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Methods, literature of understanding, proximity

Jan 15, 2010, 3:08 PM

F: Objective behind holding dialogues

The main objective is achieving vast commonalties between the two sides of a dialogue, as it is obvious from this holy verse: "Say: O people of the Scriptures! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none, but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partners unto Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords beside Allah..." (The Quran; lll, 64)

And as a result of reaching such agreements, the Muslims, Christians, and Jews could begin cooperation in the field of good deeds and piety, avoidance of sins, and ending hazardous enmities.

In addition to all that is said on setting a logical framework for holding fruitful dialogues we must add need to appoint a fair referee to judge such rules' observation by both sides. The following holy verse refers to that delicate point: "Say: Our Nurturer and Creator would bring us all together, then He will judge between us in accordance with the Truth. And he is the Omniscient Opener (of all closed doors). (The Quran; XXXlX, 26)

On understanding and proximity among the Islamic schools of thought

After taking a fleeting glance at the Holy Book focusing on holding dialogues, we come up with the conclusion that mutual understanding and proximity are values that are encouraged in the Glorious Quran and everyone is called upon to move in that direction. That call is not even restricted to the pious, or the Muslims, since their audiences are all human beings except disbelievers and the oppressors.

Yet, at the realm of Islam, this point is of greater importance and there is more severe emphasis on the need to observe it, because Islam is the religion of brotherhood, lenience, mutual and understanding, particularly among pious Muslims. Acceptance of the Islamic rules and yielding to the differences within the varying, permitted Islamic verdicts issued on same topics is among the maters that have the unanimous confirmation of the entire Islamic Ummah. In case of some Islamic teachings, such as the Islamic ethics, Islamic trade laws, and Islamic punishment codes, the differences of opinion are quite trivial, and in some cases they do not even exist.

That is a sheer fact, since when we enter the real of Islam and the Muslims the Holy Quran begins addressing us as "O esteemed believers! and that is naturally despite all varying perceptions that we might have of dear Islam. That is because Islam is fed through a Unique Source, and the Muslims have a shared destiny, a shared history, a shared fate, shared interests and shared benefits, and of course, shared enemies. They also have the same orientation in the vastness of the entire universe, in whose endless span mutual understanding and harmony among the followers of the same faith is among the bare necessities, beyond doubt.


Existing ambiguities:

In this realm there are still certain ambiguities-some raised by well wishers, and yet others by ill wishers-as follow:

1. Differences of opinion among followers of various Islamic schools of thought over fundamentals

2. Differences of opinion among followers of various Islamic schools of thought due to differences within sources

3. Accusation of initiating innovations in faith, made by followers of each school against followers of the others

4. On necessities and aftermaths of beliefs, since the followers of each school have accusations against followers of the others

5. Accusation of hypocrisy and hatching plots

6. Assuming that yielding to holding dialogue {with the others} is equal to doubting the foundations of one's own faith, or yielding to the beliefs of the other implicitly

7. Assuming and  taking it for granted that by proximity among Islamic schools of though we mean making them all similar to one another and imposing one school's beliefs over the entire Muslims, which is undesirable, and therefore call for proximity, too, is to be denounced

8. Assuming that proximity among followers of Islamic schools of thought is aimed at attracting the followers of one faith into acceptance of another more easily and therefore disturbing the existing balance among them

9. Assuming that this "Proximity" story is nothing but a cover up plot aimed at penetration into the realm of other schools of though, launching propagations on beliefs that are contradictory with theirs, and raising doubts on beliefs

10. Assuming that proximity movement is politically motivated and totally unrelated to the essence of Islam; and other assumption of that kind, with some I have personally been encountered, and about some I have heard, or read.


All the same, I seek Almighty Allah’s bearing witness to the fact that what I have in my mind and my heart about the Islamic proximity movement is totally varying with such doubts and negative assumptions. Such assumptions and the like, in other words, are nothing but wild guesses, although I have no objection to the establishment of a joint fact finding group to survey their authenticity, or baseless ness. Yet, there are certain facts that I feel obligated to point out at this point:


1. Under such conditions that the Glorious Quran insists on the need for launching dialogues even with the polytheists and the people of the Books, how could we assume that it has any objection against seeking proximity among Muslim brothers?

2. There are vast Qur'anic orders and countless authentic Islamic narrations on the necessity of peaceful coexistence among Muslims as a praised value, the quality of interactions among them and between them and the others, over which we can not further elaborate here.

3. The various schools' elites, heads, and Imams used to live peacefully side by side of one another, attended the classes of one another, and were proud to be the other schools’ masters’ student; none of them ever claimed to possess the entire Truth exclusively; yet, some of their followers even refrain from taking a step aimed at reaching consensus with other Muslims!

4. We all know that in 1990s in Egypt’s al-Az’har University some grand personalities and prominent Scholars launched a proximity movement among the followers of various Islamic schools of thought, among whom we can refer to the following famous manes:

- Prominent master, Shaykh Al-Maraghi

Prominent master’ Shaykh Mustafa Abdur-Razzaq

- Prominent master, Shaykh and Grand mufti of Al-Az’har University Mahmoud Shaltout

- Grand Ayatollah Mohammad-Hossein Ale-Kasheful Ghita

- Renowned Islamic scholar Sayyed Sharfeddin al-Mousavi

- Grand ayatollah Sayyed Hossein Broujerdi

- Prominent master, Sayyed Hebateddin Shahrestani

- Prestigious cleric, ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Qomi


All these prominent scholars, both Shi’a and Sunni Muslims, hoisted the prestigious banner of Islamic proximity and took precious steps on that glorious path. Can then we also assume that the above mentioned people had doubts and serious assumptions-some of which are quite deep-rooted too had been hidden from their sharp minds.


The late Shaykh Mohammad Al-madani was the harbinger of the good news about a precious step he had taken at his affiliated Faculty of Theology of Al-Az’har University. He had offered imamiyyeh Shi'a amd Zaiydiyyeh Jurisprudence Courses at that largest faculty of Al-Az'har. Almost simultaneous with that great move, another great stride towards proximity if Islamic schools of thought was taken in Iran. Tehran University's Faculty of Theology began offering courses on Sunni schools’ Jurisprudence. ...

o be continued.