It is said that once a Sunni Palestinian and a Shiite Iraqi were debating in London over Husayn ibn Ali and Muawiyah and who was better among the two. The heated debate escalated into a fight so the police intervened, arrested both and referred them to the judiciary.
The British judge obviously asked them who Husayn and Muawiyah are and where they live. He was shocked to know that the scuffle was over a historical dispute going back 14 centuries so he sent both to a psychiatric institution.
I am not sure how true this story is, but it exemplifies the effect of history on the mentality of most Muslims – a mentality which often produces bloodshed. I have no doubt that this conveys sheer ignorance and backwardness. There are also lecturers or who are recently dubbed as preachers who have made a lot of money by milking these issues, both among the Sunni and the Shiite.
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They tend to insult whoever objects to these trivialities and superstitions. I definitely believe that inciting sectarian arguments is like a virus which if it attacks national unity, it leads to strife, unrest and destroys security and stability. We have a clear example of this happening in Iraq due to the sectarian conflict among its national components. However, this situation would never stabilize unless sectarian fanaticism is renounced.
If nostalgia and engaging in arguments about the past stir up sedition, then logically and out of Islamic perspective such issues should not be discussed. The evidence is in the Quran: “That is a nation which has passed on. It will have [the consequence of] what it earned, and you will have what you have earned. And you will not be asked about what they used to do.” Raking up sectarian issues despite Quranic prohibition is because some people benefit from it.
Preachers have made a lot of money by milking sectarian issues, both among the Sunni and the ShiiteMohammed Al Shaikh
In addition to preachers, there are foreign parties that try to stoke instability and crisis in the community. Without realizing, the members of this community become slaves of the foreign party and serve its interests.
Their stupidity is thus exploited to achieve foreign parties’ mean goals. On top are proponents of Vilayat-e Faqih republic. We never witnessed such disputes before Khomeini took power in Iran, though there were traces of these problems in some heritage books.
Once Khomeini’s revolution succeeded, he raised contentious doctrines and stoked rivalry, which ensued in widespread hatred. He hired agents to revive the disputes of the past.
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Although the clerics of Iran claim that they support the unity of the Islamic nation, and that they transcend sectarian differences but their policies in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain invalidate their claims especially that they have found the means to achieve their goals in these countries.
I do not hold the Persian clerics as being solely responsible for this problem. There are many Sunni and other preachers as well as some naive and ignorant people in the community who help them achieve their goals and promote sectarian divisions without knowing it.
Thus, I call for the enactment of strict and deterrent policies to stop these ignorant people and purify our nation and more importantly our educational curricula from everything that may break up the national bond.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mohammed Al Shaikh is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah newspaper. He tweets @alshaikhmhmd.
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