We regret the suggestion by the Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to amend the Federal Constitution to recognise that only the teachings of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah is the faith of Muslims in Malaysia. We appeal to him to reconsider it because it has serious implications for Muslim unity and Malaysia’s international commitments.
We believe the suggestion is in response to the anti-Shia campaign currently being carried out by certain groups influenced and supported by extremist Salafi scholars.
Islam is one and there is no Sunni Islam or Shia Islam. There are different schools of jurisprudence (mazhab) and a Muslim is free to follow any of these mazhab. Any attempt to exclude a mazhab would only lead to disunity and conflict among Muslims and undermine any efforts to unite the ummah to face the daunting challenges coming from hegemonic powers, dictators and autocratic rulers.
In July 2005, based on the fatwas issued by 24 of the most senior Islamic religious scholars, including Sunni ulama, Shaykh Al-Azhar Dr Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Shaykh Dr Yusuf Abdullah Al-Qaradawi, Pakistan Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmani, and Shia ulama Grand Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Ali Khameni and Grand Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Ali AL-Sistani, King Abdullah II of Jordan convened an international Islamic conference of 200 of the world's leading Islamic scholars from 50 countries and they issued the following ruling:
• Whosoever is an adherent to one of the four Sunni schools (Mathahib) of Islamic jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali), the two Shia schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Ja'fari and Zaydi), the Ibadi school of Islamic jurisprudence and the Thahiri school of Islamic jurisprudence, is a Muslim. Declaring that person an apostate is impossible and impermissible.
• There exists more in common between the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence than there are differences between them. The adherents to the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence are in agreement with regard to the basic principles of Islam.
• All believe in Allah (God), Glorified and Exalted be He, the One and the Unique; that the Noble Quran is the Revealed Word of God preserved and protected by God, Exalted be He, from any change or aberration; and that our master Muhammad, may blessings and peace be upon him, is a Prophet and Messenger unto all mankind.
• All are in agreement about the five pillars of Islam: the two testaments of faith (shahadatayn); the ritual prayer (salat); almsgiving (zakat); fasting in the month of Ramadan (saivni) and the haj to the sacred house of God (in Mecca).
All are also in agreement about the foundations of belief: belief in Allah (God), His angels, His scriptures, His messengers, and on the Day of Judgment, in divine providence in good and in evil.
• Disagreements between the ulama (scholars) of the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence are only with respect to the ancillary branches of religion (furu) and some fundamentals (usul) [of the religion of Islam]. Disagreement with respect to the ancillary branches of religion (furu) is a mercy. Long ago, it was said that variance in opinion among the ulama "is a mercy".
The ruling was unanimously adopted at the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation summit in Mecca in December 2005, with Malaysia participating, and by six other international Islamic scholarly assemblies, culminating with Resolution 152 of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of Jeddah in July 2006.
In total, more than 500 leading Muslim scholars and leaders worldwide endorsed the ruling and the Amman message. Endorsers from Malaysia included our former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Prof Dr Kamal Hasan and Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin and Dato Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim.
Resolution 152 of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, Islam and the One Ummah, and the Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence, calls for casting aside disagreements between Muslims, mutual respect for each other, strengthening the ties of brotherhood, and not to permit discord and outside interference.
It advocates teaching the fiqh pertaining to Islamic unity to university and secondary school students.
It recommends that relevant authorities in Islamic countries take steps to prevent the printing, distribution and circulation of publications that deepen division in the ummah.
Resolution 152 warns against blaming any of the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence for the mistaken actions of extremists, such as killing of innocents, dishonouring the honourable and seizure of property.
There are extremist elements among both Shias and Sunnis who, in some countries, resort to violence, sometimes even inside mosques.
Such elements must be exposed and isolated as they breed disunity among Muslims and defame Islam. Dialogue between Shias and Sunnis must be promoted and encouraged, and differences discussed in an environment of brotherhood.
Sectarian conflicts among Muslims are being instigated by hegemonic powers who want to control the resources in Muslim states. Divide and rule has been their policy since World War 1. Certain despotic Arab rulers and dictators who fear an Islamic Awakening are being used as tools to divide Muslims along sectarian lines.
We appeal to the Government to implement the Amman message and the recommendations of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy to promote unity among Muslims. – Universal Justice Network (UJN), December 7, 2013.