And Now A Message From Qaradawi On Shiites

Qaradawi is sparking a bit of a controversy in the region with his views on Shiites, which are not new. In this of all things, there are two routes to consider. One can point out the differences between the sects in an attempt to find common ground and bring about unity (which I think rarely works out as planned), or, one can point out the differences between the sects for the sake of pointing out differences.

In these weathered times, I sometimes think it would be easier, if not healthier, for everyone to simply keep to themselves if the ultimate goal is to keep the peace. The constant reopening of this old wound doesn’t do anyone any good as history has shown, especially with the sects now being highly politicized when it comes to Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, etc. When political conflicts are clouded with religious context, it makes them immune to resolution.

Moreover, the impact of any sunni statements regarding shiites always seem to have an enormous impact on this region’s youth. Taking Jordan as a sample, I have noticed a trend in recent years for young Jordanians to speak not only poorly of their fellow brothers in Islam, but, even worse, speak out of fear of them. For it’s one thing, and quite predictably a natural thing to disagree with the beliefs of an opposing sect, and it’s a whole other thing to fear them. These notions of a shiite revolution in the region, one that will end with a dominant Iran and a slaughtered sunni population is something I find a bit far fetched, but rings loudly in the younger corridors of Jordan.


  • Oohhh this is such sensitive topic. I just skimmed the article and it seems to be a lot of things I’ve heard before and things I’ve reiterated out of ignorance.

    I admit I was one of those people that held a lot of misconceptions and exaggerated views on shias-some I’ll be too embarassed to admit to. A lot of it was stuff I heard in the community I grew up in and even at home. With the start of a new school I’ve befriended shias for the first time-a Lebanese and an Iranian colleague both of whom I’ve grown close to. At first I was the one that was extra-sensitive about our denominational differences, but they were less aware of it and it seems like that’s the case with sunnis and shias in general. It’s not as big of a deal for them as it is for us-maybe this is the difference between being a minority vs. majority…I don’t know.

    I recently found out that the usual khatib at our student jum3a is shia- something I was very surprised about….I expected it to be soooo….different! I never even picked up on anything not consistent with mainstream ideals at jum3a. I struggled with it for a little bit but just thought if people who are more knowledgeable and pious than me don’t have a problem it then why should I?

    So back to your post, if someone who grew up in a diverse environment could have harbored such sentiments I can definitely see the danger of Qaradawi’s statements made to a population of people that have probably never interacted with shias. It’ll be easy to believe the worst.

  • Reading your post and reflecting on what America has in store for our region just goes on to show how everything is working for the benefit of Israel.
    If you check AIPAC website, it would tell you that these people are pushing to keep the safety of Israel a top priority in American foreign policy, and what better way to do it than by feeding sectarianism amongst Muslim brothers!

  • amazing how Arab dictators and their ruling classes are moving against the flow of civilization.

    others unite, we fragment.

    look at India, China, EU, USA. dozens of religions and ethnic groups happy to join forces to build a better world for their people.

    the arab world is witnessing an ethnic and religious melt-down, all for the glory of a few corrupt leaders and their clans and mercenaries.

    – first, they demonize the Sunni Turks. outcome: pulverization of the Ottoman Empire, creation of Israel and oil semi-autonomous puppet fiefdoms and 20+ hapless, corrupt, despotic Arab sultanates who quarrel like children and who are unable to produce anything remotely resembling a modern states, with the exception of UAE.

    – then they demonize Arab nationalism. outcome: further fragmentation of Arab world into dozens of ethnicities, races, and sects.

    – now, they demonize Shiites. possible outcome: sectarian conflict to engulf the eastern side or the Arab world. birth of more worthless, defenseless, corrupt ethno-sultanates.

    Who wins? of course the more squares on the checkerboard the more room for maneuverability by the Americans and their allies and the more room weak countries in need of money or protection who will do America’s dirty work in exchange.

    When Arab despots had the chance to consolidate their little worthless fiefdoms into one Arab state with a dominant Arab Sunni population, their lust for power and money pushed them to keep their seats and to make permanent the borders of their worthless states.Jordan First. Lebanon First. Egypt First. Khara First.

    Now, religious and ethnic groups who were minorities under vast Ottomans and Arab Dynastic rule became majorities or significant minorities in they newly British-French-American created fiefdoms.

    The Berber, the Shites, The Kurds, Dafurees, etc.

    Coupled with corrupt ruling elites who will never know the meaning of fair distribution of wealth and power,expect more of these minorities to demand justice first peacefully and eventually not so, giving the Americans more excuse to keep on breaking up the Arab world.

    All so a few mother f*#@#s ruling families can wallow in cash and power in return for protecting American maneuverability and interests in the region.

  • While this entire debate would usually skip my radar, i am particularly concerned with the following:

    1- We are looking at an ideologically driven political project in the region. The Shia project in the region is political at its very core and has been capitalizing on recent events and progression of events. Hence simplifying the issue is not in anyone’s favour.

    2- Speech that refers to “brotherhood” and “ummah” are rather cheap attempts to play with the sentiment of the “muslims” across differences. It also ultimately excludes those non Mulsims who are more indigenous to our region than Shias are. If we want to genuinely keep the peace perhaps we need to be sensitive in the very words we use. Perhaps we really need to bring the fragments of the REGION back closer together instead of creating further divisions.

    3- Shia will remain a minority in this region (according to the Qardawi figures) so perhaps religious leaders of the majority like Qardawi need to more carefully consider the negative impact their very words make in a troubled region. Particularly in the few Arab countries were Shias are larger minorities/small majorities and have grievances.

  • I think this “controversy” is really a mountain made out of a molehill. In my opinion, the guy has every right to respond to the personal attacks and the smears that were launched against him by the Iranian news agency. Also, from what Qaradawi said in the linked article, he seems to actually be one of the more moderate sunni scholars when it comes to forming an opinion regarding the shiites. He opposes those who call them non muslims, and only criticizes some of their “invented” traditions and arguments against some of the prophet’s companions (PBUT).

    Also, keep in mind the guy is probably the single most respected scholar of today and has already written an entire book, not an article or a blog post, on dialogue and rapprochement between the different Muslim doctrines.

  • Nas, I couldn’t put my hand on where do you stand on this or if you’re actually hinting that Dr. Qaradawi should plead “my bad… shouldn’t touched upon that one”? Yes I understood the part where you stressed the importance of keeping it to one’s self in such matters, and the need to unify fronts and what not, but following the Qaradawi story, i couldn’t find any fault from his angle? beside of course the media orchestrated ramification of the matter, especially from our (Sunni, is it?) part who took the ever so dull and lame jaw-dropped stance…

    I believe Sheikh Qaradawi’s erudite & well-toned discussion about the subject was (and is) healthy, in fact more healthy than leaving it unattended altogether closing our eyes and trying hard to imagine a unity despite the intrinsic rift.

    During my stay in Saudi, I’ve had an amazing opportunity to work with and befriend individuals from the Shite community over there (To the surprise of many, Shites comprise no less than 15% of the Saudi demographics) and didn’t spare the time to get to know them on a personal and cultural level, despite the stigma and uncomfortable situations one may find himself stuck in, but the experience was rewarding.

    There’s as much misconceptions from both sides as one would expect (as you have rightfully pointed out), there’s also a huge rift no doubt, but with a true open-mind (and heart), a Muslim should find it within his capacity to be as inclusive as humanity itself should be (and capable of) on a personal level, which might lead to a better humongous communities that would eventually lead to a better understanding of what exactly Muslims should unite over?

    On a closing note, and as a sum of my encounters, I find it hard (not impossible) for any practicing Shite to be able to separate his religious affiliation with his political allegiance..

  • The shame is that we (as in Jordanians) find it almost legitimate to speak of Shiites in an ill manner. I recall that our Islamic Studies teacher back at school used to have a field day in attacking Shiites, and even tried to convince the pupils to hate Shiites. My brother, who volunteers at the local mosque, tells me that the topic is opened almost every other week, and it’s always the same attacks.

    What is sad, is that Qardawi is viewed as “moderate” in his opinions and yet is always up to attacking minorities. Anyway, I think he is full of crap really, if not paid for. Oh wait, the same applies to just about any other cleric in our time.

  • imagine if someone in Jordan wants to discuss Christians in this manner. we would describe him as an intolerant fanatic and shun him. that’s of course the correct response.

    but it’s okay to be intolerant towards Mulims shiites.

    what sick times we live in.

    the sad thing is that there is a raging debate over alcoholic drinks in ramadan.

    but everyone seems mum over intolerance towards millions of Muslims who just happen to be shiite and who have far more in common with Sunnis than anyone else.

    what a hypocritical people Arabs have become.

    we seem to take our cues as to what’s right and wrong from the White House and Tel Aviv.

  • I think people with absolute-faiths must make peace with the fact that any other absolute-faith believers think they are heretics.

    E.g., Jews think that Christians follow a fake Messiah
    Christians believe that Muslims follow a fake prophet who invented a new book
    Muslims believe that Ahmadiya follow a fake prophet
    Muslims also believe that Baha’iyah follow a chain of fake prophets until this day
    Baptists believe that Mormons follow a fake prophet who claimed to see invisible books

    And then Atheists believe that all of the above are wimps who cling to fictional beings for comfort

    and the list goes on…

    We don’t have to agree with each other to live at peace. Don’t be over sensitive. Getting used to this idea will take a while, will cause some friction for several years, and then slowly will go away (e.g. how sects interact in Europe/US). I think what is happening is normal.

    India I think is the ultimate melting pot of religions. Anybody can come up with a sect, no body cares what others believe anymore (well – except for the few extremists).

  • I haven’t seen/read the interview, so I can not comment on that! But I think the statement about the Jordanians’s views on Shiites is a bit of an exaggration.

    Politics and religion can make a situation immune to resolution, especially when people take different sides. Just as taking different sides,stand alone, does! The other end of the spectrum, is how the majority of the jordanian population are admirers of Hezbullah!

  • It’s very hard to handle this debate sensitively. I’d love to interview Qaradawi, but he also strikes me as supremely scary, in his own way. He’s a fella who’s honest about his views…. not in a particularly reassuring way.

  • Basem: my point of view is not based on avoiding the subject all-together, or, as you suggested, turning a blind eye to the elephant in the room. however, in a time like this, when, as Tarab pointed out earlier in this thread of comments the continued fragmentation of the Arab world along religious lines while the rest of the world grows more unified, there is a different way to frame the subject.

    I believe this is a time to highlight and emphasize the things that bind us together rather than our differences. If someone as esteemed as Qaradawi is interested in the greater good for the Islamic ummah, then, if I were in his shoes with his power, I would hold an annual summit to host dialog between the different sects, something I think is badly needed now given the Iraqi situation.

    On a last note, the implication that Shiites cannot separate their religious affiliation with political allegiance is frankly wrong. You might say that as time goes by this seperation becomes harder to do, given the growth of politicizing the sects, but the assumption remains wrong and I think history has shown that. Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war is one example.

    Ehab: I disagree. I think if you go out and talk to a lot of Jordanians you will find the sentiments regarding shiites apparent, purely from a religious point of view. From a political point of view, you’ll find sentiments regarding Iran quite similar. Also, please note that I pinpointed young Jordanians and I had not exaggerated claims as you concluded. I merely pointed out a trend that should be obvious to anyone within this demographic.

  • hi every one, althought am not a big fan of quardawi i think he is just of those who use religion to get money and thats it but this for me is the most correct thing he had said , shias dont love sunnis they want to build the world based on thier stupid ideas where one can take one sister and marry her for pleasure which is an approve thing in shias sect, look what they are doing in iraq iknow that saddam killed a lot of thim and i hated him for this and other things but now when thinking of it they desreve it they are just full of hating any thing related to sunni even if they dont say it , i live in kuwait and i see what shias do or say even when i was in school my school bus driver were shiite he used to curse respected muslims rlegion guys like ibn taimia and even saying things in ibn taimia books that arent written, and how people defend like shiite who says bad stuf about aisha and abu baker and omar and othman who are the ones who participate in building a great islamic country as god wants

  • Going off topic a bit; Qaradawi’s views , speeches and lectures have become nothing more than a forum of entertainment to the ignorant. If one closely examines what many of these so called sheikhs actually teach in their lessons, books and lectures, one would find that they contradict the purity of Islam. In fact, Qaradawi on some occasions contradicted the consensus of the scholars (Malik, Ash’hafi^yy, Ahmad and Abu Hanifah ). I add to this list of “satellite sheikhs” who are following the steps of Qaradawi :Amr Khaled, Khaled El-Jundi, 3ai’d el Qaranay and so many others who have high-jacked government run tv stations to proselytize to their own perverted version of what they consider to be truth.
    Unfortunately in today’s world, anyone can become a sheikh. Just add a beard and a headdress. People in the Muslim world have become reckless with regards to the religion. They have become carless about acquiring authentic and pure information. They want to be observant, they want to be good practicing Muslims but the dishonesty of the likes of Amr Khalid and Qaradawi has left many people with few choices for religious guidance. This is largely due to the scarcity of credible teachers and the spread of extremism and ignorance.
    I am not writing this because it is my opinion or feeling or inclination, I’ve spent a great deal studying many of the “Islamic” groups that exist today and what effect they have had on Islam and its followers. Over the past 15 years I researched Wahabbism (AKA the salafi movment), Ikhwan (Muslim brotherhood), Hizb Al Tahrir, Sufism, Jama^at Al Da^wah (tableegh group) and others.

    I would love to write more and provide more detail, perhaps it would be more appropriate to blog on a thread dedicated to this topic.

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