Friday, July 27, 2012

Sunni-Shia strife - The Economist

We need to shed the arrogance that other traditions are inferior to ours, or ours is superior to others. To God, we are all the same, and he has given us the free will to figure living in harmony.  

If we can learn to respect the otherness of others,without having to agree with others, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

 At least start the process this month, please visit  every mosque, and learn to see the differences in a positive way, grow your heart as God has given you.   If you are stuck in the idea that others are definitely wrong because your tradition is right, get out of that mindset, it breed arrogance in you, and arrogance is the root cause of all conflicts and evils in the society and God's wisdom is against it. 

Ramadan is suppose to imbue a sense of humility in us, and Taqwa is all about conflictlessness, to be like God, and to be just, merciful and kind.

Test your prejudice, and if you wish to be free, make an effort to see the otherness of other. Visit a mosque a day, here is my experience if the last three years

The sword and the word

In the struggle between the two strands of Islam, the Sunnis are on the rise|INews

Courtesy of the Economis
IT SEEMED historic. Muslim scholars, 170 in number and representing nine schools of legal thought (including four main Sunni ones and two Shia), gathered in Amman and declared that, whatever their differences, they accepted the others' authority over their respective flocks. Implicitly, at least, they were renouncing the idea that their counterparts were heretics. Some called that meeting in Jordan in 2005 the biggest convergence since 969, when a Shia dynasty took over Egypt.

Many of the globe-trotting greybeards who met there, and at a similar gathering in Qatar in 2007, remain actively and optimistically engaged. But seen from the outside, feuds between Sunnis, who make up roughly 80% of the world's Muslims, and the Shia minority (most of the rest), remain savage and are, in some ways, worsening.

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In conservative Sunni monarchies (especially those with restless Shia populations) dislike and suspicion of Iran, the Shia bastion, is running higher than ever. Theology intertwines with geopolitics—and an incipient strategic-arms race. Far beyond the Gulf or Middle East, from western Europe to North America, Sunni agitation (often Saudi-sponsored) is intensifying against the supposed heresies contained in Shia teaching.

Belgian police are investigating the firebombing of Belgium's biggest Shia mosque in March, which killed the imam. The suspect they arrested claims to be a Salafist (hardline Sunni) protesting against Shia backing for the Syrian regime. Grieving worshippers chanted Shia slogans at the scene, eerily echoing far bloodier incidents in places such as Pakistan (recent examples include a murderous grenade assault on a Sunni demonstration in April and an attack on a bus in February that killed 18 Shia passengers).

European Shia-Sunni acrimony is part of a many-sided contest over the future of the continent's tens of millions of Muslims, says Jonathan Laurence, a scholar at Boston College. The religious authorities in migrant-sending countries like Turkey and Morocco struggle to keep their people loyal to their own varieties of Sunni practice: they see Shia Islam and hardline Sunni groups like the Salafists as equally dangerous and insidious temptations for their sons and daughters in Europe.

Strife even reaches places like South-East Asia where few Shias live. Malaysia has presented itself to the world as a tolerant Muslim-majority state. But it bans the preaching of Shia Islam, with particular ferocity since December 2010, when dozens of Shias were arrested. They say they were merely practising their faith (which is legally allowed), not preaching it.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Qatar-based preacher often described as the de facto spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, has recently kept up a barrage of verbal attacks on the Shias. He is president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, a loose Brotherhood-inspired body designed to pronounce on issues of common concern to Muslims. Founded in the friendlier climate of 2004, its top ranks also include Shia clergy.

One God, many arguments

But Mr Qaradawi now attacks Shias for compromising the oneness of God (about the worst thing a Muslim can do) by ascribing semi-divine status to the people they regard as Muhammad's legitimate successors. Another accusation is that Shias poach souls in Sunni lands.

Time was when Mr Qaradawi praised the feats of Hizbullah, the Iranian-backed Shia militia in Lebanon, as fighters against Israel. But in recent punditry he has stressed the gap between Sunni and Shia beliefs and passionately called for regime change in Syria, where, among other things, a Sunni majority is rebelling against a ruling elite whose Alawite belief (see table) is a Shia offshoot. Senior Shia clergy have deplored his hardening line. Mr Qaradawi, whose utterances command attention from Marseilles to the north Caucasus, also backs Bahrain's Sunni rulers in their anti-Shia stance.

Paradoxically enough, one reason for the worsening in intra-Muslim relations is the declining role of the West. At the time of the Amman gathering in 2005, Iraq was in the grip both of horrific Sunni-Shia violence and of American occupation. It was possible to convince ordinary Muslims (however unfairly) that America was to blame for stoking this tension; and that, for dignity's sake, followers of Islam should stand together against the outsiders' game of divide-and-rule. Now the American occupation of Iraq is over, and hatred between Sunnis and Shias there has a ghastly momentum of its own: the Shia prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has accused a Sunni vice-president, Tariq al-Hashemi, of complicity in terrorism and forced him to flee. On April 30th he was charged with multiple murders.

But perhaps the biggest change is that Sunnis think they are now winning the global contest. Seven years ago it seemed that Shia Islam, whether in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, was on the march. Hot-headed Sunnis who yearned to see a government or movement that would confront Israel in the name of Islam had to find role-models across the sectarian divide, in Iran, or in the mullahs' Lebanese protégés in Hizbullah.

These days zealous Sunnis need no longer look to swashbuckling Shias for inspiration. The real action is unfolding in their own homelands, at least in north Africa or the Levant. Nor need they look abroad for political ideology: the Arab spring has established the Sunni sort of political Islam as a powerful, domestically based force that has emerged from the underground or from exile. Rachid Ghannouchi, for example, Tunisia's best-known Islamist, has returned from London to become probably the most powerful figure in the land. Vali Nasr, a professor at the Fletcher School of Tufts University in America and a former adviser to the Obama administration, says that—rightly or wrongly—Sunnis believe that Western sanctions are weakening Iran, and that the combined efforts of Sunnis and the West will also topple Iran's only Arab ally, Syria. From a Sunni perspective, these impending victories outweigh the travails of their co-religionists in majority-Shia Iraq.

Intra-Muslim relations are not universally bleak. An Iraqi adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet”, featuring star-crossed love across the Muslim sectarian divide (rather than the clan loyalties of Verona), has won acclaim there, and was performed at the World Shakespeare Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon. Egypt's handful of Shias, a nervous bunch, have declared support for a Muslim Brotherhood (in other words, Sunni) presidential candidate. In campaigns for freedom and justice in the Middle East, Sunni-Shia distinctions can melt away. “We are all part of the same struggle,” says Maryam al-Khawaja, an activist from Bahrain's aggrieved Shia majority. She co-starred this week with Sunnis like Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi woman detained for defying that country's ban on women driving, at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a lively get-together for foes of state oppression.

Historic compromises between ancient rivals are most likely either when both sides acknowledge a stalemate, or else when some outsider forces them together. State repression may do that sometimes—but it is a sad and slender hope for those who yearn for intra-Muslim accord.



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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.