Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Ayatollah Mohamed Ali Al Taskhiri has denied supporting the revival of the Fatimid state, as announced by the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
The Fatimid state was an Islamic Shiite Caliphate that ruled over varying areas of Morocco, Egypt, and the Levant, from 909 to 1171 AD.
Speaking from the Iranian capital Tehran, Taskhiri, who is Secretary-General for the International Forum for Bringing Islamic Schools of Thought Closer, said that the quotes of him supporting the revival of the Fatimid state are incorrect.
Over the course of the last year in several public speeches and press statements Gaddafi has called for what he describes as the Second Fatimid State in North Africa which will eliminate the debate between the Sunni and Shiite sects and remove the enmity between them, an enmity which ‘Arab rulers encourage’.
In an interview with the Libyan e-newspaper ‘Libya Al Youm’ which will be published on Tuesday, Taskhiri said ‘I have never supported the revival of a Fatimid State, and I think the reporters who say that I did are mistaken’ adding that ‘the era where central government does not speak has come to an end, as did the Fatimid State’. He noted that Gaddafi’s goal in calling for this state was not sectarian.
These statements are the exact opposite of what the Libyan media agencies quoted Taskhiri as saying during his participation in the 8th General Conference for the Islamic Call which was held in Tripoli last week. The Conference, whose slogan is ‘Islam is God’s Religion’s’ and to which more than 460 Islamic organizations attended from all over the world, this number does not include international bodies, regional organizations, and Christian organizations interested in inter-faith dialogue and cross-cultural communication. Dozens of scholars, intellectuals, and university professors also attended, as well as media agencies from around the world.
Previous press reports had stated that the Iranian Ayatollah Mohamed Ali Taskhiri had stunned the entire conference with his declaration of support for Gaddafi’s proposal, affirming that a new Fatimid State would eliminate the sectarian conflict which is fueled by the West to divide Muslims.
Taskhiri said ‘I support Gaddafi’s new proposal regarding a new Fatimid State, and I well understand the basic purpose of this proposal, which is to remedy the sectarian conflict in a way the West does not want, which is a way that is not dividing the Muslim word into a Sunni-Shiite conflict, or a Persian-Arab one’
On the other hand Taskhiri avoided commenting on his dispute with Dr. Yusuf Al Qaradawi, President of the World Federation of Muslim Scholars, regarding some of Qaradawi’s criticisms of the Shiite sect. Taskhiri has previously expressed surprise at the words of Qaradawi regarding the obstacles that exist between the different Islamic sects. He said ‘Many were surprised by these views, and the truth is that Qaradawi himself previously defended the Shiite with regards to the case of distortions in the Quranic text’. Taskhiri said that the differences between Sunnis and Shiites are ‘inflated beyond reality, and denies any organization or planning with regards to Sunni or Shiite preaching’.
Some scholars and intellectuals criticized the precept that the Shiites love the family of the Prophet, for in this way everybody would be a Shiite. Taskhiri denied that sectarianism is connected to the Persians adding ‘Sunni ideology was threatened in reality, and those who saved Sunni ideology were in fact Iranian scholars, I am talking of Imam Al Ghazali, may he rest in peace.
Taskhiri added that in Iran there are more than 7000 Sunni mosques, and more then 37,000 Sunni scholars and students who are lucky enough to fall under the prevue of the Iranian government.
On the Shiite position regarding the companions of the Prophet, Taskhiri said in remarks which could spark an angry reaction in Sunnis that ‘It is not right that a companion of the Prophet be elevated to the rank of the Just or Protected, simply because he saw or lived with the Prophet for a short period of time’.
The Iranian Ayatollah said that ‘It is one of the biggest mistakes to view Islam through the lens of our own geographic regions, or our own sects, or even our own histories which we separate from Islamic history as a whole, we must revert to the form which was sought after by Islam’ confirming the Shiite inability to find a over-looking doctrine for all Muslims.
In the meantime, 30 scholars from Saudi Arabia, the Kuwait, and other Arab countries signed a statement warning Mohamed Al Mahri, chairman of the Shiite scholars in Kuwait, against making inflammatory statements against Sheik Yusuf Al Qaradawi which were tantamount to giving ‘permission of shedding the Sheik’s blood while accusing Iran of backing this attacking. The signatories of this statement consider Al Mahri to be an ‘apostate’ leading a ‘delegation of blood’ against the Sheik, as well as being a ‘non-believer’ according to the Shiite code for attacking a Sheik in this way.
It is noteworthy that Qaradawi has recently warned of Shiite expansion within Arab countries, and called for a halt to the insults that some Shiite companions of the Prophet face, accusing Iran of feeding this fire to fulfill its own political interests. This is followed by remarks on the other hand against media agencies and Iranian dignitaries, among whom the ‘Mehr’ Iranian agency, which attacked Qaradawi. These attacks included the ridicule and abuse of previous Qaradawi comments. Al Qaradawi’s website quoted Ayatollah Taskhiri as saying that what occurred must be taken in the context of the Sunni-Shiite issue, and that the disagreement was no more than ‘clouds in the summer sky which disappear without a trace’.
He stressed that Iran would welcome the visit of Sheik Al Qaradawi at any time, and said ‘It is always his country, it cannot be otherwise’. A meeting of the Board of Trustees for the World Federation of Muslim Scholars, which occurred in the middle of last October in the capital of Qatar, Doha, came to an agreement regarding the Sunni-Shiite issue, and reversed the meetings closing statement in support of Qaradawi’s demands, stressing the importance for the unity of all Muslims regardless of sectarian differences, demanding the respect for any and all Companions of the Prophet, and to distance themselves from sectarian preaching.