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Al-Fusul al-muhimma fi ta'lif al-umma (book)

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Al-Fuṣūl al-muhimma fī taʾlīf al-umma
Author Al-Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din
Original title الفُصولُ المُهمّة فی تَألیفِ الاُمّة
Language Arabic
Publisher Mu'assisa Umm Abiha

Al-Fuṣūl al-muhimma fī taʾlīf al-umma (Arabic: الفُصولُ المُهمّة فی تَألیفِ الاُمّة, literally: important chapters regarding the unification of the Islamic Umma) is an Arabic book in one volume written by al-Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din concerning the unification and proximity of the Islamic Umma. The author, who was very concerned with proximity of Shia and Sunni Muslims, discussed the factors leading to divisions and enmity among Islamic sects and considered some solutions to achieve the unification. The book has been translated into Persian and Urdu.

Author

Al-Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din al-Musawi al-'Amili was born in Kadhimiya in 1290/1873. His lineage goes through 31 ancestors to Ibrahim al-Murtada, the son of Imam Musa al-Kazim (a). He wrote many books, such as al-Muraja'at . Sharaf al-Din died in 1377/1957, and was buried near the grave of his teacher, al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi, in Najaf.

Date and Motivation of Writing

Al-Fusul al-muhimma was written in 1327/1909. He wrote the book because a Sunni scholar, called al-Shaykh Nuh al-Hanafi, had issued a fatwa according to which Shias were excommunicated (so they were not considered as Muslims) and so it was permissible to kill them. He saw this as a dangerous step in favor of colonizers who were deepening divisions within the Islamic world for their own vicious goals. Sharaf al-Din quoted the fatwa in the book and then wrote:

This is a dispute in the wake of which no agreement is possible and a separation after which no union is possible and a war after which no peace is possible.

Contents

In the preface of the book, Sharaf al-Din talks about events after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s) and then takes the Islamic unification to be the only way for progress and prosperity in the Islamic community.

Then in 12 chapters, he cited reliable hadiths from credible Sunni collections of hadiths as well as fatwas by early Muslim scholars regarding Islam, faith, the respect for a person who expresses Shahadatayn, and the salvation of monotheists and people of tawhid.

He also responded to the issue of ijtihad in the face of explicit texts, excommunicatory (or takfiri) fatwas, the excommunication of Shias, the role of liars and the practice of some authors to spread divisions among the Islamic sects.

Features

In writing the chapters of this book, Sharaf al-Din adopted several different methods, such as the following:

  • The historical and hadith-based method: he employed verses of the Holy Qur'an, hadiths and historical accounts to examine reasons for divisions and hostility within the Islamic Umma, identifying and criticizing the opponents of the Islamic unification.
  • Defending the principles and foundations of Shiism: Sharaf al-Din did not sacrifice the Shiite principles for exigencies. Although he defends unification and dialogues between Shiite and Sunni sects, he provides a principled and reasonable defense of the school of Ahl al-Bayt (a).
  • Emphasis on reason and conscience with respect to evaluating different views: throughout the book, Sharaf al-Din takes reason and conscience as his criteria to evaluate and assess different views, since it is only in these terms that one can recognize the accuracy or inaccuracy of the relevant arguments and claims.
  • Emphasis on common principles: he never asked Sunni Muslims or Shias to abandon their respective principles for the sake of proximity and unification. However, he emphasizes their common practical principles.

Solutions for the Islamic Unification

Sharaf al-Din presented solutions for the unification and proximity of the Islamic Umma:

  • Consulting religious texts
  • The potentials within the sects for the unification
  • Detecting the grounds of divisions
  • Eradication of biases and prejudices
  • Careful consideration of the meaning of Islam and faith (or iman)
  • Introducing and explaining the beliefs obtained by different sects.

Translations and Publications

The book was translated by Sayyid 'Inayat 'Ali Naqawi into Urdu under Irshad al-Umma (Guiding the Islamic Umma).

The book was first published in 1330/1911) in Sidon of Lebanon and then it was published in Baghdad, Tehran, Qom and Najaf. Because of its approach to the proximity of the Islamic sects, the book was also edited by 'Abd al-Jabbar Sharara and published by the World Assembly of Proximity.

References