Below is the interview the correspondent of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shiarzi’s official website, had with Sheikh Hamzah Sodagar a prominent scholar from the U.S. in the congress of the Takfiri and Extremist Movements.
Considering the increasing amount of Takfiri movements, how do you evaluate the current circumstances of Islamic world?
I think that the circumstances that we are in, are a very historic position since the Islamic Movement, in the global scale, has been moving forward and we have seen developments in the recent decades after a very serious decline of the Islamic Movement, We have started to see a change in that and the Islamic Movement is gaining grounds.
Once that is happened one of the elements that has been always used against Islamic Movement to try to cripple and try to stop the movement, has been the element of division.
I think the Takfiri movement that has developed over the recent few years, in ways that it was not there. It is apparent that there are connections with the enemies of Islam outside the Muslim lands, western powers, that are trying to use wrong ideologies and the ignorance and the naive approach that some of the youth especially within the Muslim lands and some of the Muslims outside of Muslim lands have abusing that, taking advantage of that and bringing them to the scene that we are seeing unfortunately.
So I think on the one hand, the Islamic Movement is moving forward, the creation of the Takfiri movement within the Islamic Movement to try to cripple it, is an attempt by the enemies of Islam to cripple the movement and to stop it.
I think it is important that we take a position on an intellectual scale to guide the youth, to provide understanding for the youth so that they realize that this is not Islam and these are not the teachings of the Holy Prophet saw.
this is actually the teachings of the enemies of Islam and the form of using the language of Islam and on the other hand, I think there needs to be political and military action taken to protect the Muslims and protect he believers, and protect all people that are under the threat of these Takfiri movements within and without the Muslim lands, in what is referred to as the middle east and outside of that.
It’s really important that we take all those measures Inshallah to allow for the genuine Islam to move forward.
Q: In your view, what kind of role can holding such conferences have in deactivating the Islamophobia in the west?
If we are able in such conferences to gather a larger number of non-Shia and genuinely believe that all Muslims, with a very serious and genuine belief that we are all Muslims, that belief needs to be there. We need to improve on that if in every sect of Islam. Shias need to believe that non-Shias are Muslim and non-Shias need to believe Shias are Muslim. So if we are arranging such conferences, we need to come in with that belief.
If we have that belief that means we are going to bring more and more thinkers, scholars and intellectuals from various schools of thought within the Muslims. And if we bring them, number one, themselves because every one of them is going to go back with a certain understanding and with a certain thought and their personal experience here in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the city of Qum, in the conferences as such that are held, they are going to go back and in their sphere of influence they are going to make a difference. Also I think there is a very important role for the media outlets that we are seeing a plenty of them here to put this information out there to get the news and information out and to have various interviews with people so that what happens here in this limited space that we are in is heard by more and more people.
The other thing that needs to happen within these conferences is, if we are having people within the Shia that are causing sectarian violence, we, as Shia, have got to be the first to condemn that. If we expect, Ahlul Sunnah and other schools of thought to come forward and condemn their scholars, speakers and intellectuals or whoever it is that spreading this information about Shiism or about whichever school of thought, we have got to do that towards those who are seen and are Shia and they are putting that type of information out. I think that can be very very effective in the intellectual front of combating the Takfiri ideology and movement.
Q: What is your view on the role of western powers, especially America, in forming and empowering the Takfiri movements and creating sectarianism in Islamic world? How do you evaluate it?
I think with a little bit of analyze, it will be very obvious that this type of movement cannot be a natural result and product of Islamic thoughts and teachings. If it is not a natural product of the Islamic thought, then we have got to look for other causes that created this.
When we see that we have enemies of Islam, people that cannot stand Islam in its genuine form, Islam does not allow them to create the mischief that they are intending to create, the control and authority over the resources of the world that they want to have, Islam does not allow them, obviously, they are going to act with antagonism against Islam.
So, if we have these people and this is not the natural product of Islam, obviously, you connected that it’s going to be them. But besides this very rational analysis I think if one sees the evidence, if we open our eye to what is available, where the global media which is under the control of the Zionists now and those global powers, even in those outlets you will find information here and there.
The evidence of John McCaine and other congress men and perhaps women that have visited the officials of this Takfiri movements and groups which they call opposition against the Syrian government or whatever they would like to call them, it becomes evident that this is supported by the western powers and particularly the United States of America.
Q: What are the motivations of those who j o i n these Takfiri groups from different continents?
Sheikh Sodagar: I think it is very difficult to accept that a person with an average intellectual capacity would read the material and the stuff that are provided by the Takfiri movements and get drawn to it based on religious inclinations. I don’t deny that it can partially be the case but I don’t think that it is the main reason for it.
I think there are other elements; for example one of the elements that attracts people and draws people is brotherhood and the feeling of belonging and people who feel lonely and people that they feel they don’t have anyone that cares for them, they want to be a part of something, so when they see a movement and some people that are showing it, they get attracted to it.
One of the ways that Wahhabies have been able to attract the youth has been that brotherhood that they are forming which I do not see it as genuine brotherhood for reasons. It feels like there is brotherhood and people care for you and so on.
Individualism in the west has reached to a point where people do not feel that anyone cares for them and they do not care for anybody. So, that is a human need to have people around them and people need others to care for them and love them. So when we have people that are doing that, it is very attractive.