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New Released: A Memorandum on Intersectarian Harmony in Islam

This is a translation of the book Risālah Salām Madhhabī written by Shaykh Haider Hobbollah, published in 2015 and addressed both Shī‘ī and Sunnī audiences.

This book is an open memorandum to all the Muslims of the world, whether Shīʿa, Sunni, Ibāḍi, Ṣūfi, etc. It is a memorandum of love and affection, of brotherhood and amity, of truth and sincerity; a memorandum of laying the facts bare and exposing the truth. It is one of critiquing oneself and others, turning a new page, and defining the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) and their followers. The book aims to reveal in it the thoughts, investigation, responsibilities, aspirations, visions, concepts, and inferences that are held by the adherents of this faction. The book summarizes their beliefs, jurisprudence, methodologies, relationship with others, viewpoints, achievements, and historical responsibility.

Introduction

Since the dawn of Islam, the Muslims had congregated around their Prophet to garner from him religious instruction and learn from the Divine inspiration which descended upon him. Along with the Divine Providence and the Muḥammadan grace, the message of Islam was forged by the efforts of these individuals surrounding the Prophet. The Muslim congregation was notably small in its size—an oppressed minority—facing all forms of oppression, tyranny, and transgression. Nonetheless it maintained its consolidation, with individuals mutually working together to embody the epitome of self-actualization, inter-cooperation, and collaboration—all in the spirit of brotherhood: a brotherhood which indeed left its impressions on the destiny of Islamic proselytization and crystallized the principles of unity and accommodation between Muslims until today; a brotherhood which emerged from individuals who had not long before been in the throes of conflict and discord. As God himself states in the Qur’ān:

هُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَيَّدَكَ بِنَصْرِهِ وَبِٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِهِمْ لَوْ أَنفَقْتَ مَا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا مَّآ أَلَّفْتَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَلَٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ أَلَّفَ بَيْنَهُمْ إِنَّهُۥ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

“It is He who assisted the believers with his succor and harmonized their hearts; and should you have spent all of what was in the Earth, you would not have harmonized their hearts, but yet God harmonized between them. Indeed, He is the Mighty, the Wise.”

This harmony was in the wake of Islam’s values and teachings, which found their way into the hearts and souls of the Muslims to create a new generation: one that would not take long to transform the face of the world in a relatively short period of time. It was natural for some personal or impersonal dissidence to arise here and there between the Muslims, although the presence of the Messenger (p) and the monumental spiritual outpouring of ethical Islamic principles and Qur’ānic teachings dissolved many a strife. But nonetheless, humankind is predisposed to variation between its ilk, and thus this fated principle of divergence has taken its course among Muslims over their extended history. At this juncture, we are not invested in defining the causes and bases for the divergence that took place after the passing of the Holy Prophet (p) (whether it had been morally sanctionable, the result of independent reasoning (ijtihād) between the Muslims, collusion, a power struggle, etc.). However, what concerns us here is that the Prophet’s departure formed an important milestone in the timeline of Islam. Indeed, rapid was that snowball effect which precipitated a great schism within Islam’s adherents, eventually leading to entire schools of thought and movements that would brawl with each other and even shed one another’s blood in the name of the self-same creed.

We do not aim to place the responsibility of this rift upon anyone, but rather we aim to usher a dispelling of this state. Although we may disagree in our interpretation of the Qur’ān and Sunnah—disagreeing to the extent that one of us may look at its text and conclude that an action is obligatory while another may not, or one of us may look at a specific verse of the Qur’ān and believe it is a testament to the virtue of a specific historical personality while another may not, this is all but a natural affair. It is not only exclusive to Islam but is rather seen in the history of all religions because of the human mind’s limitations in uncovering truth.

However, the issue has become an ordeal because this natural variation has morphed into an unnatural one, whereby people disregard one another and Muslims distance themselves from each other. Rather, in some cases their blood is even shed owing to the negative viewpoint they carry of their brethren. Hence, the Islamic society is disintegrated, and the condition of Muslims is weakened by their internal strife and discord. Even more unfortunate is that the abundance of argumentation and polemics regarding these sectarian differences coupled with the continued development in these fields has wrought even more discord rather than providing positive intellectual reform! Indeed, there is no worth in these intellectual movements when no positive epistemological or practical reform is facilitated through them.

All of the above requires us to pause together in front of our conscience, our religion, our history, and our humanity to ask: what is our obligation? What can we do to transcend this sectarian hatred whose exponential growth we witness day after day in our current climate? How may we preserve the ummah and the society against the flotsam of sectarian strife and its manifestations? How can we erase this in the spirit of avoiding further degeneration into the abyss of sectarian schism? Every day we witness the mutual shedding of Muslim blood under the auspices of defending religion, creed, sect, and faction—to the extent that their internal conflict is even more heinous, cruel, and violent than their conflict with societies foreign to theirs!

The Shīʿi loyal to ʿAlī grapples with the Sunni loyal to Abū Bakr on issues that even the two personalities themselves never surmised! The Ḥanafī and the Ḥanbalī grapple with the Jaʿfarī to an extent hundreds of time more intense than al-Imām Ja’far ibn Muḥammad al-Ṣādiq himself disagreed with Abū Ḥanīfa ibn Nu’mān! At the same time, how may we maintain for each adherent to this religion his own identity, uniqueness, beliefs, and thoughts? How may we combine between a fortified and deep relationship in brotherhood and an authentic preservation of the theological and jurisprudential conclusions and beliefs of our fellow Muslims?

To answer such questions, we require a great deal of discourse, however one of the prerequisites is to become more acquainted with one another via an inquisitive mind: in a way that each of us defines clearly for his compatriot his respective identity so that there is no need for vacillation or doubt. Another step is that everyone among us ought to extent his or her hand to the other in the spirit of meeting on the constructive disagreements we may have while leaving aside those which are not. Let us halt the spilling of blood and the picking at the historical scabs of the ummah. Let us halt the transformation of our present to our past such that we regress; rather, let us progress by reinterpreting our history to form a better present and future. Let us recognize the elements of reconcilability and love therein rather than focusing on the elements of alienation and division or making history a vain goal onto itself.

This book is the precise product of apprehending this enormous responsibility; this suppressed conscientious objection; this monumental crisis in which we live; this intense anxiety that looms on our horizon as a society; and this threat imposing on the very existence of Islam itself. We seek to convey that which God has commanded us towards and to assume some of the responsibility towards the world’s Muslims upon our shoulders: to speak the truth in times of crisis.

This humble book is an open memorandum to all the Muslims of the world, whether Shīʿa, Sunni, Ibāḍi, Ṣūfi, etc. It is a memorandum of love and affection, of brotherhood and amity, of truth and sincerity; a memorandum of laying the facts bare and exposing the truth. It is one of critiquing oneself and others, turning a new page, and defining the school of the Ahl al-Bayt and their followers (the Twelver Shīʿa school). We aim to reveal in it the thoughts, investigations, responsibilities, aspirations, visions, concepts, and inferences that are held by the adherents of this faction. We will briefly summarize their beliefs, jurisprudence, methodologies, relationship with others, viewpoints, achievements, and historical responsibility.

This is a memorandum to the other—every other—within the sphere of Islam to make clear our conceptions and views and to place ourselves on an authentic trajectory. We live in a historically defining moment in the lifespan of this ummah and we seek to answer the call of the moment with this book: to break the siege of history and embark on a new understanding of religion through which we can join hands and rebuild the majesty of a nation that has long formed an essential link in the history of human civilization.

Speaking for a large segment of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, we announce publicly our open memorandum to the world and our fellow brothers of other Muslim schools of thought: a memorandum which invites toward correspondence, communication, peace, safety, and civilized life; a memorandum that inspires us to grant each other rights, respect, appreciation, and optimism; in order that we may build homelands that are fortified from the interior, not shaken by the windy storms of evil, death, and strife. It is a message that will inspire many but may also upset others here and there; especially as we express our clear viewpoints that may be personally disagreeable, even perhaps to some among the Shīʿa. However, we only seek to contextualize ourselves and our beliefs in the wake of the categorizations of today.

It is a memorandum of love, by God’s permission: a memorandum for sectarian harmony—for our homeland, our nation, our society, and our civilization; and God is over what we say a witness!

Ḥaydar Muḥammad Kāmil Ḥubbullāh

Ramaḍān 10th, 1436 A.H.    |     July 28th, 2015

About the Author

Haidar Hobballah specialized in Quran and Hadith Sciences, Jurisprudence and Fundamentals of Islamic Jurisprudence, and Comparative Religions as well as Christian Theology. He has twenty-six years of experience as a teacher in the Islamic seminary of Qom, al-Mustafa University, and the University of Religions and Denominations. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of multiple journals. Published intellectual, academic, and jurisprudential contributions in various journals and publications in Iran and the Arab world. He has authored twenty-two books in the fields of Jurisprudence, Fundamentals of Jurisprudence, Philosophy, Hadith sciences, and Theology and has published many of his articles in journals. Haider Hobballah holds a PhD in Christian Theology and Comparative Religions from the University of Religions and Denominations in Iran and an Master ‘s degree in Qurʼān and Hadith Sciences from the Faculty of Fundamentals of Religion in Iran.

Table of Contents

Preface
Translator’s Introduction
Foreword
What is the Value of this Nature of Memoranda?
1. Our Message: Between the Voice of the Conscience and a Responsible Reality
2. Everything is Possible, Hence Let us Practice Our Roles in Our Domains of Influence
3. The Holy Qur’ān and the Language of Aspiring for the Future
4. Our Message is to Free Religion from Sectarian Excuses for our Conflicts
5. Welcoming Constructive Critique and Alternative Viewpoints
The Shīʿa and their Religious Beliefs: A Synopsis of The Imāmi Sect
1. Introduction
2. The Precepts of Belief in The Imāmi Sect
a. The First Axis: Divinity
i. Al-Tawḥīd
1. Al-Tawḥīd Al-Dhātī
2. Al-Tawḥīd Al-Ṣifātī
3. Al-Tawḥīd Al-Khāliqī
4. Al-Tawḥīd Al-Rubūbī
5. Al-Tawḥīd Al-ʿIbādī and the Prohibition Against Prostrating to
Other than God
6. What about the Shīʿa Naming their Children ʿAbdul Ḥusayn, etc.?
ii. The Divine Names and Attributes
1. The Positive Confirmatory Attributes (Al-Ṣifāt al-Thubūtiyyah)
a. Essential Attributes (Al-Ṣifāt al-Dhātīyyah)
i. Omniscience
ii. Divine Knowledge and the Question of Badā’
iii. Omnipotence
iv. Ever-Livingness
b. Active Attributes (Al-Ṣifāt al-Fi’līyyah)
2. The Negative Attributes (Al-Ṣifāt al-Salbiyyah)
iii. Divine Justice (al-ʿadl al-ilāhī)
1. Destiny and Fate (al-qaḍā’ wa al-qadr)
b. The Second Axis: Prophethood and Messengership (al-nubuwwah wa al-risālah)

  1. Infallibility of Prophets and Messengers

    ii. The Belief in the Muḥammadan Message

    iii. The University and Eternality of the Muḥammadan Message

    iv. The Sources of the Qur’ān and Sunnah: The Question of Distortion

    c. The Third Axis: Imamate and Caliphate (al-imāmah wa al-khilāfah)

    i. How do the Shīʿa Understand Imamate in Comparison to Ahl as-Sunnah?

    ii. The Necessity of Imamate and its Purpose in Shīʿa Belief

    iii. Imamate and the Question of Divine Appointment

    iv. Infallibility of the Imāms

    v. Who are the Twelve Imāms?

    vi. Imām Mahdī and the Belief in Mahdawiyyah and Rajʿah

    vii. The Imām’s Knowledge of the Unseen and Cosmic Authority are Disputed

    Areas for the Imāmis

    d. The Fourth Axis: The Afterlife and Resurrection

    3. The Precepts of Sharīʿah within the Shīʿa Imāmi Sect

    a. The Sources of Jurisprudential Reasoning Among the Imāmis

    So Why the Differences?

    The Dispute Today is Between the Imāmis and Some Muslims, not All of Them

    The Shīʿa and Sunnah: Common Concerns and Impending Issues

    1. Introduction

    2. The Issue of Excommunication and Accusing others of Polytheism

    a. The Gravity of Excommunication

    b. Calling the Imāmis Towards Reforming Certain Practices

    c. Our Conception of the Issue of Intercession (al-tawassul) in the Prophet and

    Saints (al-awliyā’)

    d. Calling the Ahl al-Sunnah Towards Understanding their Fellow Muslims

    e. Cosmic Authority and the Question of Shirk: Correcting Misconceptions

    f. Calling Towards Understanding Prostration On Ḥusaynī Soil and Visitation of

    Mausoleums

    g. The Crisis of Excommunication and the Repercussions of Such Actions

    h. The Necessity of Confining Issues of Excommunication to Only the Most Senior

    Scholars of the Ummah

    3. The Stance Towards the Ṣaḥābah and the Mothers of the Believers

    a. Refusal to Strip the Right of Ijtihād in Issues of History

    b. Between the Mistakes of the Ṣaḥābah and Accusations of Kufr

    c. The Imāmi Corpus and the Question of the Ṣaḥābah

    d. Cursing Revered Figures

  2. The Mothers of the Believers: Between Purity and Reverence

    f. Calling Shīʿa Religious Authorities Towards Bold Historical Stances

    g. Calling the Sunnī Religious Authorities Towards Taking a Bold Stance in Reference

    to the Prophetic Ahl al-Bayt

    h. The Logic of the Qur’ān in Calling for Justice and Equality

    4. Distortion of the Qur’ān and Denial of the Prophetic Sunnah

    a. Does the Imāmi Stance in Not Accepting the Impeccability of the Ṣaḥābah Really

    Destroy the Prophetic Sunnah?

    b. Towards Establishing General Islamic Ḥadith Databases

    5. Dissimulation and The Crisis of Confidence (al-taqiyyah)

    a. Why Did the Practice of Dissimulation Emerge? Analyzing the Causes

    b. Has Dissimulation Continued to Be a Barrier to Understanding the Shīʿa?

    c. Two Invitations to the Shīʿa and Sunnī Regarding Dissimulation

    6. Religious Rituals and Occasions

    a. Shīʿa Rituals and the Question of Polytheism

    b. Are the Ḥusaynī Rituals a Conspiracy Against the Rites of Ḥajj and the Holy

    Ḥaramayn?

    c. The Shīʿa and Sunnī Entry into A Dangerous Bāzār

    d. What is the Course of Action?

    e. What about Some Specific Rites Like Taṭbīr and its Like?

    f. The Crisis of Trying to Reduce Shīʿism to Rituals

    7. Temporary Marriage and Nikāḥ Mutʿah

    a. Proposing the Founding of a Center for Comparative Fiqh

    b. What is the Story Behind Temporary Marriage and What Is Its Sharʿī Form?

    8. Shīʿa Expansionism and Shīʿa Disruption of the Peace in Sunnī Beliefs

    a. The Necessity Of Understanding the Sunnī Anxiety Over Shīʿa Expansionism

    b. What Should be the Form of the Solution?

    i. The Right of Every Muslim to Spread His Views and the Right of Others to

    Engage and Critique It

    ii. The Phenomenon of Discrimination Between the Islamic Sects in Da’wah

    c. What Have We Achieved in the Face of the Spread of Atheism and Areligious

    Trends in the Ummah?

    d. Religious Discourse: Between Presenting Views and Polemical Language

    e. Who Is Responsible for the Spread of Shīʿism in the World?

    Managing Our Differences: Principles, Methods, and Tools

    Introduction

    1. The First Principle: The Legitimacy of Ijtihād and the Necessity of Acknowledging

    Alternative Views

a. The Necessity of Opening the Door of Ijtihād in Theology, History, and
Jurisprudence
2. The Second Principle: Finding Excuses for Other Muslims
3. The Third Principle: Convergences and Divergences- No to Disintegrating Sects and No to
Disintegrating Islam
4. The Fourth Principle: Minorities and the Majority – Fostering and Integration (al-iḥtiḍān
wa al-indimāj)
a. The Citizenship of the Shīʿa in the Arab World
5. The Fifth Principle: The Basis of Liberty and Security (al-ḥurriyah wa al-amn)
6. The Sixth Principle: Separating Religious and Political
What are the Necessary Steps to Take?
Practical Steps are Essential
1. Reviewing Our Sects with a Critical Eye (Refining the Religious Corpus)
2. Reviewing our Reading of Other Sects
3. Striving Towards Showing the High Points of Other Sects
4. Extending Bridges for Mutual Collaboration between Schools of Thought
5. Establishing Positions in Universities and Seminaries for Cross-Sectarian Studies
6. The Immediate Cessation of Offensive Sectarian Propaganda
7. Benefiting from the Experiences of Religiously Tolerant Countries
8. Freeing the Clergy by Separating Religion and Politics
9. Aligning Political Issues with Religious Issues on Mutual Interests
10. The Necessity to Review the Programs and Priorities of Religious Institutions
11. Unifying the Efforts of the Moderates of All Sects Against the Fringe Elements
12. Establishing Innovative and Intensive Strategies for Actualizing Mutual Religious
Projects
13. Foregoing Excessive Protocolization in Cross-Sectarian Projects
14. The Issuance of Fatwas from Religious Authorities and Foundations to Signify the New
Paradigm
15. Advocation of Islamic Languages Other Than Arabic

Bibliographic Information

Title: Risalah Salam Madhhabi – A Memorandum on Intersectarian Harmony in Islam

Author(s): Haidar Hobballah

Translator(s): Muhammad Jaffer and Sayyid Ali Imran

Publisher: Al-Burāq Publications

Length: 228 pages

ISBN: 9781956276244

Pub. Date: 12/09/2022

Click Here to Buy the Book.

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