Saturday, October 3

Of Sunni and Shia

In their classically open-minded and quasi-revolutionary style, my local mosque, QMT, invited a prominent Shia scholar (whose name escapes me right now, for shame) in order to open some dialogue, discuss unity and most importantly educate the existing attendees (excursively sunni) on his particualr school of thought.

The pitch was as expected: we were told how the basics were the same (so we have the same obligations, the same Quran and, effectively the same respect for prominent figures) but just differed on implementation. This it turn was due to the more deeper Shia understanding that the opinion of the blood relatives of The Prophet take precedent over that of anyone else.

Although I found the talk to be pretty engaging, it seemed that the theme was more an abstract one about tolerance and understanding rather than one which would tackle some of the more common and concrete misunderstandings those of the sunni persuasion have. Don't get me wrong; I totally believe that tolerance, understanding and evidence backed opinion making are key to defeating any kind of prejudice let alone the intra-Islamic type, and further that most Muslims have to be taught that. I just found the labouring of the point a bit tiring.

The question and answer session was a let down; most people coming forward were more interested in telling us their life stories and how their best friends happened to be Shia than asking anything of any substance. My question regarding whether there were any sub-sects within the Shia who would be considered deviant by the rest was answered by a pretty generic "we shouldn't judge the correct whole by the misbehaving minority", something which I felt kinda went against the message given in the rest of the talk.

But overall it was a good, solid talk and one which feels like the start of a trend being set. Although there's a lot of sunni-shia relations in the professional and social world, it's pretty vital to have the same friendliness in the mosque too if any kind of mutual respect and unity is to be achieved. I'm hoping that there'll be a mirror of today's lecture, one with a sunni scholar talking at a shia mosque, that will not only give balance to today's session but also get us to the goal everyone present this afternoon wanted to achieve.

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty cool, I'm gonna suggest it to my Dad for his mosque just to see the look on his face.