April 22, 2008

Misunderstandings and Lack of Dialogue

Though many people try to pretend otherwise, I strongly believe that there is not an active, fruitful dialogue between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Why is it so? As I noted in an earlier post, there is a pile of false beliefs about the either side which make reconciliation difficult to happen. For example, many Sunnis think that "Shiite believe that today Quran is a distorted one not equal to one descended to the holy prophet", which is an absolutely wrong accusation.

The problem, however, is not just limited to false beliefs, for false beliefs may be easily removed by educative information. Indeed, there are some real problems. Let me elaborate on one example. Some Shiite sects have had a long standing tradition of exaggerating about the status of Shiite Imams, the infallible descendants of Holy Prophet who are believed by Shiite to be the righteous guides of Muslim community and true successors of Holy prophet. Those who exaggerate about Shiite Imams often justify their act with a saying attributed to Imams: "descend us from the status of being God, and say whatever descriptions you may ever desire about us." It should be noted, however, that many Shiite scholars cast doubt on the authentication of this quote and other similar ones. After all, this is something with which Sunni Muslims could never get along.

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked Jooya Jahanbakhsh that why we are so addicted to make an idol out of saints? Jahanbakhsh made a brief, yet informative analysis of the matter. He said: "such problems usually occur when dialogue happens to transform into a form of monologue. As a historical example, Sheikh Mofid and Sheikh Saddugh, both regarded as supreme scholars of Shiite school of thought, lived in the same time around 6th century AH (14th century AD). One of them, Sheikh Mofid, taught in a Shiite seminary in Baghdad. The other one, Sheikh Saddugh, taught in Qom. Since Sheikh Mofid was very close to Sunni seminaries, he had to be careful and rational: every single issue may turn into a hot dialogue and debate. But Sheikh Saddugh, located in Qom, was far away from Sunni scholars, thus failed to practice dialogue, i.e. there was no objection to his statements: he was the sole religious authority in northern Iran. The consequences are very clear: works of Sheikh Mofid tend to be more rational, and those of Sheikh Saddugh tend to be more romantic. Sheikh Mofid used to place a high value on reason, while Sheikh Saddugh appreciated intuitive understanding of the religious resources."

Let's review the above analysis: Lack of dialogue paves the way for lack of reason, thus fostering romantic, intuitive interpretation of religion, which may not be easily justified by reason. Therefore, a heavy pile of misunderstanding comes into existence.

Though it may initially seem that misunderstandings work as an impediment to dialogue, they are originally the effect of dialogue being absent in religious atmosphere. What a terrible loop of errors!
Jooya Jahanbakhsh is a distinguished seminary student in Isfahan with a background of studies in Islam's history, whose clerical grade is equal to PhD, i.e. an Ayatollah he is. He has published several papers and some of his books are yet to be published.
Jooya Jahanbakhsh


mohsen goudarzi said...

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ya ali
mohsen goudarzi(yosof mohammadey)

mahtabnameha said...

من انگلیسی کم بلدم
ولی به خاطر وقتی که برای مهتاب نامه ها گذاشتید ممنونم.

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