Makkah Pact Forbids Shiite-Sunni Killings
Siraj Wahab, Arab News
OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu with prominent Iraqi Shiite and Sunni scholars after the signing of the historic reconciliation declaration at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah early on Saturday. (AN photo by Khidr Al-Zahrani) MAKKAH, 22 October 2006 — Prominent Shiite and Sunni religious scholars from Iraq took the first major step in decades toward mutual recognition at a historic meeting in Makkah yesterday.
In a joint declaration, signed at Al-Safa Palace overlooking the Holy Kaaba, the religious scholars called for a complete end to the sectarian killings in Iraq that have recently assumed horrific proportions.
Meeting under the auspices of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, the Shiite and Sunni scholars called on Iraqis in unambiguous terms to stand united in protecting the independence, unity and territorial integrity of their country. "This is necessary," they said, "in order to put an end to the (foreign) occupation and restore and reinstate Iraq's Arab-Islamic role."
The declaration produced by the scholars contains a ruling which clearly forbids Shiites and Sunnis from killing each other. Essentially a fatwa, the ruling is based on eight key points. The most important is: "The Muslim is he who professes his faith by proclaiming 'Lailaha Illallah Muhammad Rasulullah' (There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet). By this statement, the Muslim embraces and accepts the five pillars of Islam and the central tenets of its faith, thus rendering his blood and property inviolable."
"These fundamental principles," the declaration said, "apply equally to the Sunni and the Shiite without exception. The differences between the two schools of thought are merely differences of opinion and interpretation and not essential differences of faith."
The declaration states that no follower of either school may expel or declare another an unbeliever or in any other way cast aspersions on the faith of a follower of a different school. The grounds for the ruling are based on a statement by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): "If ever one of you calls his brother: You infidel, one of them shall come out the infidel and bear the onus thereof."
The declaration reiterates that all houses of worship are sacrosanct, including mosques and non-Muslim houses of worship of all faiths and religions. "Therefore," the declaration states that, "these places of worship may not be attacked, appropriated, or in any other way used as a haven to perpetrate acts in contravention of Shariah."
The declaration rules that certain things and principles should never be forfeited, including, in particular, unity, cohesion, cooperation and solidarity in piety and righteousness. "It is incumbent upon all Muslims to adopt caution and vigilance against all attempts to sow division among them, break their ranks, or incite sedition, strife, and hatred in order to corrupt their divine and spiritual bonds with each other."
The scholars appealed to all Muslim scholars to support the ruling and urged the Muslims of Iraq to adhere to it. "We pray to Almighty God, on this sacred soil and blessed grounds, to protect and preserve the faith of all Muslims, ensure the safety of our homeland, and bring the Arab-Muslim country of Iraq out of its plight, end its trials and tribulations, and reinstate Iraq as a fortress and pillar of the Muslim Ummah in the face of its enemies."
Prominent among the 28 signatories of the declaration are Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Ghafour Al-Samarai, Sheikh Jalaludeen Al-Saghir, Sheikh Dr. Salah Abdul Razaq, Sheikh Abdul Satar Abdul Jabbar Abbas, Sheikh Dr. Mahmoud Al-Samidai, Syed Muhammad Al-Haideri and Sheikh Dr. Syed Muhammad Bahar Al-Uloom. The signing was witnessed by Sheikh Muhammad Habib Ben El-Khoja, secretary-general of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, Sheikh Muhammad Ali Al-Taskhiri, a member of the academy, and Dr. Muhammad Salim El-Awa, adviser to the OIC secretary-general.
The declaration has received full approval and endorsement from key Shiite and Sunni leadership, most notably from Sheikh Muhammad Syed Tantawi, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Adnan Al-Dulaimi and Sheikh Salah Al-Deen Kuftaro.
The key person behind the Shiite-Sunni reconciliation initiative was undoubtedly OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. "Today is one of God's blessed and historic days," he said after the declaration had been signed.
"It is a day when eminent and benevolent Muslim scholars have strived to reach an agreement to stem the bloodshed in Iraq, to stop the killing of innocent Iraqis and to end the suffering of our Iraqi brethren," Ihsanoglu said.
He said the OIC was conscious of its responsibility toward God, the Islamic Ummah and history. "We have felt duty-bound to put in a particular effort to face this state of disorder in Iraq before it became more serious."
Ihsanoglu pointed out that since one of the causes of insecurity in Iraq was the propagation of ideas alien to the religion and traditions of Islam, it is clear that the religious scholars are most qualified to counter the false ideas, to refute them and warn those who have fallen into their trap of the consequences of their deeds and to attempt to dissuade them.
It was unclear what, if any, influence the declaration would have on the ground in Iraq, but Ihsanoglu said that it had grown out of the purest and most sincere intentions. "We will have to exert all humanly possible efforts to help the Iraqi people regain their sovereignty and to reconstruct their country in an atmosphere of peace, tranquility and Islamic brotherhood," he said.
Ihsanoglu acknowledged that the OIC did not have a magic wand to ensure the declaration's implementation. "It is a moral obligation. Neither the OIC, nor anyone else, has power over the consciences of men," he added.