There is a ball of sectarian and political fire that is being thrown back and forth between Dr. Yusuf al Qaradawi, with his comments on Iranian Shia expansion in the region, and the Iranians, who have reacted to the Sheikh with a repeated response that is given to whoever makes a remark that does not please Iran and its supporters.
What interests me however is the Sheikh’s persistence of his opinion; he considers the lack of warning against the Shia expansion betrayal [to our mission] and this subjected him to a strong reaction from Iran. Of course, I will not disagree with Sheikh Qaradawi on the danger of Iranian funding and what I call the “Shia-fication of funds” but this is the topic of another discussion. However, we cannot help but wonder who has helped the Iranian expansion and the political onslaught etc.
The most prominent cause of that is the recklessness of Sunni fundamentalism in our region, which is not being tackled sufficiently, to the extent that our youth are mobilizing in every dangerous place and those who oppose this are perceived as agents and secularists. The actions of Hamas and its supporters today clearly demonstrate this.
After the 9/11 attacks took place in the United States, the world pounced upon the followers of the Sunni denomination to the degree that Sunnis have been tarnished by terrorism and civilian conflict. It was said that the Sunnis are a force against development. At that time, the reputation of our states was tainted and charitable work, amongst other things, declined, and when rational individuals were warning against the mistakes that were being committed within charitable work, the reaction at hand was similar to the Iranian reaction today, that is, ‘You are agents!’
Today we can see how charitable work was paralyzed in the Arab states, especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf and how for every [charitable] association that was shut down, numerous Iranian charities would be launched. They appeared to be charitable from the outside but today we witness the results that they have had, and some of them are yet to illustrate their outcomes in Africa or Asia where money, described by Hassan Nasrallah as “immaculate,” is being exploited.
Many Sunni scholars have not taken into consideration what is taking place on the ground and have not stopped to look at the significant political changes that have occurred. They did not pay attention to the plot that was being devised for their countries. Rather, the confusing and frightening fatwas continued including a fatwa issued by the Sheikh himself that approved Palestinian suicide operations. At the time, we questioned the Sheikh asking who could guarantee that we won’t see these operations taking place in our countries one day, and this is what happened!
Of course there are other fatwas that approve of the killing taking place in Iraq. The flood of fatwas continues in every part of our Arab world without exception, transforming our youth into firewood. Those carrying the wood would then escort our youth towards doom.
Today, as well as the danger of Shia-fication, there is another tangible threat, namely funding. This money is appearing in our Arab world to plant agents and to work towards upsetting our stability to serve Iranian interests.
We do not need to add fuel to the sectarian fire. What we need is for the scholars of the Arab world, specifically the Sunnis, to realize the danger of what is happening on the political ground and its universal dimensions.
I was amongst those who would disagree with the Sheikh and criticize but what is important here is that he has opened the doors to debate, which could be described as sensitive and dangerous. Our region cannot bear sectarian pressure but debate is important and what is required is not to further inflame sectarianism but to close the door to Iranian intervention in our region.