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The Sunni vs. Shi’a: Shame of the Contemporary Muslim World

Mauri Saalakhan


“One of the primary objectives of the study is to identify the cleavages and fault lines among sectarian, ethnic, regional, and national lines, and to assess how these cleavages generate challenges and opportunities for the United States.” – The Rand Corporation

Another excerpt from the Rand study (US Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11) reads as follows: “Arabs constitute only about 20% of the world’s Muslims, yet interpretations of Islam, political and otherwise, are often filtered through an Arab lens. A great deal of the discourse on Muslim issues and grievances is actually discourse on Arab issues and grievances. For reasons that have more to do with historical and cultural development than religion, the Arab world exhibits a higher incidence of economic, social, and political disorders than other regions of the so-called developing world.”

One of the “disorders” that the Arab world (and other parts of the Muslim world, unfortunately) has been afflicted with is the Sunni vs. Shi’a pathology; and needless to say, those advocates of U.S. global supremacy are exploiting this shameful and divisive disorder for all that it’s worth, at the expense of the Muslim Ummah.

As this arrogant and spiritually blind government of ours sets its destructive sights on yet another Muslim nation (Iran) – and as corrupt regimes in the “Arab world,” in concert with the Zionist-Apartheid State of Israel, convey a message of full steam ahead – it behooves committed Muslims the world over (and especially in the West) to read and reflect deeply over what some of the leading scholars and activists have had to say on this issue over the past century. (For one of the most effective tools of the enemy has always been ignorance.)

It is said that the esteemed shaheed (martyr) Imam Hasan al-Banna, one of the pioneers of the modern Islamic movement, was instrumental in helping to revive the thought of bringing Sunnis and Shi’ites together, and was one of the leading participants in the work of Jama’at at-taqrib bain al-mathahib al-Islamiyah (The League to Bring Together Islamic Schools of Thought). Al-Azhar’s foremost religious scholar and the highest jurist for religious edicts (at the time) Imam Abdul Majid Salim, and the distinguished scholars, Imam Mustafa Abd al-Razzaq and Imam Mahmud Shaltut were also said to be participants in the group.

Abdul Karim al-Shirazi authored a book titled al-wahdat al-Islamiyah (Islamic Unity), which is a collection of reports and articles of religious leaders from the Shi’ites and Sunnis – first published in the magazine Risalat al-Islam (The Message of Islam), edited at al-Azhar University, on the subject of Jama’at at-taqrib. Here is what he had to say:

They agreed that the Muslim is one who believes in the One God; Muhamad as the Prophet, the Qur’an as the book, the Ka’ba as the direction for ritual prayer and the house for the pilgrimage, the five known pillars, the belief in resurrection, and the practice of what is known to be obligatory according to the Divine Law.

These were the points of agreement among all of the representatives from the four known Sunni schools of thought and the two known Shi’ite schools of thought, al-Imamiyah and al-Zaidiyah, who attended the meeting. Further, they agreed to respect each other’s differences in opinion on matters which neither constituted a condition for the faith, nor a pillar of the religion.

One of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun’s thinkers, Salim al-Bahnasawi, noted in al-Sunna al-Muftara aliaha (The Tradition Being Falsified): “Since the formation of the group of bringing together Islamic schools of thought in which Imam al-Banna and Imam al-Qummi clearly participated, cooperation existed between the Ikhwan al-Muslimun and the Shi’ites that led to the visit of Nawab Safawi to Cairo in 1954.” He further states, “This kind of cooperation is not surprising or strange because the beliefs of both groups (Sunnis and Shi’ites) lead to it.”

A distinguished student of Imam al-Banna, Abd al-Muta’al al-Jabri, in his book entitled, Limatha yuqitla Hasan (Why Hasan al-Banna was Assassinated), quoting a writer by the name of Robert Jackson argued:

If the life of this man (al-Banna) had been longer, it would have been possible to gain many benefits for this land, especially in the agreement between al-Banna and Ayatullah Kashani, one of the Iranian Muslim leaders, to uproot the discord between Sunnis and Shi’ites. They met each other in the hijaz in 1948. It appears that they conferred with each other and reached a basic understanding but Hasan al-Banna was quickly assassinated.

“Muslims should be awake! Muslims should be alert [to the reality] that if a dispute takes place among Sunni and Shi’ite brothers it is harmful to all of us, it is harmful to all Muslims. Those who want to sow discord are neither Sunni nor Shi’ite, they are agents of the superpowers and work for them.” – Imam Khomeini

The assassination of Imam Hasan al-Banna constituted a serious blow to the Islamic movement, and to the efforts that were being made among different groups of committed Muslims toward the unification of the Ummah (though efforts did continue).

Dr. Ishaq Musa al-Husaini notes in his book, al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, that there were Shi’a students in Egypt who joined the Ikhwan, and it has also been recorded that the ranks of the Ikhwan in Iraq contained many Shi’ites.

Dr. Ezzoddin Ibrahim, in his essay titled Sunni vs. Shi’ah: A Pitiful Outcry, wrote “When Nawab Safawi visited Syria, he met Dr. Mustafa al-Siba’ai, the general observer of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun. When the latter complained to Safawi that some Shi’ite youth were joining the secular and national movements, he addressed a large number of Shi’ites and Sunnis saying, ‘Whoever wants to be a true Ja’fari should join the ranks of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun.’” (The Ja’fari madhab is one of the main schools among the Shi’a.)

Nawab Safawi was the leader of the Fidaiyin Islam Organization; an organization whose significance can be found in the following words of Safawi himself: “Let us work jointly together for Islam, and let us forget everything save our struggle for the sake of the dignity of Islam. Has not the time come for Muslims to understand and resolve the division of Sunni and Shi’ite?”

In his book titled al-Mawsua al-harakah (Encyclopedia of Movements), Fathi Yakin wrote about the warm, enthusiastic reception that Nawab Safawi received in Cairo by the Ikhwan. He also recounts the reaction to the death sentence given Safawi by the Shah of Iran:

"There was a strong reaction to this unjust sentence, and the Muslim masses were shocked on hearing it, for they appreciated the heroic deeds of Nawab Safawi and his struggle. They condemned this sentence, demonstrated against it, and sent thousands of telegrams from various parts of the Muslim world denouncing such an unfair sentence given to this faithful hero and struggler. His death was considered as a great loss in the modern age.”

The first issue of the magazine al-Muslimum (published by the Ikhwan), featured a moving tribute titled “With Nawab Safawi,” in which the observation was made, “The beloved martyr had a strong relationship with the Muslimun. He had stayed as a guest in their house in Cairo during his visit to Egypt in January 1954.”

That a Shi’ite was considered to be one of the great martyrs of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun (a predominantly Sunni movement), clearly demonstrates the fraternal brotherhood and unity of purpose that existed between Sunnis and Shi’ites during that golden period of Islamic struggle.

In the same article of al-Muslimun, the editor shared the statement of Safawi following the arrest of several members of the Ikhwan:

When the tyrants oppress the men of Islam anywhere, the Muslims must arise above differences of their schools of thought, console their oppressed brothers and share in their sufferings, pains and sorrows. There is no doubt that by our positive Islamic struggle we can destroy the plans of the enemies that are aimed at creating social disturbances among Muslims. There is no harm in the existence of many schools of thought, and we cannot abolish them. But what we have to do is prevent the manipulation of such a situation for the benefit of the enemies of Islam.

Muhammad Ali al-Dhanawi, in his book titled Kubrah al-harakat al-Islamiyah fi al-asr al-hadith (The Greatest Islamic Movements in the Modern Age) quotes historian Bernard Lewis as follows: “In spite of their Shi’ite school of thought, they believe in Islamic unity to a great extent similar to the belief of the Egyptian Muslim brothers, and there was a great deal of communication between them.”

At the end of the al-Muslimum article, Nawab Safawi is quoted as saying: “We are confident that we will be killed sooner or later, but our blood and sacrifice will revive Islam and lead to its resurrection. Today Islam is in need of this blood and sacrifice, and will never arise without it.”

Nawab Safawi was talking about “blood and sacrifice” according to the pure, pristine, resuscitating principles of Qur’an and Sunnah – not the wasteful madness that we see in parts of the Muslim world today!

“O Ali! Two types of Muslims will receive hellfire because of you. One type is on the lunatic fringe for exaggerating their affection for you; the other type are those who’s fanaticism drive them to a phobia of hatred towards you.” - Prophet Mohammed

On the death of the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him and his pious predecessors in that office), the record will show that a major crisis erupted within the ummah when Ali ibn Abu Talib (ra) was selected as the fourth and final Rashidun Caliph. Mu’awiyyah ibn Abu Sufyan, governor of Syria, and Amr ibn al’As, governor of Egypt (both of whom came from the same Umayyah clan as Uthman), joined forces and declared their independence from Ali’s caliphate (who was from the Hashim tribe). As the late Drs. Ismail and Lamya al-Faruqi would note, in their illustrious work titled The Cultural Atlas of Islam, “Their contest for power became open defiance.”

What their contest for power also did was to open the door much wider for what our beloved Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) feared most. In his address to the Muslims in the middle of Safar, 11 AH (toward the end of his blessed life), the Prophet (saaw) reportedly said:

“By Allah, I do not fear that you will turn polytheist after me. But I do fear that you may strike one another’s necks for the acquisition of worldly riches.”

When the two opposing forces met at Siffin in 36 AH, south of al Raqqah on the Euphrates, the Prophet’s fear became prophecy in a major way! It is significant to note that those who were aligned with Ali were known as the Shi’a (partisans) of Ali, and those who were aligned with Mu’awiyyah were then known as the Shi’a (partisans) of Mu’awiyyah. Following the assassination/martyrdom of Ali a few years later, in the year 40 AH, this label became permanently affixed to his supporters up to this very day.

Unfortunately, this label (Shi’a) has also become both a lightning rod for a blind, unreasoned animosity in the hearts of some Muslims (passed from one generation to the next), and an instrument for mischief and exploitation by the enemies of Islam. The hatred directed at Ali more than 13 centuries ago, has today become focused on those who would still call themselves the “partisans” of Ali. (May Allah guide us as we shed more light on this self-imposed fitnah.)

Turning again to the work of Jama’at al-Taqrib, we have the words of the very distinguished Imam Mahmud Shaltut (the former head of al-Azhar University), who stated: “I believed in the idea of bringing together Islamic schools of thought as a correct principle and participated from the beginning in this group.” He further noted, “Al-Azhar has agreed on the basic rule of this group of leaders of various Islamic schools of thought, and has decided to teach the jurisprudence of various Islamic schools of thought; a study based on the convincing evidence, proof and without prejudice, [not] favoring this group or that.” He continues:

I would like to talk about the meetings in Dar al-Taqib, where the Egyptian sits beside the Iranian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Pakistani or others from one of the various Muslim nations. Also there are the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’I and Hanbali who sit beside the Imami and Zaidi at one round table with voices full of knowledge, devotion and jurisprudence as well as the spirit of brotherhood, friendship, love and devotion to science and Gnosticism.

In referencing the opposition (which came from certain quarters) to the work of Jama’at at-taqrib bain al-mathahib al-Islamiyah (The League to Bring Together Islamic Schools of Thought), Imam Shaltut stated: “This idea has been opposed by some people of little intelligence, and others who have certain unworthy purposes. There is no nation which is free from such kinds of people. It was also opposed by some who found their security, the security of their interests and their livelihood in the present division…”

It is also worth noting the legal opinion (fatwa) that Imam Shaltut reportedly made concerning another Shi’a school of thought: “The Ja’fari school of thought, which is also known as al-Shi’ah al-ithna asharia, is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as other Sunni schools of thought. Muslims must know this and ought to refrain from unjust prejudice to any particular school of thought, since the religion of God and His Divine Law was never to follow a certain school of thought. All are jurisprudents and accepted by Almighty God.”

Dr. Abd al-Karim Zaydan, one of the important members of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun in Iraq, in his book, al-Madkhal le derasat al Shariah al-Islamiyah (The Entrance to Study Islam’s Divine Code) states: “The Ja’fari school of thought exists in Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan and in Lebanon, and has followers in Syria and other countries. The difference between the Ja’fari school of law and other schools is no more than what exists between any two of the other schools.”

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazzali wrote in his book entitled Kaifa nafham al-Islam (How Do We Understand Islam):

Although I seek many of my judgments about cases through other than what the Shi’ite use, still I do not consider my opinion a religion, so that anyone who views differently would be sinning; and the same is true of my stand regarding the common differences of opinions on matters of jurisprudence between the Sunnis…. At the end of the path, the divisions between the Shi’ites and the Sunnis were connected to the principles of belief in order to rip the one religion in half, and divide the one nation into two. Anyone who aids this division by even one word is referred to in the Qur’anic verse, “Those who divided their religion and became sects, you are not from them in anything, their matter returns to God, then he tells them about what they were doing.”

Be warned that rushing into pronouncing others as being non-believers is easy in [the heat of] argument; and to accuse one’s opponent of disbelief, because of an opinion he expresses, is an easy matter in the heat of discussion.

Sheikh al-Ghazzali also noted,

“And if opinions differ on jurisprudence and in areas of legislation, still the schools of thought of Muslims are equal in the fact that a (real) Muslim jurist (mujtahid) is rewarded whether he is right or wrong… When we enter the field of comparative jurisprudence and experience the difficulties of opinions or the differences as to whether or not a Prophet’s saying is correct or doubtful, we find that the distance between the Shi’ites and Sunnis is similar to the distance between Abu Hanifa’s school of thought and that of Malik or Shafi’e. We see everybody equal in seeking the truth even though the ways are different.”

Dr. Subhi al-Salih wrote in his book titled, Ma’lim al-shariah al-islamiyah (Features of Islam’s Divine Code),

“In the sayings of the Shi’ite Imams, they never said anything except what agrees with the Prophet’s traditions… they hold a great status for it and believe them to be among the sources of legislation after the Book of God.”

Sheikh Imam Muhammad Abu Zuhara states in his book Tarikh al-mathahib al-islamiyah (The History of Islamic Schools of Thought),

‘There is no doubt that Shi’ism is an Islamic school. If we exclude examples like the Saba’ah who considered Ali as being God, and others like them (knowing that the Saba’ah are considered infidels in the opinion of the Shi’ites) there is no doubt that everything this schools says is related to the Qur’anic verses or sayings related to the Prophet.”

Ustad Salim al-Bahnasawi, another important thinker of the Ikhwan, wrote in his book, al-sunnah al-muftara alayha (The Tradition Being Falsified):

In answer to those who claim that the Shi’ites have a holy book other than ours, the holy book which the Sunnis have is the same as that which exists in the masajid and homes of the Shi’ites. The Jafari Shi’ite (followers of the Twelve Imams) think of those who question the authenticity of the Qur’an, that has been certified perfectly authentic as such by the whole ummah since the earliest Islamic age, as infidels.

Al-Bahnasawi quotes Imam Khu’i: “It is known among Muslims that distortion in the Qur’an never occurred and the one existing in our [Shi’ite] hands is the Qur’an sent to the great Prophet. He also quotes Sheikh Muhammad Ridha al-Mudhaffar: “That which is in our hands is the whole Qur’an sent to the Prophet, and whoever claims anything different is falsifying or doubting; and none are on right guidance, since the Word of God is such that wrong never comes to it from before it or behind it.” He then quotes Imam Kashif al-Ghita, “In it, there is no deficiency, no distortion, no addition, and on this they [Shi’ites on the correct path] are all agreed.”

Anwar al-Jandi writes in al-Islam wa harakat al-tarikh (Islam and the Movement of History): “The history of Islam has been filled with disagreement, ideological conflicts and political differences between Sunnis and Shi’ites. The foreign invasion began with the Crusades and continues until today by feeding these differences to deepen their effects so that the world of Islam will not fuse into one…. The truth is that the difference between the Sunnis and Shi’ites is not more than what exists between the four sects of the Sunnis. For the sake of the truth, the researcher must be alert in differentiating between Shi’ites andextremists, those who have been attacked by the Shi’ite Imams themselves.”

I couldn’t agree more; and it is this truth (coupled with our very unfortunate present-day global reality) that motivated me to write this paper. May Allah guide me.

“Sectarianism has led this Ummah to be split into hundreds of factions, their hearts sundered from each other. They are incapable of uniting even at times of the gravest crisis… You should not therefore be surprised to see Muslims living in servitude to others. This is what they have earned by their actions. Upon them has descended that punishment which ALLAH has warned them of [in Suratul An’am, 6: 65]. - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi

As I come to this part of our analytical commentary, I am reminded (by a news report released earlier today) of the savage butchery emanating from parts of the Muslim world – as Muslims target other Muslims (more often than not, civilian non-combatants) in the name ofIslamic resistance. In this regard, we are reminded of the prophecy revealed by the last Messenger of ALLAH, at a time when Muslims were just beginning to come into their ascendancy. It is written that the Prophet (saaw) said to his companions:

It is expected that nations will call other nations to share against you, as the feasters call each other to eat from the food in front of them in a large wooden plate. One of the companions asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah, will this be because of our small number on that day?’ The Prophet responded, ‘No, your number will be great. But you will be without substance, like the foam on the face of a river, or like the rubbish of flood water. ALLAH will remove from the breast of your enemies the fear of you; and ALLAH will throw wahn into your hearts.’ The questioner asked, ‘What is wahn, O Allah’s Apostle?’ The Prophet responded, ‘Wahn is to love this life and to hate the death.’

Let us now resume our examination of some of the lies and half-truths surrounding the centuries-old Sunni vs. Shi’a fitnah, and how it has been used by internal and external enemies of Islam to divide, exploit, and degrade the Muslim Ummah.

Samih Atif al-Zain, wrote in the preface of his book titled al-Muslimun man hum (The Muslims – Who are they?),

“That which induced me to write this book is the blind division between Shi’ite Muslims and Sunni Muslims, a division that should have vaporized with the eradication of illiteracy, but unfortunately still has some roots in ill-minded people because its roots were firmly planted by groups of people who ruled the Islamic world on the basis of dividing brothers, while stimulating love for the enemies of this religion and those who refuse to live except as parasites on the blood of others. I will tell you my brother Shi’ite Muslim and brother Sunni Muslim, the most important basis of differences lies in understanding the Holy Book; and the Sunnis and Shi’ites have never disagreed on the Holy Book and the Traditions, differences are in understanding them.”

At the end of his book al-Zain writes:

“After having realized the most important elements that stormed this nation, we finish this book by saying it is our duty as Muslims, especially in the present age, to stop and push back the ill-intentioned ones who use the Islamic schools of thought as a route for misleading the people and playing with the minds of the masses, as well as increasing suspicions. We must eradicate the sectarian spirit, full of hatred, and bar the road of those who spread rumors and quarrels in religion, until Muslims return to how they were before: one society, cooperative and friendly, rather than divided, separated and hating each other. Moreover, they must resemble the cooperative attitude of the Orthodox Caliphs.”

Abd al-Wahaab Khilaf writes, in his book titled Ilm usul al-fiqh (Knowledge of the Principles of Jurisprudence):

“There are four pillars for a consensus, without which the consensus is not legitimate. The second of these is that Muslim jurists must agree on a religious verdict in a case or a happening, during the time of its occurrence, regardless of their city, race or sect. So if only the jurists of Mecca agree on a religious verdict, or only the jurists of Iraq, or only the jurists of hijaz or the ahl al-bait (Shi’ites), or jurists of the Sunnis without the jurists of the Shi’ites, that verdict will not be legitimate, since such an agreement cannot be considered as a consensus…”

On this point Dr. Ezzoddin Ibrahim (Sunni vs. Shi’ah: A Pitful Outcry) argues,

“If the agreement of the Shi’ites is necessary to fulfill the conditions of a consensus of Muslims, is it possible then to consider them as deviated and in hell?”

Ahmad Ibrahim Baigh – the teacher of Sheikh Shallut, Abu Zuhra and Khilaf – in his book, Ilm usul al-fiqh wa yalih tarikh al-tashria al-Islamiyah (The Knowledge of the Principles of Jurisprudence followed by the History of Islam’s Divine Law), writes:

“The Shi’ite Imamiyah are Muslims who believe in God and His Messenger, and in the Qur’an and in everything the Prophet brought, and their belief is widespread over the land of the Persians. And among the Shi’ite Imamiyah, in the past and the present, are great jurists and scholars in every field of knowledge who are deep thinkers and widely educated. Their writings are counted by the hundreds of thousands and I have looked over many of them.”

In a footnote on the same page as the aforementioned quote, the Sheikh adds,

“There are among the Shi’ites those who are extremists, who went out of the bounds of Islam, but those are ignored by the mass of Shi’ites.”

During the course of this commentary I received an e-mail from a misguided “Salafi” brother who wanted to alert me to what some of the scholars (that he recognizes as legit) have had to say about our Shi’a brethren. One of the references in the material was to Sheikh ibn Taymeeyah (may ALLAH be pleased with him), and what he had to say about the Rafidhah – a name given to Shi’ite extremists. Absent in our brother’s reasoning, however (as well as others who over generalize ibn Taymeeyah’s legitimate criticism of this deviant group) are a couple of very important points.

Point 1: Ibn Taymeeyah lived in the seventh Islamic century (more than six centuries after the appearance of Shi’ism) – why were similar verdicts against the Shi’a not widespread before his time.

Point 2: Abu Zuhrah notes in his book: “Ibn Taymeeyah mentions some Shi’ite sects like the Zaidiyah and the Twelve Imam Shi’ites without mentioning any negative views of his toward these two.” When reviewing the Ismaili sect, however, Abu-Zuhrah writes, “This sect is the one of which some of whose followers Ibn Taymeeyah was opposing, and he fought against them by his knowledge, tongue and sword.”

Indeed. And it will no doubt come as a surprise to many of our readers to learn that the teacher of Abu-Hanifah, the noted scholar for whom one of the four major Sunni schools is named, was none other than Imam Jafar, the one for whom the Shi’a Jaffari school is named (may ALLAH be pleased with them both).

“A time is soon coming to mankind when their learned people will be the worst people under heaven’s skies. Corruption will come from them, and return back to them, as smoke returns to the hole; and this will be a time when knowledge departs.” - Prophet Mohammed (saaw)

When God’s final Messenger to all humanity revealed the above prophecy to his companions, it illicited an immediate response of bewilderment. One of the companions asked: “O Messenger of Allah, how could this be, when we recite the Qur’an and teach it to our children? And they will teach it to their children up to the Day of Resurrection.” The Prophet reportedly looked at this companion and responded: “O Zaid, I am astonished at you. I thought you were one of the most learned men in all Madina. Do not the Jews and Christians teach their children the Torah and the Injil (Gospel); and yet they know nothing of what it contains?”

Knowledge is more than knowing. True knowledge is application. (I know, therefore I am.) When one looks at the terrible things that the United States of America is doing domestically and around the world in the name of “national interests” (while calling itself a “Christian nation”); and when a thinking person evaluates the oppressive state policy of Israel against the natives of that tortured and brutally occupied land (while calling itself a “Jewish nation”); and when clear-thinking, committed Muslims take note of some of the beliefs, practices, and the general state of the “Muslim world” today – the powerful truth of the aforementioned prophecy comes crashing down upon our collective consciousness.

It was the February 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran that opened the floodgates of history and unleashed the latest Sunni vs. Shi’a assault on the Muslim world – especially in the West, which up until then had been relatively free of this unfortunate cultural baggage. A number of poisonous books were published to fan the flames of the fitnah, many (if not most) financed by the Saudi regime that today occupies the Hijaz. But what did some of the leading scholars and activists of the Muslim world have to say about Iran’s Shi’a generated revolution? You would be surprised.

The record will show Isam al-Attar, described as “one of the historic leaders of the Ikhwan movement” enthusiastically supported the Revolution.

The Ikhwan of the Sudan – and one of its most prominent and respected sons (at that time), Hassan al-Turabi supported the Revolution.

Rashid al-Ghannushi of Tunisia not only supported the revolution, but reportedly wrote in Tunisia’s Islamic movement’s magazine (al-marifah) that Imam Khomeini should be nominated for the leadership of the Muslim world. In his book al-Harakat al-Islamiyah wa’l Tahdith (The Islamic Movement and its Renewal), Ghannushi is quoted as saying – in response to the question, “What do we mean by the expression ‘The Islamic Movement?’

What we mean is that approach that stems from the meaning of the comprehensive Islamic state, on the basis of the comprehensiveness of Islam, and this definition coincides with three major approaches – the Ikhwan al-Muslimun, the Jama’at al-Islamiyah in Pakistan and Imam Khomeini’s movement in Iran.

An operation has begin in Iran which may be one of the most important happenings in the history of freedom movements in the whole region, freeing Islam from the control of governments which are using Islam (as a cover) to prevent the revolutionary tide in the region.

Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Khalifa, the general observer for the Ikhwan al-Muslimun in Jordan announced his support for the Revolution.

In Egypt, al-Da’wa, al-Itisam and al-Mukhtar al-Islam magazines stood beside the Revolution. In its October 1980 cover story, al-Itisam described Saddam as follows:

“Comrade Saddam Takriti…student of Michel Aflaq, who wants to make a new Qadisiyah (a historic battle) against Islamic Iran…” On page 10 of the same issue the cause for the imposed war was given as follows: “The fear of the spread of the Islamic Revolution into Iraq. Saddam Takriti saw the transition period that Iran’s army is going through as being a concerted effort to form an Islamic army out of an imperial one, and as a golden and unrepeatable opportunity to destroy that army before it became an indestructible power, because Islamic belief will take over the hearts of its officers and soldiers.”

Ikhwan journalist Jabir Rizq, in the December 1980 edition of al-Itisam wrote:

“The time when this war started is the very time that all U.S. conspiracies and plots against the Muslim people of Iran had failed.” And further, “These tyrants (rulers in Muslim lands) are shaking due to their belief that their nations might revolt against them and depose them as the Iranian Muslim nation did against the agent Shah… God gives aid to those who aid His cause, and God is the Mighty, the Powerful.”

The International Organization of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun issued a statement that read in part (during the hostage crisis):

“If the subject concerned Iran alone, it would have agreed on a moderate solution after it had become clear what it is all about; but it is Islam and its nations everywhere being a trust on the shoulder of the only Islamic government in the world that forced itself on the blood of its nation, in the 20th century, to establish the rule of God above the rule of the rulers, colonialists and international Zionism.”

Those attempting to undermine the Revolution (from within) were described as follows:

“He is either a Muslim unable to comprehend the era of Islamic blood and is still living in a period of surrender. He, then, has to ask forgiveness from God and should try to complete his lack of understanding of the struggle and dignity of Islam; or he is an agent working for the interests of the enemies of Islam under the cover of brotherhood and concern about Islam, or a naïve Muslim motivated by others who neither have an opinion of their own, nor a will - or a hypocrite wavering between the two.”

When Saddam’s (U.S. supported) war against Iran began, the International Ikhwan issued a statement to the Iraqi people, which read in part:

This war is not a liberation war for the oppressed men, women and children who neither have a way out nor guidance. The Iranian Muslim nation has freed itself from the oppressor and from American-Zionist colonialism through a heroic, marvelous struggle and a stormy Islamic Revolution, which is unique in the history of mankind, under the leadership of a Muslim Imam [Khomeini] who is without doubt an honor for Islam and Muslims.

At the end of the statement it called upon the Iraqi people to “Kill your butchers. The opportunity has come that will never be repeated. Put down your weapons and join the camp of the revolution. The Islamic Revolution is yours!” (If only the Iraqis had heeded this sage advice.)

Mawlana Abu Ala Maududi issued a fatwa (religious edict) that reflected both his and Jama’at al-Islami’s position on the Islamic Revolution. It was published in the August 29, 1979, edition of Cairo’s al-Da’wa magazine:

“The revolution of Khomeini is an Islamic Revolution, the participants of which are Islamic groups and youths tutored by the Islamic movements. All Muslims in general and the Islamic movements in particular must support this revolution and cooperate with it in all respects.”

It should be noted that a few months after the death of Maududi (may Allah be pleased with him) a malicious rumor spread that he had abrogated this fatwa before he died. The rumor, however, proved to be unfounded, and al-Da’wa magazine never published a retraction.)

Imam Khomeini himself stated (in response to a question raised about the foundations of the Revolution):

“The reason for making Muslims into Sunnis and Shi’ites does not exist today. Today we are all Muslims. This is an Islamic Revolution and we are all brothers in Islam.”

Rashid al-Ghannushi quoted Imam Khomeini in his book (al-Harakat al-Islamiyah wal-Tahdith) as follows:

“We want to be judged and governed by Islam as it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and mercy of God be upon him and his descendants, in which there is no such distinction between a Sunni and a Shi’ite since the various schools of thought did not exist at the time of the Prophet.”

At the 14th Conference on Islamic Thought that was held in Algiers in the early 80s, one of its participants, a representative of Imam Khomeini stated to the assembly:

“O brothers! The enemies do not differentiate between the Shi’ites and the Sunnis. They want to destroy Islam as a faith, a school of thought and an ideology. Those, who, through their word and deed, seek to divide Muslims into Shi’ites and Sunnis, stand within the ranks of infidels and are opposed to Islam and all Muslims. Hence, as declared by Imam Khomeini in his fatwa, it is religiously forbidden. It is the duty of all Muslims to prevent it.”

Ghali Shukri, an Egyptian Christian and Marxist (at the time of this quote, early 80s), attacked the Revolution in an article published in Dirasat al-Arabiyah (Arab Studies) in the following words:

Some of these contradictions which exists are still noticeable: Thinkers, who are known for their Marxist background have turned into staunch Muslims in the blink of an eye; others, who according to their birth certificates are Christians, turn in a moment into Muslim extremists; thinkers, who by education belong to the West and were bred and bought up in its fashions and styles, without the least amount of reserve, turn into fanatic easterners. Under the banner of Khomeini, educated Arabs return to the fold of tradition like lost sheep returning to their fold after prolonged banishment and separation; and all of this with the excuse of returning to the facts and reality, and with the excuse of the bitter failure of Marxism, secularism, liberalism or nationalism.

Mr. Shukri (and other committed secularists who think like him) should have learned a valuable lesson from this…such is the power of a true Islamic Revolution! It is only fitting to end part five of this commentary with words spoken by Imam Ruhulla Musavi al-Khomeini, from a speech delivered at Qum in 1966:

The filthy hands which aggravate the differences between the Shi’ites and Sunni Muslims belong neither to the Shi’ites nor the Sunnis. They are the hands of the colonialists who plan to take the Islamic countries out of our hands. The colonial powers who want to plunder our wealth through various schemes and conspiracies are the ones who hatch plots for creating division under the pretext of Shi’ism and Sunnism.

I couldn’t agree more. May ALLAH (swt) bestow upon Imam Khomeini, Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Imam Hasan al-Banna, and all of the other committed and learned Mujahideen, His choicest blessings. And may ALLAH (swt) bless the Prophet’s Ummah (saaw) to give birth to many others like them - both male and female - irrespective of what label they may fall under. Ameen.


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