Sistani advocates Muslim unity, renounces sectarian strife
Editor's note: The office of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's top-ranking Shiite cleric, has released the following statement:
"The Muslim nation is passing through dire times and is facing crises and enormous challenges that are perilous to its present and future. It is thus clear to all the need to come together, abandon disunity, and avoid inciting sectarian strife and confessional discords. Those are centuries-old disputes to which there have been no acceptable solutions. It is therefore unacceptable to raise debate around [those issues] unless it is within the context of serious scientific research, especially since they fall within the very core of religion and [Islam's] ideology.
We all have the solid belief in one God, the message of the chosen Prophet, the day of judgment and that the holy Koran [which God has shielded against distortion] along with the Sunnah [the Prophet's teachings] are the source of Sharia laws. We also share the love for Ahl al-Beit [the family of the Prophet] and the duties of Islam: prayer, fasting, hajj ...
These common factors constitute a solid foundation for Islamic unity. It is therefore necessary to focus on strengthening the ties between the sons of this nation and equally important to work toward achieving coexistence based on mutual respect while avoiding sectarian wrangling and bickering no matter what the reason is.
It is the duty of those who are adamant to protect the prominence of Islam and the Muslims to exert maximum effort to bridge differences among them. It is also their duty to reduce tensions caused by political disputes which could lead to more disunity and dispersing and could create an opportunity for those enemies who wish to control and seize the fortunes of Muslim countries to achieve their goals.
Unfortunately, it has been noted that some figures and parties have been working to achieve the exact opposite. They are seeking to sow division and widen the sectarian gap among Muslims. They have recently stepped up those efforts following the rise in political tensions in the region and the heightened disputes over power. They been working hard to highlight and advertise sectarian differences through conspiracy and slander while adding [distorted facts] in order to harm a specific sect, minimize the rights of its followers and instill fear of that sect.
Under this scheme, some media outlets ... have occasionally been spreading strange fatwas, claimed to have been issued by his eminence [Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani] and which are insulting to some Muslim sects and groups. These actions are a blatant attempt to harm the image of the religious authority and to add to the sectarian tension in order to achieve certain goals.
All fatwas issued by [Sistani] are based on reliable sources ... and do not at all offend any Muslim sect or group. And those who have the slightest knowledge of [Sistani's fatwas] know that what is being advertised are mere lies.
Over the years, Sistani's positions and declarations concerning the crisis in Iraq, his advice to his followers and supporters to respect their Sunni brothers and his repeated statements on the sanctity of Muslim blood, honor and fortune are all clear proof to the method adopted by the religious authority in dealing with other sects.
Had this method been followed by others we would not be witnessing today such violence and brutal killings that have targeted children, the elderly and even pregnant women.
And it is only to God that we complain ... "