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The 23rd International Conference on Islamic Unity in London

The 23rd International Conference on Islamic Unity was held at the same time as the birth of the great Prophet of Islam and his pure lineage, Imam Jafar Sadegh (PBUT) with a video message of Grand Ayatollah Javadi Amoli at the Islamic Centre of England. This conference was held with the presence of a group of Shiite and Sunni scholars and thinkers on the 23rd of October 2021.
In remarks referring to “challenges and solutions” as the theme of this year’s conference, the director of the Islamic Centre, Seyed Hashem Moosavi said: “The need for unity among Muslims has been evident since the early days of Islam, and for this reason, it has been addressed many times in the Quran. The director of the Islamic Centre of England also pointed to verses from the Quran inviting Muslims to avoid division and grab the rope of God, adding: “To achieve unity, one must be patient.
HIWM Moosavi stated that without confronting the challenges ahead, more challenges will be created in the future, and all of these challenges will be classified into two groups, including external and internal challenges, which in the external type should never be forgotten the intentions of colonial powers who ” make division and just rule” through politics and seek to dominate the Muslim world. He stressed that the colonial powers had a deliberate plan and it’s definitely to create division in the Muslim world.
He also viewed the unity of the Muslim world by the West as a threat, adding that the notion of unity of 56 countries with nearly 1.5 billion inhabitants worries them.
HIWM Mousavi introduced another challenge for Islamic societies to forget indigenous values and culture and imitate western lifestyles, describing the inner challenges of the Islamic world in the path of unity, the lack of self-confidence and the sense of inferiority of Muslims against Western powers. The director of the Islamic Centre of England described nationalism as another obstacle to the unity of the Islamic nation and said: Muslims should see each other as brothers rather than rivals. He further introduced ignorance and prejudice as important factors of division and sectarianism that hinder dialogue and understanding.
In summing up the remarks, he said: “Historically, division and sectarianism in the Islamic world have been fuelled by elites and influential individuals. Thus, if unity must be created it will be the duty of the elites and as division in the Muslim world has been created through deliberate planning, resolving it also requires a long time planning accordingly.
Sheikh Muhadd Omar Ramadan, a Sunni scholar and director of al-Ramzan Institute, who for the second year accepted the invitation of the organizers of the conference, divided the challenges facing the Muslim world in creating unity into two categories: internal and external, saying that all Muslims are not supposed to be similar and, incidentally, one of the unique features of Islam is that it allows different cultures and schools to attend. In this way, the first step in achieving unity is for every Muslim to first recognise his identity and then take steps toward unity by accepting this identity and respecting the identity of other Muslims.
He added: “Such disputes should never allow us to humiliate or excommerce another group. The religious scholar stressed that foreign forces are always seeking to create division among Muslims and pointed to the sectarian crises in Pakistan and Iraq, adding: how sectarian violence has devastated a beautiful country like Iraq, which is the cradle of civilization.
Sheikh Mohammad Omar Ramadan, speaking about his experience of observing the life of Sunni people in Iran and said, Sunnis in Iran live in complete freedom, contrary to the common notion. From his experience with an Iranian Shafei scholar, he concluded that all religions enjoy pluralism inside Iran.
This Sunni scholar demanded that Shiite and Sunni scholars and even ordinary people to communicate more and more. He said that if a Muslim in England can be friends and colleagues with a non-Muslim person to sit up and rise up, s/he can certainly treat another Muslim from other religions instead of that in the same way.
Sheikh Muhammad Omar Ramadan went on to speak of the love and affection of all Muslims to the household of prophet (PBUT) and stated that love for the Prophet’s household as a common value among all Muslims can be the basis for creating friendship and understanding among all religions. According to him, Abolhassan Al-Ash’ari who is Sunni, says that the greatest humanitarian catastrophe was the tragedy that went through on Imam Husayn (A.S). He said Imam Husayn (A.S) himself acted beyond such sectarian discourses and had crossed it. The Sunni scholar also said that religious differences within Islam are so natural and it is part of Islam.
Sheikh Sadegh Hussain Qureshi, founder and director of the Manhaj al-Qur’an network in the UK, who has a long history of Islamic activities in the country, introduced the institute’s activities in bringing religions closer, calling extremism one of the most dangerous problems in the Muslim world, adding that a radical is easily seduced by terrorist groups and Muslims are the biggest victims of terrorism in the world.
Referring to the danger of secularism for Islamic societies, he said: “Prophet’s household (peace be upon them) are popular with all Muslims, and therefore, they are the key to achieving Islamic unity. The Sunni scholar said: “He is proud and respectful of Imam Khomeini (R.A) who has now left an active and dynamic leadership of his own, which he sees hundreds of years ahead of himself.
In his remarks, Seyed Ali Reza Razavi, the head of the European Shi’a scholars Assembly, reviewed verses from the Quran, including verse 25 of Sura Al-Hadid, and concluded that people should rise up to achieve justice themselves. He went on to point out the similarities between the Prophet (PBUH) and Moses (A.S). He added that: “God sent Moses to Pharaoh, Haman and Korah to convey his message, and in the verse of Quran, Pharaoh is a symbol of corruption in political power, Haman is a symbol of corruption among scientists and Korah representing economic corruption. He added: “Sometimes scholars forget about enjoining good and forging evil against the people who are wealthy.
Dr Safi, a Muslim researchers living in the United States, emphasised the importance of identifying commonalities among religions and reiterated that the Muslim mass needs more education. He said he has the experience of living in several Islamic countries and his ambition is for Islamic countries to provide a platform for the growth and fulfilment of thought and belief, which humbleness in learning and listening to others is one of the key points in resolving differences and creating unity.
Sheikh Musharraf Al-Husseini, pointed to the story of the conquest of Mecca and said, “Do you know why God mentioned the conquest of Mecca in Sura al- Fat’h as the great conquest in which blood was not shed?” Because the conquest of Mecca laid the foundation for the formation of a single nation.
He added, however, that in the year 61 AH, 30,000 troops moved to martyr Imam Husayn (AS). Why did the Islamic nation reached this situation? Because the Umayyads, the Abbasids and the Ottomans’ systems of government were not Islamic. He also said that after World War I, Britain and then United States enslaved Islamic societies and now 1.5 billion Muslims do not even have a seat on the Security Council.
Dr Hatem Bazian, a Muslim professor and researcher living in the United States, also expressed concern that 75 to 85 percent of Islamophobic attacks targeted Muslim women. Moreover, the Islamic world has been in constant war since the end of World War I and even before that. Furthermore, he said that the state of war regulates people’s thoughts on the issue of survival and prevents them from thinking about basic issues. Likewise, he noted about the issues of refugees crisis by saying that there are now 65 million refugees and displaced people from Islamic countries.
Sheikh Khalid Mohammed, a Sunni scholar based in Birmingham, referred to the problem of Islamophobia and hatred of Muslims in British society by adding that Islam was a threat to the West and that divisions had left Muslims behind. That problem caused us a lot, so we paid the price for this division with humiliation and slavery in facing the West. In addition, he described the isolation of Islamic communities in the West as dangerous thing by saying that one of the ways to break out this isolation and counter Islamophobia could be the participation in charities.

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