ENDING THE CONFLICT:
SUNNI/SHI’I RELIGIO-POLITICAL IDEAS
Salim I. Hassan (Salimullah)
Education Department, BUK.email@example.com
Written on Sunday, 2nd August, 2009
Sometimes in my past experience I used to choose hiding the truth for people to love me, and at the end of the day I realized that I may incur severe retribution from Allah. But, now we choose to expose the truth despite of public hostilities and criticisms as long as we hope earning prestige from ALLAH – the Most High. I may first extend my sympathy to my beloved Arab-Muslim nation-states for their sufferings from the perpetual persecution, sanction, and political hegemony in the hands of Western super-terrorist power. I may also, with great herald and joy, extend my felicitations and praises to the Islamic Republic of Iran for their long term achievement of Islamic revolution. The issue is not whether you are Sunni or Shi’i; but the question of what faith you belong to: Islam or non-Islam must take priority over any other secondary conflict. So many things I could not hide them in my mind. Despite of deeply-rooted religious trivialities of conflict Sunni nations have a lot to adopt and to learn from the modern Iranian political thoughts which are perhaps the most prototypes of the true Islamic ideologies for the attainment of independent power on earth. We should not be pre-occupied with trivial sectarian conflicts; be objective, impartial, and open-minded towards both sides. I wonder what makes a person to condemn Iranian people for his mere belief that they are abusing some companions; and he is there siding with the enemies of Islam who are abusing ALLAH and His messenger – upon him be peace. I will not accept Iranian civilization for they are Shi’i and I am Sunni as some are saying; but they are there accepting, adopting and appreciating western civilization which is a typical ‘Kufr’ in nature and which is humanly designed by the Kuffar, the enemies of ALLAH and the believers. I think a person with such an ambiguous attitude, whether being a layman or a renowned Islamic scholar, should not be recognized as an intelligent Muslim believer. Throughout the Qur’an you can find nowhere ALLAH forbid us to follow some category of people with such a ‘Shi’i’ title. But, the whole messages of the Qur’an entail that we Muslims must not follow the foot of the Kuffar; we must not accept whatever idea/theory/system of their source especially when it is in conspicuous discord with Islam. But, now we are condemning some group of Muslims for just they are Shi’is. And for what reason are we appreciating and adopting Kuffar systems and civilizations, and even obeying their powers unconditionally at the expense of the divine God? Which Islam has come with such a command? Regardless of trivial differences toward our historical experiences, lets us come together and establish global fraternity to confront the challenges of today ahead of us.
I confess that modern Iranian civilization which is basically Islamic in nature, shall be the bedrock of future salvation of the Muslim worlds. The practical world affairs succinctly portrays that Iran is not the problem; but the real problems are those Muslim-Arab leaders who they hitherto, recognize Western enemies as their benefactors and protectors. If you ask: which Muslim country is not subservient to Western powers? To me, like any other Sunni Muslim, and despite of antagonism towards Shi’i, the answer is Islamic Republic of Iran, and it is the only one remained after the recent collapse of Islamic emirate of Afghanistan by super-terrorist power of America. And the entire world is a sharp witness to say that until now the West have been developing international plot and conspiracy to invade Iran in an attempt of their long lasting foreign policy to suppress Shari’ah Ruling System in the world in a pretext of fighting terrorism. Other Muslim nations should take lesson from these testimonial facts that are inevitably attributed to Iran. The real cause that led Iran into an absolute independent power is the fact that they have established a policy of ‘Ultimatum’ against the West during the great era of Islamic Revolution in Iran led by Imam Khomeini. This is a powerful clear evidence which shows that the prerequisite for the salvation of the entire Muslim Ummah from the clutches of Western influence and subjugation is by no means a complete ‘Bara’ah’ (ultimatum), which entails a total cut off from their secular civilizations, systems and ideologies. The Muslim-Arab nations are still, desperately proclaiming themselves as the saviours and sustainers of Islamic power and glory. But in reality, the absolute power of Islam in this era of Muslim-Arab passivity lies honourably in Iran. The Muslim-Arab world, instead of competing with Iran in at least clamouring the same standard of independent civilization, they become preoccupied with their trivial historical antagonism; thus, purveying irrational propaganda in order to keep alive in the minds of the Sunni Muslims, the undesirable conflict between Sunnis and Shi’is. This is a bad policy uphold by the Arab Muslim world. Who think of complete revivalism in Muslim world with such a subservient habit of those ruling class (as in Saudia) and regimes (as in Egypt & Pakistan) must have been indeed deluded in his thought. I want make one clear point to you. Some few Muslim nations who have been a major threat to Western powers are largely dominated by Shi’i Muslims. Countries like Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, are the highest challenges against the Western power than any of the Arab-Muslim nations today. This is an apparent sign that Shi’i Muslim nations have more just, impartial, and objective Islamic vision in the movement of restoring the independent power and glory of Islam in the world than any other Sunni nation. It is unfortunate to have now heard that Arab nations might have stopped its support and financial assistance to the Palestinian Muslims simply because Hamas receives donation and contribution from Iranian state. This is ridiculous for the Arabs to utter such an illogical reason! So, what is then the problem if Iran joins the struggle to salvage the holy land of Palestine? I think Arab nations are committing treason against Muslims. I mean that the Arab Sunni nations are complaining that Iran power began to gain momentum in the Middle East in such areas like Palestine and Lebanon and such they have stop their support to the Palestinians. I always appreciate the attitude of Egyptian Muslim brothers when they expressed that: “They (Arab Sunni nations) speak about the Iranian influence; I wonder about the Arab effect though the Arabs number and possibilities surpass that of Iran, who let the region for the Iranian extension to widen more? Do they have a situation toward Zionist and American influence which dominates all things in the region and try to create new Middle East carries out their orders, defenses their interests, and abandons its ideological, cultural and social characteristics and adopts Western manners? What did the Arab regimes present for the Palestinian issue except condemnations and negotiations that Israel cast into waste bin even before reading it?”
This is the truth I speak from my own personal observation. But I know, for pointing out these truths, I would be called with all sort of titles by some people with deeply blind sectarian trivial ideas and thoughts. But we should not forget that the habit of deeply religious sectarian antagonism is also exhibits by Shi’is as against the Sunnis. So what brought about all these undesirable state of conflict? Let us quickly unveil the cause under the below topic.
Historical Notes and Experiences
From what I have understood during my brief Islamic history journey in different Islamic books of history and Hadith, I am convinced that the essence of the conflict was inherently rooted in early time of Prophet’s departure – peace be upon him. I have understood that there are numerous authentic Hadiths in which Prophet – peace be upon him – emphatically recommend obedience and respect to Ahl-Bayt as well as other authentic ones which condemns and destroys whoever violates or maltreats any honour and right of the Ahl-Bayt. It is not accident that some authentic Hadiths sanctifying the general companions and prohibiting public accuse against them were also reported. On the one hand, Ahl-Sunnah hold that the companions in general must not be blamed by ordinary Muslims despite of their historical shortcomings and errors based on the prophetic caution and warning reported in several Hadiths. On the other hand, Shi’a hold the view that whoever maltreat the Ahl-Bayt, or refuse to give them their due honour and respect as required by the prophet – peace be upon him – or violate any of their right must not be recognized by the Muslim Ummah now matter how eminent appear to be in Islam based on several authentic Hadiths reported from the prophet – peace be upon Him. As a result of this, Shi’a insist that they would not recognize the religious status of any companion whom they perceived as violator of the honour, right, and status of Ahl-Bayt; while Ahl-Sunnah insist to have recognize the authority of each and every companion whether he was found in conflict with Ahl-Bayt or not. i hope that the reader would not misconceived my elucidation. It is now clear that some while some Hadiths were reported urging companions and the general Ummah to respect and honour Ahly-Bayt while condemning whoever violate or disappoint them/their right, others were reported sanctifying companions and urging people to keep aloof from reviewing their mistakes and errors. This makes one of the main causes of the Sunni/Shi’i Conflict. It is known that hitherto while the Sunnis strongly uphold that Prophet – peace be upon him – did not leave any legacy of leadership for his family Shi’is insist that there is indeed such report of legacy however the Sunnis of that time suppressed such prophetic traditions from emergence through their powerful influential propaganda. At this juncture, it would be of significant to highlight some few different Hadiths uphold by both sides.
Abu Huraira narrated that: “The Prophet – peace be upon him – looked toward Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husain, and Fatimah, and said: "I am in the state of war with those who will fight you, and in the state of peace with those who are peaceful to you." (Sahih al-Tirmidhi, V5, p699, Sunan Ibn Majah, V1, p52).
“The Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever curses (or verbally abuses) Ali, he has, in fact, cursed me, and whoever has cursed me, he has cursedAllah, and whoever has cursed Allah, then Allah will throw him into the Hell-fire." (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, V6, p33).
“"We recognized the hypocrites by their hatred of Ali."
Such Hadiths are many. Even though they are agreed upon by both Sunnis and Shi’is there is still a slight difference. While Sunnis believe that such Hadiths should be apply to ordinary Muslims who are into the habit of disrespecting or violating the rights of Ahl-Bayt while exonerating the companions, Shi’is believe that it should be applied to all Muslims: whether companions or ordinary people; that whoever found guilty in abusing Ahl-Bayt in any form he must come under the description provided by the prophet – peace be upon him – in his various Hadiths such as infidel, hypocrite, and or rebel. Meanwhile, at the same time so many Hadiths were also reported sanctifying and exonerating the companions in general from public accuses and blame despite of any of their shortcomings. In fact the Muslim’s perception about these two facts perhaps makes the essence of Sunni/Shi’i conflicts.
So, how can we confront and overcome this cause of conflict? To me, I can say that if these two groups of Hadiths were to be comprehended and applied objectively by both sides (Sunni & Shi’i) we may come to reconcile 70% of the existing conflict between the both sects. The best solution is for the both sides to ignore and suspend the past historical experiences face this religion within the context of modern world so as to salvage its independence from the political hegemony and military assault of the Western super-terrorists power. Obviously I don’t know how to address the problems between us and the Shi’i followers from our internal religious resolution.
Historically, the reason why Sunnis opposed the Shi’ is the fact Shi’i followers, after the departure of the prophet – peace be upon him – wanted to make Khilafah a hereditary dynasty by allegedly claiming it exclusively for Ali’s family. The advocates of Ahl-Bayt also insisted that there was a legacy by the prophet justifying their claim. But, Sunnis maintained the view that the prophet - peace be upon him – did not make Khilafah exclusive for any particular family including his own relatives; and that each and every Muslim is entitled to it as far as he is qualified for it, and is supported by the majority Muslim Ummah. These diametrical views made the essence of the conflict. At the end of the day, the Sunnis appeared winners as their view achieved popularity among the Muslim Ummah. Consequently, the Minority Shi’is considered first Caliphs as either usurpers or hypocrites as they, according to them, denied Ahl-Bayt their legitimate right to Khilafah.
As it turns out, when Umayyad dynasty assume power after Khilafah has ended, they made Muslim leadership to become a hereditary dynastic monarchy exclusively for their family – an idea held previously by the Shi’is in support of Ahl-Bayt. Mu’awiyya bn Abi Sufyan who was a Sunni and an advocate of dynamic Khilafah as opposed to the Shi’is, was first to declare his son Yazid as his successor. And this exactly what happened after Mu’awiyya’s death. Thus, he made Khilafah exclusively for his own Family. Yazid was also succeeded by his son. Shi’i followers arose to oppose this policy as they perceived it as injustice against the Ahly-Bayt. As a result, there were incessant conflicts and wars in the later year. A formidable question usually ask by some objective Muslims is: why the Sunnis made Khilafah as hereditary kingdom for their own families when they had previously opposed it to be made for the Prophet’s family? Until now, the leaders of Sunni followers are still practicing this kind of leadership in their states and nations. If they had really believed that Khilafah could not be made heredity for a particular family they would have not made hereditary for their families.
I must have to stop here not because I have finished but because I am in an overwhelming dilemma; for the conflict is deeply-rooted in past history which is difficult to deal with. Only God can unite our leaders, scholars, and people in general. I am more than convinced that in the near future we must have to come to reach a perfect unity among us. A formidable question usually ask by some objective Muslims is: why the Sunnis made Khilafah as hereditary kingdom for their own families when they had previously opposed it to be made for the Prophet’s family? Until now, the leaders of Sunni followers are still practicing this kind of leadership in their states and nations. If they had really believed that Khilafah could not be made heredity for a particular family they would have not made hereditary for their families.
I DID WRITE TO HURT ANY OF MY MUSLIM BROTHERS BUT TO EXPRESS MY INNER ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE INCESSANT CONFLICT BETWEEN US (SUNNIS) AND SHI’IS. IF ANY OF MY BROTHERS FEEL DISAPPOINTED PLEASE APOLOGIZE ME.
Submitted by Salimullah