Sunni and Shi’a - Allied Forces
By Samia van Hattum
Allies are essential in the struggle to eliminate the injustices of the world. White people must stand up on behalf of people of color to eradicate racism. Men must advocate on behalf of women to eliminate sexism. The non-Muslim believer’s voices are the strongest force in erasing Islamophobia. In order to bring unity to the Ummah, purge ourselves of the shameful divisions within our community, and abolish the oppression of our own brothers and sisters, it is the Sunni majority’s responsibility to defend our Shi’a brethren.
Muslims are Muslims, believers are believers, and this is not a particularly complicated concept to grasp. It is clearly stated in the Qur’an, that we are not to discriminate against those who offer us Salaam, we have no right to say that a person is not a believer (4:94). Only Allah knows what is in our hearts and therefore only Allah can be the judge of our faith and intentions.
Unfortunately in every age, people and governments insist that they have the right to pass judgment on each others practice of faith. Today I take issue with the Saudi Arabian government in particular. Contrary to what is clearly stated in the Qur’an, the Saudi Arabian government has taken upon itself the right to decide who is and is not a Muslim. They have dubbed the Shi’a minority of the Muslim world infidels. The Saudi government is spreading anti-Shi’a propaganda throughout the globe inciting hatred and discrimination. They are persecuting Shi’a brothers and sisters from all countries who attempt to enter the holiest of cities in order to complete Umrah and Hajj. This is in spite of clear fatwas and statements on the part of the majority of Muslim scholars from all over the world (including Saudi Arabia) against such ideas and actions.
Injustices in the world always upset me. My heart is filled with outrage, frustration, sorrow, anger and a sense of helplessness as I read about and observe these wrong doings. The worldwide problem becomes personal as my sister is married to a Shi’a man. My sister’s marriage forced the issue of reflecting on my own preconceived notions and prejudices towards the Shi’a Muslims. This is an ongoing process, but without doubt, I can firmly state that though there are theological differences between myself as a Sunni Muslim and the path my sister and her husband have chosen, to equate them with being infidels is preposterous.
My sister is an American born and raised Muslimah. When she chooses to complete her pilgrimage to Mecca with her husband, as is her right and duty, will they be faced with the horrific treatment that is becoming the norm for Shi’a entering Saudi Arabia? She lives in a Muslim country, yet she and her husband are apprehensive about going to the mosque to pray for fear of persecution. The Saudi Anti-Shi’a party line throughout the Middle East is so strong that this young American-British-Dutch-Iraqi couple has to live in trepidation of practicing their Islam publicly. This propaganda machine has Muslims worldwide believing that it is perfectly acceptable to kick the stone out from in front of a Shi’a person while they pray, to throw them out of the mosque, and to attempt to prevent them from being able to go on Hajj. This rhetoric even goes so far as to glorify the leaders who perpetuate violence against them and who have systematically and ruthlessly slaughtered them. No person, my sister and her husband included, should be fearful of offering their prayers to their Lord in any location.
We observe the condition of the world and are enveloped in grief for its state. Islam is a path of moderation and of peace. If that is the case then Muslims need to realize this peace and middle ground within the Ummah. Without an end to the ridiculous infighting amongst Muslim there is no hope for an end to conflict with the greater world community. The despicable actions of the Saudi government forces need to be stopped. It is the responsibility of the Sunni Muslim majority around the world to end this discrimination.
Read Sayed Mohammad Jawad Al-Qazwini’s statement of the treatment he and his friends recently experienced with the Saudi Government.
Take action, contact the Saudi Embassies in the United States, the United Kingdom or any other country with your thoughts on this appalling behavior.
See also Sunni Shia Unity Resources on The American Muslim site.