This is the first time I become part of such electronic medium, Internet writing. I hope to engage in constructive dialogue with people of all denominations. My intent here is to discuss a lot of important Islamic and non Islamic issues so that we may make attempt to better understand our purpose in this world. Unfortunately every group on this planet earth claim to represent the ultimate truth. So I will not try to prove anyone wrong or right, but will try to open a sincere debate about our faith; Islam; try to analyze the Muslim perceptions of their religion. Try to discuss the present situation of the Muslim people in the light of what is going on with the Muslims today.
My debate will be as neutral as possible without being bias to any school of thought, for I do not subscribe to any Muslim school of thoughts, Sunni nor Shi’a, but I am Muslim “Haneef” Nevertheless, I respect all schools of thoughts of the Muslim community. I believe that all of them carry within them a great hope to regain the Glory of Islam. All of them agree on the fundamentals of Islam that Allah (SW) is not mere human concept; rather He is a universal reality and the creator of all things. His most sublime manifestation is the creation of Mankind.
Muslims agree, beyond any dispute, on the legitimacy of the Holy prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the unity of Allah. In addition Muslims agree on the legitimacy of the Quran and the other tenets of Islam. It is clear to all Muslims that what make someone a Muslim is by simply declaring the “two Shahada” Having this fundamental principal in mind at all times during our dealings and discussions with each other, we should be able to establish a true bridge of communications and sincere dialogue. In fact our schools of thoughts were initially designed by our great scholars to facilitate our life and to be able to communicate with each other so that we can make a difference in this world that we all share. I as a Muslim would question and dispute the legitimacy of any school of thought that teaches its followers hate and revulsion against the other school of thoughts who share the same fundamental principles of Islam.
In my opinion all schools of thoughts are guilty as charged. Sunnis declares Shi’as as “Kafirs” and Shi’as declare Sunnis half Muslims or almost Kafirs!! I have experienced both schools of thoughts and I have found them both guilty of hate crimes against each other. Unfortunately both do not realize that they compliment each other. I believe that none of them is capable of truly establishing the pure “Muhammady Islam” unless if they accept each other as two arms in one body. They must sit down with each other and tell each other the great stories of the early glory of Islam, when our great Muslim leaders, over whom Muslims disagree, had no problem with each others. They had always communicated with each others over important issues which concerns the Muslim interests. Abu Bakir Alsidiq and Umar Bin Alkhatab had sought various advises from Ali bin Abi Talib regarding the Muslims affairs.
In our days I do not know any Sunni Muslim or Shi’a Muslim at all levels; seek an advice from each others, in religious matters or any matter, just as our great Muslim leaders did in the past. Why is it that those great leaders, whom are being classified as Shi’a and Sunni; Ali, Abu Bakir, Umar; as they are perceived by their followers Shi’a and Sunnis, get along well for the sake of the general Muslims interests, but their followers do not. We must be frank to each other and admit that what is going on with the Muslim world today is a clear testimony of the failures of both sides to communicate with each other for the sake of the general Muslim interests, as our great early Muslim leaders did, as mentioned.
Majority of Scholars from both sides are the main contributors to such failure. Both sides were caught up with demonizing each other without realizing that the demon resides in both of them. This demon feeds on the hateful philosophy which is preached and taught by both sides against the other. The philosophy of hate and negation of the opponent is the main ingredient of failure and backwardness of Muslims. Muslim scholars from both sides bare greater responsibility for the miserable plight of Muslims. We must have the courage to point out to our mishaps and our negative aspects of our perceptions of Islam.
Our approach toward understanding Islam aught to take a different direction before it is too late. The present direction is absolutely proven itself to be false and in no way near what really Islam stands for; What Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) stands for; What Imam Ali or his son Al Hussein stands for. What our great Khulafa’, Abu Bakir, Umar, Othman really stands for. Obviously, this approach is very destructive and is capable of destroying Islam from within; such fear is very real if you look at what is happing in Iraq, which represent a clear testimony of the danger of this direction; it is reported that nearly 35,000 Iraqi Muslims were killed mainly by Muslims. This number of victims may exceed the number of slaughtered lambs in Iraq for consumption!!!
We must all look seriously at the Muslims situation beyond the iron bars of our school of thoughts. We do not have to agree on all aspects of Islam. We do not have to unify our interpretation of Quran and Sunna. We do not have to negate the other side. We do not need to absorb the opposite side. Sunnis do not have to convert all Shi’as to Sunnism nor must the Shi’as strive to convert all Sunnis to Shi’asm. Instead we must all convert to these two fundamentals of Islam “No God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger”
What we really need to do is to remind each other of our humanity, our true testimony to the lordship of the Almighty Allah (SW) and the Prophet Hood of Muhammad (PBUH). Both sides must remember that it is not a crime to love the companions of the Prophet nor it is a crime to love the household of the same prophet. If Sunnis accuse Shi’as of exaggerating the role of the prophet’s household and abandon the prophet’s companions, then try to engage with them in constructive discussions of this matter. Sunni Muslims must remember that such stand from the Shi’a Muslims toward the great companions should not merit “Kafir” status to be attributed to Shi’a Muslims. And the same applies to the Shi’as, if they accuse the Sunnis of exaggerating the role of the prophet’s companions and abandon the household of the prophet, and then engage them with a sincere dialogue but not with the intention of converting them to your Shi’a school.
All disputed parties must keep in mind that such issues of dispute are truly contingent to the unity of Islam and dose not merit the “Kufur- polytheist“ status to be attributed to any Muslim who utters “No God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger” After all the main principle in this dispute is the holy prophet.
One group focuses mainly on the companion of the prophet, where as the other group focus mainly on the household of the same prophet, in their dispute. Both parties unfortunately lost focus on the main character that is the prophet of Islam. Both lost focus of the Quran. Both lost focus of the lord of Mohammad (PBUH), the lord of Ali, the lord of Abu Baker, the lord of Umar, and the lord of all of the creations.
Our great early Muslim scholars of both schools of thoughts were genuine in serving Islam by presenting their own perceptions and understanding of Quran and Sunnah. Those scholars did not have quarrel with each other nor any major fundamental differences, to the point of declaring each other as “Kafirs” The problem seems with their followers. I believe both schools have great knowledge and wisdom to be offered to each other. No one can dispute the vast knowledge of Ali bin Abi Talib, who is the gate of the prophet’s knowledge (prophetic hadeeth) and all the other members of the prophet house hold. And no Muslim can dispute the sincerity of the companions of the prophet and their beautiful wisdom, justice and their sincere efforts in serving Islam according to their own capacity as human beings.
I believe that it is very crucial for all parties to reflect on their own philosophy of life and try to examine their school of thought through an open mind and make “HUMANITY” the divine link between us and make it to be your principle and main dynamic of dialogue with each other.
At this note I will stop because it is enough for now and there is a lot to be said in this regards, in the future InShaa’ Allah I will open a debate about the true nature of Sunni and Shi’a dispute and examine how our early Muslim leaders handled the issue of leadership after the prophet’ death.
May Allah help us all?