How Can We Reduce Sectarian Frictions?
Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat
I came across an article on anti-Shi’ism and was troubled after speaking to a Shia friend who said that their lived reality is that they have relatives murdered for being Shia back home, and they believe the concept of the ummah to be a fallacy.
How do we acknowledge and respond to the points raised in this article (keeping in mind their lived reality) in a way that will reduce the feeling of ‘otherism’ and that will help us engage with all sects while holding strong to the Sunni ‘aqida?
I pray you are well.
Thank you for your important question. I read the article and recognise that the author has raised many valid points, although not all that is said is valid. Many of the observations in the article require a deeper understanding of the theological and methodological approaches of the Sunni and Shi’ite schools. There is also a ‘progressive’ undertone, which often seeks to subvert many positions held by Islam.
Unfortunately, Inequality Exists
Whether we like it or not, the world we live in has had much occur within it before we even entered it. These conflicts leave their scars on individuals, communities, and societies. It also colours people’s perceptions of the world; sometimes, past traumatic events shape and influence our understanding of other situations.
Without going into a detailed analysis of the article and the situation as a whole, it can be said that the core teachings of Islam would not tolerate mistreatment of others based on them adhering to another sect. There is a whole legal framework on properly treating non-Muslims living and travelling in Muslim lands. If injustice – in any form – is not tolerated when it comes to them, why would it be tolerated towards believers – even if there is a difference in secondary theological issues?
Islam has provided us with the means to establish a just and benevolent society: the Laws of the Shari’a and the beautiful conduct of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Whether people do that or not is the focus of their life test, which they will be judged on.
The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “A person will truly have the religious practice of his close friend, so all of you be careful about who you make your close friend.” [Ahmad] This is a serious matter, as it directly affects one’s relationship with Allah.
Based on this Hadith, it is important to realise that keeping the company of some people is detrimental to one’s relationship with Allah. This is why scholars have warned against this. A brief perusal of such topics on social media will give a very clear idea of just how toxic the discourse can be from both sides. This should be every Muslim’s priority.
Much of what is discussed in the article is subjective, which does not mean that it is invalid. The best thing to do is work within your influence circle and show good conduct and character without compromising your belief and relationship with God.
You can’t change people’s attitudes and behaviour. None of us are responsible for the rest of humanity. Just for our part of the room.
Be warm, friendly, and inclusive; everyone will notice a difference.
May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time.
Over the following eighteen months he studied a traditional curriculum, studying with scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.
In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years, in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.
His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.
When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.