SHAFAQNA – Sparkbrook Central Mosque in Birmingham held an Intra-faith conference for Shia-Sunni unity on Sunday April 29th in conjunction with UK Islamic Mission. The panel included well-renowned scholars from different Muslim schools of thought including:
- Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali – Imam of Islamic Centre of England
- Mawlana Amirhussain Naqvi
- Dr Zahid Parvez – Former President of Islamic Society of Britain
- Sheikh Abdul Hadi Umri – President of Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadees
- Dr. Muhammad Khalid – Director for the Centre of Intra-Muslim Studies
- Mufti Muhammad Faruq Alvi – Imam and Khatib of Jami Masjid
The aim of the event was to underline the importance of unity in light of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and to discuss and disseminate the causes of division between the diverging sects and highlighting practical solutions to overcome these differences particularly in the face of contemporary challenges that have arisen in the modern era.
Sheikh Umri began by explicating verse 46 of Surat al Anfaal where difference of opinion amongst mankind is actually validated by Allah as something expected of human beings due to their nature and so he urged us to be sincere and think positively of one another and reminded us that our commonalities outnumber our differences by far and so we must allow these to bring us together. He also called out the media for blowing up these differences and prompted us to be vigilant of the ploys of our common enemy
Dr. Muhammad Khalid hailed this conference for being a one-of-a-kind effort to promote long-term unity when contrasted with the numerous collaborative meetings that are called in times of emergency but don’t have a lasting effect to bring our hearts close together.
He also advised us to keep away from scholars who claim there is no hope for Shia-Sunni unity and acknowledged the fact that extremists exist on each side however any sectarian literature/speakers must be discouraged from poisoning the minds of the members. He reminded us that if Allah urges us to make peace with the People of the Book for the sake of humanity what must He (s.w.t) expect from us with regards to our Muslim brethren?
Finally, Sheikh Shomali, who was the chief guest took the podium and recited a paragraph from the beautiful Munajat Shabaniyah to highlight the far-from-alien way Shi’as converse with the Beloved. After that he addressed the fact that all human beings are unique and different as a result of their novel upbringings, and the experiences they have encountered and so differences of opinion are expected. He reminded us however of a hadith where we are enjoined to “Love for the sake of Allah and Hate for the sake of Allah”.
He spoke of considering that as a “point of reference” in our social relation so that we must unite with those whom with when we unite, our core values of submission, love and dedication to Allah are not threatened. The esteemed Sheikh brought to our attention the social problems that come as cultural baggage left over from modernity and liberalism, which many of us Muslims have so quickly and blindly embraced, including family break-ups and drug abuse which are shaking the health of our communities.
He urged us to unite against these forces and let Allah into our hearts so that they are transformed and become larger to accommodate our brethren in faith and equals in humanity.
Below are some thoughts shared by a few sisters who attended the event:
Mahmooda Qureshi : “Much needed, long overdue, hope we can constructively put all the lessons learnt into practice.”
Abraar Hussain: “All Muslims are seen as the same by outsiders. We must distance ourselves from the extremists and highlight their disdain for Shia-Sunni unity and make clear that as a reason for our dissociation.”
Farzana Ali: “It’s very important to understand everyone’s point of view but we also must be vigilant of those purposely fuelling sectarianism and avoid arguments but engage in constructive dialogue. Each person must start by improving their own selves and being kind and loving so that we can unite.”
By Sabiha Rahim for Shafaqna