Sunni and Shia scholars calling Muslims for mutual respect
At the end of 2014, Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb demanded that Shia authorities in Iran and Iraq issue the fatwas that strictly forbid insulting the Sunni Muslims.
Ahmed al-Tayeb called on Muslim scholars to avoid divisions between Sunnis and Shias, to reach a consensus and develop a dialogue between representatives of the two main branches of Islam.
Well-known Shia scholars and religious leaders had already issued some fatwas which forbade any sort of attack on Sunni and historic figures that are highly respected by the Sunnis. In 2013, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani introduced the fatwa which strictly forbade insulting Sunnis. In this fatwa, he noted that “These are condemnable acts [insulting Sunni Muslims], and they violate the Shiite imams’ orders.” Moreover, the Supreme Guide of the Islamic Republic of Iran on different occasions issued several fatwas related to this. All of them clearly mean that offending the Sunnis, Sunni authorities and the wives of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is inexcusable.”
Hussein al-Sadr took it a step further and called the parliament to issue a special law which will regulate law enforcement as far as insults to Sunnis are concerned. He suggested applying repressive measures in cases when the prescriptions of the religious leaders are not followed.
As a result of unstable geopolitical environment in the Middle East during the last decades, relations between Sunnis and Shias are at their worst. This is not about representatives of the two branches insulting each other. This is about a fratricidal war conducted in Iraq and Syria at the present moment. It is widely known, that apart from the radicals trained in the West, there are Sunnis and Shias staying on different sides of the trench. Regrettably, under these difficult circumstances, the only way to protect themselves is to take up arms.
Competing with one another Saudi Arabia and Iran added up to the bitter enmity between the Sunnis and the Shias. These two political leaders of the Middle East region have used religion to serve certain political agendas. However, we can see now that the situation has gotten out of hand and these regimes are under threat themselves.
It goes without saying that establishment of a close rapport between the Sunni and Shia scholars is a very good condition. Allah ordered the following in the Holy Quran: “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided [into rival groups]. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to His verses that you may be guided. And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.” (3/103-104).
Yet, it is worth mentioning that the source of discord between Sunnis and Shias is politics. Hostile to Islam states take advantage of some theological differences between the two branches on purpose. They aim at controlling people of the Muslim countries so that to occupy the power resources given to Muslims by God. It is crucial to remember that Islam is not so much about politics. It is about spirituality which enables a person to reject false stereotypes by developing his morals. This way, people of any religion, nationality, complexion or eyes shape can be united.