Sunnis and Shiahs_Not who they think they are

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Shawwal 29, 1434 2013-09-06

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi ws sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

As you all know, we’re sure especially you who are here and most of those who tune in- some of you might not know but there’s about fifty other individuals who tune in on a daily basis after this Jum’ah so in the course of this week there is about three hundred to four hundred other individuals who listen to this khutbah), some of them are listening because they are sincere (and) some of them are listening because they are trouble makers- you understand what is taking place in the real world around us. We have exerted our mental and our physical capacity at trying to expose the stratagem (and) the master plan of these Shayateen and towards that end we will continue with Allah’s help and with His guidance. We mentioned earlier, many times, that asabiyah (or) this self centeredness- whether it’s a tribal self centeredness or whether it’s a nationalistic self centeredness or whether it’s a racist self centeredness, it comes in many forms; whatever it is- its an enemy to the committed Muslims because it plays itself out in warfare just like we are seeing in the real world. You can place these khutbahs in the context of the killings that are going on, explosions, pass by shootings, throwing hand grenades, opening fire randomly in certain areas just because they belong to Sunnis or Shi’is or whatever. All of this is meant to resuscitate this asabiyah that we have been exposing so at least we don’t fall prey to their plans. So we’re going back to the formative years that are cited by today’s asabi people. That’s what they cite. They go back and they say “this is what Imam Ali (radi Allahu anhu) did or said and this is what Muawiyah did or said and that’s what Aa’ishah (radi Allahu anha) did or said.” So they go back there to try to fuel their own social egos- another word for asabiyah. In the course of these Jum’ahs with the taqwa of Allah our number one concern- we’re not here to play politics! Some of these Masajid want to play politics; some of these Masajid just want numbers; some of these Masajid are just this status quo- live and let live; some of these Masajid are the mercenary types and goes on and on. We thank Allah that we don’t fall into that category and we think we attest to the fact, just by being here, that we have broken loose from these asabiyaat. We, Sunnis and Shi’is, are here; black and white- we are here; males and females- we are here; rich and poor… In any which way you want to look at it we’ve broken through these asabiyah barriers. The major asabiyah in this country is the racist asabiyah- that’s the major one. The sectarian asabiyah is a new comer and it’s not as prevalent as the racist asabiyah is here. So we’re going to go back and deconstruct this sectarian asabiyah. We’ve been and we continue to be in the process of deconstructing it.

Most Muslims agree and other objective thinkers agree that much of today’s sectarian polarisation (and) the sectarian misunderstandings can be traced to the time when Muawiyah- at that time he wasn’t king, he was a governor in Ash Shaam- spread the notion that he and his clan and those who agree with him are the only ones who qualify to address the assassination of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu). So they were seeking revenge for the assassination of Uthman outside of law and order. There’s supposed to be law and order; there’s supposed to be a leader; there’s supposed to be a type of authority; there’s supposed to be a type of organised civic society, (as today’s words would have it), but he broke with all of that and this is what happened. If all the Muslims gave bai’ah to Ali so why didn’t this person in that context agree with all of the Muslims and place this responsibility in the hands of the central government in Al Madinah? He didn’t do that. Had he done that we probably would not be struggling with the history that we have but that’s what happened. This is a fact. We’re stating something that actually happened. So when he did that he forced Ali to take the position of bringing into the context of law and order this breakaway Muawiyah; because it was at this point that Muawiyah was the one who broke away from Al Jama’ah. There are some either ignorant or some mercenary Sunnis who give the impression later on and it lives up until today that Shi’is broke away from Al Jama’ah. This is absolutely wrong! It was Muawiyah who broke away from Al Jama’ah. He broke away from the Imamah (or) the leadership of Ali ibn Abi Talib and thus he broke away from the rest of the Muslim’s bai’ah to Ali. He took this province of Ash Shaam, the Levant, under his firm control and from there he began to say he is the one who is going to level this issue of killing Uthman off. So we, the Muslims, had two now opposite positions. This belongs to us. We don’t care how you look at this or how you read this or how you explain it- this overall history belongs to all of us. It is very unfortunate that in today’s world we have those who are the majority of Muslims who have inherited the description of Sunnis- they don’t even know what it means?! The reason why we say they don’t know what it means is because we know a lot of people who scrutinise almost every word that’s being said on this Mimbar (or) from this Mimbar but when we say they don’t know what it means we mean by that, that they don’t know what it means in the political context. Of course, any Sunni would know what it means to be a Sunni as far as offering his prayers, his rituals, etc. but when it comes to this political context that we are trying to throw light on they don’t know what it means! If they did know what it means they would not be today fuelling their own asabiyah by saying “the Shi’is are a breakaway sect from Islam.” If we understood our own history no one would say that, but that’s the mainstream information about this subject. So as these positions hardened there was Al Jamal, Siffin and An Nahrawaan- the three major political military battles that took place. There are some people who may be in the right camp or who may be on the wrong side but in themselves they are sincere. It’s like in this Masjid here- they’re in the wrong camp but some individuals who go in this Masjid in themselves may be sincere at times. Our position, we think, is a position of righteousness but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have individuals who come here, sit down and listen (but) who have other things on their minds- they’re up to no good. So this happened at those initial times. So there’s a person by the name of Shabath ibn Rab’i who comes up to Ali when he see that this is becoming a very serious military division that’s going to have the potential of splitting the Muslims probably forever- it’s a life and death issue- and says to Ali, out of his sincerity, O Emir Al Mu’minin, would you not win over Muawiyah by giving him some type of authority and also give him some type of status so that he can appreciate what you do for him after doing, meaning raise the person, give him some status. He is already the governor of Ash Shaam. OK- everyone knows that but right now he is in a renegade position. This person, Shabath, is trying to say to Ali try to contain this guy, give him something, add a little more to what he has and have everyone know that you’re not in a position to fight him but you’re in a position to contain him. Of course, Ali knew Muawiyah much better than this person of maybe goodwill he knew him so he didn’t give him anything. Once again what is at work here is asabiyah. Banu Umayah had this asabiyah and from there this asabiyah has transformed itself to a political party which has nothing to do with the words that we do nowadays. People exchange these words Sunnis and Shi’is (but) what we’re looking at here has nothing to do with today’s average person’s understanding of those calling themselves Sunnis and those calling themselves Shi’is. So Ali addressed this asabiyah. Before we quote Ali, let us remind some of you of the asabiyah that is mentioned in the Qur’an. The children of Ya’qub (alayhi as salaam) who is a Prophet- this is a family. Ya’qub had ten or twelve or so many children. Yaqub’s children expressed an asabiyah. The reason they could not get along with their brother Yusuf (alayhi as salaam)- this is their brother and his brother- was because of asabiyah. They said in the ayah- you can review these ayaat at the beginning of Surah Yusuf

لَيُوسُفُ وَأَخُوهُ أَحَبُّ إِلَىٰ أَبِينَا مِنَّا وَنَحْنُ عُصْبَةٌ

… we see that our father is inclined more towards our brother Yusuf and in his inclination to our brother Yusuf he is sidelining us being that we are an usbah i.e. among ourselves put together we are the members of an asabiyah… (Surah Yusuf verse 8)

From there on they are called Bani Isra’eel (and) because of their asabiyah they become the Israelis and today they have explained their racist, discriminatory, militarist, murderous nation state on the basis of this asabiyah. Then they said

إِنَّ أَبَانَا

… certainly our father… (Surah Yusuf verse 8)

Who’s their father? Ya’qub

لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

… is in a manifest obscurity (or) he is in a manifest deviation of direction. (Surah Yusuf verse 8)

When this asabiyah presented itself during his time the Prophet said part with it because it has a foul odour to it- just a little remember from the Qur’an and from the Sunnah. Now we come to Ali- what did he say about this asabiyah that is now roaring? The asabiyah before was sort of managed in a concealed manner- Oh, it’s in the family of Ya’qub (and) there is no propaganda about it. The asabiyah was about to breakout in the time of Allah’s Prophet between the Muhajarin and the Ansar (radi Allahu anhum) (in) one incident and it was smothered because of the Prophet’s strict wording. Now this asabiyah has taken on a military proportion- it has the thunder and the roar of militaries so Ali said the following in this context extinguish what has been concealed in your hearts of the combustion of asabiyah- see, it was there- put out the bad feelings of jahiliyyah because this asabiyah could be traced all the way to the pre-Islamic times, when this asabiyah which is akin to fire in the belly happens within a Muslim it is because of the influence of Ash Shaytaan (or) it is because of the instigation of Ash Shaytaan (or) it’s because of the stirring of Ash Shaytaan. Now you can read this asabiyah in history, we’re giving you the historical context but you can also read this in today’s world- if asabiyah flares up. You go to a certain Masjid and you begin to sense there’s a sectarian asabiyah in this Masjid or you begin to sense there’s a racist asabiyah in this Masjid or you begin to sense there’s a nationalist asabiyah in that Masjid- it’s all asabiyah. Al asabiyah was so pronounced but Islam was there in the time we are speaking about- remember, this was the first century of Islam. During that time there were tribes. One tribe was split. Some of that tribe was with the Umawis and some of that tribe were with the Alawis and you can put together a bunch of these tribes and you’ll find some of them on this side and some of them on the other side. We’re taking right now a statement taken from a particular person who expressed the way he felt about this. He saw he was on one side with some of his tribe fighting against some of his tribe who belonged to the opposite side. They’re fighting- this is a war. He comes from the tribe of Azd and part of that Azdi tribe was in Iraq and part of it was in Ash Shaam. This person’s name was Mihnath ibn Salim and here he is expressing how he feels about of this because now Islam, meaning the commitment to Allah absent the asabiyah, has forced the Muslims to be divided- some of these Muslims with their asabiyah and some of them without. He says one of the most serious and damaging problem is that we have been forced to face off against our own people. He’s speaking about his own people coming from the Azdi tribe. By Allah what we are doing is we are cutting off our hands with our own hands and now we are clipping our own wings using our own swords- that’s how. Let us be more down to the point here- you see part of your family on the other side of the firing line and you’re shooting and they’re shooting; both of you are shooting each other. This is how a person who still has an asabiyah in him will think about this quote. He expressed himself and this is just one expression of many others that come to us or should come to us and inform us of today so that we are not put in the same position to think of these affairs within an asabi mind.

When Ali made up his mind to go to Siffin, one of the individuals around him in his camp came to him protesting. He said do you want to take us to our brothers from the people of Ash Shaam so that we kill them the same way you took us to fight against the people of Basrah, i.e. the ones we took on in warfare? (This is) another expression of how this thing, meaning this military encounter between two sides, was not an easy thing (or) was not an easy decision that was implemented by all who were involved.

There’s a person by the name of Shimirithn Abd Al Khath’amee. Don’t confuse one Shimir with another Shimir. This Shimir was from the people of Ash Shaam. He attacked another person whose name is Abu Ka’b. Abu Ka’b was the leader of the Khath’am asabiyah in Al Kufa. History books will tell you Khath’am tribe or Khath’am clan or Khath’am descendants, etc. We’re skipping these words because we want you to go to the heart of the issue- the heart of the issue is this asabiyah confrontation. So he strikes him and he kills him. They belong to the same extended family and because of the asabiyah that was fuelled by Muawiyah this is what happened. So he turns around, he walks away and he is crying. He did this not only to any individual from his extended family, this was a noble person (or) a chieftain of his own Khath’am tribe and he says may Allah have mercy on you- Abu Ka’b. Remember, the killer comes from Ash Shaam- meaning that he’s in Muawiyah’s camp and he killed another one of his extended family in Ali’s camp and he felt very sad, remorseful (or) very bad that all of this had happened. Then he said may Allah have mercy on you. I killed you to obey people and you are more dear to me than these people. Who is the people he’s referring to? He’s referring to Muawiyah’s camp. The killer is saying but I don’t know what to say. The only thing that I can see is Ash Shaytaan has managed to place this sedition between us and among us and I could only see Quraysh now is playing with us. Remember Quraysh is that argument that Muawiyah had to justify his political position in taking revenge for the assassination of Uthman. A person like this saw through what he was doing- the asabiyah.

Amr ibn Al Aas who counsels Muawiyah in the battle of Siffin tells him the following: we raise the mus’hafs on our swords and we say whatever is in these masahif is to judge our differences (i.e.) the differences we have between each other or these masahifs serve to adjudicate the disputes that we have. This was a move (or) this was a ploy to instigate within the camp of Ali another form of asabiyah- the holier than thou phenomenon. So when this happened in the camp that was in the right side of the issue because of a self-centredness among certain elements in that camp we had a new asabiyah that Ali would deal with later on in the battle of An Nahrawaan.

Now, we’re going to stop here for a moment and ask you- you’ve been listening to all of this, can anyone of you, (with the decades of your lifetime with you), churn out this asabiyah today that has Muslims killing Muslims? You’ve heard the narrative. We ask you, what makes today a Muslim able to kill another Muslim citing the history that we are covering? Obviously it is a wrong reading of this history; otherwise if you’re just reading this like facts (and) trying to cover this territory like they’re facts… Gravity is a law of physics. When someone speaks about gravity does anyone feel an asabiyah? (Does) anyone feel a charge against someone else? No, because it’s a fact. If we can revisit these events as facts minus this asabiyah we will clear this charged atmosphere that right now is fuelling civil wars. So when this new ploy was used (i.e.) raise these masahif some people thought that there is goodwill on the other side (i.e.) right now they want to arbitrate these differences using the Qur’an (or) Allah’s words themselves (or) the ayaat and the suwar of the Qur’an. What more do you want? So when Ali realised that some people right now are beginning to form a new asabiyah for themselves he said to them woe to you! They don’t raise it for the purposes that you see. They are not even versed on its own meanings, meaning the meanings of masahif they are raising. What would cause anyone to feel an asabiyah when anyone mentions this unless there’s some type of person who’s covering this history that himself is emitting asabiyah and is not able to present these issues as facts! So what he does is he talks through the subject matter verbally but non-verbally his gestures (and) his movements emit this poisonous asabiyah! Here we go- that’s another fuel that’s high octane for this civil strife and these civil wars that these Shayateen are planning. Ali goes on and says the only reason why they have raised this for you is to fool you, to out manoeuvre you and to trap you. Some of his followers, (we’ll just mention a few names), Al Ash’af ibn Qais, Mis’ar ibn Fadaqi, Tamimi and Zayd ibn Hissin said to him those folks are calling us to Allah’s book and you are calling us to the sword. They are saying to Ali you will recall Al Ashtar, who’s like the military commander in one of the battles, and withhold him from killing other Muslims or else we’re going to do to you what was done to Uthman. What do you do when you are put in a position like this? Ali knew right now we have a new asabiyah. Now this asabiyah has come to his own camp. How are you going to deal with this? He had to deal with it in the best possible way. Right now it’s not enough to have one civil war, you’re going to have another internal (or) insider civil war?! We can’t have that happen. So he had to acquiesced; not because he didn’t know the truth (or) not because he was weak and not because he was playing politics. He was doing this to as much as possible shrink (and) collapse the asabiyah right now that has shown its face in his own camp. Then there’s a person- a go between. Now both sides have accepted the arbitration, at tahkeem. Now there’s a person who is going between both sides. The person who is going between both sides is Al Ash’ath. We notice that one of the decisions that was a very major difference between him and Ali… Remember both of them are in the same camp. Ali wanted Abdullah ibn Abbas (radi Allahu anhu) to represent his side in this arbitration and this Ash’ath did not want that to happen because of the asabiyah. Abdullah ibn Abbas is the cousin of Ali. So even though they may make the wrong decision, Al Ash’ath preferred Abu Musa Al Asha’ri and Abu Musa Al Asha’ri eventually filled in that role but the way the decision was made was to avoid the complicating asabiyah not to feed this asabiyah anymore. From here on we knew how history developed. There was this class of people called Al Qurra’ in Iraq. They were the first ones who disagreed with Ali (saying) he should go to this tahkeem. When they saw the gimmicks and the shenanigans by the other side, in other words, when they wouldn’t listen to Ali when he was advising them they had to suffer (and) meet the other side and realise that they were fooled (and) that they were tricked. Then they turned to an extreme that manifested an asabiyah known as Al Khawarij and they hid under that word

إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ

… there is no governance except that which belongs to Allah… (Surah Al An’am verse 57)

Ali said in another narrative they’re saying there shouldn’t be any type of governorship but there has to be some type of governorship whether it is in the right direction or in the wrong direction or else we’d rather be living in a jungle. When you don’t have an Amarah go to a jungle and live there- there’s no Amarah there but if you have civil society, that civil society needs decision makers and whether those decision makers are making their decisions in a way that is in the virtue of Allah or whether they are making it in a way that is in the vice of Ash Shaytaan, society requires it. We dealt with asabiyah when it was beneath the surface and we dealt with asabiyah when it was in transition (and) from here on (i.e.) from Siffin onwards this asabiyah became what we call in today’s world political parties and when we speak about political parties we mean political parties that had as their engine and as their fuel and as their transmission this asabiyah.

To try to give this a finishing touch… Because we’ve inherited fourteen centuries of asabiyah, in today’s world when the average person says or uses the word Shi’ah then automatically what comes to mind is, in one way or the other (and) in one degree or the other by whatever explanation or the other, they are followers of Ali. There’s so many versions (and) there are so many interpretations of this that goes beyond numbers but anyone who says the word Shi’ah today he automatically think “OK- these are the followers of Ali.” This understanding today is a result of an accumulation of these asabiyaat because the word Shi’ah doesn’t mean that in the linguistic depth of the word and it doesn’t mean that in the political definition of the word in the Qur’an and in the Sunnah. We’re going to tell you what we mean by this.

First of all let us quote for you the takheem. When both sides, the side of Ali and the side of king Muawiyah, decided that they are going to arbitrate the whole affair the following was written. OK- this is what both agreed to adjudicate Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, Ali on behalf of the people of Iraq and whoever is included in their partisanship- because this is a new political development, it has become a political position- inclusive of Al Mu’minin and Al Muslimeen. OK- up until here you say this proves not what you’re saying, it proves that the Shi’ah of Ali are the people of Iraq, but it doesn’t stop here. The following sentence says the adjudication of Muawiyah on behalf of the people of Ash Shaam and whoever of Muawiyah’s Shi’ah… Muawiyah had his Shi’ah in the wording of the tahkeem that was agreed upon by both sides. (It’s) the same wording for the two different political and ideological positions. Ali and his Shi’ah and Muawiyah and his Shi’ah and no one said there’s something wrong with this wording- omit that (and) say Muawiyah and his supporters or Muawiyah and his companions. No one said that! This is the way the wording of the takheem was put together by both sides. When you review the word ash Shi’ah in the Qur’an, it doesn’t have the meaning that was gained throughout these fourteen centuries of a growing asabiyah. We know we’re going to be maybe a little too harsh for some people- it doesn’t matter bare with us. There’s something called tough love! Because of the asabiyaat that we have, the people around the Prophet are called sahaba- that’s also looking at the word sahaba just like looking at the word Shi’ah. It doesn’t mean something peculiar to Sunnis. It doesn’t mean that linguistically (and) it doesn’t mean that when you follow it in the Qur’an and even in the hadiths. So if Shi’ah doesn’t mean what it means to us today and Sahaba doesn’t mean what it means to us today- if we can liberate ourselves, go back to the origin and the source linguistically and Qur’anically- who of you will feel comfortable? This is going to strike your own personal asabiyah! Who of you is going to feel comfortable- even though the Qur’an and the Sunnah validates what we’re going to say- to say Shiat Rasulillah instead of saying As’haab Rasulillah? (If) you say Shi’atu Rasulillah that throws a monkey wrench in the asabi way of thinking! Instead of saying Shi’atu Ali you say As’haab Ali that also throws a monkey wrench in the asabi mind because you’ve grown conditioned and accustomed and engineered to say certain things in certain ways without even thinking through what you said! You just inherit that! You hear a scholar you have confidence in or any person you have confidence in and you take it for granted. Rethink! These issues have to be rethought so that we’re not out there killing ourselves.

Dearest committed Muslims and Muslimaat…

The asabiyah that we have been talking about is playing itself out in today’s world. Unfortunately, because we don’t think for ourselves- what happens when we don’t think for ourselves (is) the world of thoughts doesn’t tolerate a vacuum- so when we don’t think for ourselves there are others who come and fill in the void. They begin to do the thinking for us. So when we don’t know who we are (and) when we can’t liberate ourselves from this asabiyah… we want to remind some of you because some of you have lived here in the Washington DC area for the past thirty years and those of you who haven’t lived here but have experienced what we have experienced for the past thirty years have heard about it- let us go back (and) take your minds back to the time the Islamic Center was confiscated. We’re parting from the subject of asabiyah when they, by force, placed us, the elected Muslims, out of the Islamic Center in “the country of democracy (and) the land of the brave and the land of the free” or whatever that is they did it with knowledge of asabiyah. Remember the people they brought in? To satisfy the issue of the Palestinian asabiyah they brought in a Palestinian Imam. He has passed away (and) he has gone on to his maker. To satisfy the Iranian asabiyah they had an Irani person along with that gang. To satisfy the Shi’i asabiyah they brought in a Shi’i from Southern Lebanon. To satisfy the African asabiyah or black asabiyah, (we know different people have different terminologies out there- we don’t mean to get on anyone’s nerves by using one or two of these words; we’re trying to communicate), they brought in the security force (or) the vigilante team. That was African-American. So what they did was they chose! We’re not thinking for ourselves. Among ourselves we had problems. We had some of us beginning to show symptoms of asabiyah rivalry. Sunni and Shi’i rivalry among us! Just like you had among Ali’s camp this asabiyah that began to show itself we had among us asabiyah that began to show itself. These people who are out there listening and watching and studying said “OK- now is the right time to move in” and they moved in. It wasn’t that all of this was done in the absence of understanding the history of asabiyah and the current reality of asabiyah. Some of us fell for this and even after thirty years and the information that has come your way only a handful of individuals- and this is being optimistic- can look back at thirty years and think through the elements of asabiyah that continue to work up until this very day. And one asabiyah feeds the other! We’ve seen this interplay in these thirty years. You’re going to up the Sunni asabiyah, someone else is going to up the Shi’i asabiyah. You’re going to play on the racist asabiyah- they brought in a person who went to the Mimbar who is appealing to African-Americans because he has African-American features. Asabiyah here! They played the asabiyah card. Behind this whole scenario, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia there, behind the scenes, is pulling all of these asabiyah strings- African-American strings, Arabian strings, Sunni strings. You name the strings and the Shi’is who come along with it- he was pulling all of these strings. And where were you? Where were we? Who was thinking through this process? Isn’t it about time that we’re not fooled for more than thirty years and we see through all of this? We remember, (we don’t want to be mentioning the word I in the khutbah), there were some African-American brothers who we knew for a long time who also got caught up in this asabiyah drift of things. Where are they?

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