Held at AMI on 19th January 2019.
Sunni and Shia ulema convened to discuss the sensitive topic of the succession of the Prophet and the event of Ghadir, which has been a source of discord amongst the two groups. Although such debates are typically antagonistic, the Centre for Intra Muslim Studies (CIMS) is committed to promoting harmony and understanding within the Muslim community. In line this ethos, the topical issue was discussed in a respectful manner with the genuine aim of learning and understanding the differing positions.
Both presenters who spoke from the differing traditions, Dr Ayman Yacoubi, who gained his PhD at Al Azhar University, and Shaykh Ayub Rashid agreed that there were numerous narrations historically verifying the occurrence of the event. However, where the two schools of thought differ is with regards to the implication of the sermon of Ghadir which depends on the context in which the Prophet spoke. The dominant view in the Sunni thought is that the Prophet was conveying the impeccable status of Imam Ali and instructing others to afford him the highest level of respect since there were certain members of his own army who were speaking ill of him. As opposed to this, Shaykh Ayub argued that the sequence of events where the Prophet ordered masses to congregate and wait in the heat whilst those who had already left were asked to come back shows the Prophet wanted to convey something of greater significance. Furthermore, the revelation of the Quranic verse 5:3, “This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion” supports the assertion that the Prophet was informing all those present that Imam Ali was his successor.
In the concluding remarks following the presentations and the discussion, Dr Khalid, the chair of CIMS, left both sides with pertinent points to reflect upon. For the Sunni participants, he asked why Imam Ali is not typically given the due respect he deserves and revered as he should be in accordance with the accepted narrations of the Prophet. This followed on from Dr Ayman’s statement that there was no doubt amongst the companions of the Prophet that Imam Ali was the dearest to the Prophet. For the Shia participants, Dr Khalid pointed out the Imam Ali did eventually acknowledge the authority of the first Caliph and this is evidenced in his sermons. He also cooperated and worked with the Caliphs during their rule for the betterment of the Muslim community.
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Q&A + Conclusion