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Ideas on Proximity

Oct 16, 2009, 5:31 AM


In addition to what was said thus far, the elites and leaders of various Islamic schools of thought have never refrained from acquiring knowledge from one another, or from assisting one another.

In that respect, Malek ibn-Anas never yielded to the Abbasid Caliph Mansour's demand to make obligatory the study of "Al-Mouta'a" {Footstep} for the public. Sharif Al-Razi, too, has quoted Islamic sayings narrated by Sunni Alims in his interpretation {of the Glorious Qur'an}. Also, the author of soyouti has pointed out that Sahih ul-Muslim {one of the four major sources of the Sunni schools of thought} includes a great number of Shi'a sayings.
Meanwhile, in 4th Century after Hegira, the scientific debates between Baqlani and Sheikh Mofid were broadly publicized. Prominent 5th Century Shi'a Alim, Sheikh Tousi, was so famous for observing lenience and balanced approaches that the Abbasid Caliph appointed him as the topmost possible scientific position of his system. Fakhr Razi was once a student of Sheikh Sadideddin Helli, and the Shi'a's 1st Mratyr, too, studied at the courses offered by forty Sunni Alims.

In 19th Century {CE} the Islamic World was witness to the movement led by Seyyed Jamaleddin Assadabadi and Rashid Reza. Daar ut-taqrib {Proximity House} in Cairo was established later on in mid-twentieth century. The Jordanian institute called Aa'l ul-Bait {Prophets Household}, too, has played a noticeable role in promoting proximity among Islamic schools of thought.

And finally, the World forum for proximity among Islamic Schools was established in the year 1991.

In chapter two such concepts as proximity and unity are defined and the sources that focus on them are listed. In this chapter there are also brief definitions on strategy, schools of thought, differences of opinion, and religious verdicts in various Islamic jurisprudence, quoting different sources and resorting to logical argumentations, outlined as follows: 

The reason in accordance with the rule of the science of discourse include the Book {Glorious Qur'an}, and the Tradition of the Holy Prophet {pbuh}. Based on logical reasoning, too, they include issues, such as Qias {Comparative Deduction}, Masalih ul-Muraklah {expediency in accordance with descended revelation}, Istihsan {Approval Admiringly}, norms, Sadd uz-Zara'ea {Blocking Aggressors' Moves} Istishaab {Seeking Viewpoints of Prophet's Disciples}, and logical reasoning, some of which are unanimously accepted by all schools. Some others are resorted to in the science of discourse and there are differences of opinion about them. Yet, deep pondering, even over those sources of disagreement can lead to proximity.

Chapter three there is a discussion about the emergence, growth, and perfection of schools of thought, with the main axis of discussion about the birth of those schools, which is surveyed under three dimensions:

- The Political Dimension: the crisis emerged during the third caliph's era led to the emergence of divisions among Muslims into four groups during Imam Ali's leadership, namely the Khawarej {Those who deviated from Islam}, Shi'a, Morja'ah {the preponderant},and the Sunni schools.

- The Belief Dimension: The Muslims differences of opinion are on such issues as Imamate {divine leadership}, Faith, disbelief, determination and free will {Qaza VA Qadar}, and Almighty Allah's attributes.

- Jurisprudence Dimension: In this part the authors have presented a brief history of the Islamic jurisprudence, and then there are more detailed discussions on such Islamic schools of thought as the Hanbali, the Maleki, the Shafe'ie, the Ja'fari, the Zeydi, and the Abazi schools.

Thus, there are discussions and various Islamic schools of thought, and the traditions and approaches adopted in each, including some of the religious verdicts issued in some of them.

The second axis of discussions in this chapter is the fundamentals of Islamic Jurisprudence and the role they play in proximity among different Islamic schools of thought. Under the title of the third axis, the characteristics and indexes for differences are listed.

Chapter Four is titled "The Spheres for Proximity, but in it there are discussions on such methods as holding dialogues, debates, studies and research works, propagation, writing, and giving lectures. In addition to them there is a discussion on Islamic minorities.

Chapter Five is allocated to the objectives of proximity, including:

- Efforts aimed at decreasing the differences of opinion among Islamic schools of thought with systematic jurisprudences;

- Proving that the differences have in fact roots in differences in jurisprudences, not in interpretations of them;

- Defining the reality of proximity;

- Pointing out that there are differences in various fields between all schools of thought;

- Promoting sympathy among followers of various schools of thought;

- Gaining scientific knowledge about the roots of differences in order to realize the hidden cases and facilitating for the extinguishing of flames of disputes.

At the end of this chapter the objectives of proximity strategy are elaborated in detail.

In chapter Six the methods for implementing this strategy and the practical moves made in various national, regional and international scenes in this regard are discussed.

At the end of our discussion about this strategy, it is necessary to mention some significant point:

1st Point: This move is all by itself a very innovative and praiseworthy action;

2nd Point: There are certain historical and scientific concerns, which we hope moves aimed at correcting them would be made, including;

- Over-repetition of some issues;

- Imam Sadeq {pbuh} was not the student of any of the leaders of different schools of thought, but many of them were proud that they had attended his classes;

- Some of the points mentioned as "rational reasons" including "Istishab" are not acceptable even as a reasons for issuing a jurisprudence verdict, but are merely considered as practical rules, such as the Istishab rule.

- There are also mistakes where there is a discussion about the emergence and formation of the schools of thought.

3rd Point: There are issues that need to be deleted from the text, even though we accept the presented definition for "strategy". They include the entire Chapter Three, and the overlapping areas observed in discussed chapters. At any rate the efforts made in sketching the plan should be appreciated, and this scheme would definitely be used in compiling and giving shape to the strategy that would be proposed for proximity among Islamic schools of thought in the Islamic World.