The biggest issue in Arab political life

 20 Jun 2013 - 2:50

Doctrinal dialogue had prevailed over the past three decades. During this period, the political factor played the most important role, among different doctrinal leaders, in bringing about a convergence of views and ‘taqiyya’, a form of religious dissimulation.

What helped achieve this was the other side of the equation, namely the Israeli enemy, fighting imperialism, colonialism, the Great Satan (the United States) and the Lesser Satan (Israel).  

The scene now seems to be different as this doctrinal dialogue has changed from convergence and dialogue into a struggle and open confrontation. 

The political factor has played a key role in this change, which is clear in the Syrian crisis. That is the marginalisation and isolation of Sunnis in Iraq, Hezbollah’s involvement in the fight against the Free Syrian Army and its support of the Ba’athist regime and taking the side of Assad’s regime against his people, and Iran’s intervention and attempts to control the region. 

The recent statements of Yusuf Al Qaradawi, an Egyptian Islamic theologian, were resonant.  “For years, I continued to call for convergence between doctrines and I travelled to Iran, when Mohamed Khatami was president of the state, (but the Iranians) deceived me and others by saying they wanted to achieve doctrinal convergence”, he said. 

These statements were preceded by others from the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed Al Tayeb, in which he condemned the “sectarian” intervention of Hezbollah and Iran in Syria to support the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in his attempts to suppress the Syrian people.

These statements were met with a harsh response from Shia cleric Sadr Al din Al Qabanji, one of the leaders of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a political party in that country, and other affiliates from the Shia camp.

A recent Foreign Policy report says that the appalling massacres committed inside Syria have increased fears that the conflict in Syrian will open the way for a Sunni-Shia war across the Middle East. These fears are reinforced by escalation of violence in Iraq, confrontations in Bahrain and constant tension in Lebanon, which will redraw regional policies.

But another report, by the Brookings Institution, says the Shia-Sunni division will replace the struggle between Muslims and the West. It adds that this rift can replace the Palestinian issue as the central issue in Arab political life.  

Doctrinal dialogue had prevailed over the past three decades. During this period, the political factor played the most important role, among different doctrinal leaders, in bringing about a convergence of views and ‘taqiyya’, a form of religious dissimulation.

What helped achieve this was the other side of the equation, namely the Israeli enemy, fighting imperialism, colonialism, the Great Satan (the United States) and the Lesser Satan (Israel).  

The scene now seems to be different as this doctrinal dialogue has changed from convergence and dialogue into a struggle and open confrontation. 

The political factor has played a key role in this change, which is clear in the Syrian crisis. That is the marginalisation and isolation of Sunnis in Iraq, Hezbollah’s involvement in the fight against the Free Syrian Army and its support of the Ba’athist regime and taking the side of Assad’s regime against his people, and Iran’s intervention and attempts to control the region. 

The recent statements of Yusuf Al Qaradawi, an Egyptian Islamic theologian, were resonant.  “For years, I continued to call for convergence between doctrines and I travelled to Iran, when Mohamed Khatami was president of the state, (but the Iranians) deceived me and others by saying they wanted to achieve doctrinal convergence”, he said. 

These statements were preceded by others from the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed Al Tayeb, in which he condemned the “sectarian” intervention of Hezbollah and Iran in Syria to support the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in his attempts to suppress the Syrian people.

These statements were met with a harsh response from Shia cleric Sadr Al din Al Qabanji, one of the leaders of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a political party in that country, and other affiliates from the Shia camp.

A recent Foreign Policy report says that the appalling massacres committed inside Syria have increased fears that the conflict in Syrian will open the way for a Sunni-Shia war across the Middle East. These fears are reinforced by escalation of violence in Iraq, confrontations in Bahrain and constant tension in Lebanon, which will redraw regional policies.

But another report, by the Brookings Institution, says the Shia-Sunni division will replace the struggle between Muslims and the West. It adds that this rift can replace the Palestinian issue as the central issue in Arab political life.