(Future prospects (horizons) for the followers of the school of Ahl Al-Bayt, peace be upon them)
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and may Allah’s blessings be upon our master Muhammad, his pure family, and his chosen companions
Dear ladies and gentlemen..
Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you
It is a matter of pleasure that this good elite of the followers of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) from all over the world gathers here, in Iraq, in light of the great transformation it has witnessed in the last two decades, and what it represents from the heart of Shiite geography and in the midst of the birth of the commander of the faithful and the dragonfly of religion ,Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him), to discuss the most important issues that concern the sons of this righteous and authentic community and to review them in an extensive, useful and responsible manner.
– The core group of Ahl Al-Bayt Shiites, followers and lovers was established and emerged during the life of the greatest Messenger (may Allah bless him and his family and grant them peace) from a group of loyal and sincere believers, that grew and expanded to represent today one of the largest original active paths and directions in the community of the glory Islamic nation, in number, awareness, presence and commitment.
The establishment of this righteous group at the time of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family), and at his honorable hands, has important indications that must be scrutinized and contemplated on its consequences. The Seal of the Prophets (may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family) was keen, with direct support from heaven, to accomplish the heavenly mission and complete the journey in the fullest way by appointing the trustworthy guardian over his message, his law, and his method to find sufficient guarantees for the continuation of the religion and the final message as a natural and real extension separately from the previous messages, because a new message cannot emerge by virtue of the finality of the message and its final prophet, and the consecration of this content among the nation through an aware group that realizes the seriousness and importance of this matter, in order to take responsibility, circumvent that guardianship, commit to it and follow it and to have the willingness to make great sacrifices for the goals and purposes set for it.
This matter was clearly demonstrated in the biography and history of the Imams of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them), who were the most keen people on Islam, its principles, its heritage, its law, and on the Islamic nation in all its forms and the requirements of its unity and cohesion throughout its extended history.
Although the infallibles Imams (peace be upon them) lived in very different circumstances and were subjected to enormous pressures, they did not collapse in front of them. They possessed great opportunities, but their firm path did not change. They preserved originality and holiness at the level of internal structure, and high flexibility in maintaining a positive relationship with others.
The philosophy of Shiism is based on the good following of this ancient prophetic school and the approach of the descendents of the Holy Prophet and the honorable Alawite lineage, which is summarized in (making the righteous Islamic model in the nation).
The narrations and quotes of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) abounded and expanded when describing the Shiite individual and the group that holds the title ( Shiites), and the list goes on. About them (peace be upon them), with similar contents, the following is mentioned:
– (Our Shiites are those who know Allah, do Allah’s command, people of virtue, and speaking the truth…)
– (Fear Allah, and be an adornment for us, and do not be a disgrace to us. Draw all affection towards us, and defend us from all ugliness).
– (There is no one among our Shiites who lives in a region, where thousands are in it, there is someone that’s more pious than him).
– (O community of Shiites, O Shiites (followers) of the family of Muhammad, be Al-Narmaqah Al-Wusta, the dear one will return to you, and the next one will catch up with you).
(Al-Narmaqah Al-Wusta is those who adhere to the straight path, which is free from excess and negligence; extremism and neglecting).
These features and others, if they indicate anything, they indicate three important matters:
First: The necessity of adhering to the original Islam and its natural extensions.
Second: The need to build a righteous group and set a good example among the nation.
Third: The need for this group to be a “middle nation” that unites the ranks of the nation and does not divide it, and merges with it and does not isolate it. A group which spreads mercy, moderation, and love among the nation and throughout the world, far from hatred, intolerance, extremism, and closure.
The existence of the Shiite reality without a balanced project between principled authenticity and pragmatic flexibility will lead to serious deviations leading to sharp divisions in the Shiite reality due to the inclusion of large areas of the Shiite public under the banners of originality and principled slogans, and the inclusion of other parts under the banners of non-compliant modernity that demand radical changes in the doctrinal, legislative and value principles of Islam. Each of the opposing sides will feed on the mistakes that the other makes and take them as a justification for persisting in extremism and deepening the split in the Shiite community’s reality. It is no secret that preserving the general unity of the Shiite ranks is one of the most important reasons for the power of the Shiites, and it is at the forefront of what Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) emphasized.
This conference is one of the windows of this aspiration to review this experience and try to find knowledge outputs that enable them to adapt to the requirements of the times, especially as we are going through a delicate phase that carries many features that must be paid attention to, the most prominent of which are the following:
First: The transition of the group of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them), especially the Twelver Shiites, from historically being a numerical and geographical minority to large and influential areas that are spread all over the globe in our current era. This requires reorganizing efforts to define this presence, its importance, its features, and the potentials of its effectiveness in a way that suits its role and objectives.
Second: The group of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) was confined to its features through the ancient seminaries (Hawzas) and the more honored religious authority (Marjia’) which has historically bore the burdens of preserving the group and its cohesion and worked to show the features of experience and the characteristics of the followers to the surroundings and the world, which is something that must be preserved as it was. In addition, in our current era, great opportunities have emerged with the emergence of many layers of believing Shiite personalities and elites in various scientific, cultural, economic and political fields at the local, regional and global levels. This requires a different approach to developments and changes.
Third: Scientific, media and technological developments and changes have made our world a small village in which everyone looks to each other and everyone anticipates their intellectual, cultural and civilizational treasures that can make our world better and more interdependent and understanding. This provided tremendous opportunities to introduce the school of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them), its principles, cultural, intellectual and spiritual aspects to the world as an active partner, not as an esoteric, isolated, and dispersed group.
Fourth: Political changes at the level of modern regimes, constitutions, and laws that govern the countries of the world on the basis of new concepts, new rights, and new duties have become more mature and organized than before. This calls for overcoming traditional contexts and benefiting from the elements of realistic flexibility to adapt mutual understanding and interests in order to reach a continuous integration that preserves the principles on one hand and the multi-component reality and its requirements for coexistence and respect for privacy on the other hand, by adhering to the diligent project of the religious authority (Marjia’) that preserves originality and sobriety which transcends stagnation or fusion in the other alike.
This allows the followers of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) to show their intellectual and value treasures towards national concepts, foremost of which are citizenship, diversity management, state building, obeying to law, preserving the rights of the humans and the environment, and other concepts, and also contributing to finding solutions to complicated intellectual crises in human society.
We, starting from our study of the facts mentioned above, have begun to propose and put in shape a (General Shiite Project) that is available to all followers of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) to participate in and put it into practice under the title of (Shiite nationalism), based on a long history of positions, ideas and guidance issued by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and his family and grant them peace) and the pure Imams (peace be upon them), passing through the movement of Fuqaha’ throughout history after the Major Occultation (Al-Ghaybah Al-Kubrā) reaching the school of Najaf Al-Ashraf as a central and authentic axis for this project. We presented its general features, and we invited the Shiite elites and personalities, in the forefront of your presence, to participate in it and accomplish it.
– The Shiite nationalism that we propose is based on three facts from which other matters derive, which are as follows:
First: The followers of the school (ideology) of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) in terms of belief, Sharia, and rituals are represented by one coherent identity that follows a unified approach in its doctrinal movement, even if it varies in its ritual methods and religious references, but it follows the same general framework that it believes in and adheres to its parts that are cross-borders and restrictions.
The Shiite Muslim’s belief in Monotheism (Tawhid), justice, Pophecy, Imamate, and resurrection, and their commitment to Sharia law and rituals cannot be defined by specific geographical boundaries. It is something shared by every Shiite, regardless of their national identity, language, or race.
Second: The followers of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) are unified in terms of belief, but they are distributed among existing states, countries and homelands that are governed by social and political contracts of their own, according to their national identity, their countries, and their societies in an authentic and permanent historical line. This matter requires them to (integrate into their societies, consolidate their national identity, and adhere to their laws). This is what the school of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) called for through the commandments of the immaculate Imams (peace be upon them), and the jurists (Fuqaha’) focused on it and the supreme authority established it clearly in its wise recommendations and guidance. The Iraqi Shiite, for example, has national, societal, legal, cultural, and customary characteristics that are different from the Iranian, Lebanese, Saudi, Pakistani, Indian, Afghani Shiite, or any Shiite in any other Arab, Muslim and international country. These characteristics are not artificial, rather they stem from the depth of this Shiite’s belonging to their homeland, society, and state historically, emotionally, and contractually/constitutionally (such as rights and duties). This matter is not likely to cross borders, meaning that they cannot be an Iraqi Shiite and at the same time belong to another country with different features and characteristics, or comply with the laws of another country, or import a different culture to their society, contrary to society’s desire.
Shia nationalism/patriotism is real. Shiites affiliation is realistic with the homeland, society and the state, and not as some believe that citizenship has no place in religious thought, or that citizenship is just a cover for Shiites to obtain gains, benefits and rights without having duties and obligations. We must avoid any contradiction between the requirements of ideological affiliation and affiliation to the homeland, which is produced by the overlapping of feelings, activities and positions, or the imposed and fabricated negative intersections that are faked to the Shiite community.
Here we are faced with three cases:
A – That the Shiites are to be a majority in a country. This requires their full concern for the rights of all their partners and other components in their country and creating an equal environment for rights and duties.
B- That the Shiites are to be a minority in a country. Here it is necessary to find the appropriate environment for their incorporation with their other partners and to participate in the issues of their homeland, an effective and realistic participation, in line with their sectarian specificity.
C – That the Shiites are to be a minority in non-Muslim countries, as in the West and elsewhere. Here it is necessary to look for how to integrate them legally in those countries while preserving their privacy and identity and being recognized by the majority in those countries.
Third: The followers of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) in every country are distributed in the form of individuals, organizations, institutions, and various intellectual trends and views.
There are the liberal Shiites, the Islamic Shiites, the academic Shiites, the partisan Shiites, and the independent ones. Thus, the intellectual and cultural views vary. This matter should be studied as an individual right for every Shiite in their homeland. The result is that the Shiites are united in the scope of belief, and are spread in the frameworks of states and societies, and they are respected in their individual, intellectual, cultural and political commitments. This makes the paths clearer among them and more understanding and appreciation than others, and removes from them the false suspicions that cast doubt on them, their affiliations and their national stances.
– What we are proposing is an idea that requires more realization and organization, but its basis is our belief in the need to benefit from the depth of (Al-Thaqalayn) and the reliable jurisprudence (Fiqh) that makes the transition from traditional templates to modern frameworks and allows everyone greater flexibility in movement, discourse and effectiveness committed to identity, preserving true Shiism and able to unify the Shiite community and its credibility in adhering to the ancient jurisprudential approach represented by the religious authority that includes the requirements of fellowership (taqlid).
Stiffness over the movement of the past and its circumstances, neutrality towards the present, and lack of planning for the future are all obstructing factors that are not in proportion with our Shiite intellectual treasure that is capable of renewal while preserving the originality, belief, and head lines of group of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them).
– I call for a re-study of the experience of the honorable Najaf Al-Ashraf and the supreme religious authority (the supreme Marjia’) all its details and its rich intellectual and cultural givings that have become monitored and witnessed by the world.
– This is the basic building block from which we can start towards our surroundings and towards the world in a modern, flexible language that is understood, accepted and respected by all.
– The followers of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) carry the banner of the Muhammadan message and the responsibility to show the features, achievements and fruits of this school to the whole world, so that they become an active, participating and influential part of our wider human civilization.