by Prof (retired) Shahid Anwar Khan (Letters To The Editor, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 7, Shawwal, 1434)
Muslim unity cannot be achieved through slogans. It requires practical steps, the first being each side showing respect to the other and being sensitive about what concerns them most.
All sincere Muslims want unity among Muslims. How this is to be achieved needs to be explained. Simply talking about unity will not make it happen. Several steps must be taken to achieve meaningful unity among Muslims of all schools of thought in Islam, especially the two major Schools, Shi‘is and Sunnis.
First, we must question whether we should use such labels at all. Were there Shi‘is and Sunnis at the time of the noble Messenger (pbuh)? If not, why have we accepted these designations? Further, there must be clear statements from leading ‘ulama of both sides that they respect the validity of the “other.” This happened when Shaykh Mahmood Shaltut was the head of al-Azhar but today unfortunately this is not the case. ‘Ulama from the Islamic Party of Malaysia have called for respect of each other. This is heartening.
Some practical steps toward Muslim unity would be for each side to stop demonizing the other. The Sunnis must stop calling Shi‘is kafirs while the Shi‘is must stop cursing the Sahabah. We must also expose those who are creating divisions in the Ummah. The Saudi regime tops the list. Muslims should launch a campaign to get rid of the House of Saud.
Crescent International and ICIT should organize an international conference inviting scholars from around the world to consider practical steps for getting rid of the Saudi regime. This must be done soon.
Prof (retired) Shahid Anwar Khan
Los Angeles, CA, US