ethnic and ideological intolerances, as well as the often more destructive yet
rarely highlighted frictions that arise from inter-state politics and rivalries
have all featured in one way or another during our lifetimes and always with calamitous

recent times, western media outlets have zoomed in on Islamic radicalism and
sectarianism as leading headlines for intolerance. Through this association,
false assumptions concerning religion and Islam in particular, are regurgitated
whilst politicians conceal hegemonic plots beneath the shocking sights of
sectarian violence”.

this functional bias towards a particular strand of intolerance, we as Muslims
must not lose sight of the bigger picture or shy away from deal-ing with our
own challenges. Intolerance and radicalism are neither exclusive to the Muslim
world, nor are we somehow insulated from their perfidious reach and effects.

Muslims, the presence of figures and groups who advocate intolerance from within
our midst should elicit a proactive and solemn sense of duty. To put it simply,
Muslims who advocate intolerance strike their first arrows at the heart of
Islam, and at their respective sects, before their harm reaches anywhere near
the claimed targets of their hate.

are three common characteristics that unite so-called religious preachers of
sectarian hate and intolerance:

Chopping the Faith: Islam in its pristine and pure essence is indivisible. To
drink from its streams of truth and knowledge, one must experience and
internalize the seamless coherence between its doctrine, morality, spirituality
and jurisprudence.

of the tell-tale signs of an advocate of intolerance is the striking  absence of this inclusivity. As a result,
intolerant figures tend to focus on specific aspects within the Islamic
tradition; be it a stubborn focus on particular episodes in history or aspects
of doctrine. When questioned about how their particular narratives fit
alongside other aspects within the much wider and richer religious heritage,
they instantly mumble out words of warning or entirely unrelated

a result of this conceptual constriction of Islam, their discourse becomes
similarly narrowed. And the immediate consequence of this is that language
becomes increasingly less inclusive and filled with virulent abuse towards the
other .

The Enemy Within: As a result of their constricted interpretation of what constitutes
faith, the first adversaries confronted by intolerant factions are often those
from within their own sect who refuse to acquiesce to narrow interpretations.

the occupation of Iraq and the spike in sectarian-driven attacks on open
markets and mosques, armed groups that subscribed to a militant Wahhabi outlook
carried out numerous assassinations of Sunni scholars in a classical
illustration of this tendency. In the ShiI sphere, previously unknown clerics
who have made a name for themselves by foul-mouthing Sunni figures and symbols
actually intertwined their  tirades with
the most vulgar abuse of leading Shi i scholars.

who simplify the actions of advocates of sectarian hate in a purely inter-sectarian
framework do an injustice to the essential resolution of the problem, because
these sectarian warmongers usually begin by directing their spite at those from
within their own sect often terming them traitors or enemies within.

Image vs. Reality: Human beings tend to portray themselves as what they are in
fact not. Advocates of intolerance and hate-speech are a prime example of this
human flaw. No person in their mind would describe him/herself as a racist or
instigator. Intolerant scholars and sectarian instigators in particular, often
represent themselves as puritanical revivalists who are fixed on setting the
record straight. They wail against accommodations accretions that have eroded
into the original pristineness of faith .

factor serves to create a vicious counter-circle. By highlighting particular
grievances, they amplify certain issues within the faith at the expense of others
thereby dividing the wholeness of religious heritage for their own sinister
goals. These preachers of hate and division drape themselves in strong
religious symbolism to arouse the masses, particularly the energetic youth.

example, certain divisive Shi i scholars point to the injustices com-mitted
against the Ahlulbayt, and thereby justify the need to break off ties with our
Sunni brothers. By doing so, they market themselves as real defenders of the
Ahlulbayt. Yet these so-called scholars fail to mention how the Ahlulbayt dealt
with those who wronged them, let alone point to the directives left behind by
the noble Imams concerning how we should interact with our fellow Muslims.

Islamic history, we have faced the challenge from divisive figures. Often they
have been closely tied to the seats of authority. We have heard the terms
scholars of the court and jurists of the Sultans used to describe this class
of preachers. In the modern age of global interests, imperialists and
tyrannical monarchies, rulers have an even more pronounced need for this class
of scholars . The fact that sectarianism has risen to become an issue when
leading Islamic visionaries of our time have underlined the importance of
Islamic Unity should in itself be sufficient to unmask the hidden hands that
are at work.

Nevertheless,  historical experience must have taught us by
now that divisive figures who preach hate and rabid sectarianism will continue
to exist. The shifting sands of global power and the mad scramble for dominance
in strategic regions such as the Middle East will merely add to the levels of
complexity. What we need to do as individuals and communities is to exercise
vigilance and shoulder our responsibilities. We must equip our communities,
particularly our youth, with the conceptual tools to combat intolerance. Our
pulpits must be safeguarded from divisive figures masquerading as puritanical
revivalists. Those who speak in our name to incite hatred must be exposed for
what they are with a unified voice.

believers the finest examples can be found in the lives of the noble Imams. The
school of Imam Jafar Al-Sadie in the holy city of Madinah, and the uninterrupted
line of scholars throughout the ages have taught us to regard our fellow
Muslims as our brothers, to afford them respect, protect their dignity and
possessions, stand alongside them in prayer, visit their sick and participate
in their funerals In his final will, Imam Ali a beautifully expresses the
deeply-grounded Islamic relationship between obedience to Allah and service
towards fellow creation. Through this deep statement, he provides an unfailing
counsel on how we should conduct ourselves and deal with some of the challenges
we confront today.

advise you, and all my children, my relatives, and whosoever receives this
message, to be conscious of Allah, to remove your differences, and to strengthen
your ties. I heard your grandfather, peace be upon him, say. Reconciliation of
your differences is more worthy than all prayers and all fasting.”


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