The outstanding Sunni leader, Shaikh Abdol-Hamid has refused claims of some Iranian Shia scholars about the population of Sunnis and their economic advancement in some cities.
Talking to “SunniOnline”, the official website of the Sunni community in Iran, Shaikh Abdol-Hamid said, “The words of some prominent scholars including Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi and Friday Imam of Mashhad made Sunnis worried. It is regrettable to hear some reputable scholars are concerned why Sunnis grow up in population and they advance in education and economy. When we believe in Islamic fraternity, Shias and Sunnis are brothers and they are facts; whey we show such anxieties? It is a fact, the Shia community is in majority in Iran as Sunnis are in minority but they and their rights cannot be denied.”
In another part of his talk with “SunniOnline”, Khateeb and Friday Imam of Sunnis in Zahedan, southeastern Iran, underlined, “The Iranian Sunnis have their due rights. They respect the rights of their Shia fellow citizens. Even there is a village “Espand” in Baluchistan where 4000 Sunnis live. But there is only a Shia man who was previously Sunni; he has got a mosque in the village and use loudspeaker for Azan and mourn in Muharram. Nobody has any objections; there are many other similar cases. But on the other hand, thousands of Sunnis cannot build a mosque in Tehran!”
Refusing the claims of fanatic elements that Sunnis strove to increase their population by polygamy and giving more births, he said, “Sunnis in Iran had the current population in past. The Sunnis and some other sources have urged many times that Sunnis in Iran constitute about 25% of the Iranian population. According to our survey from sources we got secretly and some information we got from the Interior Ministry, the percentage of Sunnis’ population is 20%. We used to say so but officials did not accept it. Truth will out. Now they examined and learnt Sunnis are not as few as they used to imagine. The birth control policy of the country affected Sunnis in past too. Even some Sunni Ulama have only one or two children. Now people do not take a blind bit of notice on growing population and increasing number of children. Because we had been encouraging them to have only one or two children and also masses suffer from severe poverty.”
“Some Shia scholars and officials want to provoke Shia parents to have more children by frightening them about Sunnis’ population; it is a wrong method which only intensifies religious fanaticism. Even a Shia cleric asked people in a live TV program to kick off this process tonight for 5 to 14 children! Where were these men in past? They need a century to change minds of people,” he added more.
The rector of Darululoom Zahedan further said, “Moderate Principlists and the current government do not pay any attention to such words. But it is possible they provoke fanatic extremists and then Sunnis would witness more problems certainly. We already suffer from some problems and Sunnis are deprived of their basic rights such as Islamic education and establishment of prayers. Muslims wrestle with the crisis of religious disputes in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. Now we should protect our country from sectarian clashes not to provide excuses to extremists.”
Talking on the remarks of Ayatollah Naser Makerm Shirazi, the eminent Sunni leader made it clear, “I have looked up the books of Ayatollah Makarem, there was not any abusive sentence about the sanctities of Ahl-us-Sunnah. But his some expressions in the current circumstances have worried us. He has grown up in age and accepts all reports he receives; then he speaks out without survey and investigation. Such claims damage unity and prestige of Mr. Shirazi. ‘Velayat’ satellite TV channel works under his supervisory and name; its activities are on the tracks of Sunnis’ defamation not approximation. However, the operators of the channel claim they don’t insult Sunnis but some of their programs are worse than offence. Shia Ulama and all religious figures must follow the leader in bringing and maintaining Islamic unity.”
In response to a question about relations between people and Ulama in Sistan-Baluchistan, he said, “People in this region (Sistan-Baluchistan) like their scholars a lot. They respect each other and people follow up their problems and different issues via Ulama. People in this province cast their vote for Dr. Rouhani; it shows they are sober and temperate. Sagacity rules on and outstanding Ulama launch seminaries. Negative propaganda against our seminaries has been launched by fanatic elements in their media outfits. They deny to accept the orders of the Supreme Leader openly by their acts. They quote him occasionally just to create a safe umbrella for their illegal activities.”
In a part of his interview with “SunniOnline”, Shaikh Abdol-Hamid shed light on the reasons why some political sides were unhappy with the role of him and other Sunni leaders, saying, “The main reason made some sides worried is unanimous vote of the Sunni community to Dr. Hassan Rouhani. They have partial differences. Secondly, they do not want the nation to have a positive and real mind about Sunni Ulama that they are beneficial for the society and country. The radical groups are extremely angry why Sunni Ulama played a positive role to bring hostages back safely. Indeed Allah knew and heard their lies and blames.”