This author belongs to a Floral SuShi Family, a very common old tradition among Muslim society all over the world. Our family life is a glittering example of Shia-Sunni Co-existence and Cooperation. In my childhood, the differences between the two major Muslim sects were more dealt in theological gatherings and masses were not deeply involved. With the advent of ‘Petro Dollar’ and boost of New Ideologies more than seventy sects of Islam began to assert their separate doctrines and got actively engaged in the deadly internecine fight that is forcing the tears of our existence at the seams. Now every sect calls the other sects as INFIDEL with a difference of degree and intensity. I worked through my life to understand this cleavage and discover the reason but miserably failed to decide the side which is RIGHT in absolute terms. My feeling of being torn between the Doctrines of Shia Islam and Sunni Islam has often driven me to despair and nervous breakdown. And every new quest for truth leads me sadder, to an even worse condition. Ironically, several individual leaders, form both the major Muslim sects sincerely seek to please God at the expense of other sect with expedition.
Since the inception of Islam, the history of Muslim rulers is drenched in the blood of its followers, leaders and friends – both political and spiritual as well. How agonizing that the second, third and fourth Caliph of Sunni Islam were massacred while many Imams and scholars of Shia Islam were mercilessly killed by the followers of Islam. They were all martyrs. Violence ran deeper in its anatomy of our progress and the tradition is still adhered in terms of words and spirit as blood spills in mosques and Imambargahs. However there is one incontrovertible truth that stands out in the sorry tale – the Shias, the minority if Islam had always been at the receiving end of violence.
Is it not the time ripe for the silent majority of both the communities to come together through dialog to defeat the terrorists who have been responsible for these madness and heinous killings?
Friday is the auspicious day for all Muslims – Sunnis and Shias both. On this day of the last week around 150 Shias were killed, 360 injured in Sanna, Yemen and 2 Shias were done to death and several others injured in Karachi, Pakistan. For the Muslim Ummah it’s a Black Day.
According to press resources, in the mosques of Sanna, suicide bombers entered pretending to be disabled and hiding explosives under casts. Pictures of people removing bodies from one of the mosques where a carpeted floor was littered with debris were seen all over. In the assaults at Al Badr mosque and Al Hashoosh mosque in Sanaa, the first blasts happened inside the buildings, followed two minutes later by explosions outside. At Al Badr mosque, the outdoor explosion was another suicide bombing; at Al Hashoosh mosque, the exterior blast was a car bomb. The mosques serve members of the Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam, the sect to which the rebel Houthi militants belong.
The blood of tourists killed at the museum in Tunisia by ISIS on Wednesday was not yet dried. The recent suicidal attack at Sanna illustrates the expanding focus for ISIS, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq. It proves the solid support they are getting from their backers. A written statement, purportedly from ISIS, claimed that ISIS executed Friday’s attacks, calling them “a tip of an iceberg.” The statement, posted on a site that previously carried ISIS proclamations, said five suicide bombers targeted Houthis in Sanaa. A separate audio message, also posted on ISIS-affiliated websites, claimed five ISIS suicide bombers killed dozens of “Houthi infidels.”
Among those killed in Sanaa was prominent Houthi religious leader Murtatha Al Mahathwari.
The Al Houti Tribe had long felt marginalized by the majority Sunnis in Yemen and have battled the central government for more than a decade. They finally decided to take up the matter to decisive end and gradually took control of the presidential palace in January and forcing President Hadi to resign.The mosque attacks came six months after the Houthis had entered Sanaa. Hadi was initially put under house arrest but escaped and flew to Aden declaring himself still President.
Just to carry forward my argument I’m quoting a portion of famous Islamic Scholar Sheikh Ahmed Deedat’s speech:
“I say why can’t you accept the Shia brothers as a fifth Fiqh. And the astonishing thing is that he (Ayatullah Khomeni) is telling you that he wants to be one with you. He is not talking about being Shia. He is shouting “there is no Sunni nor Shia there is one thing, Islam.” But we say to them “no you are different you are Shia.” This attitude is a sickness of the devil. He wants to divide us.
Can you imagine we Sunnis are 90% of the Muslim world and the ten percent who are Shias want to be partners and brothers with you in faith and the 90% are terrified. I can’t understand why should you the 90% be so terrified. They should be the ones terrified. And if you just knew the feelings that they have for you. During Jummah prayers in Iran, there are a million people. And you should see the way they look at you when you pass by, they recognize that you are a foreigner and not one of them and tears start rolling down their cheeks. This is the feeling that they have for you, but you say no, you want to keep they out, afraid that they will absolve you. You can only be absolved if there is something better than what you have. I don’t know, maybe some of you think I am a Shia, but I’m still with you all here.
What is all this Shia-Sunni tensions? It is all politics. These antagonisms we have are all politics now. If a Sunni brother somewhere does something wrong you say oh the individual is not being very Islamic, he is a kaffir, But if a Shia does something wrong you want to condemn the whole Shia community, the whole nation of millions, and say they are all rubbish just because one Shias actions are not very Islamic. At the same time where we look the other way if one of your relatives does something serious because he is your father or your uncle. One group of Sunnis says to another “you are not a Muslim” another group of Sunnis says “you are not a Muslim you are a kaffir” look that’s among us, and we fight among ourselves. And some of us do funny things.” End of the portion of Ahmed Deedat’s speech.
It is so heartrending to observe that Shia-Sunni violence has been on the rise in the last few years in Middle East and Pakistan.
Can’t we say – Now enough is enough? There is a silver-lining to these darker clouds. In Iraq, it is estimated that up to 30 percent of marriages are between Shias and Sunnis; victims of violence between the two groups frequently attend each other’s funeral prayers; one group often helps the other’s victims after an incident.
Even a green horn of Islamic Theology knows that the differences between Shia and Sunni are more political in nature while basic tenets of both are identical. Can’t we just leave them, forget them and wait for the Day of Judgment; these are better left for God to judge, as He knows best and has said in the Quran that ‘He is the final judge of religious disagreements.’
The killing of Shias or Sunnis will not resolve these disputes. The principle of “no compulsion in matters of faith” (Quran 2:256) is not just limited to Muslim-non-Muslim relations. It applies to Muslim interpretations of Islam as well. This instruction of God serves as a guideline for the Muslim community to not impose one’s interpretation on others. That is why throughout history, not only have Hanafis and Shafis worked with each other despite differences, but Shias and Sunnis have lived and worked side by side with each other as well.
Can’t we come closer and be decent and respectful to the thinking of each other? When human beings sit down and talk to each other, they learn to respect each other. Dialog allows parties to understand each other better by allowing participants to acquire direct knowledge about beliefs instead of relying on propaganda and stereotypical images. (Quran 49:6-12)
Serious and sincere exchange of thought, dialogues would isolate the extremist fringe. By talking to each other, Shias and Sunnis will be able to save lives, which is like saving the whole of humanity.
Even if some Shias and Sunnis consider each other enemies, the Quran asks us to be just even toward one’s enemy “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.” [Quran 5:8]
It is hard reality that the Shia community like Sunnis is also diverse. There are many differences between one Shia group and another. This is why it is important that dialog between Sunnis and Shias becomes a movement and a process throughout society instead of everyone waiting for one high powered dialog to yield some results at the leadership level.