The Al-Mahdi Institute initiated a new series of Public Discussion on Intra-Muslim Issues which commenced on 9th June 2014 at 7.00pm. The first topic introduced of this series was ‘’Praying with Muslims from different schools.’’ The aim was to generate a rich sharing of ideas, to facilitate the need of discussion between scholars and the grass roots community pertaining to the current issues concerning the Ummah and also a means to foster greater understanding and appreciation of the other. This lively panel with input from renowned panellists and the public accommodated for diversity in expression while rooting itself in a shared common goal towards reform and unity.
After a beautiful recitation of the Quran and a warm welcome to the institute there was an introduction of the format of the evening to follow. Each distinguished guest speaker would have approximately 8 minutes to present their ideas giving enough time for the public to then discuss their ideas and raise questions that they may have.
Amongst the Panel included Dr. Mohammad Khalid (Al-Mahdi Institute), Shaykh Saeed Bahmonpour (Islamic Centre, Maida Vale), Maulana Mohammad Sarfaraz Madani (Central Mosque, Birmingham), Br. Mohammad Shamshad Ahmed Khan (Director of IPCI, UK), Shaykh Arif Abdulhussain (Al-Mahdi Institute).
The evening was inspirational where the words of unity were beautiful, luminous and illuminating. The panellists went into the very heart of the matter, to the understanding that Islam is based on love and understanding, where unity is accompanied by a myriad of diversities.
A brief overview of the evening was as follows, Dr Mohammad Khalid drew upon the importance of unity between Sunni and Shia where he expressed concerns that it is through our division of sects that has led to failure of uniting together. Shaykh Saeed Bahmonpour stressed the obligation of remaining united in Islam regardless to sect. He quotes ayahs from the Quran to support his view as well as stating the united view of Imam Khomeini. He also highlighted some of the differences between the various schools of thoughts. Maulana Mohammad Sarfaraz Madani’s (Central Mosque, Birmingham) message was also very clear, be united and not divided where he spoke of the Prophet (saw) being one of the greatest people to unite sects, and concurring with the other panellists he conveyed a need to reunite setting differences aside. Br. Mohammad Shamshad Ahmed Khan (Director of IPCI, UK) spoke of the importance of unity with support of references from Quran and suggested we look beyond sects and sectarian divides. Shaykh Arif Abdulhussain (Al-Mahdi Institute) in line with the guest speakers spoke of Gods dislike on the subsequent differences of people which led to people disuniting. Examples of the Prophet (saw) magnificent nature were given. Sheikh pointed to the fact that it seems many have become so involved in form that they have lost essence. There was also a call for a revision of what we have on our current positions where if fiqh is inconsistent with Quran then it should be removed.
The floor was open for discussion, where the panel had ignited many questions and comments from the public. Issues relating to fiqh were discussed as well as questions such as how can we make mosques more welcoming for others. There was a common desire for unity and reform, particularly concerning the youth who are more susceptible to negative messages. Suggestions for propagating the message of unity to schools and universities were recommended as a means to bridge the gulf.
The event proved a success where it certainly cleared up misconceptions and opened a window of hope towards reconciliation of differences. It was a harmonious evening which has paved fruition in the area of bridging differences. Such events as this one allow people to feel validated for being who they are under the umbrella of Islam.