Alawites, Safavids and the rise of extremism
I have read the books written by Mohammed Baqir Al-Sader, the renowned Shiite scholar, and memorized some of them. I visited the house of late Abu Al-Qasim Al-Khou'y and his son Abdulmajeed, but did not notice any kind of extremism. We used to agree and sometime disagree on politics. I used to call for more freedom in Iraq so that the country could absorb all its religious, national, and political constituents in the mainstream. After war with Iran and a high-level of militarization, Iraq was in need for internal reform.
I had read several books on Shiites and conversion to the Shiite sect in a methodological rather than an ideological way. I used to say that the Alawite thought was a dynamic one with regard to rights issues. However, things are different in Iran. Iran uses conversion to Shiite sect to serve its national interests. For this reason, the religious thinking is being reconstructed to be a tool for the Iranian state interests and to help the Safavid Shiites dominate the Alawite Shiites and make it dependent through Wilayat Al-Faqih theory. The main objective has been to help realize Iran's objectives in the region and to help the ruling elite control the internal scene.
We and Arab Shiites have common history and aspirations. Their historic role cannot be overlooked. They served as vanguard for liberating Iraq from the British occupation. Although extremism is not linked to one specific group, we can say that Arab Shiites have always been moderate and tolerant. This is a reality.
I remember while I was covering a media event in Iraq, we were asked to meet the Iraqi president. We were a group of journalists wishing to ask the president about the civil rule after years of war. My friend, Dr. Sabah Al-Jaza'ry, a Shiite, demanded that the government dissolve the council for the revolution and reconstruct the state on civilian basis. Abdulmajeed Al-Khou'y was for civil and peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis.
Now, let us have a look at what is happening in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Development and tolerance is missing in all the three countries.
The leaders in these countries did not distinguish among their people based on sect. No wonder the opponents of Saddam Hussein, Assad and Qaddafi were from all political and social constituents. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi despite being a Shiite succeeded in getting the support of Sunni, Shiites and Kurds in Iraq because he refused to be influenced by sectarianism. The same applies to the Iraqi thinker Hassan Al-Alawi.
These characteristics: An independent will, nationalism and non-dependence on external forces made Hani Fahs, Mohammed Hassan Al-Amin, Jawad Al-Khalisi, Talib Al-Rifai, Hassan Al-Saffar, Shaikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah and Abu Al-Qasim Al-Khou'y subject to criticism and accusations by the Safavid Shiites — the tool of Iran's propaganda.
The Iranian objective has been to bring Shiites from across the world under Tehran's control and to make Qom the nerve center. It seeks to exclude thinkers and clergymen who do not believe in Wilayat Al-Faqih.
The Qatif scholars' statement does not deny the existence of a security problem that is on way to solution. It is worth mentioning that according to official statistics, the eastern region enjoys an equal level of development as the rest of the Kingdom. The statement shows the loyalty of Arab Shiites to the Kingdom and also that they reject Iranian influence. The statement has also foiled Safavid attempts to drive a wedge between us.
Regardless of where they are, we are proud of the Arab Shiites. We are against any kind of marginalization based on sectarian lines.
The scholars denounced violence and reiterated their rejection of creating division in society on the basis of religious schools of thought. They backed Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah's call to end division of society on sectarian basis.
In light of the stand taken by Arab Shiite scholars in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, it is obvious that they want development of their countries and are against foreign interference in the affairs of their countries. Equally important is their rejection of Wilayat Al-Faqih considering it as a political tool to serve the Iranian interests.
The scholars' statement comes at a time when some powers are trying to use religion to achieve their evil designs and create problems in other countries. This is also an indication that Iranian influence in the region in on the wane.
Moderate voices are thus to be heard soon in Lebanon after Hassan Nasrallah's collusion with the Assad regime has been exposed. Also, Shiites in Iraq are likely to regain their position and their role in the political process after rejecting the Iranian influence.
I have been an eyewitness to inter-marriages between Sunnis and Shiites. Nobody used to pay any attention to the sect of the families. A number of families are divided into Sunnis and Shiites as has been the case with some families in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine that are divided into Muslims and Christians.
The sectarian issue has been used by the colonial powers to divide and rule. It is the same objective that guides Iran these days under different names. It now seems that the Arab Spring will be an Iranian winter. In Iran, there are those who dream of freedom. There are the Arab Shiites in Ahwaz and Arabstan whom Iran has been mistreating for ages. This proves that the use of religion by Iran is nothing but a pretext to realize its objectives.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view