The outstanding leader of the Iranian Sunni community, Shaikh Abdol-Hameed Ismaeelzahi, has sent a blunt letter to the newly-appointed General Secretary of the state-run Forum for Proximity of Islamic Sects, Ayatollah Mohsen Araki. Khateeb of Ahl-us-Sunnah in Zahedan reminded the G.S some of the important issues and problems of the Sunni community in Iran.
The text of the letter is as following:
By the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Dear Ayatollah Araki!
General Secretary of the Forum for Proximity of Islamic Sects,
By respect, may your worships would be accepted. I congratulate your appointment for the seat of general secretary; may Allah bestow you more success in the new post.
I think it is necessary, at your serious appointment, to remind you some considerable issues.
1- No body can deny the dire need of Muslims for unity and solidarity in the current sensitive circumstances. It is obvious that Muslims can not gain honor without Islamic unification.
2- After the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, thanks to gumption of the leaders of the Revolution a week was named “Week of Unity”; many gatherings have been held to generate solidarity and unification, generally among the Muslims of the world and particularly between Sunnis and Shias of Iran. Dozens of meetings and conferences had been organized –by spending bombastic expenses– on the basis of Muslims’ unity; the question is that have we succeeded to achieve our goals over unification across the globe after three decades? We believe it is the time to evaluate objectively the results and possible achievements of the Forum for Proximity of Islamic Sects; if it is proved successful, no matter, otherwise we must study the main causes of the failure. Then we must review our plans, rectify mistakes and execute a new scheme which would ensure achievement of real and practical unity among Muslims.
It seems there is no balance in the outcome of our works and between our efforts and expenses and the expenses of the enemy for creating conflicts among Muslims.
3- The most considerable community inside Iran that needs unity and should be treated on parity basis is the Sunni community. A glancing survey shows that Ahl-us-Sunnah of Iran has been suffering from discrimination since the victory of the Revolution.
Armed services, Foreign Ministry and its related scopes, key national and provincial positions and offices such as ministries, deputy presidency and ministries, governorship and other offices are no-go-areas for the Sunni educated and eligible citizens; it shows the profundity of the discriminations and inequality. These were some overt examples of religious discrimination against Sunni citizens of the country.
Not only such stances are in contrary to the plain articles of the Constitution on justice and equality but also it is apparent reversal of Muslims’ unity; these policies counteract all attempts for unification. In addition, Sunni minorities in Shia-dominated cities of Iran have been facing problems –state obstacles– in their worships especially over establishing own congregational prayers, Friday and Eid prayers. There are approximately one million Sunni Muslims in Tehran; despite passage of 34 years from the Revolution, yet they are not permitted to build any mosque.
4- The seminaries of the Sunni community have been providing their services under the rules of the Constitution and direct observation of the pertained state-operated departments. There has not been any dispute between our religious schools and the state-run offices about observation and monitoring. But in the recent years, a phenomenon has appeared that has been named “reformation” and reorganization plan for the Sunni seminaries; an overview to some parts of the reformation plan shows that it is an intentional move to get the control of Sunni seminaries. This issue has made Sunnis so worried.
5- Repeatedly summoning and detention of Sunni scholars and the above-stated problems caused Sunnis to feel escapism. They are doubtful about the future of their children. Finally it affects unity and Islamic fraternity.
Mr. Araki! We think the Sunni community of Iran is a very good bridge for Iran to contact the Muslim world as Sunnis constitute the majority of Muslims. The rulers can take the advantage of Sunnis’ capabilities. They have been supporting the Revolution in all fields; but no body utilized their services.
Doubtlessly, chanting slogans for unity without implementation of the prerequisites of unity is a clear useless work.
I think leaders of the country can never reach to their aims on unity unless they resolve the problems of Sunnis and strive to get willingness of the community deeply.
As you are a scholar and piteous man, you know well that you can not achieve your goal but by the help and support of all official departments. You should struggle to get their support in your cause. Unity should be seen in the entire society not in any particular part of the country.
Khateeb of Ahl-us-Sunnah of Zahedan- Iran