Foundation, NJ U. S. A
the Message Continues ... 9/180
Newsletter for November 2016
Article ... 1 - Article ... 2 - Article ... 3 - Article ... 4 - Article ... 5 - Article ... 6 - Article ... 7 - Article ... 8 - Article ... 9 - Article ... 10 - Article ... 11 - Article ... 12
Shia Sunni Dialog in Pakistan: Why and How
By Abdul Malik Mujahid
When in a Karachi Shia masjid a suicide bomber killed worshipers on a recent people who rushed to the rescue were worshipers from the nearby Sunni mosque in the Sindh Madrasah. They tried to save lives and comfort the injured before the police and others could arrive. I came to know about this because a Shia writer wrote about it in the Pakistani daily newspaper Dawn. Shias have similarly come forward to help their Sunni neighbors in crises. It has been reported that Shia and Sunni both regularly participate in each otherís funeral prayers.
May Allah bless those hearts moved by the needs of others. People like these are the true faithful whose actions reflect their character. These are the silent majority of Pakistanis who need to work with each other to isolate the terrorists amongst them and the extremists who support them.
This silent majority must come
together through dialog to
defeat the terrorists who have
been responsible for killing as
many as 4,000 Pakistanis in the
past 15 years through their
Some considerations for dialog:
The Shia community is a large community in Pakistan and that there are many differences between one Shia group and another. This is why it is important that dialog between Sunnis and Shias becomes a movement and a process throughout society instead of everyone waiting for one high powered dialog to yield some results at the leadership level. Here are some preliminary thoughts on how a dialog between Shias and Sunnis can be beneficial for each party.
Goals of dialog
Although I consider dialog a process that is beneficial to society, it is necessary that everyone involved recognize some of its tangible benefits. The following are a set of achievable goals for Shia-Sunni dialog.
Who should participate in the dialog
Mechanism of dialog
Dialog is a process that should occur at all levels of society. In the 1960s in Pakistan, when Shia- Sunni fights were far less significant, city officers used to convene joint meetings of Shia and Sunni leaders to chalk out Muharram plans so no confusion would result in rioting. These government-arranged dialogs helped keep conflicts at a minimum. Considering the current level of mistrust, it will be beneficial if civil society takes initiatives for dialog at all levels of society.
Publicity of dialog
Publicity of the dialog will generate hope and confidence in it and will empower those in dialog vis-a-vis the extremists.
Sponsors of Dialog
Funding always facilitates the beginning of a process in civil society. Every task requires time and money. While participating organizations and individuals can take care of their own costs, it would be very rewarding if some individuals and businesses came forward with funds to sponsor and host these dialogs. Pak-Americans can start a dialog in North America where there is no conflict in the Shia-Sunni community and take it to Pakistan by sponsoring the first meeting of such a nature.
Considering that Shias and Sunnis live side by side throughout Pakistan, they are not un-known to each other, and considering that most of them have nothing to do with the current extremism which is responsible for the killings and violence, it is important for the moderate majority to come up with a few initiatives which are beneficial for Shia- Sunni harmony. These could be communicated in the print form or in any other media. They should discuss the following themes and/or use the methods outlined here:
Shia-Sunni sectarian terrorism is part of the undeclared civil war Pakistan is going through. The sectarian violence declined after the establishment of a religious opposition group (MMA) that included Shias along with Sunnis, but the violence has recently restarted after the terrible incidents in Quetta. If a dialog was in place, that terrorism would have failed to restart sectarian violence.
The Quran, the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, the Kaba and the five pillars of Islam are common to Shias and Sunnis. That is why no one in Islamic history has stopped Shias from performing Hajj, although the Kaba has always been in the control of Sunnis. Even today, when those currently in charge of the Kaba are part of a predominantly Salafi establishment, which maintains extremely negative views of Shias, Shias like other Muslims are free to perform Hajj. Shias on the other hand, since the 1979 Iranian revolution, are ordered by Imam Khumaini to pray behind these same Salafi imams instead of praying separately.
This mutual recognition gives us hope that a dialog can bear fruit of peace and harmony between both the communities.
HOME - NEWSLETTERS - BOOKS - ARTICLES - CONTACT - FEEDBACK
All material published by Al-Huda.com / And the Message Continues is the sole responsibility of its author's).
The opinions and/or assertions contained therein do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of this site,
nor of Al-Huda and its officers.