There is More Disputing about the Shell than the Kernel

Developing Just Leadership

Abu Dharr

Rabi' al-Thani 26, 1443 2021-12-01

Opinion

by Abu Dharr (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 10, Rabi' al-Thani, 1443)

It appears that the Zionist-imperialist virus is making its way into the Muslim body politic mostly through the gender and sectarian pathways. We dedicated several articles trying to build our Islamic immunity to the issue of parochial pride and the degradation of women as a sexually defined group. Now we are forced to fight a mental mêlée against sectarians (both Sunnis and Shi‘is) by increasing our intellectual anti-bodies in opposition to the holier-than-thou sectarians.

To begin this mental pushback against the contentious Sunni sectarians with their brazen accusations against all who disagree with them alongside the sequestered Shi‘i sectarians with their cagy degradation of Muslims who don’t share their interpretation of Islamic history especially the first and second generations of Muslims – to all these we say: do not define the “other” Muslim by his/her reading of history or realization of rituals. Furthermore, don’t you dare draw the rest of us into your polarizations and divisions.

For those of us who are not caught in the web of wild Wahhabis vs. soft Safawis or the other way around: surreptitious Safawis vs. unashamed Wahhabis, we would sincerely suggest that we interact with each other on the basis of “all madh-habs; i.e., Islamic schools of thought are equal”. By doing so no one born into a Sunni family and tradition will have the fiqhi tools to create a Salafi/Wahhabi defamation of those born into a Shi‘i family and tradition. Correspondingly, no one born into a Shi‘i family and tradition will have the fiqhi tools to create a Safawi/Halabi degradation of those born into a Sunni family and tradition. This “fiqhi-civic equality” should bring down the barriers of community discrimination and the traditions of social separation that one finds in mixed Sunni-Shi‘i countries. The equality of madh-habs does not mean that a Muslim (Sunni or Shi‘i) is required to water down his/her conviction. A Sunni can be a Sunni to his heart’s content and a Shi‘i can be a Shi‘i to his heart’s content provided their understanding of who they are does not breed any aversion to or hatred of the “other” Muslim.

The equality of Islamic schools of thought (madh-habs) acknowledges the validity of every Muslim to perform his rituals and “religious services” according to his madh-hab whether he is doing it in the privacy of his home, in a congregation of Muslims, or in a masjid anywhere in the world or around the Ka‘bah itself. This mutual recognition is for all practical purposes absent. Where do you see a Shi‘i giving a khutbah and leading the prayers in a Sunni masjid? Or where can you attend a masjid in which a Sunni is leading Friday salat for Shi‘is? Why can’t we have a Shi‘i scholar leading the salat in al-Haram al-Makki? Likewise, why can’t we have a Sunni scholar leading the Jumu‘ah Namaz in Tehran? We don’t have any of that, and permit me to be forthright about this and say that it is because of the long-drawn-out influence of the Wahhabi and Safawi traditions and their accusatory establishments separately in their own spheres of influence.

The declaration of the equality of Islamic madh-habs would have us all liberated from the disruptive fiqhi differences and dissents that we have been saddled with for centuries. An affirmation of madh-hab parity and equivalence will liberate the Muslim peoples from the millenarian yoke of king Mu‘awiyah who shifted the characterization of Islam and Iman from being justice-centered and fairness oriented to becoming “just-us” centered and an orientation of one-sidedness buttressed by a narrow-mindedness. This needs quite a bit of explanation. Be patient.

Obviously our reference, besides which there is no foolproof reference, is Allah’s Book and Allah’s Prophet (pbuh). So, let us shed our self-centered “Shi‘i” or “Sunni” personalities and stride along with the illuminating Qur’anic ayats:

And should they [the enemies of Allah] seek but to deceive you [O Muhammad by their display of peace] – behold, Allah is enough for you! He it is who has strengthened you with His [decisive] support, and by giving you committed followers – whose hearts He has brought together: [for], if you had expended all that is on [and of the] earth, you could not have brought their hearts together [by yourself] – but Allah did bring them together… (Surat al-Anfal, 62-63)

Obviously, Imam ‘Ali knew his “countrymen” very well. Therefore, in light of this ayat and the combat-present committed Muslims it is referring to, let us examine how Imam ‘Ali interacted with those who were to become “particularly good or holy persons” or “particularly bad and evil persons” (depending on whether you were assimilated into a Sunni or Shi‘i patronage) in the years after the Prophet (pbuh) passed away.

The ayat above is making it clear that the Prophet (pbuh) was supported by a consolidation of committed and combatant Muslims. Surat al-Anfal and al-Tawbah dwell on Islamic military issues and developments pertaining to the critical mass of committed Muslims with him. Obviously, there was a strong camaraderie of at least hundreds of devout Muslims who constituted the substance of an Islamic order in al-Madinah. They were bound to each other by a shared “divine contract” and a social responsibility demonstrated by their collective selflessness in the service of the “public Islamic interest” with the Prophet (pbuh) as the leading light and person in charge.

Far away from arguing whether we should pray with our hands to our sides or our hands joined, or whether we should wash or wipe our feet as part of the wudu’, we should break away from the inherited ritualistic stupor that defines a Muslim by prayer attendance and other delicate and private obligations that never evaluate a Muslim by his social service, the implementation of justice and the struggle against inequality and injustice. We have to elevate our thoughts and enhance our common Islamic consciousness to a level that concentrates on the fact that Imam ‘Ali fought the breakaway tribes of ‘Abs and Dhubyan during the reign of Abu Bakr. Was Imam ‘Ali defending an illegitimate ruler (Abu Bakr)? In the offspring of Imam ‘Ali we have children who were named ‘Umar and ‘Uthman…

Today, because of the sectarian toxin, many Shi‘i families avoid having their children named ‘Umar or ‘Uthman. There are some words from Imam ‘Ali that acknowledge ‘Umar’s self-abnegation and earnestness. Why is there a vacuum in the Muslim mind when it comes to Imam ‘Ali’s relationship with ‘Umar? Didn’t Imam ‘Ali advise ‘Umar in what we call today “affairs of state”? Wasn’t it ‘Umar himself who confessed to the sagacity and perceptiveness of Imam ‘Ali saying:

أعوذ بالله من معضلة ليس لها أبو الحسن

I seek Allah’s safe haven when it comes to a problem that Abu al-Hasan (Imam ‘Ali) is not in attendance to solve.

Did Imam ‘Ali (with all the differences he had with ‘Uthman) ever show ‘Uthman any disrespect? What we know is that Imam ‘Ali counseled and warned ‘Uthman of the consequences of his policies that had their roots in pre-Islamic norms and un-Islamic ethos. The Umayyad lobby within ‘Uthman’s administration may have been the first penetration of the “pre-imperialists and pre-Zionists” of that time—via the Umayyads—into the body politics of Islam. Imam ‘Ali was able to differentiate between those who were nominally in power with good intentions and those who were becoming a tribal and nationalist “deep state” in Arabia with all its power-mongering and duplicity. Imam ‘Ali refused to vouch for Marwan ibn al-Hakam who the Prophet (pbuh) had exiled. Didn’t Imam ‘Ali see through the Umayyad-Byzantine-Yahudi relationship by saying: هي كف يهودية [It is a Yahudi cuff?]

If we could but shed the fossilized centuries of that Umayyad-Byzantine-Yahudi definition of Islam and Iman we will have recaptured the energizing meanings of the glowing Qur’an along with the “walking Qur’an” (our dear Prophet (pbuh)) and see the global cabal working against us all (Sunnis and Shi‘is) today as it really is: a Saudi-Euro-American-Zionist cuff: هي كف يهودية.

Consequently, We gave support to those who committed themselves [to Our power and authority] against their enemy: and they became the ones to prevail. (Al-Saff, 14)

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