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The Daughters of A’isha and the Sons of Fatima 27 February 2006

Posted by MOZAFFAR in History, MOZAFFAR, Politics, Theology.


Think of all the things that the eyes of Ali, Fatima, and A’isha witnessed, may God be pleased with each of them. Not only did they keep themselves in the family of this most amazing man, Muhammad -p, but think of what else lived through. It’s beyond comprehension.

Think of the Mecca days. Think of the brotherhood and sisterhood of Medina. Think of Hudaybiya. The Conquest of Mecca. The Sermon at the Hajj.

Then, think of the death of the Prophet -p, himself.

Then, think of the years that followed.

In their lives, they witnessed the greatest period of human history.

And, in their lives, they also watched it end.

As much as I’d like to preach that the Sunnis and Shi’as should hold hands and love each other, I don’t think it’s realistic. And, while many of us may individually have great love for the other (either as Shi’as loving Sunnis or Sunnis loving Shia’s), this is marriage that — as a marriage between two communities — cannot work. The scholars of either side have not been able to make it work.

But: it is a partnership that must endure.

The Daughters of A’isha -may Allah be pleased with her and them- must make peace with the Sons of Fatima -may Allah be pleased with her and them.

I won’t hide the fact that I regard myself as a Sunni; it should be obvious from my writings. Call me what you want. Orthodox. Orthoprax. Ueber-Sunni. Moderate. Apologetic. Extremist. Authoritarian. Authoritative. Munafiq. Kafir. Wahhabi. Salafi. Sufi. Madonna Wannabe. So, be it.

Further, practice what you believe. I am not intending to water down any of my beliefs, nor am I ask others to water down any of their beliefs.

So, here are my “orthodox” beliefs:

1- If you claim that there is no god, but God Himself, and Muhammad -p- is the Messenger of God, you are a Muslim. 100%.

2- See #1.

Take it a step further, because the inevitable challenge will be that there are some who make additions to the above statement of belief.

3- If you regard the Qur’an as — 100% — the Word of God, delivered to Muhammad -p, nobody can call you a disbeliever.

But, all of that is besides the point. It’s just a statement of my own beliefs. I am speaking here as a practicing Muslim.

So, what do I suggest? If we hold tight to the Qur’an, we have three practical options:

1- Accept each other as full believers, in the way that a Sunni may accept a Sunni as a believer, and in the way a Shi’a may accept another Shi’a as a believer.

2- Regard each other as Hypocrities.

3- Regard each other as Disbelievers.

I personally think that options 1 and 2 can work. Let me explain.

1- The starting point is the common belief in the Qur’an. That is what — in theory — binds all Muslims together. I have to emphasize that “in theory” it binds all Muslims together because in practice it may be hard to find a Muslim of any belief subsystem who actually reads, thinks, lives, and preaches the Qur’an.

But, this is the fundamental, practical commonalty between the common Shi’a and the common Sunni. By “common” Shi’a and Sunni, I’m speaking here about the Jafari, Zaydi, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, and Salafi.

So, the approach in this matter is to look at the Sunni and Shi’a as larger umbrellas of two different methods of approach to the Qur’an itself. If the scholars themselves were not able to resolve this issue beyond this point, then let us accept it and make peace.

2- Regarding the issue of regarding each other as Hypocrites. This method is far less desirable, but it works, if we stick with the Qur’an. The Qur’anic advice for dealing with those whom you regard as hypocrites is to stay silent about them and let God deal with them. So, with your silence, you are still making peace.

3- As a Sunni, I can’t endorse calling another “Muslim” a disbeliever. But, for those who insist on this path, your obligation to a non-believer is da’wa anyways, isn’t it?

But, let’s take the issue a step further.

A- If we study the history of the development of these two threads, we see that they didn’t develop in vacuums. Rather, the development is intertwined. Few traditions can claim to develop on their own. The revelation of the Qur’an, and the subsequent “Islamic” civilizations influenced the courses of development of Christianity and Judaism. How different would Christianity be today without Ibn Rushd, al-Ghazali, and al-Farabi? How different would Judaism be today without Spain and Musa b. Mayman? Similarly, the development of what are today modern Sunnism and Shiism is an interactive development.

B- It was in God’s wisdom that the two threads (and yet only two significant threads) formed. My personal opinion is that both the Shi’a and Sunni need each other. We need each other in terms of the issue of defining what we are and are not. We need each other in terms of the issue of religious, pious competition (in competing with each other and ourselves in goodness). And, at the geopolitical level, I hope the need is obvious; the difference is getting exploited by monsters within and without our communities.

C- There are many persons who do call themselves Sunni and persons who call themselves Shi’a who are way, way out of any orthodoxy.

Call me naive.

And, face facts: who am I really speaking to right now? This is just a blog read by a few dozen people (on a good day).

I’m speaking to you.

May God bless you.



1. talib - 28 February 2006

calling a Muslim a hypocrite (munafiq) is tantamount to calling them kaafir in the traditional meanings of these words. both of these options in consideration of one’s sunni or shia counter part are not allowed as far as i know. as you said, both shia and sunni state the shahadah. and we know what the Prophet has said about a person calling another a kaafir (one of them is the kaafir; if not the accused, then the accuser). i don’t think anyone would want to take such a risk.

i don’t understand your methodology in the first place. Why are these 3 options even necessary? why does everyone have to be put into neat categories and labeled? obviously there are so many differences even within these two categories, it makes no sense to adopt a unifom way of regarding all members of the groups. seems to me this is more conducive to disunity rather than in support of it.

Why not have the mind set that all Muslims around the world are your brothers, period? That’s it. Then when you meet a new Muslim, get to know him for who he is rather than through a label you have ascribed to him. talk to him. if for some reason his beliefs are so aberrant to you that you can no longer in good conscience consider him your brother and no amount of dawah will help, then keep your sentiments to yourself and struggle hard not to generalize and let the bad impression this particular person had ruin your impression of a segment of your brothers world-wide.

With this methodology, one is thinking the best of the vast majority of Muslims and only has internal doubts about a handful of bad apples they have met in their lives.

“Surely they who divided their religion into parts and became sects, you have no concern with them; their affair is only with Allah, then He will inform them of what they did.”

This verse gives me the impression that the *act* of division, categorization, labeling is what is to be avoided. In terms of true theological differences, Allah says in this verse and others that he will judge between us. He is the Judge of judges, azza wa jal.

sorry for the long comment; feel strongly about this particular issue…

2. mozaffar - 28 February 2006

Salams talib,

In principle and practice, I totally agree with you. And, in fact, most Muslims will agree, to a point. But, sometimes there is still the “we” and “they” attitude commonly present among both sides.

But the fact remains that there are many who totally disagree. I’m giving those people at methodology to straighten out their thinking.

Most people, on any issue, do have the attitude that we are all brothers and sisters. It’s the few among the vocal people who polarize everybody. Those are the people I am addressing.

The other important point, though, is that there are those people who do call themselves Muslim, and are what I would myself consider to be outside the fold. So, I am providing a methodology for addressing anyone and everyone.

I hope that makes sense.

May Allah bless you; thank you for your post.

Omer M

3. talib - 2 March 2006

JazakAllahKhair for your articles and posts as well.

4. Shi'a - 9 March 2006

For most Shi’as it would be totally unacceptable to be regarded as a mnuafiq by a Sunni – in some contexts, being a munafiq is worse than a non-Muslim – because a hypocrite is two faced. And I would not hesitate to completely disasocciate myself from anyone who regards me as a munafiq (I’m Shi’a).

Sometimes I get the feeling that Zaytuna types especially have this view – they are nice and silent to you upfront when the topic of being a Shi’a comes up – but then they say all kinds of crap when they think there are no Shi’as around. I know this from personal experience.

I don’t know what the problem is with you Sunni types that you just cannot fully accept Shi’as as your brothers and sisters. Get over it – and learn to recognize that we are here and not going away. There are also some problems with the Shi’as with regards to how they preceive Sunnis – but this has been a result of centuries of being treated like shit by the Sunni majority.

But thank you for your post – atleast I know the kind of mentality even supposedly “open minded” Sunnis have these days – since the Wahabbi mentality of regarding Shi’as as non-Muslims is no longer acceptable – now you come up with regarding us as munafiqs, and ahlul-bida and other such garbage.

5. mozaffar - 9 March 2006

Dear “Shi’a”

Unfortunately, you missed the whole point of the entry. But, your post is appreciated, despite the ad hominems.

Very respectfully,
Omer M

6. Another Shi'a - 10 March 2006

If your point was to do some outreach to Shi’as and/or encourage some bro./sisterly love amongst Sunnis and Shi’as – then I think this blog entry of regarding each others as munafiqs – has completely missed the whole point.

Why do you have to do all these gymnastics – frankly, I don’t think you quite understand how offensive this all sounds. There is nothing new in Sunnis regarding Shi’as as munafiqs it is just another way to not talk about us, and keep us invisible.

Seriously, if you have a point to make in this post – then drop all this qualifications of what one is to regard another. Acknowledge that Shi’as and Sunnis are bros. and sisters – without all this ifs and buts and what nots.

7. mozaffar - 10 March 2006

Dear Another Shi’a,

I’m not presenting any idealistic notions of how Sunnis and Shi’is should regard each other. It would be nice and idealistic to say that we’re all brothers and sisters and we should all hug and hold hands.

The point here is that there are plenty of Sunnis and Shi’is who *do* regard the other as kafirs and munafiqs. I’m telling them to fulfill the obligations of such a stance. If you do regard the other has a munafiq, then be silent. If you regard the other as a kafir, then do da’wa.

Thanks for your post.

Very respectfully,
Omer M

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