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Satanic… Saudi… and sectarian…

Abu Dharr

Sectarianism is the only fitna the Saudis know. Unfortunately it has spread far and wide, thanks to Saudi propaganda and the naivety of many Muslims that fall easy prey to such fitna.

The “Arab Spring,” which so far has been fumbling with success in countries calling themselves “republics” and absent for all practical purposes from countries that are monarchies (with the notable exception of Bahrain), has placed a chill on Sunni-Shi‘i relations. During the course of the past two years, and far away from the public eye, almost all attempts at thawing these relations have been well-nigh frozen. Sunni-Shi‘i relations nowadays are passing through some very tense moments. If the escalating violent events in Syria continue as they have in the past two years, and if the intensifying aggravated developments in Bahrain proceed as they have in the past two years, we the Muslims (Sunnis and Shi‘is) will realize that our media managed emotions will have reached the point of (sectarian) no return!

Take a broad look at the Islamic hemisphere and glance at Islamic communities of different madhhabs and you cannot mistake what is beginning to look like an unspoken but engrossed sectarianism. Each geographical location has its own peculiarities; but the fact remains that the common denominator is sectarianism. Just take a close look at such places as Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait among others and you sense that the rational Muslim is absent while the emotional Muslim is dominant. To rephrase this last sentence: the confident Muslim (confident of his “Sunnism” or confident of his Shi‘ism) is nowhere to be found but there is an abundance of unreasonable and incoherent Muslims who are in a pre-frenzy state of mind!

The social chemistry for internal Islamic discord is what the Zionist and imperialist druggist called for! Some faraway areas — never known for a fanatical penchant — are now coming under the spell of sectarianism. Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Africa are catching the sectarian bug. This sectarian pathogen is in some quarters lodged deep inside the religious traditions and the profound ignorance of those who you would expect to know better.

The social chemistry for internal Islamic discord is what the Zionist and imperialist druggist called for! Some faraway areas — never known for a fanatical penchant — are now coming under the spell of sectarianism. Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Africa are catching the sectarian bug. This sectarian pathogen is in some quarters lodged deep inside the religious traditions and the profound ignorance of those who you would expect to know better.

At this point some readers would say that broaching this issue is not a wise thing to do. We would agree with them if we believed that the Muslims could not think through their own issues and problems. We trust that if the Muslim community is presented with unbiased information about its own social self it will be able to work its way to an amicable solution. We think that withholding such vital and timely information will lead to more ignorance, further suspicion, and more problems which we all agree we don’t need at this time or at any time.

Let us in a brotherly and mature way, ask: why are some leaders of al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen accusing the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hizballah of going on a campaign of sorts against the Ikhwan in Egypt? Why are some Ikhwani individuals harboring internal thoughts about Islamic Iran and Hizbullah being at cross-purposes with the Ikhwan’s struggle for an Egyptian Islamic future? These types of unwitting thoughts, if allowed to go unchecked, will fracture the edifice of Islam. Furthermore, who benefits from speaking about a “Shi‘i crescent” as opposed to a “Sunni crescent” taking shape in the Muslim East?

Those “in the know” will tell you that the intensive efforts by Islamic personalities of goodwill along with certain Shi‘i religious authorities to engage al-Azhar as well as Dar al-Ifta’ in Egypt so that together they can revive the moribund Dar al-Taqrib Bayn al-Madhahib al-Islamiyah (which was active and productive during the 1950s) ran into a dead end because of today’s highly charged sectarian climate.

Attempts at connecting with the Ikhwan at a serious operational level have so far been less than satisfactory. Much of this has to do with the Syrian issue, as the Ikhwan are quick to place the onus on Islamic Iran for supporting the Syrian regime. On the other hand, the Ikhwan themselves may not find this particular time frame advantageous for Islamic togetherness and a constitutive understanding with the Shi‘i reference-authorities (marja‘iyat) — even with those who are known to be outside of the Islamic Republic’s field of influence.

Many Islamic scholars and intellectuals invested too much time and effort in breaking down the barriers of ignorance and the accretion of customs only to have the current emerging polarization of the “Arab Spring” undo those endeavors. Al-Ittihad al-‘Alami li-al-‘Ulama’ al-Muslimeen (The International Union of Islamic Scholars) whose (prevailing) president is Shaykh Yusuf al-Qardawi used to have members who were both Shi‘is and Sunnis — from different countries. But noticeable during the past two years has been the Union’s transformation into a structure that functions to serve the Ikhwan. Shi‘i scholars, for all practical purposes, no longer participate in its meetings. In one of the Union’s last resolutions, the issue of Bahrain was ignored entirely and the issue of Islamic solidarity and unity was not even mentioned. A close review of this Union’s recent viewpoints reveals its endorsement — lock, stock, and barrel — of the entrenched position of the Ikhwan.

The Assembly of Islamic ‘Ulama’ in Lebanon (whose members are both Sunnis and Shi‘is) has become an echo for Hizbillah and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Sunnis at the beck and call of Saudi Arabia pay no attention to it. Included here are those who fall under the umbrella of the Ikhwan. Recently there have been a number of Islamic organizations popping up in Bilad al-Sham (the Levant) that are Shi‘i intolerant, to put it mildly. There are ominous indicators that the Saudis and their wage earners are gluing together Syrian sectarianism to manufacture a counter-Hizbullah force that will — in the name of defending the faith — do the Israeli job of trying to finish off Hizbullah!

The precipitous political and security issues in Syria along with its sectarian paroxysms in Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Pakistan, and Yemen threaten an open-ended regional war of self-inflicted disintegration and obliteration. Where are the thinking Sunnis and where are the thinking Shi‘is who want that to happen?

It is reported that al-Azhar in Egypt, well known throughout the ages for its intellectual open-mindedness as well as its recognition of the Shi‘i Ithna ‘Ashari (Twelver) school of thought as being on par with the other Islamic Sunni madhhabs, has of late come out with some pseudo-sectarian tracts. It went on a bout of anti-Shi‘i propaganda in Egypt — even organizing study sessions to combat the danger of Shi‘i proselytizing in Egypt. Some booklets were distributed raising red flags about Shi‘is in Egypt.

This whole scenario has frightened conservative and reactionary Shi‘is. They, and among them is Sayyid ‘Ali al-Sistani, have launched initiatives in which there is a differentiation between these traditionalist or reactionary Shi‘is and that of Hizbullah and Islamic Iran concerning the Syrian issue! Sayyid al-Sistani called for Iraqis to give comfort and sanction to Syrian refugees in Iraq, and to set aside a budget from the Iraqi state’s official revenue to help alleviate the harsh conditions of Syrian refugees (you will not read about this in your local or even “Islamic” newspapers). Some Shi‘i religious figures and scholars tried to open up channels of communication and understanding with the Syrian opposition. Some have come out and taken issue with the Syrian regime. All of this in the current Saudi induced attitude of sectarianism has fallen on deaf ears. The surprise here is that the Ikhwan have not even partially reciprocated these goodwill gestures and sincere overtures.

All said and done, the Ikhwan and other Islamic political organizations in the Sunni sphere are proving that they are still within the Saudi empire’s financial sphere of influence. This is not to say that tensions are not running high between the Ikhwan and Saudi Arabia, between the Ikhwan and the United Arab Emirates, and between the Ikhwan and other Amero-Arabian states. It is probably at an all-time high. But still, the Ikhwan are incapable of distinguishing a strategic friend (Islamic Iran) from a strategic enemy (Saudi Arabia).

Fool me once, shame on you (the Ikhwan being fooled by the Saudi nexus in the late-1970s and early-1980s in Syria); fool me twice, shame on me (the Ikhwan’s second time around being fooled by the same Saudi nexus) albeit with consequences detrimental to hundreds of millions of people, “La yuldagh al-mu’minu min juhrin marratayn: A committed Muslim is not stung from the same lair twice” (Prophetic hadith).

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 1

Rabi' al-Thani 19, 14342013-03-01

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