SHOULDER TO SHOULDER

Posted by on Oct 21, 2015 in Featured Article | 0 comments

“SHOULDER TO SHOULDER”

A Movement to bring Unity

By Dr. Tasneema K. Ghazi

I was filled with hope and exhilaration when I heard the news that a group of young Muslims from the famed indian university Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi) are working to bring understanding and unity between Sunni and Shi’i Muslims.

Growing up in India during the 1950s and 1960s I had never heard of tensions between these two communities, at least not in the scale we see in modern times. My cousin married into a Shi’i family, our favorite tutor Mustafa Saheb was Shi’i.  I remember “Aapa jaan,” our primary school principal, with such love and affection.  My mother’s best friend was Shi’i and we loved her and her entire family.

Reading about unspeakable atrocities committed by ISIS, the Asad regime and all the other players in the tragic civil war, it breaks my heart even further to see for the first time the foul element of fanatic sectarianism being thrown into the mix. The brutality that Muslims have committed on each other and on Yazidis and Christians has reached such a level that it will take generations to wash way resentment and antagonism. Centuries it took to build harmonious inter-communal life have been have been swept away.

Therefore, it gave me a ray of hope to read about the efforts of these young people in New Delhi  working to establish a community of Muslims who pray, live and work together in peace.

The group is called “Shoulder To Shoulder.”  They arranged joint Sunni-Shi’i Eid ul-Fitr prayers in at the univeristy’s mosque.  It is an initiative conceived by a group of friends in Jamia Nagar in the face of growing hostility between the two sects of Islam.  More than 10, 000 Shi’i and Sunni Muslims offered their Eid ul-Fitr prayers together.

The group intends to make joint prayer a permanent feature in every city in near future.  Their second big event was the celebration of Eid ul-Adha prayer in the city of Lucknow.  Shi’is and Sunnis prayed Eid ul-Adha together at the Imambara Sibtainabad Lawn, one of the main centers of Shi’i Islam in Lucknow.  This even again proved to be a great success and recieved support from Indians of all walks of life. People from Grand Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Ali Sistani to All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat extended support for the event.

“Shoulder To Shoulder” plans to take their initiative forward.  In the words of one of the organizer, “We plan to take this forward.  From salah/namaz to other humanitarian gestures, we will bridge the gap between the wo sects until both sects are shoulder to shoulder.”

On the same note, a group of Sunni and Shi’i Muslims in the Greater Chicago region have formed the Shia-Sunni Unity Council (SSUC), and they have been working together since 2013 in order to establish harmony and cooperation between the two most important denominations of Islam.  The following points are the stated objectives of SSUC:

  • Promoting mutual understanding between mainstream Sunnis and Shias with respect to differences, and building on common ground.
  • Promoting joint religious, educational and social activities.
  • Promoting peaceful co-existence of the two communities by mitigating derogatory behavior.

Let us pledge that during this month Muharram we will all do our job together to bring peace and harmony between Shi’is and Sunnis, between Muslims of all stripes, between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between all of humanity.

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