Sunnis Pledge Mutual Respect and Cooperation

Sheikh Yasir Qadi has a post up at Muslim Matters about a new ‘agreement’ signed between a number of the Sunni scholars, du’at and students of knowledge in the West. In essence, the agreement seeks to address some of the bickering that has taken place between Sunni groups and makes a number of useful points.

The entire document can be viewed here [pdf].

There are a lot of familiar names amongst the signatories representing a broad cross-section of the Muslim community. For example, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Sheikh Zaid Shakir, and Australia’s own Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury.

Sheikh Yasir summarises the document as follows:

  • The fundamental issues of creed, as embodied in the famous Hadeeth of Jibreel, are simple, and it is not a requirement of Islam that every single Muslim be cognizant of the more abstruse issues of theology.
  • The situation and times we live in warrants an even more concerted effort to achieve unity amongst Muslims, and avoid splintering to the greatest extent possible.
  • Disputations of more complex issues of theology need to be conducted by people who are trained in these sciences, and not by lay-Muslims. Additionally, even when such discussions take place, they should be done in accordance with proper Islamic etiquette.
  • No charges of takfeer should be labeled against other Sunni groups or scholars, and neither should the motives or character of those who profess alternate theologies within Sunni Islam be impugned due to their allegiance to that theology.
  • Individual Muslims should, to the greatest extent possible, respect the local scholars of the community, and not engage in rash actions that might polarize the community or lead to further strife. There are proper ways of handling differences of opinion – even theological ones.
  • Lay-Muslims, especially the youth (i.e., college level) should avoid getting passionately involved in intra-Sunni polemics, whether on campus or online, as this inevitably leads to the splintering of an already fragile local community.
  • At an individual level, all Muslims should strive to come closer to Allah through increased acts of worship, and at a community level they should come together in order to counter any and all negative and false images of Islam.

It’s a good step, I suppose, but to extent to which such an agreement translates into actual action remains to be seen.