Great Iraqi Shiite cleric (Marja) has stressed that Shiites should assume the Sunnis as their souls.
In 2007, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraqi Shiite marja issued a landmark message on Shiite-Sunni unity. Recently, with the outbreak of unrest in Iraq, he has reissued the message.
“There is no real difference between Shiite and Sunni beliefs, and I am the servant of all Iraqis [either Sunni or Shiite],” he emphasizes. “I love everyone, and this religion [Islam] is the religion of love,” he adds. He expresses his surprise that how the enemy could have succeeded to divide Islamic sects.
Sistani’s message, also sent to first Conference of Sunni and Shiite Scholars, asserts that “ this kind of conferences are highly important, since they help Shiites and Sunnis find out that there is no real difference between their beliefs, and the difference simply is on legal (Fiqh) issues.”
“Shiites should defend Sunnis’ social and political rights before defending their own rights, and we call [everyone] for unity,” Ayatollah Sinstani adds. “As I have said before, Shiites should not call Sunnis their brethren, but their ‘souls.’
“We should attend Sunnis’ Friday prayers more than Shiite’s. We do not discriminate between Arabs and Kurds, and Islam has collected all of us [under common umbrella],” he asserts.
Sistani also points to Sunni legal issues and says that “we [Muslims] are united in Kaaba (Holy Shrine), prayer, and fasting.”
“During Saddam’s era, I saw many Sunnis’ conversion to Shea’ism. When asked why they converted, they answered that they converted to Shea’ism in order to attain Ahlul-Bayt friendship,” Sistani accounts, and “I was telling them that Sunni Imams (four Sunni Scholars) had defended Ahlul-Bayt.