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Farahat Al Abbar
Khamenei called for drawing up a practical charter for achieving Muslim solidarity.

CAIRO — Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reiterated Iran's support for a call by the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) to bring together religious authorities of different Muslim sects to probe means of closing the Muslim ranks and uprooting sectarianism.

"Khamenei extolled the call by the IUMS and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to organize a conference bringing together religious authorities of the different Muslim sects with the aim of clarifying the religious stance on such practices and ending such malicious crimes," the Dublin-based IUMS said in a statement faxed to

During his meeting with the IUMS delegation on the sidelines of the 19th International Conference on the Islamic Unity, currently hosted by Tehran, Khamenei pledged that the major Shiite country would throw its weight behind the drive.

He also voiced hope that the proposed conference "would result in a statement signed by all religious authorities calling for closing ranks and stemming division".

The Iranian supreme leader further pledged to personally champion efforts to issue such a statement.

The delegation included IUMS deputy secretary generals Sheikh Ahmad Bin Hamad Al-Khalili and Ayatollah Muhammad `Ali At-Taskhiri as well as Dr. Ali Muhyealdin Al-Quradaghi, a member of IUMS board of trustees and Vice Chairman of's Board of Directors.

The Dublin-based IUMS was launched in July, 2004 , in the British capital London as an independent body and a reference for all Muslims worldwide.

Muslim Charter

Khamenei called on Muslim scholars, intellectuals and political leaders to join hands to foster unity in the Muslim world.

"The religious and political leaders are expected to propagate Islamic solidarity among several million strong followers of Islam and with reliance upon the large Muslim population, they should pave the way for progress and scientific achievements," he said.

The Iranian supreme leader stressed that enemies of Islam were conspiring to sow discord among Muslims.

"In the campaign against discord among the Muslims, we should take practical steps not merely by words in a bid to foster solidarity which is a requirement for the economic, cultural and political progress of Muslims throughout the world."

He also pressed for drawing up a practical charter for achieving Muslim solidarity.

Sectarian tensions flare up every now and then between Sunnis and Shiites in some parts of the Muslim world, including Pakistan.

Iraq has also been plagued by a series of Shiite-Sunni attacks, amid warning that the Arab country was on the verge of a civil war.

The IUMS has urged Iraq's revered Sunni and Shiite scholars to shoulder their responsibility in stemming sectarian-based blood shedding.

It vowed to form a team of its scholars to map out a complete plan to end sectarian tension in Iraq.


"The Shiite proselytizing in areas with heavy Sunni populations is dangerous and throws a spanner in unity efforts," Qaradawi said.

DOHA — Prominent scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has called on Shiites to stop proselytizing Sunnis, imploring both communities to close ranks and stand united to face daunting challenges ahead.
"The Shiite proselytizing in areas with heavy Sunni populations is dangerous and throws a spanner in unity efforts," Qaradawi told the first Doha Conference for Dialogue of Islamic Schools of Thought, which opened Saturday, January 20.

Qaradawi, the head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), said Sunnis, a majority in the Muslim world, have taken the initiative and issued fatwas that recognized the Shiite Jaafari school, unlike Shiites.

He cautioned that proselytizing sows division and stands as a stumbling bloc to denominational proximity.

Qaradawi cited an example of Iranian diplomats who spread books promulgating the Shiite belief in Sudan, which was confirmed by Sudanese Minister of Awqaf (religious endowments) Esam Al-Bashir, who attends the conference.

But Iranian Shiite scholar Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri, the head of the Islamic Culture and Communications Organization (ICCO), rejected Qaradawi's proselytizing charges.

"Sunnis should instead stop proselytizing Shiites," he said, urging Sunni scholars to stop branding Shiites as "infidels" due to dogmatic differences.

Ali Azrship, head of the Iranian-Arab Cultural Studies Center in Iran, said he did not expect such remarks from Qaradawi, which he says do not help Muslim dialogue.

The three-day conference is held under the theme "Schools of Thoughts & Contemporary Challenges".

The event is organized by the Qatari College of Sharia`h in cooperation with Al-Azhar University and the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought.

It has drawn more than 200 delegates from over 40 countries, including Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, and Egypt's Religious Endowments Minister Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk.

Insulting Companions

Qaradawi criticized some Shiites for repeatedly insulting the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

"How can I shake hands with those who are swearing at the Companions? It is the Companions who brought Islam to Iran, so why the rudeness?"

He rejected Shiite claims that Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab was responsible for the killing of the prophet's daughter and wife of Imam Ali, Fatima Al-Zahra.

"Both Shiites and Sunnis should remove any provocative remarks from their discourse and curricula," insisted Qaradawi.

He urged Sunni and Shiite scholars worldwide to engage in a candid dialogue to bridge the gap between the two schools and end differences that stoke sectarian sedition.

"We are trying our best to bridge the gap between different religions, so why don't we do the same to bridge the gap between the followers of the Muslim faith?" Qaradawi wondered.

Bashir, the Sudanese minister, also criticized Shiite insults of the Companions.

"I tell those Shiites who swear at the Companions to model them after Kuwaiti Shiites and Sunnis, who established a society revering the Companions," he said.

Iraq Violence

Qaradawi said Muslim scholars cannot stand idly vis-à-vis the raging sectarian violence in Iraq with Sunnis taking the brunt.

"There are attempts to change the demography of (the Iraqi capital) Baghdad to force Sunnis out," he charged.

Adnan Al-Dulaimi, the leader of the Sunni National Accord Front, has recently accused Shiite militias of trying to change Baghdad's Sunni demography through waves of sectarian killings and forcible evacuations.

"This plot is based on killing and intimidating Sunnis, forcing them into a panicky flight from Baghdad and its suburbs to change the demography," he told

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said earlier this month around 12 percent of Iraqis have fled their homes as a result of the sectarian violence that engulfed the country following the US-led invasion in 2003.

Qaradawi hit out at "black hatred" of Shiite death squads who grisly torture Sunnis before killing them.

The Pentagon, in a recent report, described the Shiite Mahdi Army militia as the biggest threat to Iraq's security and the main culprit behind the surge in civilian deaths.

Iraq's most revered Shiite scholar Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani has admitted his inability to prevent a civil war in Iraq, lamenting that he no longer as an influence on Shiites who have switched allegiance to militant groups and death squads.

Almost 34,000 Iraqi civilians died last year as the sectarian violence reached new heights, above all in Baghdad.

Iran's Role

The conference has drawn 200 scholars from all over the world. (IOL)  
Qaradawi asserted that Iran does have the power to extinguish the sectarian fire in Iraq.

"There is no doubt that Iran has power and influence...and can stop this turmoil and put out this fire...before it is too late," he said.

"It is high time the Shiites distanced themselves from what's going on in Iraq," said Qaradawi, noting that he made fervent calls to top Shiite scholars like Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei to intervene.

"The power which is hostile to plotting to divide this nation along ethnic, denominational and territorial lines," said Qaradawi without specifying the power in question.

Earlier this month, Qaradawi urged Khamenei and top Iranian scholars to do something and stop the systematic killing of Iraqi Sunnis.

"Otherwise," he said, "Sunnis worldwide would accuse them of complicity."

Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hamad el-Attaiya said sectarian divisions are the greatest challenge facing the Muslim nation.

He urged Shiites and Sunnis to take into their strides politically-motivated differences, which are exploited by others to serve their interests.

Ihsanoglu, the OIC's chief, said the Muslim nation is in a dire need to cement its unity, regretting that sectarian conflicts had become a fact of life that spells grave consequences for Muslims worldwide.

"I fear that the bloody sectarian differences between Muslims would turn into political conflicts."


Mustafa Abdel-Gawwad

"We have agreed a number of constructive steps to bolster the bonds of Islamic fraternity between Sunnis and Shiites," Awa told IOL.

CAIRO — The International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and Iran have agreed a series of steps, to be soon made public, to bridge the Sunni-Shiite divide and defuse raising sectarian tension.
"We have agreed a number of constructive steps to bolster the bonds of Islamic fraternity between Sunnis and Shiites," Mohamed Salim Awa, IUMS Secretary General, told on Wednesday, January 31.

The first of the agreed steps would see light in a fortnight, he expected, declining to give further details.

Awa said the agreement was reached during a visit by an IUMS delegation to Tehran this week.

"The delegation held talks with Iranian officials on containing the rising tension between the two main branches of the Muslim nation."

The delegation, which comprised Awa and IUMS board member Fahmi Howeidi, met with Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of Iran's Expediency Council, Ali Larijani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, and Ali Akbar Wilayati, adviser of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

They also met with Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki and Ayatollah Mohammed Ali Al Taskhiri, Secretary General of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Thought.

"The response of the Iranian officials was very positive," said Awa.

Sunni-Shiite tensions have been running high in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion-turned-occupation, with a hundred of Iraqis being killed in sectarian violence on a daily basis.

Pakistan has also seen on-and-off sectarian violence over the past years, despite a long history of peaceful co-existence between Sunnis and Shiites.

Iraq Reconciliation

Awa said talks with Iranian officials tackled means of halting sectarian violence gripping Iraq.

"The delegation discussed with the Iranian officials the sectarian killings and forced eviction in Iraq," he added.

Awa pressed for halting bloodletting and reconciling Sunnis and Shiites in the clash-inflicted Iraq.

Convening in Doha on Monday, January 22, some 200 senior Sunni and Shiite scholars and thinkers condemned the raging sectarian strife in Iraq and urged a traded halt of Shiite and Sunni proselytizing.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the IUMS president, told the participants that Tehran does have the power to stop the sectarian violence in Iraq, remarks that drew rebuke from Iranian officials.

"We explained to the Iranian officials that the remarks do not single a departure from Qaradawi's principal position on bridging Sunni-Shiite differences," Awa said.

He denied any link between the statements and the fact that the IUMS delegation did not confer with Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We met the people we were scheduled," insisted the IUMS secretary general.

The Dublin-based IUMS was launched in July, 2004, in the British capital as an independent body and a reference for all Muslims worldwide.

It has repeatedly urged Iraq's revered Sunni and Shiite scholars to shoulder their responsibility in stemming sectarian-based blood shedding.

Almost 34,000 Iraqis died last year as the raging sectarian violence reached new heights, above all in Baghdad, according to the latest death count published by the government.

The UN says raging violence in Iraq has internally displaced 1.7 million people and that about 2 million more are sheltering outside Iraq, comprising a worrying 12 percent of the total population.

The International Medical Corps (IMC) warned Tuesday, January 30, that up to one million Iraqis would flee their homes in the capital Baghdad within the next six months if the bloody sectarian violence went on unabated.

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GLOBAL UMMAH SOLIDARITY - by moeenyaseen - 08-23-2006, 11:07 PM

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