Shia-Sunni violence has been on the rise in the last few years, particularly in Iraq and Pakistan. Every month, it seems, scores of Shias and Sunnis are killed in a vicious tit-for-tat between extremists on both sides. Many of the victims are killed as they pray within mosques.
These incidents belie the reality of Shia-Sunni coexistence and cooperation. 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.
This silent majority must come together through dialog to defeat the terrorists who have been responsible for these killings.
Seven reasons why a dialog between Shia and Sunni is needed:
Theological differences between Shia and Sunni are old and 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, but also 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.
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]
Dialog will isolate the extremist fringe. It is a major sin to kill a human being. Killing a human being is like killing the whole of humanity. By talking to each other, Shias and Sunnis will be able to save lives, which is like saving the whole of humanity. [Quran 5:32]
Revenge is not justice. Killing in revenge is unjust, inhuman, and un-Islamic. Retribution through the state, which the Quran sanctions via capital punishment does not amount to individuals taking the law in their hands or killing an innocent person in revenge. The call for, "an eye for an eye," does not mean an innocent eye for an innocent eye.
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]
Some considerations for dialog:
The Shia community like Sunnis is 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. Here are some preliminary thoughts on how a dialog between Shias and Sunnis can be beneficial for each side.
Goals of dialog:
Although I consider dialog a process that is beneficial to all, it is necessary that everyone involved recognize some of its tangible benefits. The following are a set of achievable goals for Shia-Sunni dialog.
- Developing an agenda of common concerns
- Identifying issues of conflict
- Issuing joint Fatwas against the killings
- Isolating extremists on each side
- Preventing a potential conflict or mediating an existing conflict
- Education to clarify stereotypes about each other
- Setting up joint task forces to deal with outstanding issues
Who should participate in the dialog?:
- Imams and caretakers of Masjids
- Students of Madrassas
- University students
- National level religious leadership
- Shia and Sunni media persons
- Shia and Sunni businesspersons
Mechanism of dialog:
Dialog is a process that should occur at all levels of society. In the 1960s in Pakistan, when Shia-Sunni clashes were far less significant, city officers used to convene joint meetings of Shia and Sunni leaders to chalk out Muharram plans so no confusion would result in rioting. These government-arranged dialogs helped keep conflicts at a minimum. Considering the current level of mistrust, it will be beneficial if civil society takes initiatives for dialog at all levels of society.
Private Dialog: Host roundtable discussions initially at the top leadership level that should later expand to include:
- working on different committees.
Public Dialog: Shia and Sunni both use public forums and media to speak to each other's audiences.
- Visiting each other's Masjids to enhance confidence and to demonstrate that they are not supportive of the extremists who isolate each other.
Shia-Sunni Dinners: Masjids and social associations should invite Shia and Sunni friends to eat with each other publicly.
Publicity of dialog:
Publicity of the dialog will generate hope and confidence in it and will empower those in dialog vis-a-vis the extremists. Media should facilitate self-criticism and introspection by the religious leadership. Those leaders who participate in dialog should be recognized through interviews, reports, and documentaries. Investigative reports should be aired and published about the truth behind sectarian propaganda. It is important for society to honor those Shia and Sunni leaders who take initiative and demonstrate leadership in participating in dialog. Sunnis, being members of the majority community, have the higher level of responsibility towards initiating and participating in dialog.
Sponsors of Dialog:
Funding always facilitates the beginning of a process in civil society. Every task requires time and money. While participating organizations and individuals can take care of their own costs, it would be very rewarding if some individuals and businesses came forward with funds to sponsor and host these dialogs. American Muslims can start a dialog in North America where there is no conflict in the Shia-Sunni community and then inspire and sponsor dialogs where it is needed the most.
Considering that Shias and Sunnis live side by side in the Muslim world, they are not unknown to each other, and considering that most of them have nothing to do with the current extremism which is responsible for the killings and violence, it is important for the moderate majority to come up with a few initiatives which are beneficial for Shia-Sunni harmony. These could be communicated in the print form or in any other media. They should discuss the following themes and/or use the methods outlined here:
- Khutba points which can help harmony
- What type of political/religious rhetoric can hurt at personal level
- What is common between Shias and Sunnis
- Common Hadith between Shias and Sunnis
- What is hate speech
- Islamic teachings of tolerance
- A Shia-Sunni security force, jointly safeguarding each others houses of worship will be a significant blow to the extremist agenda
Shia-Sunni conflict and sectarian terrorism is tearing our community apart.
The Quran, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, the Kaba and the five pillars of Islam are common to Shias and Sunnis. That is why no one in Islamic history has stopped Shias from performing Hajj, although the Kaba has always been in the control of Sunnis. Even today, when those currently in charge of the Kaba are part of a predominantly Salafi establishment, some of whom maintain extremely negative views of Shias, Shias like other Muslims are free to perform Hajj. Shias, by the same token, since the 1979 Iranian revolution, are ordered by Imam Khomeini to pray behind Sunni imams instead of praying separately.
This mutual recognition gives us hope that a dialog can bear fruit of peace and harmony between both the communities.
I think this is the best thing that can happen to us.We should minimize our differences and bring about a radical change for the better in the Muslim world.I was delighted when the Shias and Sunnis in Iraq had joined hands though briefly against their common enemy.
In this age of turmoil, it is so important for the Muslim Ummah to be united. That is the only way we can be strong against all odds that the muslim ummah is facing today. If only we were united under strong leaders, the story of the muslims would be different today. But alas ! it is our Jehad to bring everyone together for a united front. Jizakallahu Khairan -- brother for writing this excellent article and encouraging others.
I had raised my voice after 2005 ISNA convention that a dialogue should begin between us. Unfortunately, it was not heard then but it is never too late
As a Shia businessman I would love to support Brother Abdul Malik Mujahid and others to start the process. You can reach me at the above e-mail address. I am in Chicago, USA.
"The principle of "no compulsion in matters of faith" [Quran 2:256] is not just limited to Muslim-non-Muslim relations, but also 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. "
I agree. There will always be different views among people. This is inevitable. This best path to follow to avoid conflict and bloodshed is to "agree to disagree."
We, each and every indvidual, are that hand on the steering wheel of each other's vehicle.
Quran tells us in one of its smallest sura that unless we do four things we are certainly lost, and one of it is that we constantly remind each other (constantly correct) the minorest deflection in our course.
Tthe minorest deflection in the course, unless corrected, results in landing far off from the destination.
So talk, listen and follow the best, which is in conformation with the Critereon, the road map.
I agree with the author about Dialogue include any kind of dialogue between moslems and others. I just want to make things clear about what he called "shia" or "sunna".
THE REAL DIALOGUE should be between MOSLEMS and ARRAFEDAH.
the cross worshippers and Arrafedah have something in common which is a both use names that they don't abid with.
following their own words!!! the "christians" glorify the cross, hang the cross on them, kiss the cross, claim to chase the devils with the cross WHILE jesus Christ had just suffered on the cross. as any scientific mind can see, they are supposed to hold the name CROSS WORSHIPPERS.
also following their own words!!! the "shia" glorify cursing the Sahaba(Prophet's companions), attack the Prophet in his Honor, call Ali to help them like the cross worshippers do for jesus WHILE The Prophet who lived with his companions and wives never did or called for such thing.also as any scientific mind can see, they are supposed to hold the name of rejecters which is Arrafedah(they know the truth from what they say but they reject it).
I wonder how someone believe The Prophet never cursed his companions, never cursed his wives, never called Ali to help him instead of God BUT allow themselves to do so !!!!?? those who do such thing, are unable to see Oxymoron they put themselves in: they are like believing themselves better than the Prophet and condemning him with hypocrisy WHILE they claim they love him more than anybody else !!!
anybody who follow Allah and His messenger and stand against what the rejecters do, is a moslem. and any moslem should be open for Dialogue with others: Allah had dialogue with ibliss before He cursed him and no humanbeing can be worst than ibliss(satan). Allah also asked us to have dialogue with the cross worshippers while they are worst than Arrafedah(so called shia) in cursing Islam.
Brother Hudd, India got 700 million untouchables and kamath is the most fortunate one :).
Allah SWT choose his wisemen to clear the Batel.
I have been with u(slaves to junggle) for five years and u did not listen. Allah SWT showed me the after where no one of u dare to challenge.
I still say follow Sheikh Usama for correct path but yet u choose to go the nowhere CLOSE cycle-process (shia-sunnah-sufi-biggers corps) to fit in Bush Jezia system.
THE BIG PIX:THERE IS NO DIALOG NESSARY = QURAN SPEAKS LOUDER THAN YR CIA-IMAMAS CHAIRS = EITHER WITH BUSH FASAD CORP OR USAMA KHELAFAH = HELL IS WAITING.
Question, If Allah says in Quran I made this religion easy and open up the verses of Quran so there is no confusion. Then how the hell we came up with these interpretations. Islam supposedly a one religion without any interpretations.
If Quran is so difficult to understand and Sunnah is so hard to interpret in context of Quran then how a common man will ever understand this. No wonder Osama can interpret Quran to kill all the non believers and other interpret and say it is religion of peace.
Whenever religion becomes institutionalize and people make living out of it as well as when people spend the whole life finding ways to interpret same simple text into more confusing and conflicting interpretations, the problems will start to creep in.
There are two things that most Muslims don't have patience and tolerance where both of them should be part of everyone out their as Allah expects this from them supposedly.
Muslims who made a marriage to a particular interpretation and want to go with that it should be fine with rest of world if that person stay a good citizen and respect and tolerate others rather than become militant of that interpretation and expect the whole human race to follow its narrow sight.
Read your own Sura "Al-Kafiroon" that should also applied to all the interpretations of Islam as well and if someone has problems with other's interpretations please behave as human or see some doctor if symptoms to kill other because of this persists. I end this with the last verse of Sura Al-Kafiroon . "To you be your religion, and to me mine".
End of story
The differences can be grouped into following categories:
- Aqueeda/Asl-ud-deen. The core believes
- Furu. The Fiqh or legislations
The example of Abu Hanifa and Shafaee can not be compared to Shia and Sunni, because both of them were follower of Sunnah, and they didn't have differences in Aqueeda, and their differences were in mainly fiqh.
And Allah swt has said (approx meaning) 'that if you have tanazia (dispute) in some matter, then return to the Book of Allah and Messenger'.
We should discuss these difference in light with Quran and Sunnan of Prophet pbuh.
These are not "Theological" differences. These are core believes.
Your lecture is good, but ignore completely that the two can not reconcile until you speak about what is the different.
Sure, one will say there are sunni's ok with Shai, and visa versa.. but these are mainly secular muslims who have not read much about Quran and Shariah.. So, for them not much to dispute.. Ignorance is a blessing for them.
Why don't you spend some time to identify what is different between the two!?
I would think that if the Shia and the Sunni had no need for dialogue then there would be no need for fighting. The problem is not the US, it not that either or neither the Shia and the Sunni are right, and it not whether Islam is a just and holy religion. The problem is that differences between the factions are exploited by their own leaders. This is compounded by the religious leaders acting also as political leaders. This is a recipe for conflict.
I read your link to ICSSA. It was well written and provided a lot of historical information. Where the author is wrong and this is echoed time and again on this website is when he starts to assign the motivation to fight Islam as a religion to the actions the West takes. That website purports to be for mutual understanding but repeatedly inflames the issues by attributing actions to religious warfare. The West doesn't give a hoot what religion is in Pakistan or Iraq for that matter. What we do care about is that Bin Laden has vowed the destruction of the US and has proven that this in not an idle threat. If Pakistani people want the US out all they have to do is hand him over. The fact that devout Muslims would shelter a Bin Laden speaks of the hate for the West that your article does nothing to extinguish.
The US has supported many a regime all over the world that have been less than democratic. In retrospect, some have been mistakes. Whatever our reasons were at the time, it was not part of a grand scheme to wipe out Islam. The Muslim world's insistence in blaming the West for all of their ills is keeping them from focusing on fixing their own problems. I think Mujahid has it right.
I say get over these delusions and fixation with religion and concentrate on education, elimination of poverty, etc.
Once a greatIndian leader said that to a poor man, bread is god. Think, Think and Think!
In Pakistan how shia sunni violence are created everyone intersted should read this 40 page detail in depth analysis report. Which includes India/ Pakistan and Shia/ sunni Pakistan / Iran issue in greater detail.