By Mike Ghouse
31 May, 2015
No one has a right to declare that Shiism or Sunnism is false and heretical.
One of the major differences between Shia and Sunni traditions is about the role of leadership. When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was returning from his last pilgrimage, he gathered the caravan at an oasis called Ghadir Khumm and delivered a revelation, that as of this day he has delivered the complete guidance from God, the message of Islam is complete now.
That message was and is crystal clear; there is no misunderstanding about it. There is no more advisement from God, and nothing more needed to added to the religion, it's done. However, the tag part of that message was understood in two different ways.
One set of people believed that the Prophet had assigned the role of spiritual leadership to Hazrat Ali, and their version of the last sermon of the prophet says that he was leaving Quran and his family for future guidance.
Whereas, others believed that, now all they have to do is to stick with the Quran as Prophet had called for in his last sermon, they do not have a record of Prophet's saying about following his family for guidance or assigning the responsibility of leadership to Hazrat Ali.
The first group became Shia and the other Sunni, and both have built up their "faith" and have concreted the differences.
If the Shia community feels they need guidance from a learned Imam, that is their choice, and if the Sunnis feel they don't need one, that is their choice and the same goes for the Ahmadiyya Muslims. What is your (all of us) problem? Are you answerable to anyone’s deeds other than your own on the Day of Judgment? If not, then mind your own faith, instead of calling each other name and denigrating the other, focus on being a good human being.
Is there a need to reconcile the difference? Not at all, there is no need to resolve nor will it be resolved, save your energy, this was all natural and predicted. It is human nature to divide themselves on ideas, religion, politics, cultures and nations. Shia, Sunni and Ahmadiyya division is natural, and there is no need to compel any one to believe otherwise. Islam forbids compulsion (2:256) against one's will without ifs and buts, and I hope Muslims believe in that.
What we need to do is learn to agree to disagree, and respect the otherness of others as God has instructed us to do (Q: 109) expressed in the following paragraphs.
He has created a well integrated and diverse interconnected world to function in harmony (55:7-11), and expects us to sustain and manage it. We have the responsibility to work towards it, as we are called the manager (Khalifa) of our surroundings. Did we lose the leadership role assigned to us?
We are all one family, and each one of us is a progeny of Adam and eve, and God made us into different tribes, communities, nations, (and faiths, as God acknowledges other faiths throughout the Quran and does not condemn any one, but assure them that if they are good to fellow beings, their reward is with him) races and other uniqueness (49:13), which prophet reaffirmed in his last sermon - not to discriminate any one based on any one of those criteria.
Each one of us is unique with his or her own thumbprint, taste buds, eye print and DNA. Had he willed he would have created all of us exactly alike in a factory like precision, but he chose to make, each one of us to be unique. That is his deliberate choice, isn't it? Did he make a mistake? Shall we respect his will?
When we are so different, conflicts are bound to arise, and he offers further guidance – the best ones among you are those who learn about each other, and if we do, myths fall by the wayside, and understandings develop. Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of each other's uniqueness.
Islam is about human nature, and it is also known as a religion of fitra. Prophet (pbuh) had envisioned that will divide ourselves into many (72/73 is a metaphoric number) tribes. We all must compete in doing good to fellow humans, and one among us will score high in good deeds (taking care of fellow humans) while others will pass, one or two may fail. (College examples).
Prophet assigned you and me to read and understand the Quran, and he knew that we all will have a different understanding of it based on our own experiences.
No one has a right to declare other’s tradition as false or heretical. That is the Job of Allah, not yours. If you do that, you are assuming to be his deputy, an associate of God, or a partner of God and that is not acceptable to any Muslim other than men like you. Unless you have an appointment letter from Allah, your declaration is not acceptable to any.
If you are declaring fellow Muslim to be a non Muslim, then you are committing Shirk, and your word has no value to us in the society, however, that is between you and God for committing the fraud of representing him.
Please note, we have no intentions of giving you 100 lashes for committing shirk, no one has that right.
We can punish for violations of civil rights, robbing, raping, thieving, molesting, abusing family members, employees, breaking contracts with fellow beings, massacring, killing and other civic violations... but we cannot punish you, and no one has the right to punish you for what you believe, that is between you and God.
Mike Ghouse, At World Muslim Congress, our Mission is to build cohesive Societies, where no human has to experience tension or discomfort around, or live in fear of, a fellow human.