Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi: Sunni and Shi'ah

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi:
We have seen all over the world how all the religious groups and sects
try to reconcile their differences; the Jews are trying to have common
ground with the Christians, so they claim innocence to what the
history records of the Jews' responsibility in crucifying Jesus. The
same happens among the Christians as they are trying to bring together
all the Christian denominations around the world.
Amidst all these amiable gestures, where do we Muslims stand? Why do
we kindle the fire of disagreement? What is the reason for all this
argument about Shi`ah as if they are not Muslims? Let it be known to
all that the Shi`ah are Muslims who believe in the Oneness of Allah
and the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
Yes, there is no doubt that the Shi`ah have their beliefs and dogmas
which we condemn as heresy but this doesn't make them non-Muslims. We
should try to make use of what we have in common for the benefit of
all Muslims. No one can deny that all Muslims, Sunni and Shi`ah,
condemn the Zionists and what they do against our brethren in
Palestine. We maintain the same view concerning the persecution of
Muslims in many parts of the world. This means that we have many
things in common, which should be the pivot of our interaction. All
Muslims should be alert against the schemes and plots planned by the
enemies of Islam. They are the ones that want us to disagree and fight
each other. Now they resort to another scheme by filling our minds
with hatred against one another under the name of belief. We should
not give them this chance.

It is important for the Sunnis to concentrate on the points of
agreement, not difference, when having dialogues with the Shiites,
especially that the points of agreement are on the fundamental issues
of religion, while the points of difference have to do with the minor

Points of Agreement
1. They believe in Almighty Allah, the Day of Judgment, Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as the Seal of Prophets who
was sent by Almighty Allah (to mankind and jinn) to complete the
Heavenly Messages sent before him. Believing in all that Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent with is part of
having faith in all the Heavenly Books and all Allah's Messengers
(peace and blessings be upon them). Allah Almighty says: (The
Messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his
Lord and (so do) believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels
and His scriptures and His messengers—we make no distinction between
any of His messengers—and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant
us)Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the journeying) (Al-Baqarah
2: 285). These are the pillars of faith on which both groups agree on.

2. They believe in the Glorious Qur'an as Allah's illuminating Book
that guides to the right path. Allah Almighty says: (We have, without
doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from
corruption)) (Al-Hijr 15: 9). [Message in this verse refers to the
Glorious Qur'an.] There is no difference between the Sunnis and
Shiites concerning the Qur'an being Almighty Allah's word. It is on
this Book that religious scholars depend in holding comparative
dialogues with people of other religions, concluding juristic
opinions, guidance, etc. Allah Almighty says: (So judge between them
by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires, but
beware of them lest they seduce thee from some part of that which
Allah hath revealed unto thee. And if they turn away, then know that
Allah's Will is to smite them for some sin of theirs. Lo! And truly
most men are rebellious. Is it a judgment of the time of (pagan)
ignorance that they are seeking? Who is better than Allah for judgment
to a people who have certainty (in their belief)?) (Al-Ma'idah 5:

According to this verse, Allah Almighty warned the Prophet (peace and
blessings be upon him) against succumbing to the desires of the People
of the Book or other misled people when it came to judging between
them, lest they might cause him to deviate from some part of what
Allah revealed to him. This indicates that all that Allah has revealed
should be followed by Muslims.

3. Both groups also agree that Muslims are to abide by the Five
Pillars of Islam, i.e., to testify that there is no god but Allah and
that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is His Messenger, to
perform the specified prayers, to give zakah, to observe fast in the
month Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage. The difference in opinion
between the two groups regarding some rulings pertaining to these
pillars is something that is quite normal. It is like the scholarly
difference in opinion among the Sunni schools themselves, such as the
Hanbali, Hanifi, and Maliki schools.

Relevant books on the different juristic points of view, like Nail
Al-Awtar by Imam Ash-Shawakani (may Allah have mercy upon him), refer
to eminent scholars of jurisprudence from among the Sunnis and Shiites
on equal footing. Reading one of these books, one does not feel that
there is a crucial difference between the Shiite schools and the Sunni
ones. This does not apply only to the acts of worship, it includes
also transactions.

It is true that the Shiites do not recognize the Sunni reference books
on the Prophetic hadiths, such as Al-Muwatta' by Imam Malik, Imam
Ahmad's Musnad, Sahih Al-Bukhari, SahihMuslim, Sunnan Abu Dawud, Sunan
Ibn Majah, Sunnan Ad-Daramy. However, most of the authentic hadiths
referred to in these books were also regarded as authentic by the
Shiites through one of two ways: regarding them as Prophetic hadiths
reported by other chains of reporters agreed upon among them as
trustworthy, or regarding them as points of view (not Prophetic
hadiths) peculiar to their Shiite imams.

Anyway, the most important point to be taken into account is that
there is a great deal of agreement between the Sunni jurisprudence and
the Shiite one. This is because both depend on the same sources, the
Qur'an and the Sunnah, and also because their aims in conducting
research on religion are similar, that is, establishing Allah's
justice and mercy among people.

Furthermore, if we are to make serious researches on the Sunni
opinions, we will find that some Shiite views that seem eccentric to
us have been also adopted by some Sunni scholars.

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