Id Prayers: Shia – Sunni Divide

Scholars reject proposal for common Id prayers

Mohammed Wajihuddin I TNN

Mumbai: Senior Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq’s proposal to hold common Id prayers for Shias and Sunnis has drawn flak from members of the two sects. Calling it an immature and impractical suggestion, both Shia and Sunni scholars have summarily rejected the proposal.
    “This is an impractical advice. He may go to any congregation he likes on an individual level, but it will not be acceptable to the community in general,’’ said Shia scholar Maulana Zaheer Abbas Rizvi, adding that instead of wasting energy on organising common prayers, Maulana Sadiq should focus on other problems common to both the Shias and Sunnis.

      To build bridges between the Shias and Sunnis who are at loggerheads, especially during the month of Moharram, the Lucknow-based Maulana Sidiq recently suggested common Id prayers for the two sects.

         The namaz rituals of the Shias are different from those of the Sunnis and the two feel uncomfortable praying together. One of the basic differences, scholars point out, is over the imam (the person who leads the prayers). “The Shias put too much importance on the imams and rigidly follow the rules while the Sunnis are flexible in the selection of their imams. Most Sunnis will not accept a Shia scholar as their imam,’’ explains Maulana Abu Hassan Nadvi, a Sunni cleric.

     Maulana Nadvi said namaz is a “very delicate issue’’ and should not be meddled with. He recalled an incident at an iftar party hosted by the US consulate in Mumbai a couple of years ago.

      Some Muslims asked Maulana Nadvi, an eminent cleric, to lead the evening prayers at the consulate’s lawn. But before he could step forward, a faction of Muslims chose another imam.

       “If all Sunnis cannot pray behind one imam, how can Shias and Sunnis agree to pray together behind a common imam?,’’ asks Maulana Nadvi, who maintains that there are better ways of removing the Shia-Sunni feud. He describes Maulana Sadiq’s move as “sensational’’, which should be ignored. “Such statements keep Maulana Sadiq in the news. He knows that members
of both the sects will not accept his plan. It’s a futile attempt,’’ said Maulana Nadvi.

        However, secular Islamic scholars feel the two sects can pray together despite differences in their rituals.

       “We pray to Allah. It doesn’t matter much who leads the prayer as long as the intention is to submit to the will of God. Both the Shias and Sunnis can pray together despite their differences,’’ says Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer. “He has given an idea and it should initiate a debate.’’



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