“The Believers Are Like Brothers To One Another; So, Promote Peace And Reconciliation Among Them….”
(Surah Al-Hujurat 49: Ayah 10, The Holy Quran)
As the festive fervour set in and the gas stove was stacked with pans full of delicious dishes, apart from the sweet smell of sewayain (vermicelli) and mouth watering kebabs, there was another reason which became a reason for my happiness. As I scrolled through my Facebook posts, a morning ritual most of us follow, thanks to the era of technology, I found pictures of men belonging to the Shia and Sunni community offering the namaaz of Id-Ul-Zuha together.
It was a moment of pride and happiness, and I could see that a wave of change had already set in. The movement called “Shoulder to Shoulder” which promotes Shia-Sunni unity, has indeed done a commendable job. With earlier news pieces reporting violence and tension between the two communities, reading about an act that reflected unity and brotherhood surely was a refreshing and welcoming change.
Often when I was asked the question of the difference between the two communities, I was mostly at a loss of words, because the values that I have been brought up with never taught me that Islam is divided into sects. For being a person following the five tenets of Islam was a Muslim and till date I firmly believe in the same.
Atif Hanif throws light on the Shoulder to Shoulder movement, a citizen driven initiative –
“Shia & Sunni are the sects which are created by people and so are the differences. Both offer namaz jointly in Mecca & Medina which are the highest seats of Islam. So the thought has evolved to replicate it in Lucknow, which is otherwise also the Centre of Culture in Asia. We have procured the Fatwa from Al-Sayyid Ali Al- Sistani from Iran that it is technically possible. So it is a kind of movement which started from namaz and now we will touch other issues also related to social and economic life. Universal brotherhood and Peace are the core objectives.”
The Sibtainabad Imambara in Lucknow witnessed a historical moment when Muslims belonging to both the communities came together and offered the Eid prayers together. Approx 500 people attended the prayers, the congregation included doctors, engineers, lawyers, corporate Professionals, businessmen, and people from all walks of life. The feeling of unity and brotherhood was accentuated when Senior Shia cleric Maulana Syed Kalbe Sadiq hugged and congratulated Mohammad Shehzad, the young Ahle Sunnat haafiz who led the prayers.
The ancient Sibtainabad Imambara which is 168 years became a part of a brand new beginning that will ensure that unnecessary divide between the two communities is reduced and the feeling of brotherhood and unity is given the right impetus.
Ironically the state of Uttar Pradesh, specifically the city of Lucknow had earlier been in the news for reporting clashes between the two communities, on different occasions. But the new citizen driven initiative “Shoulder to Shoulder” has set a mark and sent across a message that the reflects the true essence of Islam which is based on peace, unity and brotherhood.
The Holy Prophet never encouraged his ummah (followers) to be a part of debates, discussions or arguments as this would lead to creation of bad blood and tension.
Irrelevant debates, and arguments would only lead us into wasting energies but doing something that would help us not only become better Muslims but better humans will definitely help us build a society that will help the future generations to flourish and progress with a broad thinking and positive mindset.
Islam also teaches that not only should the physical strength of the people be made use of with everyone working towards one common goal, rather we must also seek assistance through the intelligence and aptitude of the members of society. Through taking advice, working together and accepting the opinions of others, we must remove the monstrous difficulties that are faced by the people. The Noble Qur’an considers asking advice and (through this), changing one’s opinion as one of the characteristics of a person with true faith.
The movement to Shoulder to Shoulder initiative is a true reflection of the tenets on which the religion is based.
The goal of union and coalition
Is to gather the powers.
Since when drops of water gather,
Then they form a (powerful) river.
Nothing comes about from a drop (individual),
However the river (unity) runs strong.
Any benefit that can be imagined,
Comes about from that river (of unity).
(An excerpt from a poem)
Today as I write this blog, a sense of satisfaction and happiness grips me hard, I feel elated that after a long time, a change which was so needed has finally come to the surface. Bridging the gap between the two communities would not only help eradicate negative feelings but will also help the two communities work together for the betterment of the society and the nation as well.