Transcript of Dr. Shoeb Amin’s talk on April 9th, 2017

Nasik Elahi, Imtiaz Bokhari, Fayyaz Sheikh, Noor Salik, Mushtaq Ahmad, Ajaz Uddin, Ramesh & Kanta Ubriani and Jamila Amin.
Speaker: Shoeb Amin
After a brief presentation describing my recent visit to Najaf & Karbala I started what I hope was first of many Sunni-Shia intra-faith discussions. Factors that may have been in place long before the events of Ghadir e Khum and those following the Prophet’s death, like tribal rivalries (Ali, Abu Bakr, Umar &Uthman were all from different sub tribes of Quraysh tribe ) and jealousies; events happening after Ayesha was accidentally left in the desert returning from an expedition( Ali advised the Prophet to divorce Ayesha on the prophet’s solicitation of Ali’s advice) and Fatema’s eventual marriage to Ali after proposals from Abu Bakr and Umar were turned down.  Then the actual events of Ghadir e Khum and the Saqifah were presented, two of the most important event that were the beginning of the Shia-Sunni split.  The materials I used were derived from Reza Aslan’s “No god but God”, Barnaby Rogerson’s “Heirs of the Prophet”, some other books I have read in the past and the articles from the following links.
The above is the Shia view of the events of Ghadir e Khum
This is another Shia source and it claims to have the complete speech at Ghadir e Khum with a long list of references at the end , some of them by authors respected even by Sunnis. The problem is the whole speech is a composite of many parts, each presented by a different source; no one authority has the whole speech and it is not clear who is the author of which part.
This 40 page article lays out the Sunni view of Ghadir e Khum. One may read all the pages or just the following to get the gist of it: pages 4,8,9,18,19,and 37.
Of course there are many more sources a reader can consult and then make their own decisions as to what transpired that day.
Then the events following the death of the Prophet and the declaration of Abu Bakr as the Khalifa at Saquifah was presented. For that I used the above quoted two books and the following link besides many other accounts I have read.
At the very outset of my talk I said that my intention was not to decide which one is the “real” Islam but to inform one side what the other believes in and why; hopefully that may lead to a better understanding of the other’s position and perhaps even some respect. 
I understand that Shias would have wanted Ali to be the first successor to the Prophet – or even the second or third – but what happened 1400 years ago cannot be reversed and holding that grudge against present day Sunnis is non productive. By the same token, because of the split those events created, a different theology and different religious practices developed in Shi’ism over time and most of those also cannot be reversed. So calling Shias by the many pejorative terms is equally non-productive.
Muslims go to churches and synagogues telling their congregants how we all have the same prophets, how we are all people of the Book and how we are tolerant of other religions ( lakum deenakum walaya deen is oft quoted in those interfaith dialogues). Why can’t we extend the same acceptance to each other and the same respect to each other? We are more similar than we are to Christians and Jews with whom we proudly have interfaith dialogues. The only other alternative is the continuation of blaming, hating, fighting and killing each other for the next 1400 years.

12 thoughts on “Transcript of Dr. Shoeb Amin’s talk on April 9th, 2017

  1. Great write up summary of the lecture. It was excellent presentation.In my opinion Dr. Shoeb did a wonderful job in handling this difficult topic and presented the facts without any prejudice or favor to any sector. As it is a religious topic, obviously it will ruffle some feathers.

  2. “Truth be told” goes the adage. Whose ‘truth’ ? Dr Amin has done a wonderful summation of the antecedents to the formation of Shi-yaan e Ali as a minority group and the infamous Shia/Sunni divide that acquired abominable dimension overtime. The two shall never meet in the twain and all Muslims know it. However, Dr Amin chose brevity over comprehensive coverage and did not go over the matters of disputed inheritance of Bagh-e-Fidak. He also did not go into details of the circumstances surrounding the actual demise of the Prophet. When and where exactly it happened ? Who was with him at the time ? Who attended the funeral and burial and who remained absent ? Those are tell-a-tale details and point to the emotions and planning/scheming that went into creation of the unfortunate history. Since divinity is a fantasy, the entire saga is meaningless, disruptive and divisive, and serves no good purpose. Of course the Faithful would never understand.

    • My brevity was not from shying away from any controversial topic/s; it was more for time constraints. Even these two topics took longer than I thought. The issue of Bagh e Fadek was brought up by Noor Salik Sb and discussed after the formal session. I am not fully aware of the other controversial circumstances you describe and may be you can talk about them at a future session. I know your feeling about divinity but I would like not to make that the focus of this discussion. But please think about being a speaker at a future session.

  3. The more we learn about the Shia/Sunni schism, the more it sounds like the Game of Thrones/A song of Ice and Fire or Song of Blood and Sword.
    Nothing different from a dynasty’s rise and fall like other dynasties all around the world.
    Most of the world left it behind with the Medieval period but die-hard Muslims are marching from Middle Ages to Dark ages – and our elders are beating chest calling this faith a shining civilization.


    • May I say one more time? If you have nothing to say about the specific topic at hand, please don’t. I don’t mind your views about atheism when the topic is about religion vs atheism; this is not that topic. This is about a Shia-Sunni dialogue; it may be a pipe dream but that’s the discussion at hand. I understand that you care neither the Shia or Sunni view and I respect that; in return I hope you’ll show me the respect of not taking the discussion in a different direction.

  4. I didn’t think I was talking about God. Umayyed and Abbasid dynasties that emerged from the family feud of prophet was in my mind. The “Right guided Caliphs” were all father-in-laws or Son-in-laws, weren’t they? Isn’t the whole history of conflict between the two sects just like the dynastic rivalry? Didn’t you feel you were in the Middle Ages while visiting Karbla? Even in 21st century!
    May be you take me as an atheist first and last. May be when you comment on the blood letting of intra-faith that’s about history but if an atheist comments its a swipe at your faith.
    I had no intention of diverting the topic, I didn’t criticize any of your comments. The continuing feud prompted me to comment on revered civilization….editors please edit that out if that diverts the topic.


    • Babar Sb., please read your initial comment. It clearly implied that you think we are wasting our time on a useless topic. You may deny it but with whatever little smarts I have I can tell what you meant by those comments. It may very well be a useless topic but that’s the topic we chose to discuss. I’d rather you not waste your time and energy on a useless or unimportant subject.

  5. Dr. Shoeb Sahib, your topic is most important and sensitive one not only for the world of Islam, but for every one of us. In the interfaith group the Christians and Jews raise the issue of difference of Sunni-Shia. I believe we need to discuss this very seriously and reflect upon your big question, as why Sunni avoid going to Shia meetings to show their solidarity with them, while they go to synagogues and churches to prove we are one. I know an Imam who refused to solemnize the nikah of Shia girl with a Sunni boy, while the same Imam gladly solemnized a nikah of a Muslim boy with a Jewish girl.

    Mirza Ashraf

    • This is on the same line as an ISIS leader when asked in 2014 why they don’t use their fighting prowess against Israel and the reply was that the “Yazidis and the Shias were worse than the Jews”; that they want to destroy those two before Israel.
      The reason for this hatred – on both sides – is partly our religious and political leaders who continuously stoke the fires of hatred by disinformation.
      My childhood image was that Abu Bar was a Sunni and Ali was a Shia and that Sunnis didn’t like the Prophet’s family as much and thus kept Ali from being the first Caliph. The truth is that there was no Sunni or Shia until much later. But I bet a lot of people go though life with that childhood belief because we were told so.On the other hand, from looking at the hateful comments made on YouTube videos that show Shia practices like the Ithna asharis using a turbah during sajda, all Shias keeping arms straight down etc. you realize that the hatred is disproportionately higher than for something that one just finds queer.
      There is no harm in thinking your side is correct or thinking the other side has “weird” practices. But it should not lead to hatred of the magnitude that you kill the other.

  6. Dr.Shoeb and Farooki Sb,

    If you noticed I had not written any comments for a very long time and I wasn’t going to write even this time but I kind of felt obliged to say something as Shoeb Sb had very enthusiastically prepared his lecture and transcript and if a discussion wasn’t stirred, all the effort would have gone to oblivion after the formal praise for the effort alone.
    My bad, I should have reminded myself to trust my gut feeling that I had already overstayed .I am going to make this last of my intrusion after adding here that you got that right, and I wasn’t trying to be subtle about it, that Shia/Sunni reconciliation will never happen. The idea of understanding each other is noble but useless. 1400 years and the fire rages on like infraction happened only yesterday.
    When sectarianism is being discussed, a comment on Islam is hard to hold back but your advice to stay out and wholehearted endorsement by Farooki Sb will be respected.


  7. Babar Sahib, as far as I have understood, Shoeb Sahib means that we have to remain focused on the core issue of deadly differences between the Sunni/Shia rift as pointed out by you also,”1400 years and the fire rages on like infraction happened only yesterday.”

    Mirza Ashraf

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