Based on religion and history texts, unity and proximity thoughts have a long history as holy Qur’an has frequently called Muslims to boost ties between them. Following the demise of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and outbreak of political and ideological rifts among different Islamic denominations, Islamic community was tied with disagreements and dispersion with anti-Islam sides fueling the fire in an attempt to halt the leading role of Islam though promotion of Islamic teachings by Shia Imams (AS), hostile intrigues were foiled. It was during this period when prominent Shia and Sunni figures and their determination was strengthened due to the chaotic situation of Muslims, domination of the non-believers on Islamic countries and also expansion of hostility and pessimism among Muslims.
Hujjat-ul-Islam Ahmad Moballeghi, director of the University of Islamic Denominations and member of the Assembly of Experts, in an interview with Taqrib News Agency (TNA) detailed his views on philosophy and background of proximity, strategies and approaches of the University of Islamic Denominations.
When asked on the history of Islamic denominations, the cleric referred to three phases for promotion of Islamic solidarity, the first phase on appearance of proximity in religious texts when the notion is not a new one introduced to people rather examples of that can be seen in Shia and Sunni references and that demands Muslims to approach each other when sectarian, ethnic or any other form of division distances them.
The second phase was a period of popular struggles to stem the dispersion when Muslims moved towards healing of the situation when a gap appeared among their communities.
And the third phase belonged to a deep Islamic unification which can also be called as “Seyyed Jamal Unification period” (Seyyed Jamal ad-Din Asadabadi, Islamic ideologist 1838-1897) having appeared as a strong social movement with high capacities and special aspects.
Seyyed Jamal was one of the most serious and wisest pioneers of Islamic unity who entered the arena with the phrase Islamic solidarity and made use of special strategies in this line. Creation and promotion of an attractive literature of Islamic proximity, building thoughts and new ideas for the world of Islam, providing moral-social schools of thought with Islamic hues and also publication of books and analytical magazines beyond all tribal and ethnic tendencies were the axes for his efforts.
Hujjat-ul-Islam Moballeghi also said that the great proximity figure focused his proximity activities on rulers, elites and ordinary people with the major attention on the second group, intellectuals.
Based on the scholar the fourth period in proximity movement is the Egyptian proximity which is proximity among scholars which can be deduced from academic dialogues, magazines and correspondents exchanged among different scholars. The efforts were truly influential and the proximity voice in that period has perfectly echoed in the history.
The background of Egypt’s Dar-al-Taqrib should not be underestimated since the ideological foundations of the center were in proximity out of which some demand revision and some are perfectly struvtured. Since the political figures of the time did not permit the movement to continue and also the prominent proximity figures of the time, both Shia and Sunni, passed away, proximity movement slowed down.
Necessity of social studies into proximity:
Iranian member of the Assembly of Experts stressed necessity of constant studies on Islamic proximity since a series of disagreements and behaviors have appeared among Shia and Sunni which have weakened proximity and once the plagues to the movement are found the movement will be revived because it is deeply rooted in religion.
The fifth and final phase in proximity movement is a revival of Islamic proximity in the background of Islamic Revolution in Iran when the great move was made by the major Shia nation in Iran but was widely welcomed by Sunni community both in Iran and in other countries.
Sunni community in Iran participated in the Islamic Revolution and the Sunni scholars across the globe followed the movement without any sectarian tendencies; hence, Islamic Revolution in Iran can be called as one of the best manifests of convergence among Shia and Sunni both in and out of Iran.
Director of the University of Islamic Denominations counted the important strategies for promotion of proximity, the first one, recruitment of proximity forces because scholars, elites and academicians in the region who feel the urge for promotion of Islamic proximity but they need the grounds to make moves for the end.
Second is unification of the proximity voices which can be heard from every corner in the world of Islam and we should not let them feel isolated, weakened or even foil each other and consequently marginalized. For this end tolerance of different denominations should grow.
The third necessary factor is intermingling and involvement of Shia-Sunni proximity figures. In other words both major Islamic denominations should move hand in hand. Wherever these schools of thought have appeared together, they have formed an invincible coalition.
The fourth element is moving in the light of theories. Academic ambiances should be led towards theorization of proximity and promotion of proximity hypotheses before carrying them out.
The fifth and last strategy is to make media-oriented proximity moves. Today media is the hub of forming social thoughts and feelings and proximity which moves with two wings of thought and feelings should not underestimate media as a marginal element especially when dispersion makes its first appearance in the media.