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Islam and Sectarianism ( 24 Feb 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Had Ali and Aisha Not Fought the Battle of Jamal, Islam May Have Been Saved From Battle of Siffin between Ali and Muawiya, Followed By Dynastic Khilafat and Violent Sectarianism



By Ali Bulaç

24 February 2014

The Battle of Jamal, where two Muslim figures that were very close to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) -- Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad and Aisha, the wife of Prophet Muhammad -- faced off, is one of the few topics that depresses my soul.

Historians provide different figures, but it is certain that at least 5,000 people died in this meaningless battle. One cannot know which side to praise or blame.

On one side is Ali, who was the son of the Prophet's uncle and the first youth to become a Muslim as well as the Prophet's son-in-law and a distinguished companion (Sahaba). He came to be known as the Lion of God. On the other side was Aisha, who was the Prophet's dear wife, well-versed in Islamic jurisprudence. Was the confrontation between these two prominent figures really worth it? It is known that both the companions suffered deep internal trauma after the incident. But what was done was done. I might be wrong, but it occurs to me that if the Jamal tragedy (A.D. 656) hadn't occurred, the Battle of Siffin (A.D. 657) would not have occurred either, and Mu’waiya ibn Abi Sufyan and Banu Umayyad would not have turned the caliphate into a sultanate so easily. Moreover, Hussain, the beloved grandson of the Prophet, would not have been martyred (A.D. 661), and this tragedy wouldn't have left such a deep scar, which couldn't be healed for many years.

The Muslim world is fragmented. Sectarian and ethnic clashes are everywhere. Perhaps secularists, leftists, socialists, liberals and nationalists are rejoicing over the apparent failure of religious prescriptions and over the justification and validation of their nonreligious (secular) perspective. Still, they are part of this world, where clashes and wars abound. If the fire cannot be contained, it may engulf the entire neighborhood.

And Turkey is not safe from this risk of fire. Turkey's return to the region after a hiatus of 100 years gave rise to great enthusiasm and hopes. The revolts that erupted in Tunisia, Egypt and many Middle Eastern countries came as a shock to Turkey. Syria was a turning point. Everything was reversed.

The critical problems that must be resolved at once in the region are polarisation and conflict. Sectarian groups, nations that privilege specific ethnic identities, states that idolise their national interests and religious communities and groups that cannot withstand the dissent and bickering taking place become polarized. We are in a state of chaos in which we will eventually find ourselves longing for the salvation of the Greater Middle East Project. An intellectual/political framework has already been drawn up, and we, as Sunnis, Shiites, Alevis, Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Persians, secularists, women's rights activists, civil society organizations (CSOs) and religious communities and orders are unable to extinguish this fire.

We are living under the West's guardianship. Our roadmap is being drawn by the big guns of the past and the global powers of today. For the first time in history, during the first decade of the 21st century, external pressures and internal demands have forced the Turkish state to change, although it originally promised not to distance itself from the West's guardianship. During the last 10 years, there were good developments that gave Turkey a significant push. We know that political, social and cultural Muslim identities are behind this significant achievement. The energy that has accumulated in these three identities has put the country into motion. Neither the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) nor religious communities, neither intellectual groups nor Muslim intellectuals could have done this alone. All laboured together and contributed to the success. The achievements between 2002 and 2013 were the product of 90 years of patience and labour.

Parties, religious communities and intellectuals should not act against their raison d'être. The raisons d'être of the ruling party, the communities and the intellectuals are justice, service and wisdom, respectively. The current tension has the potential to harm the general public. We need to find a new synergy in which everyone will exist in peace and live according to mutual consensus. Jamal is followed by Siffin and Karbala.