Sayyed Ibrahim AlZaki
Afaq Center for Studies and Researches in Qatif region, Saudi Arabia, made an interview with Sayyed Ibrahim AlZaki over his recently published book; “The Sectarian Issue; Reading in Sheikh Hasan AlSaffar’s Discourse”. This book includes nine chapters besides an introduction and a conclusion, and discusses several diverse issues such as inter-faiths and inter-sects rapprochement, the necessity of political and religious reform for facing contemporary challenges and how to promote a culture that respects freedom and diversity.
In this interview, Sayyed AlZaki said that when he read AlSaffar’s book “Sectarianism between Politics and Religion”, he was charmed by the mentioned reformative ideas and concepts and that draw him to read more of AlSaffar’s books. Eventually, he was motivated to write about this experience.
Sayyed Ibrahim AlZaki referred to the reason that made him write about this issue and about Sheikh AlSaffar’s experience. He said that AlSaffar has many writings and researches over the issue of sectarianism that can be referred to, and is a religious leader with prominent status in society. AlSaffar, also, has an impressive struggle experience from the last four decades, worked and still working hard for achieving the rights of Shiites and integrating them in their nation’s political environment.
AlZaki mentioned that his book shows some of the aspects through which sectarianism manifests in our contemporary time, and tackles the historical reasons that caused this problem and how heritage had enforced it as well as visions and solutions that could contribute in easing down the level of tension.
The author believes that the sectarian issue has two dimensions; religious and political. He said that the religious dimension had resulted from the competition between the followers of different sects in our ancient history; however, this competition turned into a conflict full of hatred and incitement. Religious discourse was and still used for fueling sectarianism and intolerance with the pretext of preserving the doctrine or the sect from being distorted or getting disappeared.
This competition between followers of the sects as well as their fear on them had provided and is still providing the opportunity to the political authorities to incite and create religious disputes and utilize them for their interests in order to distract people from their political reality.
AlZaki stressed that radical sectarian speeches ignite the sectarian conflicts and promote the culture of hatred and incitement against the others. On the other hand, the enlightened religious discourse could promote the culture of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding as well as acceptance of intellectual and political diversity and recognition of the different others. Such type of discourse, also, confirms the importance of respecting others’ sacred symbols and figures, and deprives attacking them whether physically or verbally.
Moreover, the writer emphasized that unity and rapprochement do not mean converting from a doctrine to another or compromising one’s beliefs and opinions. They are a call for accepting others and their views and beliefs, and this requires a remarkable and an ongoing efforts. Those efforts should not be confined to discussions and dialogues between elites, but should be practiced on real life by promoting such reformative views and relating them to religion through mentioning incidents that prove how people had lived united with love and cooperation regardless of their diverse backgrounds.
AlZaki agreed with Sheikh AlSaffars’s view over those who have double standards. He stated that it is not accepted to speak in dialogue meetings with a language that promotes unity, shows patriotism and respect to others; then, turn back to their people urging them to confront the dangers that threaten their religion and nation and to exclude others.