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Putin Meets Trump. Our Cartoon This Week


In the final analysis, Muslims will have to choose between the abyss of sectarianism on the one hand, or the salvation that could only come from following the truly universal Islam based on love, mercy, tolerance and commitment to truth and justice.

Khalid Amayreh

Is a Sunni-Shiite Modus vivendi possible?
By Khalid Amayreh
I realize that I have to approach this sensitive subject, which is fraught with intense emotions, mutual animosity and suspicions, virulent recriminations,   and many taboos, with utmost caution and discretion.
Our beloved Sahabi (companion of the Prophet-s) Imam Ali bin Abe Taleb reportedly said “Try to overcome the harshness of the subject with a kind discourse.”
This may not be always possible especially when dealing with ancient,  deep-rooted religious hatreds bequeathed and inherited generation after generation.  However, meaningful efforts to establish a modus viveni or semblance of peaceful coexistence between Shiites and Sunnis must be continued and never given up. Otherwise, both communities would be condemned to a disastrous open-ended confrontation. In such a horrible quagmire, there are absolutely no winner, only losers and for that matter big losers.
  Moreover,  it has been crystal-clear for quite sometime that the enemies of Islam, who are fanning the fire of hatred between both communities, are wasting no time exploiting the Shiite-Sunni rift to debilitate and eventually ruin the Muslim world.
In fact, any meaningful effort toward de-escalation should not be aimed at making Sunnis and Shiites fall in love with each other. Such a goal, which is theoretically worthwhile,   is probably too illusionary to be even contemplated. It is a dream so distant that cannot be invoked in the realm of reality.  Yet even dreams, realistic or otherwise, are harbored and treasured since  man by nature can not give up the hope for peace with his fellow man especially compatriots and coreligionists.
Now, however, our immediate priority as Muslim intellectuals, journalists and opinion-shapers must focus on stopping the bleeding wound, stabilizing the condition of the patient, and inducing his immunity system to reactivate itself as much as possible.  Nothing is easy and nothing can be taken for granted.
The first order of business from this writer’s perspective is to study rather honestly and meticulously the real causes of the 1400-old fissure within the body of the Muslim Umma.
Again, the solution lies not in converting Shiism to Sunni Islam or converting Sunni Muslims to the Safavi Akhbari Shiism, which is a corruption of true, authentic Shiism. Instead it lies in adopting a new approach toward the “other,” based on mutual respect.
Unfortunately, this is not possible right now or in the immediate future since “slandering, cursing, vilifying and hating the “other” is an in-built component of some religious doctrines. Indeed, how can we possibly treat the “other” with any  modicum of true  respect when our views of the “other” is shaped by  ancient religious books that  incite us to “hate him from the depth of our hearts and even constantly  seek the opportune time to harm and even murder him.”
 Naturally, this intense hatred and vindictiveness didn’t come from nowhere. It emanated from the notoriously dubious narratives contained in such books as  Beharul Anwar and al-Kafee, to mention just a few sources, which judge the “other” as “Kaffer  (disbeliever), impure, usurper, oppressor, apostate, Nasibi (enemy of the Prophets’ household)  etc, who will rot in hell-fire for eternity.”  These manifestly false Riwayas or Hadith narratives can never be attributed to our great Prophet who was neither a curser nor a maligner. The Prophet, for example, would never have said, that apart fromAli’s supporters (the Shiites), all people are children of adultery!!! This is not the style of the Prophet.
Hence, For the sake of peace amongst Muslims, we must no longer hold fast to such cancerous narratives which scholars from both sides know quite well.
Moreover, Shiites in particular must put an end, once and for all, to the ancient repulsive  habit of cursing and slandering Sunni Muslims’ symbols including the wives of the Prophet, e.g. Lady Ayesha, and the first three caliphs as well as other Sahaba.  These are the very people who conveyed the Muhammadan message to us. In the final analysis, discrediting the messenger  is discrediting the message.
  Indeed, this particular issue of slandering the Sahaba remains the central reason and main cause for the enduring contention between the followers of the two schools.   It is the maker or breaker of any rapprochement between Shiites and Sunnis.
True, pronouncements disallowing slandering and badmouthing the Sahaba have been made by prominent religious leaders such as Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenaei.  However. Let us be frank and honest with ourselves. It should be amply clear that  Taqiyaa-inspired statements by this or that leader won’t end the problem. What we need is a meaningful, genuine, and honest departure by religious leaders and Seminaries from ancient doctrines that demonize the “other.”  I can write volumes and volumes in this regard, but I am sure the  Ulema and intellectuals from both sides understand, rather too well, what I am talking about.
Unfortunately, there is  now a little hope that the religious leaders, especially In Najaf and Qum, would abandon their ancient texts ….and, therefore,  ancient hatred, which the ignorant fanatics, interestingly enough, consider the “ultimate asset” and defining feature of the Mazhab!!!!  That is why, I cannot allow my self to be overly   optimistic.
Let us be honest, we can not await classical religious leaders and clergymen to sound the bill. Indeed, many of these figures are too ignorant, too fanatic and even too cowardly to communicate”unpopular truths” to their respective and often sheepish followers. They are part of the problem. They are the problem.
Instead, we need open-minded intellectuals, such as the late Iranian thinker Ali Shariati and the late Egyptian thinker Syed Qutub to be at the forefront to rid the Islamic Umma of both Shiite and Sunni parochialism. In the final analysis, Muslims will have to choose between the abyss of sectarianism on the one hand, or the salvation that could only come from following the truly universal Islam based on love, mercy, tolerance and commitment to truth and justice. 


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