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Discussion: Sunni and Shiites: Bridging the Divide - Al Azhar - Shaykh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb

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    Par défaut Sunni and Shiites: Bridging the Divide - Al Azhar - Shaykh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb

    اَلحَمدُلِلهِ رَبِ العَلَمِينَ ؕ وَالصَّلَوةُ وَ السَّلَامُ عَلَى سَيِـّـدِ المُرسَلِين
    اَمَّا بَعدُ فَاَعُوذُ بِاللهِ مِنَ الشَّيطَنِ الرَّجِيمِ

    بِسمِ اللهِ الرَّحمَنِ الرَّحِيم




    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله تعالى وبركاته

    Asalamu 3alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh







    *






    Sunni and Shiites : Bridging the Divid




    Shaykh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb (Al Azhar)









    The Sunnah and the Shi’te: Two Poles Apart?

    A lot of people pose questions regarding the differences between the Sunnah and the Shi’tes and whether they recognize each other or not. Also are they considered two separate religions like some people claim in the West? The Azhar has recognized the eight schools of jurisprudence which Muslims use and turn to in their modern lives.

    Four of these legal schools are Sunnis (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’I, Hanbali) and two are Shi’tes (Ja’fariya and Zaidiyah) and the final two are (Ibadiyah and Zahiriyah). These eight schools form the components of the juristic encyclopedia which took effect in 1960 with the consent of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs. This juristic encyclopedia was compiled by Muhammad Faraj al Sanhuri along with other renowned jurists in Egypt. This conciliatory step was preceded with a decision taken by Shiekh Mahmoud Shaltout to approve using the Ja’fari legal school of jurisprudence in solving juristic issues of Sunnis.

    We can clearly see in the juristic books of both the Sunnis and the Shi’tes how they cite each other’s juristic opinions on different issues and how they sometimes concur with each other or remain different or declare certain preferences. This intellectual exchange clearly proves that they both believe in the same religion and have the same direction of prayer which is the Ka’bah and refer to the same sacred revelatory source which is the Quran and the Prophetic traditions. They both fast the month of Ramadan and pray five times along with performing pilgrimage to the sacred house. Where is the difference then?



    1-
    The Sunnis believe that the reliable transmission of prophetic traditions encompass all the companions and the number of companions who saw the Prophet was 114,000 companions, 20,000 of them were in Medinah at the time of the Prophet’s death and prayed the funeral prayer over his noble body. The total number of the companions who transmitted prophetic traditions is only 1800 companions which means that their number is less than 1% of all the companions who saw the Prophet. The transmitters and the narrators of prophetic traditions in the book of Musnad Ahmad- which is an all encompassing voluminous book that includes about 30,000 hadiths - are no more than 990 companions and a lot of them did not narrate more than one hadith. In the book of Sahih al Bukhari there are around 2000 unrepeated hadiths and no more than 254 companions were mentioned as narrators. The total number of hadiths that were narrated by Sunnis did not exceed 50,000 hadiths and were transmitted through 1 million chains of narration; some of the chains are sound, others are weak or accepted or rejected.



    2-The Shi’tes believe that the only reliable source of transmission of prophetic traditions comes from Ali ibn Abi Talib and his noble lineage who the Shi’tes believe are infallible. The line includes al Hassan, al Hussayn, Ali Zayn al ‘Abdeen, Muhammad al Baqer, Ja’far al Sadeq (to whom belongs the Ja’fari school), Mussa al Kazem, Ali ibn Mussa al Reda, Muhammad ibn Ali al Jawad, Ali ibn Muhammad al Hadi, al Hassan ibn Ali al ‘Askari, and finally Muhammad ibn al Hassan al ‘Askari who the Shi’tes believe that he is the Mahdi and for this reason they were called the Twelvers. The Shi’te narrations of prophetic traditions were compiled by the renowned scholar al Majlesi in his voluminous book which was first printed in 25 volumes and then republished in 110 volumes and encompasses 10, 000 hadiths some of them are sound and others range between weak, approved and rejected.



    3-This huge amount of narrations by both parties have a lot of shared narrations and only a small part of the narrations differ between the two parties. A lot of attempts were made to study these shared narrations as a starting point to bridge the gap between the two parties and to notify the people of both parties that the shared heritage of narrations is way more than the minor differences. The first attempt of bridging the gap was done by the Ibadi scholar Yusuf Atfeesh who authored a book in the end of the 19th century titled (Jame’ al Shaml) in which he compiled all the shared narrations of approved prophetic traditions in all different juristic schools. Another attempt was made by Muhammad al Husseiny al Jalali who authored a book on the common and shared narrations between the Sunnis and the Shi’tes and was published in Chicago and reprinted in Iran in five volumes. This book is the result of rigorous scholarly efforts which clarify the solid juristic base shared by both parties.



    4-When we are subjected to these facts, one can’t help but wondering; what is the source of difference? If the differences lie in the basis of accepting and rejecting hadith, this will inevitably lead to differences in jurisprudence. Differences in Jurisprudence are simple by nature because jurisprudence is built on speculation and what is speculative is subject to independent legal reasoning (ijtiahd) and in this case each party should accept the outcomes of the other party’s personal ijtiahd.

    For example the Shi’tes permit mut’ah marriage which is based on a bilateral consent between the spouses to have a definite deadline for ending the marriage and they permit for the man to marry more than four wives by this type of marriage. They also permit marrying both a woman and her paternal or maternal aunt at the same time. The Sunnis do not permit all of the above. One can say that this topic is one of the most controversial issues between the two parties in jurisprudence and this difference should not beg the deep sadness instilled in the hearts of both parties based on this juristic difference.



    5-When it comes to theological differences between both the Sunnis and the Shi’tes, this needs some elaboration in our next article inshAllah.



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    Par défaut

    Theological Differences between Sunnis and Shi’tes: Time for Reconciliation?



    When it comes to theological differences between both the Sunnis and Shi’tes, there are five main issues which were enveloped with ambiguity along history and led to many calamities between the two parties; these calamities were political in nature nonetheless.

    The five main theological differences between the two parties were badly misused by ill hearted men from both parties to ignite the flames of disunity and sew discord among them; this attitude is not acceptable to continue any longer in our contemporary world as a lot of initiatives were taken by both parties to bridge the theological gap and to find a common ground. These efforts were of great assistance and led to many successes but a lot has yet to be done to put an end to this unnecessary tension between the two parties.

    The first theological issue has to do with the concept of badaa or non previous knowledge. In other words, this concept means that God changes His mind when He realizes things that He did not previously know of. The Shi’te had actually denied this allegation and explained their position on the concept of badaa in an explanatory remark which was very much similar to the Sunni explanation of dependent or potential destiny (al Qadaa al Mu’alaq). The Sunnis believe that there are two kinds of destinies, ordained destiny and potential one. The ordained destiny is the one that exists in God’s knowledge and is not subject for change or alteration and the potential destiny is the one that is decreed in the preserved tablet and which is subject to change by God with His previous knowledge and absolute will and power. This kind of destiny is the one about which the Prophet said “Nothing averts a destined decree except supplication and nothing but piety prolongs life”.

    According to this explanation there is actually no substantial theological difference as the argument simply resulted from a mere misunderstanding and by placing false appellations to define certain terminologies. And if each party had read what the other party wrote, they both would have concurred with each other.

    The second allegation is the issue of alterations in the Quran and the Shi’te deeply apologized for what might have insinuated this grave claim and explained that they meant the unpopular unchained transmissions of the Qur'an. These unchained odd transmissions of the Quran are not accepted or reliable by the Sunnis themselves because it was not narrated with a sound chain of narration leading back to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). On the other hand, both the Sunnis and the Shi’tes utterly believe in the divine preservation of Quran and this belief was concurred with the consensus of Muslims along history. God says in the Quran “Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur'an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” 15:9

    The third issue in question is the issue of accusing the Prophet’s companions with disbelief and the truth of the matter is that we have not encountered in any of the writings of any of the infallible imams of the Shi’tes any of these claims. Also in the scholarly books of erudite Shi’te scholars in the 20th century, we often encounter phrases showing utter reverence for the companions of the Prophet like writing (may God be pleased with them) after mentioning their names and the like. Also the whole issue against the Prophet’s companions which was ignited by the early Shi’te was basically emotional and did not necessitate all this animosity which filled the heart of the general public from both sides.

    For example when the Shi’ites attach to lady Fatimah, daughter of Prophet Muhammad, the appellation (peace be upon her), this appellation is not exclusive to the Shi’ites as Imam al Bukhari himself mentions her with the same appellation in his famous Sahih book. The whole issue is emotional for the Shi’tes as lady Fatimah had an argument with Abu Bakr al Siddiq and was mad at him over her inheritance of a piece of land in Khaybar and that Abu Bakr argued with her that he heard the Prophet saying “We- prophets- are not to be inherited”. So the whole matter boiled down to juristic differences yet took an emotional turn for the Shi’tes.

    The fourth issue of difference is the issue of the caliphate and the debate over the rightful caliph. According to the Shi’tes the only eligible candidate for the caliphate is Ali ibn Abi Taleb as for the Sunnis they believe in deliberation of power starting from Abu Bakr then ‘Umar then ‘Uthman then ‘Ali. This issue might seem historical yet its fundamentality lies in its importance in determining the issue of the Imamate which according to Shi’tes necessitates the acknowledgement of the eligible authority of the caliph and requires total allegiance from the public. As for the Sunnis, the imamate is rather a political issue which is left to be determined by the Muslim community through free elections.

    The fifth and the last issue has to do with the principle of (tuqyah) adopted by the Shi’tes. The sunni definition of (tuqyah) is for a person to speak in total opposition to what he or she believes in and it is considered a sort of hypocrisy or lying or weakness or deceit or other bad qualities. As for the Shi’te, they refuted back this definition by asserting that their understanding of (tuqyah) is closer to merely stating or narrating the opponent’s stance and narrating the opponent’s stance even if it was against one’s belief does not fit to be described as a bad quality. It is more of a situation which one might find him or herself forced into adopting due to some political necessity such as at times of injustice or limitations on freedom of expression so in these situations one might turn to (tuqyah) which does not equate lying.

    These are the kind of differences which we ought to tolerate and not to freeze in time because of it or place it as a reason for shedding blood from both sides. Unity is rather a religious duty upon all the Muslim ummah and this is actually reiterated by all the erudite religious figures from both Sunni and Shi’i sides. I supplicate to God for the unity of the hearts of the Muslims all over the world and to lead us to what earns us His pleasure. Amin.

    Dernière modification par talib abdALLAH ; 1 semaine avant à 20h26.

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