“Ignorance: greatest enemy and education best way against Takfir”
He expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to attend a conference where Muslims from different backgrounds sit together which, in his words, is very important because people might have thoughts in their minds but when they sit together and talk a lot of confusions are removed so to have dialogue and to learn from other Muslims is very important.
He said,” Sects existed since long time ago but there was never physical violence involving them. Violence has risen in the past few years and there are reasons behind this rising violence.”
He referred to prominent Sunni figures who have been students to Shia Imams and that although there have been disagreements between them they were within boundaries of respect though what we see today is hatred and jealousy and these are something of concern.
According to Rayhan Ahmad Reza, takfiri and Khawariji mentality are cancer tumors of the nation of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) saying,” We need to carry out a surgical operation of these people whether it is a military based or ideological war.”
Rayhan Ahmad Reza noted,” Ideological war is always there and some places like Pakistan are in need of military intervention where the army is doing a surgical operation on these Takfiris because they bring intrigue and unrest and corruption within the community and a tarnished image of Islam to the world.”
When asked on the way to confront Takfirism he referred to dialogue as one way though over the years Takfiri groups have proved not to understand logic or a different opinion rather than their own ideas.
“They think that everything is the same as it used to be at the time of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) but even at the time of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), some of his companions disagreed with each other upon some issues” he said and added,” To have disagreements is in the nature of human being but the disagreement should not lead to violence. Mutual respect is what is needed to be besides disagreements though what Takfiris believe is that anyone who differs from them should be killed and that is what we have seen in Syria and Iraq. They are actually violating the basic principles of Islam which talk about love and humanity, justice, freedom of thought and speech. These are what Islam has given when there were no such concepts in the western world.”
Member of Muslim Council of Scotland stressed, “These people have hijacked the teachings of Islam and have given a total different image of the holy religion to the western world; as a result of that many people- among non-Muslims- are brainwashed on Islam and have become Islamophobic because what they see is through the media.”
On the agents behind the issue he said,” Be it Muslims or non-Muslims, some are intentionally bringing this wrong image of Islam and some are sponsored by certain governments to tarnish the picture of Islam.”
He highlighted the role of Islamic Unity Conference in bringing people from all around the world together, people who will take something back with them and will spread this message in their community in a more practical form.
As of the relations between Islamic denominations in Scotland he said,” We, in Ahlul Sunna Jama in Scotland, work with our Shia brothers and try to bring Taqrib, in terms of bringing their commonalities together. There certainly are differences which can’t be denied. They are there and they have existed for 1400 years but there are far more commonalities within Shia and Sunni Muslims than differences.
He referred to recommendations of holy Qur’an telling the prophet” Say to the people of book to come to common terms” and added this is while the idea of takfir is purely based on ignorance. And it requires two actions; an ideological war which is very important because you may finish those people through a surgical operation but if the ideology exists they will keep rising every time under a different name including; Taliban, Daesh, Boko Haram, al shebab or al Qaeda.
Participant to 30th International Islamic Unity Conference concluded,” Ignorance is the greatest enemy and education is the best way forward because ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hatred, hatred leads to violence and that is why people are exploited; so, if ignorance leads to these things then we should cut it from the root and educate ourselves and our community people besides that ulima (scholars) from Shia and Sunni should sit together and that is how the public will come aware.
Rayhan Ahmad Reza ended with prayers for the people to come together not physically but through their hearts as well saying,” We should come together in order to make a better society and contribute to our society as our predecessors contributed to humanity.”