Center of Civilization for the Development of Islamic Thought issued recently a book entitled “Shia Today problems of Identity and Integration” by the Islamic thinker Mohammed al Mahfoud.
Al Mahfoud wrote in the introduction about Shia as being an important component in the Arab societies, stressing that he doesn’t aim to deepen sectarian conflicts between Muslims but to enhance mutual understanding and communication between all components of the state.
He points that Shias and Sunnis form social, political, cultural and economic segments of the state influenced and affected by their reality.
Al Mahfoud monitors Shias state through two main concepts:
The first one; focuses on religious identity and its rituals even if some of these rites raise obsessions and concerns among other partners in the state.
The second concept which is adopted by the author himself is that Islamic societies with all of its components do not need to concentrate on sectarian identities as much as enhancing mutual understanding, dialogue, communication and coexistence; explaining that trust requires focusing on commonalities and formulating policies on this basis.
The writer confirms that Shias are part of the Islamic nations and their future is associated with the future of their contraries, and that internal and external challenges facing Muslim societies require formulating strategies to enable these communities and public institutions to face such challenges.
He also said that “cultural and social future of all Muslims depends on the ability of Islamic societies to develop its relationship with various religious, political, cultural and social institutions. It is noticeable that many efforts are wasted on minor conflicts rather than addressing other major issues.
Al Mahfoud adds that ending the existing crises in the Arab societies depends on liberating from tyranny and enhancing democracy which can be achieved only through establishing a state based on equality between citizens.
The author says that “most of Shia communities today are seeking to achieve their political, civil and religious rights.” He emphasizes that the uprising of Shias is not against Sunnis but against all cases of discrimination practiced on other minorities.
He added that “the aim of most Shias is integration in the states and combating sectarian discrimination, which require Shia leaders to strengthen their relations with other components.”
Al Mahfoud pointes out that Sunnis and Shias Islamic discourse should contribute in enhancing the relationship between all Muslims.
In order for integration, he calls Shia to get rid from the feeling of minority and promote openness and effective communication with their partners.
Although the book discusses the reality of Shias today and their future choices, it rejects the isolation of this group because it will bring nothing but more disappointments, stressing that there is no better choice rather than integration on the basis of equal citizenship.