Sunni-Shi’i Rapprochement Internal Contradictions

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Hamid Mavani

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Abstract

Ecumenical initiatives to promote Sunni-Shi’i reconciliation and
mutual respect have failed to take root because they do not tackle
the incendiary issues that prompt each branch to view the other with
disdain, if not as outright apostates or unbelievers. I argue that this
will not change until the main fault lines in their worldviews, communal
self-understanding, sacred narratives, history, theology, and
philosophy are confronted head-on.
If this cannot be done, then all proclamations of Muslim unity and
brotherhood/sisterhood under one ummah will remain hollow and
lack substance, because each side’s internal discourse would remain
unchanged. Any type of mutual tolerance and coexistence prompted
by expediency and power dynamics cannot be expected to be deeprooted
and long-lasting. The United States, along with such other
local and foreign players as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, and
Syria, have instrumentalized Sunni-Shi’i sectarianism to promote
their own myopic vested interests. The result is clear for all to see:
an exponential increase in Sunni-Shi’i antagonism.

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