SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Top Shia cleric Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Al-Hussaini Al-Sistani, emphasised that there are no real differences between Shia and Sunnis and that he is a servant to all the people in Iraq.
His eminence also added, in a speech that was read on his behalf on the opening ceremony of the first Shia and Sunni Scholars Forum in the holy city of Najaf, “I love everybody and religion is love. I am shocked how enemies can divide the Islamic sects.”
He also mentioned that “these gatherings and meetings are important and fruitful, from which people can know that there are no disputes between them (referring to Islamic sects). Differences between Shia and Sunnis are in jurisprudence (Fiqh) issues, which also exist between the people of the same sect.”
In addition, he said that “Shia have to defend the social and political rights of the Sunnis before the Sunnis themselves. Our call is for unity; and I said that before, but still say it, do not say our Sunni brothers, but say ourselves. I listen to the Sunni Friday prayer leaders more than I listen to Shia Friday prayer leaders. We do not distinguish Arabs and Kurds. Islam is what unites us.”
He clarified that he mentions the Sunni fatwas, in his jurisprudence researches. “We are united towards one Ka’ba, one Prayer and one Fasting. Whenever a Sunni comes and tells me that they be became Shia, in the time of the previous regime, I ask him why? He responds to me that it is for the obedience of Ahlulbayt (A.S.) (Wilaya). So I tell him that the Sunni scholars always defended and supported the obedience of the Holy Household (A.S.).”
Ayatollah Al-Sistani concluded by saying that “the mass burials (graves where many people used to be buried together at the time of Saddam Hussein’s regime) affected the Sunnis as equally as the Shia. I support everyone who demands their rights.”