Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fresh off the Unity Parade

Shia Jaffari School of Thought to be added to Al-Azhar University

This was brought to my attention recently -yesterday - and I did some research. While there is an incredible lack of news out there on this major step, I did find blogs on this issue. I guess that is the purpose of the blogosphere, getting micro-currents out to the masses.

Firoze Shiker states-

It should be of interest to know that a few decades ago, a group of Sunni and Shia scholars formed a center at al-Azhar by the name of "Dar al-Taqreeb al-Madhahib al-Islamiyyah" which translates into "Center for bringing together the various Islamic schools of thought". The aim of the effort, as the name of the center indicates, was to bridge the gap between the various schools of thought, and bring about a mutual respect, understanding and appreciation of each school's contributions to the development of Islamic Jurisprudence, among the scholars of the different schools, so that they may in turn guide their followers toward the ultimate goal of unity, and of clinging to one rope, as the well-known Quranic verse, "Hold fast to the Rope of Allah and do not diverge" clearly demands of Muslims.

The Fatwa as follows published in 1960's:

His Excellency was asked:

Some believe that, for a Muslim to have religiously correct worship and dealing, it is necessary to follow one of the four known schools of thought, whereas, "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah" school of thought is not one of them nor "al-Shia al-Zaidiyyah." Do your Excellency agree with this opinion, and prohibit following "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" school of thought, for example?

His Excellency replied:

1) Islam does not require a Muslim to follow a particular Madh'hab (school of thought). Rather, we say: every Muslim has the right to follow one of the schools of thought which has been correctly narrated and its verdicts have been compiled in its books. And, everyone who is following such Madhahib [schools of thought] can transfer to another school, and there shall be no crime on him for doing so.

2) The Ja'fari school of thought, which is also known as "al-Shia al- Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" (i.e., The Twelver Imami Shi'ites) is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought. Muslims must know this, and ought to refrain from unjust prejudice to any particular school of thought, since the religion of Allah and His Divine Law (Shari'ah) was never restricted to a particular school of thought. Their jurists (Mujtahidoon) are accepted by Almighty Allah, and it is permissible to the "non-Mujtahid" to follow them and to accord with their teaching whether in worship (Ibadaat) or transactions (Mu'amilaat).

Signed, Mahmood Shaltoot.

The basis of the effort began with this Fatwa. It then worked toward creating this institute and now there is this trickling of information that the Jafri school of thought will now also be taught at Al-Azhar.

Which to me is great news. But for many it seems like this is not good news. I guess I await your responses, updates on this as well as information regarding what you all think about the Sunni-Shi'a split.

I will ask the moderator to heavily moderate the comments on this post. Not interested in hate and stupidity.


Marya Bangee said...


Btw I am shocked by the amount of Muslim hate in the recent comments.

Kind of sad.

Mai said...

I'm glad someone is taking a forward step. This is just from my own experience from my four years of university...It's hard to be a minority in this country and to wear scarf, but even harder when the people you think will be your friends because you are Muslim like them treat you like trash and alienate you because you are Shi'a.
If they took the time to research what Shia'ism really was instead of go by the rumors passed around by so-called "scholars," then maybe Muslims would be a more united group. How can Muslims ask others to accept them if Muslims don't accept their own people? Ignorance is a terrible thing.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great. Having the different schools of thought taught at the same institution encourages people to accept that whether we are Sunni or Shia, there is no need to consider ourselves separate groups. Separation just encourages ignorance of others.

Affad Shaikh said...

mai, i would like to hear more from you about your experiences. please let me know if there is a way to get in touch with you and i will try to work out a way to communicate and hopefully get an idea of what you have experienced.

Imamia Teachers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sukaena said...

assalamu alaikum,

alhamdullilah, this is great! I'm in total agreement with sister Mai, there so much misconception and hate out there, that once people know your shia--your automatically labeled and catergorized by many. It goes from university campuses to masjids. iA our generation can do what ppl claim "impossible" and create some unity between the Muslims--but i dont agree with the part about not considering ourselves seperate groups. In essence we are seperate groups that in th end, follow the same Lord and the same Prophet. I feel like we use that whole "oh we shouldnt discuss our differences--and just all be Muslims" as an excuse to stay in our bubble of ignorance. True unity is through understanding our differences, and agreeing to disagree. You cant have unity if you have NO idea what i believe in, and vice versa. I'm really happy that Al Azhar is taking that step :)

Huda Shaka` said...

Good point sukaena.