Sectarianism is destructive whether indulged in by Sunnis or Shias. It is important for Muslims to be on guard not to fall into this trap since it only benefits the enemies of Islam. In the month of Muharram, some Shia preachers have a tendency to resort to the worst aspects of sectarianism. Such acts do not advance the cause of Islam.
Monday October 10, 2016, 11:07 DST
When addressing the issue of sectarianism, Crescent International writers avoid getting caught in the petty and irrelevant “he said, she said” argument. Instead, we address the concept and geo-politics of sectarianism. We call out Sunni and Shia Muslims equally when they overemphasize their jurisprudential identity and frame their Islamic identity strictly within their school of thought in a narrow-minded manner.
Muslims must take into account the current socio-political situation within the Muslim Ummah when addressing such issues. It is crucial not to allow one’s words to be used, even inadvertently, as fuel for fire by those with ulterior motives. Thus, Muslim scholars and preachers must choose their words very carefully in order not to further the sectarian agenda of the Saudi regime and its backers in Washington and Tel Aviv.
Unfortunately, this is what one well-known Shia Muslim preacher, Dr. Ammar Nakshawani did on Muharram 6, 1438 AH (October 8, 2016) during a speech in the UK on the topic, “radical Islam”. The talk highlighted well known differences of perspectives between Sunni and Shia schools of Islamic thought. The manner in which Dr. Nakshawani presented these well known differences was done little different from Yasir al-Habib, Bilal Philips, Adnan Aroor or Muhammad al-Arifi, all known for spewing sectarianism from their respective narrow-minded points of view.
Bold intra-Muslim political statements of Dr. Nakshawani stand in sharp contrast to his diplomatic and polite rhetoric concerning the Zionists. For instance, during his lecture in Muharram of last year, titled ‘Islam and Political Activism’ (31:50-32:05), Dr. Nakshawani stated “do I need to mention the lobbies from the minbar, might never get me a green card later on. There are certain lobby groups, you know them better than I know them, they run DC, one in particular.” Why didn’t Dr. Nakshawani exercise the same kind of prudence and diplomacy when addressing Muslims this Muharram?
In a video clip of Dr. Nakshawani’s lecture four years ago, he condemned people insulting revered figures of Sunni Muslims, but during his above mentioned speech he committed almost the same mistake that he has condemned others for in the past.
Dr. Nakshawani is not the only one who has recently fallen into the sectarian trap, as it is very hard to avoid, taking into consideration that the dominant corporate media is cultivating intra-Muslim tensions 24/7.
A prominent Sunni Muslim preacher in the US who likes putting his videos on Youtube, Dr. Yasir Qadhi, on August 18, 2016, commenting on the suffering of civilians in Syria wrote on his personal Facebook page that “this is what is to be expected from the Alawites - historically they have always terrorized non-Alawites and raided and massacred them.” Such blanket statements do not win over many adherents, thankfully, but add fuel to the fire. One could perhaps ignore laymen if they indulged in such narrow-minded rhetoric because they do not have much influence over other people but those occupying the minbar of the Prophet (PBUH) have to exercise prudence and not allow their words to be used by external powers.
In September 2016, Dr. Qadhi also expressed his support and pride for the inter-faith activities held between a mosque in Memphis, Tennessee and the local Church which was publicized by a video made by Starbucks. While such activities are praiseworthy and important, it comes as a contradiction from a preacher who in his 2014 interview with Press TV expressed his disapproval for congregational prayers with Shia Muslims, people with whom Dr. Qadhi shares the same qibla and the divine book, along with many other crucial aspects.
Sunni-Shia differences are well known and Muslim scholars have frequently addressed them in a respectful manner. True, at times these have also veered into the undesirable domain. In today’s charged environment, Muslims cannot afford to repeat mistakes that promote sectarianism, as this issue has assumed an external component: as a tool to advance the agenda of imperialism and Zionism. These two political trends that have been cultivating sectarianism for decades and their brutal domination of the Muslim world, should not be aided, consciously or subconsciously, particularly by Muslims that wield some influence.
Muslims are welcome to disagree, but there is a moment and an appropriate way to discuss the differences in thought and law.