ANALYSIS – Interfaith relations among Britain Muslims – Why the divide

SHAFAQNA – If being a Muslim in the UK has proven to be particularly difficult in view of rising Islamophobia and latent racial prejudices, students have complained that being a Shia Muslim in Britain represent a different challenge altogether.

Aseel, an Iraqi-Iranian living in London told Shafaqna how she often feel ostracized and shun by her fellow Muslim community at University. “Most Muslims at my school are Sunni Muslims and quite frankly they have been rather open in their disapproval of my beliefs … this is actually hard for me because I feel rejected by the very people who should be including me. In contrast I found British Christians and Jews to be more tolerant and open-minded. It is rather sad when you think about it,” she told Shafaqna.

“We often talk about the Sunni-Shia divide but really it is Sunnis who make a big deal about our differences. At the end of the day we should not judge. We believe in the same God and we follow the same book – the Quran – so yeah we have a different understanding of things but so what …. Being different does not mean we are wrong.

What is the harm in agreeing to disagree?” she added.

With many Islamic Societies at British universities mostly under Sunni leadership, the sectarian divides so bitterly apparent in much of the Middle East between the Sunni majority and the Shia minority are making themselves felt here in the UK.

“And elsewhere in London, we have the same problem – Sunni and Shia arguing. You can clearly see it when you walk in Edgware Road or Kilburn.If you have a green bracelet or anything that shows you are Shia, they look at you as if you are not even Muslim, or you don’t exist. It’s very disrespectful, and very sad. Islamic societies in general and especially in London are getting bigger all the time. But not in a good way.”

At such a time when Muslims face persecution it might be time to put aside destructive philosophies and baseless hatred for the sake of all communities.

A few words to ponder over –

Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib () saw a man busy scheming against hisenemy with what was harmful to his own self as well, so he said:“You are like one who pierces a spear through himself in order tokill the person sitting behind him!”

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