New Age Islam
Thu Dec 08 2022, 03:37 PM

Interfaith Dialogue ( 24 Jun 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Shia-Sunni Joint Friday Prayers in Iraq: A Small Beginning

New Age Islam Edit Desk

June 25, 2013

Baghdad:  At a time when Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are going through serious Shia-Sunni conflicts and fights and some Sunni leaders have even declared Shias deserving to be killed, Iraq’s Prime Minister Noori al Maliki has succeeded to bridge the gap, at least in a limited space. Presently, owing to his efforts, Shias and Sunnis have forgotten their sectarian differences and decided to offer at least Friday prayers together in Iraq.

Recently, the supreme religious leader of Shias Ayatollah Syed Ali Seestani invited the Sunnis to offer Friday prayers together and the Sunnis accepted the invitation. Last Friday, Shias and Sunni got together in the mausoleum of Hadhrat Imam Hussain in Karbala, Iraq and offered the prayer together. In Baghdad too, Shias and Sunnis offered Friday prayer in mosque Umm Al Tubul. The congregation comprised famous personalities apart from common people.

Thanks to the efforts of Iraqi Prime Minister Noori al Maliki, Shia-Sunni joint Friday prayers are being offered in Baghdad for the last few weeks.

Though this is a small beginning, this can be taken further by holding joint Shia-Sunni Friday prayers in all the parts of Iraq where takfiri forces like Al Qaida, Al Nusra and other militant groups have been conducting bomb blasts against Shias.

Noorie al Maliki’s efforts and initiatives deserve commendation and praise as being a politician, he thought about bringing peace between two warring sections of Muslims. There are a lot of religious and ideological differences between them but the heartening fact is that those differences do not form the fundamental beliefs of Islam. Therefore, Shias and Sunnis can ignore some of the differences and also tone down their religious rhetoric against each other for the sake of a greater cause – peace.

Ironically, this move came from a politician and not from a religious Sunni leader like Qaradhawi.  Qaradhawi and other Sunni religious leaders of the Middle East disappointed Islamic world and the humanity on the whole by openly giving a call for jihad against Shias all over the world. Iraq is predominantly Shia but despite being in the majority they did not suffer from supremacist bug unlike the Sunni majority countries where Sunnis treat Shias like second class citizens.

No Shia religious leader issued any fatwa legitimising adultery and massacre of Muslims in Syria or elsewhere. On the contrary, Shia religious leaders condemned such un-Islamic Fatwas.

Religious seminaries and muftis of Saudi Arabia have declared Shias, Kafirs which is followed by Taliban and other hard-line religious organisations in Pakistan and Middle East. Manzoor Nomani wrote a book on the beliefs of Shias which formed the basis for the Fatwas of Kufr against Shias resulting in anti-Shia riots in the sixties in Pakistan. Since then, Shias are at the receiving end of the persecution at the hands of Takfiri Sunni forces.

As the move for joint Shia-Sunni Friday prayers has been made by the two factions of Iraq, it can be taken further if the Sunni politicians and religious leaders in the Middle East follow suit and tone down their hostility towards Shias. Al Qaradhawi and other Sunni representatives should come forward and contribute to this beginning and make it a worldwide phenomenon. India and Pakistan can also contribute to this cause though it does not seem to be an easy task as volumes of literature have been produced within both the sects widening the ideological gap between the Shias and Sunnis and some militant organisations have also come into existence that have institutionalised and cemented these differences, at least if religious leaders and politicians come forward, a small beginning can also be made in South Asia as well.  The educational curriculum of Pakistan needs a total overhaul as it is filled with sectarian content.

In short, the task is not easy, but the Shias and Sunnis of Iraq have learnt some lesson from the past. They have realised that their differences have been widened by the enemies of Islam and therefore they have decide to come together and live peacefully.