Ugly Sectarianism is Getting Out of Control

by Yasin T. Aljibouri

Everyday, someone somewhere is fired by unholy zeal, someone whose heart is sickened by senseless grudges and whose mind is filled with poison is busy writing or publishing, producing or filming, attacking the faith of someone else.  Someone will soon buy his trash, in any form it is presented, and the fire of sectarianism gets out of control. An attack takes place, this time it is physical, and someone gets hurt. His effort pays off when he sees innocent blood spilled. A brother is wounding or killing another brother.

It happened to Cain and Abel. It happened in this century, and in the one before it, and in the ones before. Sadly, Muslims are also involved in this sectarianism.  When followers of other religions look at Muslims and see how they attack each other’s beliefs, they feel elated. And when Muslims see how non-Muslims view Islam and Muslims scornfully, they become angry, and they blame those non-Muslims. They do not blame their own selves. Wrong-doers do not admit their wrong. They justify it. Thus, more blood is spilled, and more hatred begets even more hatred. In the end, the all-Mighty,and His Prophet Muhammad turn their faces away from the Muslim Ummah, and Satan welcomes it with open arms.

The noticeable increase in sectarian sentiments is worth a serious study due to its consequences now and in the future. It is much easier to demolish than to build. The Qur’an describes human nature as being self-destructive; how true.  Most often such writers tear chapters from this book and that, take sentences out of context, misquote from books that are difficult to locate, or quote from the statements of extremists, in order to mislead the innocent uninformed reader .

Muslims who engage in such activities are Muslims, but not “mumins.” They will never be, for a mumin respects not only the beliefs of all other Muslims, but even of non-Muslims, reserving to themselves the basic right of not subscribing to such beliefs. You do not have to accept my beliefs, but if you want me to respect your beliefs, you have first to respect mine.  There is no doubt that people can unintentionally harm their religion a great deal when they carry their narrow sectarian beliefs too far, thinking that they are serving the Islamic cause. This is true about Shi’ahs and Sunnis alike.  Fanaticism (ta.assub) is a two-edged sword.

If some Shi’ahs speak ill of their Sunni brethren and their beliefs, the rest of the Sh’iahs of the world should not on their account be condemned, and the same is true for Sunnis who speak ill of their Shi’ah brethren and their beliefs. There are fanatics in all religions and sects of the world, and their fanaticism must be condemned. There are extremists among the Sunni and Shi’ah, but their views cannot be held as the criterion whereby the entire doctrine is judged.

As Imam Khomeini said in a speech at Qom 20 years ago. “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 which 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 or Sunnism.”

We pray the all-Mighty Who did not Call us anything but Muslims, neither Sunnis nor Shi’ahs, to strengthen our faith and our Brotherhood and unite us together under the shade of His Deen so that we deserve to be Called Muslims, and so that His Messenger Muhammad will not be ashamed of us on the Day of Resurrection.

Originally published in Fall 1992 issue of TAM.

See also A Call for Sunni Shia Dialogue: How and Why, Abdul Malik Mujahid

see also our Research Topic SHI’AH AND SUNNI for many articles on this topic.