Islam versus Sunni and Shi’a
In this part I will elaborate on sermon#5, which is mentioned in part-II of this essay. This sermon is very important in relationship to Sunni and Shi’a dispute. Its importance stems from the time frame of delivery which was extremely sensitive and charged up with high emotions. And certainly it is fair to say that such reality would present a great challenge to the individual’s character and faith.
When we examine Imam Ali’s approach and prudent way to deal with these crises it becomes evident that these difficult moments truly represent one the most shining moments of Imam Ali as a leader and maintainer of Islam. He was very clear in his vision and resolute to defend the truthfulness of Islam and the wellbeing of Muslims. These moments have truly put his conviction, in Allah and His messenger, on the test for those who doubted his true spiritual station in Islam. Those sensitive times Ali was faced with had made the light of Prophet Mohammad glow through him and made the magnificent reality of the dimensions of Prophet Muhammad manifest itself through Ali’s course of action regarding leadership of Muslims. So Imam Ali had a great responsibility to safeguard Islam from its followers first and second from the enemies of Islam.
“Steer clear through the waves of mischief by boats of deliverance”
-When Imam Ali had assessed the danger of the shaky political situation of Muslims regarding leadership, after the death of the Prophet Mohammad, he quickly warned his people by urging them to be vigilant in dealing with the issue of leadership and not allow themselves to be swept away by the “waves of mischief “; Imam Ali, here, referred to the extent and the seriousness of such situation in describing it in the likeness of “waves” for such waves are powerful enough to rip through the Muslim unity and the future of Islam. And he offered the means to combat these waves of mischief, and the eminent divisions among Muslims, through observing the fundamental principles of Islam; he refer to such principles in the likeness of “boats- Sufun” plural of “Safina-boat”. Here Imam Ali seems to refer to several options of ways or boats to salvation or deliverance. These ways or boats are; fearing Allah, adhering to the teaching of the Quran and the messenger of Allah, and following the house hold of the prophet “Ahlul-bait” all of which he considered to be the boats of deliverance, which will enable Muslims to see clear in the face of these waves of mischief. But we see here that Imam Ali did not single out “Ahlul-Bait” rather he made reference to several boats of deliverance; in the plural form. The reason for this, in my opinion, that the notion of Ahlul-bait was not fully comprehended by the majority of Muslims at that stage of Islam. So he offered many ways of salvation, as he stated it, in plural form as “boats of deliverance” for any one of these boats should be a representation of the other ones; following Ahlul-bait ought to lead to salvation and so as with other boats, for Ahlul-bait have striven to call for unity of Allah and the unity among Muslims.
To be continued