Shia & Sunni burning Iraq

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Iraq Views: 5263

The daily destruction of human life in Iraq has reached a level that is now described as a civil war. Much of the current killing is brought on by Muslims against fellow Muslims. Shias and Sunnis are dangerously armed and killing each other with impunity. Various interest groups who have everything to gain from the prevailing chaos are also joining the killing spree overtly or covertly.

People blame the US occupation for the killing and justifiably the argument can be made that all the bloodshed could have been avoided if the US had not invaded Iraq and had tried to work out alternatives to change the regime in Iraq. Mr. Bush and his war fanatic cabinet members, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld have failed in their war. Their incompetence and reckless ideology has resulted in the ongoing slaughter of innocent people unabated and unchecked. Needless to say, history will recognize these people as perpetrators of this century's first biggest bloodbath.

But part of the blame has to be shared by some of those who claim to be the leaders of Sunnis and Shias in Iraq as well as other leaders in the Middle East. These people must also be held accountable for spreading lies and hatred.

Doubtlessly, the religious discourse amongst many of those who identify themselves as Shias or Sunnis is ugly and inhumane. Judged from the Islamic criterion of decency, it is unacceptable. Analyzed from the perspective of Prophetic traditions, it is unimaginable. Yet, the sectarian bigotry has taken the hatred to a level, where many have tried to justify the killing of others on religious grounds. 

Many Scholars are afraid to speak up either because they are afraid or because they want to be politically correct. One has to admit loudly and clearly that there are many among the Sunnis and Shias that behave towards each other in a manner that is against Islamic ethics. Many of them hurt each other, humiliate each other and denounce others as non-Muslims. Many of them are arrogant. Many of them have total disregard of the life of the other. In their hatred they are willing to destroy everything that comes in their way including, the Quran or Islamic places of worship. 

Some of the Shia and Sunni leaders promote a notion of loyalty to their sect that could be considered bordering on polytheism. Violence is considered as a norm rather than a deviation to resolve their differences. Sometime, to make a statement of political correctness they shake hands with each other and issue statements of unity, but when most retire to their supporters, they speak a different language, a language that is insulting and un-Islamic. It is these issues that the majority of Shia and Sunni leaders have refused to address.

What is happening in Iraq can be traced back to a deep rooted hatred and suspicion that has been created by a hateful preaching of decades or even centuries?

The majority of the leadership of the two sects has failed to address some of the most fundamental Islamic and human issues. Must human-beings be killed because they differ with someone's opinion? Must people always humiliate, and denounce the other in order to prove their supremacy. Must the other be condemned to death for adopting a different point of view? Must religious identity be expressed in an arrogant and violent manner? Is this the way we please God by hurting and killing His creation?

Unless the religious leadership of the two sects take an aggressive approach to develop an Islamic response based on the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet, they will continue to remain the prisoners of history as is the case presently. They have a window of opportunity to discuss these and other related issues in the context of Iraq sooner rather than later. Both can play a dynamic role in bringing the two sects together and helping them overcome their differences.


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It was encouraging to see Sunni and Shia religious leaders meet on October 19, 2006 in the holy city of Makkah. The leaders made a plea together for an end to sectarian bloodshed, especially in Iraq. The meeting was organized by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and backed by Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately the effect of the meeting has been limited.

Meeting just once and making statements against "violence"is not enough. There needs to be a sincere will and sustained approach to resolve the Sunni and Shia conflict. Leaders from Iraq, Iran and other parts of the world should meet on a regular basis to address the ongoing conflict in Iraq. They must go back to the most basic massage of the Quran about the dignity of the children of Adam that cannot be preserved without ensuring their right to life.

Even if they fail to resolve their disagreements, they must make a loud and clear unified declaration that violence must never be allowed to resolve their differences because violence is anti-divine.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor in chief of the weekly Muslim Observer. He is also the director of the Islamic Society of Nevada and the acting president of the Muslim American Council. Recently, he joined the Lahore based International Iqbal Institute of Research, Education and Dialogue (IRED).

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Iraq
Views: 5263

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Older Comments:
Very sensible article except for the needless and inflammatory paragraph on the supposed poor character of the US Chief Executive and his War Cabinet.

This websites rules suggest that such invalid argumentation (ad-hominem) is not acceptable --- yet here it is.

Having been given proof (after reading half a dozen of his essays) that Dr. Aslam Abdullah has much of value to say --- it is surprising to me that he would preface his remarks in this way.

I can only assume that he hopes to enter into dialogue with those for whom Mr. Bush's supposed perfidity is an article of faith.

Still, the demonization of those who disagree with one seems to be exactly the thing that Dr Abdullah usually warns against.

The behaviour of the Sunni and Shi'ite muslims of Iraq is sad and very unislamic, but I am sure the shaitan and others who work covertly, like some world governments, institgate and plant lies and stories to keep the situation between the Sunni's and Shiites explosive.

In The Name Of God The Beneficent The Merciful, Dear Brother
Aslam Abdullah your article was great and it is expresses one of
the greatest things about Islam, and that is that everyone is
allowed to have a different opinion, they may not always be correct
but that part of it should be left for Allah (sbt) to judge. I pray
constantly that our Shia and Sunni brothers and Sister over come
their differance and unite someday. Wa Salaam Sister Zahra

salaam wa rahmah
jazahkAllah khair Brother for this thoughtful article. while i complety agree with you that we are all muslims and must be united, i disagree about the primary reason for the violence. ofcourse there is always the outside elements who will divide and rule and take every advantage of the distruction of islam and muslims. but what about us - what about the ignorance we live in about each other? it is without doubt that 'ignorance' is one of the most violent elements in society. we are sooo busy doing interfaith meetings with our christian and jewish cousins and yet we remain ignorant about our own muslim brothers little differences in beliefs. when was the last time a masjid of any sect organized an interfaith meeting to dispell the many false notions we harbor and breed amongst ourselves.
i speak because i am one of the very very few who has broken the walls and set differences aside and try whenever possible to educate and remove ignorances of my brotheren. when was the last time you visited and/or prayed with your brothers of a different sect. did you take your family and encouraged your friends to do the same.
Perhaps my brothers and sisters, while keeping the sad state of iraq in mind we can start right here where we have all the possibilities to start building unity. those who resist and see the other as a 'kafir' or not worthy of their time then so be it - they will be answerable to their LORD - for i have complete faith in HIS Justice!!
a daughter of Islam

I agree with Dr. Aslam's comments and I share his concerns. According to the rules of war prescribed by Islam, we shall never kill innocent, unarmed people, we must not attack a fellow Muslim, we shall not destroy trees and places of worship, we shall never transgress, and we shall fight only in self defence armed people against armed people. What have the Iraki Muslims done? Break all these rules. Their actions are deplorable and they mislead our youth into misunderstanding Islam in two ways: the first being to move away from Islam as a result of the violence provoked by Muslims, the second being to take part in the fight. This is not right. This is, as Allah ta'alah has mentioned many times in the Quran SPREADING MISCHIEF ON EARTH.

Wonderful article.

It is good article. Some how I do not agree with your view. It is may be wrong of USA involved in Iraq. But As a muslims, claimed by Iraqi, how they can kill another Muslims in respect of different political believes or concept sunni or siah. Brother, Muslims are away from the path of what our religion stand for. If we, as muslims do or follow what our holy Koran state then we as muslims would not be fighting each other. To my book any human being claimed be muslims but forgot the path of ISLAM... They are no longer Muslim.

DEAR DR.ASLAM alsalam alikom warahmato ALLAH wa barakatoh
DR,you are treating the sunnah and shiaa like if they are in the same shape , position and faith. it just like if you do not no nothing about what exactly happining , and i do not blame you because of your position in your country ,USA .so, i will say it .the people before used to be afraid to say the truth in RUSSA or in the Middle East but now you can add a long list of countries starting with the one you are working in and for.
so, i will summries my comments in several points:
@First of all i need from every body wants to continue reading my comments ,kindly refer to these links:
## site belongs to Saddam Husain party and i do not agree with it but the news about Iraq it brings is true and itis from an arabic site has tens of reporters in Iraq and no one translates these news into english except this site and the following site translates the head lines only

1)Sunny never attak ennocent people whther they are Shiaa or Americans.
2)Sunny started fighting Americans and other armies who attacked Iraq and warned every one who give them support to not do so.
3)Shiaa started to attack Sunnys families for about one year with no respond from sunnies fighters.
4)Shiaat schollers gave green light and after that gave full support to militant shiaa to kill any sunny and they will be awarded in this life and in the day after!
5)sunny fighters started to fight back the shiaa fighters

Islam stands for peace. If we don't respect Allah's might and wait for his gift we will labour in vain. Some of our leaders want to be politicians with the support from the WEST instead of looking for it from Allah. What we may do is to pray to Allah to bring Iraq out of its current state.

I thank Dr. Abdullah for presenting a voice of reason in an otherwise unreasonable sea of voices. I am CERTAIN that others are also proclaiming moderation in this most bitter battle between humans. I wonder why we in the U.S. are not hearing those moderate voices in the mainstream media. Could it be that the U.S has become a nation of such extremism ourselves that we are only open to the extreme polar opposites and have no tolerance for a balance viewpoint? I fear that it is the case and I, for one, would like to be among those who promulgate the voices of moderation. I wish that there were more I could do. We are in a very volatile time of the world's history and I do not want to watch insanity slowly take over the planet because reasonable men and women could not be heard above the cacophony of hatred.

As a Muslim I do not believe it is right for Muslims to kill one another. First of all we must remeber that Allah is in control of everything and is the best of Planners. There is a chapter in the Quran' 5:33 that states when Muslims are suppose to defend themselves and that is when someone wages a war against the Allah or his prophet(pbuh). My perspective of this whole reasoning behind this war is hypocrisy. No other human being control another human beings' destiny for worng reasons. The two sects of Islam are raging a powerful war because both sects have a significance in the world of Islam. But when it comes together we all believe in Allah, his prophets(pbuh), the angels(pbut) and the His Book. The final chapter in the Quran", An-Nas (Mankind) simply ask man to withdraw from the evil whispers of the devil and remeber Allah. I do not believe in bloodshed because certain people don't believe in what we as a people believe is the truth. And I believe the majority of Americans fear what they do not know and that's why there over in Iraq launching an irrational war.

I often wonder if the 100th hidden attribute of Allah, Lord and Creator of the Universe is Irony. Reading George P. O'Connell's comments took me back to my musings--perhaps that IS the 100th name of Allah, Lord Almighty--Irony.
Mr. O'Connell perhaps is not aware of the fact that he is a Muslim and closer to Islam than many of us who claim to be Muslims are!
Allah SWT has named the religion "Islam" and its followers "Muslims." Any Muslim who dares to override the Word of the Almighty does so at his/her own peril! Perhaps that, in a nutshell, explains the state of the Muslim Ummah today who call themselves "Sunnis" and "Shias" instead of "Muslims." The rate that Muslims are killing each other and are being killed it seems is because Allah SWT is in the process of replacing us with another and a better people such as Mr. O'Connell just as He has warned us in the Qur'an.
May Allah (SWT) have Mercy on us all!

Arabs should understand that everyone,especially Muslims in the West,are not fooled by their Islamic pretence.Their religion is Tribalism and Allah is rewarding them for it.The Middle East is a cesspool of misery and oppressiveness despite their wealth.The sincere Muslim Arabs are lining up to get out and go to non-muslim countries so they can be free.The irony of that is humiliating since it should be the other way around.

Why let outsider control Iraq or any Islamic land. Regardless of what sector of Islam you belong can't we live in peace and fight off the outsiders. Share the land, resources and wealth
of Iraq.

should one look at the action or the source of action. or both?

Source of civil war in Iraq is usa's illegal war on people of iraq. its very hard to believe that there will be no civil unrest after 655,000 innocent iraqi's gettin killed.
and millions living away from home and unaccounted innocent injured and sick.

i salute people of iraq who have stood united so far under occupation, any other nation would have disintegrated probably in few months.

I want to know where were you when saddam was slaughtering all the shias? Why non of the sunnis ever felt to speak up and now when situation has become unbearable and thousand of shia's and sunnis are being slaughtered then we feel the sense of writing this article...we muslims shias, sunnis and whabi have to speak up everytime one does wrong anywhere whether u r in Africa, Asia or any part of the world...when we start killing our fellow beings in Mosque then we have lost our way as we are not afraid of God anymore and that is the end of our civilization or many many years of blood bath. I predict that atleat another 100,000 to 200,000 muslims will die by their own brother before we muslims will come to terms. America or any western country will not have to drop a single bomb as we are very capable of doing it ourselves.

I am not a muslim but do read the Koran every day so that I read it through once a month. When I read those words I feel wonderfully alive. It sometimes that the founders of great religions are truly inspired by God. then their followers set up elaborate theological schemes and drain the inspiration from the original inspired words and set up sects. The question could be asked "Am I putting shia up as an idol. Or am I a sunni." The shia identity or the sunni identity seems more important than the muslim idengity. Or is God secondary to wealth and power. It seems that in Iraq the fight is over wealth and power. Any way the article is right on and I am surprised that there have been no comments. I also agree with the Oct 19 meeting of sunni and shia clerics. that statement seems to be to be the beadrock of what muslim society and society in general could and should be.

Dr. Aslam has hit the nail on the head when he writes:

"Unless the religious leadership of the two sects take an aggressive approach to develop an Islamic response based on the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet, they will continue to remain the prisoners of history as is the case presently."

May I say on similar note, that the muslims of this era are inviting doom to themselves just like the people of the jahiliyya period (for example the 'add the thamud, the madyan people the people of saba, etc). We have compeletely neglected the teachings of Islam and are following the awliya'a of shaitan by breaking into SECTS and neglecting the warning of Allah and his beloved Messenger Muhammad salla-Allahu 'alaihi Wasallam (SAW).

Simply because the leadership of the Ummah did not fall on 'Ali (RA) the people break away into (shi'a), and these consider all others out of the pale of Islam. The same is the case of Sunni, they condemned the shi'a. Who gives anybody any right to condemned anybody? Is it Allah; WHERE IN THE QUR'AN? Or is it the Prophet, WHICH HADITH?

The problem is that we followed our mullahs and Imams blindly in this Deen on what ever opinions they give even if it contradicts the texts.

Let's call a spade a spade and say it as it is, for the avoidance of doubt: NO BODY DIES A MUSLIM (person following Islam as a religion) EXCEPT HE DIES BEING ON WHAT THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAW) AND HIS COMPANIONS DIED ON. This is paraphrasing the authentic hadith of the Prophet.

When did Shi'a and Sunni began? After the death of the Prophet? Yes. Was the Prophet on thes paths? NO. So why insist on following that which the Prophet did not follow or permitted? What is wrong with our fitras that Allah said we were born with? Can't we reason and reflect?

Islam is what Allah says and what the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said. NO OTHER! Find a genuine Sheikh let him/her teach you the genuine Islam so that you may prosper both here in this world and

People who are killing each other in Iraq must not be followers of Islam. Islam is a religion of Peace.