"I hope Islamic nations would rise and unite, having been torn by foreigners." This cry of faith was let out by His Eminence Imam Khomeini (may Allah sanctify his secret) decades ago, however he sought to achieve.
The Imam worked on altering dissimilarities between Islamic sects into a joined solid front. When differences materialized on the date in which the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was born between Sunnis and Shiites (Sunnis celebrate the event on the 12th of the Hijri month Rabi' al-Awwal while Shiites celebrate it on the 17th of the month), the Imam presented a unifying vision; he called for 12 throughout 17th of Rabi' al-Awwal to be declared the Week of Islamic Unity.
Whoever read His Eminence's quotes and speeches learnt that he truly had a preoccupation for Islamic unity.
"Iran's plan regarding Islamic Unity is serious, real, and harmonious with the goals of the Islamic revolution. Iran absolutely believes that the retrieval of Islamic nations' freedom and dignity and confrontation of foreign plots is directly linked to Islamic unity," Dr. Talal Atrisi, a sociology professor of the Lebanese University stated.
Dr. Atrisi based his conclusion on two factors:
- "Imam Khomeini called for Palestine to be a unified Islamic cause, declaring the last Friday in the Holy Month of Ramadan as the International al-Quds Day, in which he aimed at joining all Muslims of the world to this vital cause and uniting Muslims' awareness on Palestine and al-Quds.
- Iran had established an assembly to join Islamic sects after a year or so of the revolution and is the only country in the world that holds such an annual conference to deliberate the issues of the Islamic nation."
The Islamic Unity project, in which Imam Khomeini saw the necessity of constructing a strong Islamic nation, is, according to the Secretary General of the "Islamic Unification" Movement (al-Tawhid Movement) Sheikh Bilal Shaaban, "a Quran-related project and a divine duty; as [Allah] commanded us to pray, He also commanded us to unite," underscoring, "Unity is one of the fundamental cornerstones of the nation's strength, and Imam Khomeini's invitation is righteous."
For his part, Atrisi reiterated that in face of this unity project, some seek boosting Takfiri movements, in which it refuses principles of dialogue and common ground between Islamic sects.
Moreover, he added, "Ever since the establishment of common ground movements between Islamic sects in the 1940s in Egypt, Sheikhs of al-Azhar Mosque required this gathering, while there were some who did not and incited its annul."
As to continuous Western efforts of dividing the nation for control and strength, Dr. Atrisi accentuated, "There are countries in the region who support and nurture Islamic movements that do not want unity, but rather dig in books and Fatwas on Takfiri strategies to forbid cooperation with Iran."
He further elaborated, "These groups consider "Israel", the true enemy of the nation, a postponed enemy rather than an urgent one, and these policies are supported and funded by conferences and forums."
Atrisi's opinions were elaborated by Sheikh Shaaban, as he stated, "There is a foreign enemy that wants us divided; Disunion is a Western plot that aims at imposing its power on our world."
"No one could divide 1.5 billion Muslims unless scattered as sects and parties," Shaaban deliberated, adding, "Our nation lost its guiding compass, since there are attempts to produce fake enemies such as Iran."
The Administrative Chairman of the Committee of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon, His Eminence Sheikh Hassan Abdullah bitterly admitted that there is "a harsh battle where all weapons are used, even forbidden ones, by assaulting Muslim sanctities. This is what His Eminence Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sensed when he declared assaulting and offending any sect's sanctities forbidden, since speaking of others purities leads to secession, benefited by the nation's enemy."
For his part, the Secretary General of the "Islamic Unification" Movement (al-Tawhid) considered that Western means of secession are numerous, since it does not only use sectarianism, but also ethnical, racial, and tribal provocations. Libya is a perfect exhibition in this regard, since "all the people in that country belong to the same sect; however the West attempts on separating them through tribal provocations."
Likewise, Sheikh Abdullah also deliberated the Western methods in secession between Muslims, where he stated, "The arrogant forces, chiefly the Greatest Satan America, had prepared an alternative plot to counter the Islamic Unity project," underlining, "America paved the way since its invasion of Iraq not only through arming and bombing but also through sectarian and racial secession between Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen in that country."
Supporting his point of view on the necessity of unity, Sheikh Shaaban highlighted, "Even Europe, where its countries had fought each other in global wars, saw that its interest cannot be achieved but through unity, hence the European Union was founded. Also, Africa had established the African Union; however, our nation of "unity" differs on the most trivial reasons."
In face of this rough battle on Muslims, Sheikh Shaaban called for "seeking common grounds, which are almost identical; Our God, our Prophet, our Quran, our Qiblah, our enemy, and our history are one. Let us gather all these points in common to boost the Quran's concept of unity."
On a similar note, Sheikh Abdullah described the responsibility upon Muslims as grave, and "we, the Committee of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon, work with all our power to counter this attack."
While Sheikh Abdullah considered that reprioritization is a must, Dr. Atrisi stressed, "The unity project and Muslim gathering will face adversity and attempts on failing it domestically and internationally, and Iran is aware of this but still continues its project and program for unity and harmony."