Resolution of Shiite-Sunni (Shia-Sunni) conflict
There are many facets to terrorism in Pakistan. One of the aspects is the massacre on the backdrop of Shiite-Sunni conflict. So, different incidents occur every other day in this respect and, along with commoners, scholars also became its target. Especially in the month of Muharram (the first month of lunar calendar), an atmosphere of fear and terror rises about what will happen now. As a result of the security measures taken in this regard, life in big cities is practically suspended. Many years have passed, but this situation has not changed. Now it is becoming an international issue concerning what is happening in the Middle East. The world now knows less about the Middle East regarding the Palestinian cause and more about this issue.
In this situation, it is the responsibility of all of us to take this issue seriously. I suggested a solution to this problem in an article many years ago. I think this is the only possible solution to this problem. When this article was published, the well-known Shia scholar Dr. Allama Mohsin Naqvi got some misunderstanding and wrote me an email. I made my point clearer in a letter. I hoped that would be considered reasonable. Then that whole conversation was forgotten. Recently, Dr. Zubair Ahmed, a well-known TV anchor, informed me in a meeting that Mr. Allama had presented the same proposal for the solution of the Shia-Sunni issue at a conference of prominent scholars of the country I offered in the past. Dr. Zubair further said that in response, the eminent Ahl-e-Hadith scholar Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer supported the suggestion by saying that everyone knows who my father was (i.e., Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer who spent most of his life fighting against the Shia ideology and was killed in a bomb blast while addressing a rally in 1988), yet I support this proposal. Unfortunately, due to the absence of support from some other scholars, the matter could not proceed. However, if one thing is reasonable, it should come forth so that some steps can be taken towards solving this problem. Otherwise, no one knows how many houses it will destroy and how many innocent people and scholars will fall prey to it.
I will summarize the suggestion and copy my article for details with my email written to Allama Mohsin. My view is that two opinions are the cause of these riots. One from the Shiites and one from the Sunnis. The denouncement of the Companions of Holy Prophet (Sahaba) by the Shiites, termed ‘tabarra’ (تبرّا), gave rise to a terrible reaction. Therefore, the Shiite scholars have to decide whether they will base their point of view on ‘Tawlai’ (تولائ) thinking instead of ‘Tabarra’ thinking. That is, train your people based on love of Ahle-Bayt (family of Holy Prophet) instead of hating the Companions.
Scholars from the other side have to discourage thinking of excommunication (takfir). We must tell our people that it is not permissible to kill someone by declaring him an infidel (Kafir) based on his faith. Allah Almighty has created this world on the principle of trial and has given people complete freedom to adopt whatever belief they want. It is the right of Allah to punish anyone based on his false belief if He wills. This door has been closed since the end of the prophecy. This right cannot be given to any human being to decide another person’s faith/disbelief and kill based on it. This is the worst kind of oppression and rebellion.
In Islam, if the death penalty is imposed for a crime, then only the state has the right to enforce it. There is a regular trial in the court; if the accused is found guilty, he is given full opportunity to defend himself. In Islam, there is no question that a group of intruders decides to kill someone based on their faith and inflict harm on his life, property, and reputation. When both sides put this viewpoint before their people repeatedly, then whether the differences end or not, the riots will definitely end. This is what is required. As for differences of opinion, this discussion should continue at the academic level. However, the actual decision will be made by Allah on the Day of Resurrection. After this introduction, I present the article I wrote in 2007. The following article was published under the “New American Conspiracy or Old Muslim Conflict” title.
The New American Conspiracy or the Old Muslim Conflict:
A new American conspiracy is the talk of the town today. The conspiracy is based on the ideology of the famous American think tank RAND Corporation, which proposed a plan to divide the Middle East into Sunni and Shiite blocs. According to this view, the Iranian leadership should have a Shiite bloc consisting of Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Syria. In contrast, the Sunni bloc will emerge under the supervision of Saudi Arabia.
According to conspiracy theorists, the implementation of this plan will bring many benefits to the United States and Israel. One is that the Muslim world, which was united in its opposition to Israel, will become embroiled in conflict. The attention of the Arab world, in particular, will turn to the Shiite threat armed by the atomic bomb rather than to its worst rival, Israel. Secondly, the attempts by the United States and the West to prevent Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb will get the full support of the Arab nations. Thirdly, Islamic extremists, who are currently against the United States, will be heading towards this new conflict. Both Shiite extremists and Sunni extremists will leave the United States and Israel alone and start clashing. The ongoing Shiite-Sunni attacks in Iraq will become a war for the entire Islamic world. Especially in Pakistan, where Shiites are present in large numbers, the wave of Shiite-Sunni riots will be beneficial in weakening this strong country. Then it is imperative that Iran will intervene in Pakistani affairs due to those riots, so its relations with Pakistan will deteriorate. Thus, Iran will be strangled in two dangers simultaneously, with the Arab world on one side and nuclear Pakistan on the other. Therefore, its attention will be diverted from Israel. Not only, the United States will be honorably withdrawn from Iraq in all those circumstances, it would also be free from the threat of Muslim extremists who would fight among themselves. Similarly, Israel will be saved from the Arab and Iranian threats. The Palestinians will be left alone on which and any solution can be imposed on.
Assuming for an instant that the theory of the RAND Corporation and this alleged conspiracy is based on fact, then it is not difficult to estimate how serious problems will arise for the Islamic world in the coming days. However, it is essential to consider whether the American conspiracy is really an American conspiracy or a weakness of our own, which has harmed Muslims for centuries.
The fact is that Muslims have seen severe drawbacks of the Shiite-Sunni divide from the very beginning. In the current era, extremist tendencies have intensified this division. In particular, declaring nonconformists as infidels and murderers has worsened the situation. Additionally, the proliferation of hostile speeches and writings about respected personalities of other viewpoints seriously aggravated the matter because of modern media.
If we have to thwart an alleged ‘American conspiracy,’ calling America evil everywhere is not a decent approach. Instead, we should build ourselves up and try to overcome our weaknesses. For example, we must learn from Jews and Christians to avoid the disadvantages of Shiites-Sunni differences. In modern times, not only the various sects of Christianity but also the Jews and the Christians have significantly reduced their differences. Though, the differences in their history were far more severe.
The Jews had been accepting responsibility for the murder of the person whom Christians consider the Son of God (God forbid). To them, that entity was a magician. But now both have changed their minds. The Jews present Jesus as a mentor or teacher. On the other hand, the Christian leadership blames the Roman government, rather than the Jews, for the act, which (according to them) crucified Christ.
For Muslims, the way to end their differences is not to talk of Shiite-Sunni unity. Instead, it is necessary to keep some points in mind. One is that Shiite-Sunni differences should be limited to a scholarly debate, and the issuance of fatwas (legal ruling by religious scholars) for infidelity and murder should be stopped. In this case, all the people should be trained to create the spirit of tolerance and forbearance. Secondly, all immoral wordings should be banned regarding the other Companions and the wives of Holy Prophet, which can provoke the people’s emotions. The Shiite leadership has an immense responsibility because their religious leadership is very organized, and this problem is mainly caused by them.
Therefore, those Shiite scholars must come forward who support the thought of Tulai (the way of loving Hazrat Fatima and her family) instead of Tabrai (the means of denouncing the Companions). As a result of this practice, the differences between the two sects will remain scholarly rather than emotional. Such differences will continue as long as the world exists, but they will not create hatred in the hearts.
As far as the United States and its alleged conspiracies are concerned, it should be remembered that every superpower in the world conducts its affairs on the same principle, i.e. taking advantage of the weaknesses of others. It is our responsibility to address our weaknesses. It is not America’s responsibility to not take advantage of our weaknesses.
Allama Mohsin Naqvi wrote me a letter in English in response to my email. I don’t know how he got the misunderstanding that I aimed all the responsibility for this issue on the Shiites. In explanation of this, I wrote the following letter to him.
It is a great pleasure for me that a scholar like Allama Mohsin Naqvi expressed his views on my article. In his article, he has presented his point of view in detail. I would have been happier if Allama had criticized me on some opinion. But unfortunately, he had written barely a sentence in response to my entire article. Obviously, I have a responsibility to respond to what he had written about my writing. And that is what I will try to do. Maybe in the process, my point becomes more evident. But before that, for the convenience of the readers, I will quote the paragraph that he had translated. I have written:
” For Muslims, the way to end their differences is not to talk of Shiite-Sunni unity. Instead, it is necessary to keep some points in mind. One is that Shiite-Sunni differences should be limited to a scholarly debate, and the issuance of fatwas (legal ruling by religious scholars) for infidelity and murder should be stopped. In this case, all the people should be trained to create the spirit of tolerance and forbearance. Secondly, all immoral wordings should be banned regarding the other Companions and the wives of Holy Prophet, which can provoke the people’s emotions. The Shiite leadership has an immense responsibility because their religious leadership is very organized, and this problem is mainly caused by them.”
Two points are raised in this paragraph. The first is that the fatwas of killing and takfir should be stopped. Secondly, the negative talk about the Companions and the wives of Holy Prophet should end.
Now see what Allama says in response to this:
“Obviously, the passage is written by a well-meaning Sunni. And the first thing he has done is BLAME THE OTHER SIDE.”
After this, Allama wrote the whole article assuming that I had accused the Shiites of murder and had declared the Sunnis absolutely innocent. I do not know where Hazrat Allama got this from. I obviously didn’t say that. However, what I suggested and on which Hazrat Allama had not written a single word is using offensive remarks about the Companions and the wives of the Holy Prophet. I would be pleased if Allama Sahib denied me and said that this is all your delusion. The Shiites have a great deal of devotion and love for these esteemed personalities.
Every literate person, even now an illiterate person, knows that the reality is just the opposite. That’s what I had drawn attention to. Talking about Shiite-Sunni unity without resolving this issue is a dream that can never be achieved, and the violent conflict cannot be stopped. Can the Shiites forgive any group which speaks blasphemous words about Syedna Ali and Hazrat Fatima and their children? Then why this is expected from other human beings like you. In the context of the above background, I proposed the formula of the Judeo-Christian problem for seeking guidance.
The solution that Allama Sahib has offered in his own words is as follows:
“The basic instrument for bringing peace and harmony in a divided community is FOR EACH SIDE TO UNDERSTAND THE POINT-OF-VIEW OF THE OTHER SIDE.”
In my opinion, the thing that each group must try to understand the other group’s point of view has big significance, but understanding the real issue is more significant. The factor that turns Shiite-Sunni differences into chaos and destruction of the ummah is not differences in belief and point of view but the rhetoric adopted against some of the most respected personalities. After that, if we analyze the point of view of both sides, it becomes clear that this behavior is manifested only from one side. Evidently, they should be requested to avoid this kind of behavior in any case. If the Shiites leave this, it will not be possible for anyone to fan the flames. This is because the problem is not with the fan’s air but with the gasoline that only one party has.
Allama Sahib may say that the Shiites have a scientific and historical justification for this practice. In such a case, we will ask him if any group adopts this rhetoric based on any scientific and historical argument against Syedna Ali. Will he be able to accept this reasoning even for a moment and allow any disrespect to Hazrat Ali? If not, he can brief me what other viable solution he can see besides the one I had given in which there is no suggestion of declaring or killing any Shiite as an infidel; rather, it is suggested that the basis should be the love of Aale-Fatimah (Family of Fatimah) instead of hating Companions.
I hope Hazrat Allama will consider my objections as a “Muslim”. The last thing I want to clarify is that he called me a well-meaning Sunni. Readers can better decide if I am well-meaning (i.e., the person who tries to solve the problem and make it worse) or not. I am a follower of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH); other than that, I don’t want any different identity on the Day of Judgment or in this world. The following Qur’anic verse will elaborate on this situation explicitly.
“Believers, be steadfast in the cause of God and bear witness with justice. Do not let your enmity for others turn you away from justice. Deal justly; that is nearer to being God-fearing. Fear God. God is aware of all that you do. (Quran 5:8)
May Allah Almighty help us all in these deeds by which we can gain His pleasure.