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Shiite Expansion in Egypt: A Red Line - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardawi, chairman of the International union of Muslim Scholars, recently made statements to the Al-Misri al-Yawm newspaper that included frank and daring warnings against the Shiite expansion in the Sunni states. Had the statements been made by someone else other than al-Qardawi, it would not have caused such an impact, not only because of his clerical status and fame in the Arab and Islamic worlds, but because al-Qardawi represents a tolerant school of thought which brought him a great deal of criticism, which at times reached the point of slander. Thus do the frank views of the “tolerant” al-Qardawi mean that the Sunni redlines have been invaded by the Shiite thought and that the Shiite knife has reached the bones?

Those who read the recent statements made by al-Qardawi will realize that what “provoked” Sheikh al-Qardawi to make these transparent statements was the fact that a number of Sunni Egyptians have converted to Shiites. Statistics in Egypt a few years ago show that the Egyptian Muslims were 100 per cent Sunnis. Shiite ideology could not penetrate Egypt even under the Shiite Fatimid rule. Recently, the intensive Shiite preaching efforts, sponsored by Iran and its religious leaders, have borne fruit and Egyptians amounting to thousands and perhaps dozens of thousands have converted into Shiites. The new converts are disguised in more than 76 Sufi groups. This was confirmed to the al-Arabiya News channel by a leader of the Egyptian Shiites, Muhammad al-Darini.

The problem here is that a number of Shiite references and teachings are contradictory. Shiites occasionally call for unity among Muslims, for the pooling of ranks against the common enemy, and for overlooking differences. They severely criticize some Sunni leanings and efforts to revive sectarianism, especially when they speak about the doctrinal distinction between the two sects that are two Muslim groups with no difference between them on the questions of principle. But on other occasions, the Shiites use their ideological and intellectual network in countries which are purely Sunnis. This effort is supported by huge financial budgets aimed at laying an ideological foothold paving the way for further influence in the future. Had it been true that those who are behind the Shiite preaching efforts in Egypt viewed the Egyptians as truly Muslim people, they would not have devoted their Shiite preaching efforts to this Muslim country and would have focused such efforts on the infidels, atheists and the followers of other religions in the various parts of the world.

I can recall that I met in London with a Tunisian intellectual who is viewed as one of the leaders of the Tunisian Islamic Movement. He was sympathetic with the Khomeini revolution to the point he thought of Khomeini as one of the reformers of this century. He told me that in the midst of the enthusiastic meetings between the representatives of the Iranian revolution and the leaders of his movement for the purpose of mobilizing efforts against the joint enemy, he noticed that there was hidden exploitation of these contacts, i.e. the Iranians began to sow the seeds of Schism in a purely Sunni country like Tunisia, and that he told the Iranians in a firm and decisive language: we have received this heritage from our clerics and predecessors and we can never relinquish it or bargain over it.

Shiite clerics, leaders and wise men should understand that marketing the Shiite doctrine in purely Sunni Islamic states is tantamount to a bid to promote problems and to sow the seeds of sedition. We already had enough problems in the countries where Shiites live along Sunnis, such as Iraq, Pakistan and Lebanon. Extremists of the two sects spark the fire of sectarian conflict. In fact, whenever the fire of sectarian conflict is started, it would only aggravate the situation and make it worse. The wise men of the Shiites should stop the Shiite preaching efforts in the Islamic states. The Shiites will be the first beneficiary of this because the Shiite competition of the Sunnis in areas where the Shiites do not exist, in the first place, creates a feeling of bitterness against them. Moreover, such an atmosphere paves the way for the creation of a fertile soil of animosity of a sect which in the final analysis constitutes only 10 percent of the Muslims. Moreover, It is a situation where the tolerant and moderate voices would be lost and no longer heeded, as exactly was the case with Sheikh al-Qardawi who was accused of being a sectarian because he frankly criticized the attempts to convert his country into Schism – a country known throughout history to be totally affiliated with the Sunni sect.