by Abu Dharr (Guest Editorial, Crescent International Vol. 37, No. 9, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1429)
As if the worldwide zionist led media campaign about Islamic Iran’s “nuclear bomb” was not enough, we now have a Saudi-led whisper campaign about Islamic Iran’s “sectarian aggression.” The voices and spokespersons for this latter campaign may not know how and why this is so, thus it becomes necessary to shed light on this. And we are going to be up-front and frank about this. So readers must brace themselves and prepare to hear the bitter truth.
A couple of months ago al-‘Allamah Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardawi gave an interview to an Egyptian magazine that was followed, a couple of weeks later by another in which he was asked about his views on Shi‘ism. In his answer pertaining to Shi‘ism he went public with a statement that should have been dealt with in a gathering of respected ‘ulama or within confidential circles of trusted members of the Islamic Movement and State. Al-Sheikh al-Qardawi said (we are paraphrasing him) that the Shi‘is are driving the Ummah to an abyss of instability and civil strife. He claimed this is because there are two issues that the Shi‘is are culpable for. The first is their “tabshiri” [missionary] efforts to convert Sunnis into Shi‘is within countries and regions that are predominantly Sunni. The other is the Shi‘is’ foul language when discussing the Prophet’s companions and wives. These are, according to al-Sheikh al-Qardawi, the two issues that are cause for alarming concern as these issues could, if they continued unchecked, blow up in the face of all Muslims.
Before we try to clear the air on this statement of a well-known and respected scholar of Islam we would like to state for those who do not know al-Sheikh al-Qardawi that he is not known for sectarianism and cannot be said to be so in the mainstream sense of the word. He may have differences of opinion with Shi‘is; he may even be struggling with himself on the issue of Sunni-Shi‘i coexistence but he does not fall within the category of being labeled sectarian. The individual working for the Iranian news agency, Mehr, who accused al-Qardawi of being a zionist or imperialist agent is either himself sectarian or ignorant of the facts. He has omitted to mention that al-Sheikh al-Qardawi is on the enemy list of zionist and imperialist governments in Europe and America. His visas for certain Euro-American countries have been voided or refused. The statement of al-Qardawi being a zionist or imperialist agent by this particular person is reminiscent of the late Khalkhali who during the early years of the Islamic Revolution in Iran said that the Muslim Brotherhood [Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen] are agents of zionism and imperialism. Such statements reveal a serious misunderstanding on each side of the Islamic Movement and the Islamic State. The Ikhwan are not agents of zionism or imperialism even though they have been burned by third parties who themselves are agents of zionism and imperialism. Saudi Arabia is a prime example of this. And neither is Islamic Iran an agent of zionism and imperialism even though it has been drawn into its Shi‘i affiliations which themselves are cronies of zionism and imperialism. The Iraqi ruling class today is a prime example.
Let us revert to the statement of al-Sheikh al-Qardawi. He said, in effect, that the Shi‘is should cease and desist from their missionary activity in predominantly Sunni areas. I don’t know about others but this scribe has never had a Shi‘i knock on his door handing pamphlets advising him how he would be saved if he embraced the Shi‘i math-hab! Nor has this scribe encountered Shi‘is who target impoverished Sunni areas trying to convert them to Shi‘ism by building Shi‘i clinics or opening Shi‘i schools or sending their students to Shi‘i hawzahs. The missionary activities of Catholics and Protestants, for instance, are well known but Shi‘is do not meet the definition of missionary work. So al-Sheikh al-Qardawi was not accurate in stating what he did. But does that mean that we do not have some Shi ‘is who would like Sunnis to “see the light” and become Shi‘is? Of course we do. But what does that have to do with the Islamic State of Iran? Is the Islamic State of Iran financing Shi‘i sectarians? From all available information, the Islamic State of Iran, if financing anyone, is financing Hamas and Hizballah – Sunnis and Shi‘is to fight for their fundamental rights and to protect their lives.
True, the past six years have been hell for the Sunnis in Iraq, but they also have been hell for the Shi‘is in Iraq – aside from the Shi‘i and Sunni elites who find protection and solace in their imperialist and zionist connections. What may have gotten on the nerves of some intelligence agencies in predominantly Sunni Arabian countries is the tension between Sunnis and Shi‘is in Lebanon, and the flare-up of hostilities – limited as they were – in different parts of Lebanon this last summer – in Tripoli, Beirut, and al-Biqa‘, that resulted in Shi‘is having the upper hand. But can anyone in his right mind blame this on the Islamic State of Iran? Why should the Sunni world feel incensed or outraged at the consequences of their own policies? Islamic Iran came to the rescue of its math-habi companions in Lebanon: armed them, gave them financial assistance to build clinics and hospitals and schools, and then provided them with other assistance they needed to go to war against the Israeli occupiers of their lands and territories. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia [the bastion of American sectarian Sunnism] gave morsels of riyals and driblets of dollars to their sectarian-brethren from the Hariri family to the open-handed Sheikhs in the structure of Dar al-Awqaf and its affiliates. And so what do the Sunnis in Lebanon have? They don’t have a fighting force, they don’t have a militia, they don’t even have one combat-ready crew that is equipped and ready to fight the enemy of Allah and the enemy of His Prophet (saws). The Islamic Sunni programs in Lebanon have been rotating for the past twenty to thirty years around boy-scout activities [kash-shafat Lubnan]!
The chickens are coming home to roost and the intelligence agencies from Casablanca to Qatar do not like it. So they begin to spill out their assessments and “guarded secrets” to public opinion figures. It is within this type of scenario that al-Sheikh al-Qardawi blew his whistle. Instead of turning to the Saudis and their “Gulflings” and scolding them for having failed their Sunni brothers in Iraq and Lebanon, and who knows where the next failure will show up, al-Qardawi turned his admonition against Shi‘is in general – lumping the fanatics with the freedom-fighters. We believe that if al-Sheikh al-Qardawi were living somewhere else besides the takfiri infested areas of Arabia he would not have worded his ideas the way he did. We do not blame al-Qardawi, we blame the political and sectarian structure that has taken its toll on his otherwise “wasati” ideas.
And then what are we to say to some Sunni Muslims who are impressed and mesmerized by the Shi‘i Hizbullah? What do we do, ya Sheikhana al-Qardawi, when we have Sunni Muslims who of their own volition want to become Shi‘is? The imperialist and zionist occupations and control of Makkah, Medinah, and al-Quds are real. And the only real challenge to these occupations is the Islamic leadership in Iran and the Islamic Hizbullah in Lebanon – a reality that both a Sunni and a non-Sunni can see. Is there something terribly wrong with a status quo Sunni becoming a Hizbullahi Shi‘i? Or is there something wrong with a status quo Iraqi Shi‘i joining the Sunnis who are fighting the occupation forces from Iraq to Afghanistan?
We have not heard al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah or al-Imam al-Khamane’i bad-mouthing the sahabah or the wives of the Prophet, upon whom be peace.
This whole issue, if it does nothing else, it brings out the vulnerabilities of what has become known as “Sunnis”. Wasn’t Iran at one time considered a Sunni country? Now it is predominantly Shi‘i. So what? Wasn’t Egypt at one time considered a Shi‘i country? Now it is exclusively Sunni. So what? Are we to have history nightmares because some people became Sunnis and other people became Shi‘is?
The Islamic leadership in Iran has yet another chapter to deal with.
Are there sectarians in Iran? Of course there are. Are there sectarians who call themselves Shi ‘is? Of course there are. Are there sectarians in Arabia? Of course there are. Are there sectarians who call themselves Sunnis? Of course there are. The critical difference is that in the Shi‘i context there is an Islamic State that is trying to mobilize all Muslims to liberate Palestine and it gets caught in the process between the imperialists on the outside and sectarians on the inside. Whereas in the Sunni context there is an Islamic Movement that is trying to regroup from country to country and from time to time only to find itself susceptible to “statements of truth” concealing policies of aggression.
We are confident that the Islamic State of Iran will weather this sectarian storm, as it has weathered many other intrigues and plots in the past.