13], January 10, 2020.

[14] MEMRI Daily Brief No. 446, "'Allahu Akbar' – 'Allah Is The Greatest' – A Jihadi Battle Cry," January 11, 2023.

[15] Roznama Sahafat (India), January 3, 2023.

[16] Roznama Sahafat (India), January 3, 2023.

[17], January 5, 2020.

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