Release Date: February 7, 2007
A national Planning Meeting of The Shia-Sunni Dialogue to Save Lives was held in Chicago on December 25, 2006 to develop strategies to systematically involve Muslims in the United States in reducing violence and saving lives of victims of Shia-Sunni conflicts. The deadly conflict between Shias and Sunnis in Iraq provided the backdrop for the urgent tone of the all-day session, hosted by Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, on behalf of Sound Vision Foundation and co-chaired by Dr. Esmail Koushanpour, Executive Director, Islamic Cultural Center, Northbrook, IL, and Imam Khalid Fattah Griggs, Community Mosque of Winston-Salem, NC.
The twenty-two participants from Chicago and across the country recognized that Muslims in the United States are ideally situated to take a leading role in the Shia-Sunni Dialogue to Save Lives process because of the relative lack of sectarian conflict between the groups in this country and the presence of Muslims whose relatives and friends are still living in the midst of sectarian conflict.
The Muslim community in the US feels the pain of the victims of Shia-Sunni violence in Iraq, Pakistan and Lebanon. A primary impetus for this feeling of empathy is the saying of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, The Muslim Ummah is like a single body; when one part of the body is sick, the whole body catches a fever.
As a result of its deliberations, the Planning Group concluded that it is imperative that the Muslim community in the United States actively and methodically engage in critical dialogue and education concerning Shia-Sunni Dialogue to Save Lives. To facilitate this process, the Planning Group for the Shia-Sunni Dialogue to Save Lives developed the following Resolution and Recommendations for Action:
Whereas, the Quran mandates Muslim unity in the verse: "And hold fast, all together, by the Rope of God, and be not divided among yourselves; And remember with gratitude God?s favor on you when you were enemies, and He united your hearts so by His favor you became brothers; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it; thus does God make clear to you His signs that you may follow the right way." (Quran 3:103)
Whereas, the Quran makes an unequivocal stand for justice in the verse: "Oh you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, God is a Better Protector to both (than you)" (Quran 4:135)
Whereas, although sectarian divisions and some conflicts have existed among Muslims, the magnitude of the Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq has little precedent in the Muslim history with the indiscriminate targeting of innocent men, women and children, and the destruction of ancient, venerated mosques
Whereas, the seeds for divisiveness for the entire Muslim world, including Muslims in the United States, are being sown through the Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq
Whereas, the Muslim community in the United States is composed of thoughtful, caring Shias and Sunnis concerned about the future of Shia-Sunni relations in this country and around the world
Whereas, the differences between Shias and Sunnis have not precluded Shias from making the annual Hajj to God's House in Makkah, Saudi Arabia or being accepted as Muslims by an overwhelming majority of past and present Sunni jurists
BE IT RESOLVED
That the Planning Group for the Shia-Sunni Dialogue to Save Lives calls upon all Muslim Imams, Khateebs, Organization and Opinion Leaders in the United States to engage their local/national constituencies in critical intra-faith dialogue and education about Shia-Sunni relations and how to promote cooperation. Dialogue helps to isolate extremist fringes. Best practices should be shared
That interested Muslim Scholars, Imams, Khateebs, Masjids, Organization and Opinion Leaders, and Individuals assist efforts like the Shia-Sunni Dialogue to Save Lives in crafting a strategy that can be employed throughout the country to increase understanding and enhance cooperation between the groups
That a national Shia Sunni dialogue be held in Chicago on Saturday, April 21, 2007
That Muslims of Arab and South Asian origin residing in the United States organize intra-faith dialogue between Shias and Sunnis of their area of origin residing in this country, share best practices, and promote similar efforts with relatives, friends, and leading Muslims in their home countries.
Recommendations for Action (Individuals)
Ask the Imams, Khateebs, Masjids, Muslim Organizations and Opinion Leaders you know to sign the attached resolution and send us their name, title, organization name (only for identification purpose), mailing address, email, and phone numbers
Ask leaders to participate in April 21, 2007 National Shia-Sunni Dialogue to Save Lives Develop a personal relationship with a Sunni if you are a Shia, and with a Shia if you are a Sunni. Share meals together in each others? home or in a public facility.
Organize and/or attend an Intra-Faith Dialogue or educational session on the core beliefs of Shias and Sunnis. You may be surprised to learn that almost all the core beliefs of both are the same.
Discourage others from making comments that are disparaging to either Shias or Sunnis.
Emphasize the message of the sanctity of human life in the Quran.
Make dua that Allah help this Ummah overcome Shia-Sunni conflict and violence.
Recommendations for Action (Organizational)
Get your organization to sign the attached resolution.
Publicly declare your Islamic Center, Masjid, or Muslim Organization open to ALL MUSLIMS, and work towards making this testimony a reality.
Request Muslim scholars from both the Shia and Sunni communities, including the various Fiqh councils in North America, to issue fatwas:
Reaffirming that the adherents of both Sunni and Shia Schools of Jurisprudence are Muslims.
Condemning sectarian violence and killing.
Make dua that Allah help this Ummah overcome Shia-Sunni conflict and violence and that Allah join the hearts of the Believers in unity.
If you are an imam/khateeb, please sign and fax or email the attached resolution.
If you are not an imam, get your masjid and imam to sign and then fax or email the attached resolution.
Please get as many Muslims as possible to sign the petition.
Photo Attribution: Jerzy Strzelecki - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Umayyad_Mosque_-_interior(js).jpg