News   /   IN-DEPTH   /   Politics   /   Palestine   /   Editor's Choice

Iran hosts 35th Islamic unity conference

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
35th Islamic Unity Conference, October 2021. File Photo

Every year millions of Muslims across the planet celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad. Sunni and Shia denominations celebrate this event on two different dates within the same week. The interval between these two dates is annually commemorated as the Islamic Unity Week.

The message of unity is an indication of the fact that Muslims need to rise above their superficial differences and be vigilant about the malevolent intentions of external forces.

A long time ago, British colonialism was based on “divide and rule” policy. This policy has now been adopted by other present day colonial powers, such as the USA.

The English have always been a source of malevolence in the region. They have been a source of misery for many nations. The setbacks that they have instigated in this region have few parallels in other parts of the world.

They did it to Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq using various divisive methods. Another example, of course, is Palestine, which is the place where they made that disturbing and malevolent move wherein they rendered Muslims, a whole nation of them, homeless and forced them to drift away from their own homes.

Meanwhile, the cry of unity and unanimity among Muslims is being sounded by sincere voices inviting Muslims to pay attention to their common goals.

In recent years the desire for rapprochement with the Islamic sects has grown as people in Islamic countries become increasingly aware of the divisive policies of the Western powers.

The Iranian Revolution in 1979 had, in one way or another, an impact on all social movements across the globe that were using Islamic values as a framework for their activism. That included some important Sunni Islamic movements outside of Iran.

To counter this situation, the United States, and its regional allies, soon reacted to the revolution by trying to contain it. As a result, throughout the 1980s West Asia witnessed an all-out anti-Iranian effort, sometimes covert and at times overt.

The main outcome of this plot was the Iraqi imposed War on Iran which lasted for 8 years with devastating results.

As if this wasn't bad enough, the action to contain Iran became one that played on sectarian divisions as well.

 Anti-Shiism, coupled with anti-Iranian racism, consequently became a tool for containment of Iran.

In response, the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, came up with the idea of the Islamic Unity Week. This was based on the strategy of the Islamic Republic to avoid enemy traps and instead strengthen unity among Muslims.

Thus, it was decided to hold the annual International Islamic Unity Conference. And, a few years later, the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought was created by the order of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, with the primary mission of holding this important annual gathering.

Muslim whether Shia or Sunni

Today, the most essential issue for the Islamic world is securing unity, empathy, and harmony.

The root of all our troubles today is discord. It’s because of these differences that the enemy has been able to oppress Palestinians and our Muslim brothers and continue its aggressions in front of millions of Muslims and some Islamic nations have joined Israel and no significant action was taken.

If all Muslims were united, like in the early days of Islam, the enemy would not dare to commit such aggressions.

Seyyed Mousa Mousavi, Deputy Head, World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought

At a time when, with the process of expanding the means of communication and the great opportunities which Muslim societies have for progress, we are witnessing good and blessed events in the development of Islamic societies.

Also the issue of the invasion by dominating powers and their Islamic Front against countries in different parts of the Islamic world, the need for Muslims to pay attention to each other, to communicate with each other, and to have better relations is becoming ever more clear.

Mostafa Rostami, Leader’s Representative in Iran’s Universities

The purpose of the Conference is to create unity and solidarity among Muslims and develop consensus among scholars and scientists.

It is hoped that by approximating these scientific and cultural viewpoints, practical solutions will be found to solve the problems standing in the way of unifying the Islamic Ummah.

The 35th sitting of the International Islamic Unity Conference took place from the 19th to 24th of October 2021.

The Islamic Ummah in the current developments of the Islamic society must go beyond religion and reach the essence of the Ummah. That is, the Islamic Ummah, elites, politicians, lawmakers, and scientific elites should be able to solve these issues and challenges based on the principle of the Ummah and the principle of Islam. It is like a family whose members are free at home, but when they go out in society, they must observe a set of rules.

That’s when nations must leave aside their issues and instead, consider common and general Islamic matters.

Mostafa Zolfaghartalab, Sunni Scholar

The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, of course, given that it was a special institution, could have done its job in a different and broader way if the whole system was concerned with the issue of unity.

Due to the limited budget and facilities, it put matters on its agenda that are the urgent needs of the Islamic world.

One was the spread of the culture of approximation in the Islamic world. By identifying the elites in the Islamic world, an attempt was made to create similar institutions aimed at bringing Muslims together in their respective countries.

There are Councils of Unity in some Islamic countries, although they might not have been able to succeed on a large scale.

These institutions are active in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan and others and have the same mission as The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought.

Seyyed Mousa Mousavi, Deputy Head, World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought

This year’s event kicked off in capital city Tehran with notable Iranian and foreign Islamic scholars, ambassadors and high ranking officials, delivering speeches.

The slogan for this year’s event is “Islamic Unity, Peace and Avoiding Discord within the Islamic world”.

More than 160 foreign speakers from 47 countries as well as 120 Iranian figures participated in the event.

One of the most important achievements of The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought has been the establishment of the University of Islamic Religions.

This university, which was established around 1996, was able to deliver and present to the society the scientific, political, and social elites of different religions from Hanafi, Shafi'i, as well as Maliki, and even Ibadiyya, which is a very blessed achievement.

Mostafa Zolfaghartalab, Sunni Scholar

Iran has shown that Shia and Sunni are no different.

Perhaps the most obvious case is Palestine. Saving the lives of Sunnis in northern Iraq from the clutches of Daesh is another example of this strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The issue of defending Palestine is based on the principle and belief that is rooted in the Islamic Republic’s foundations.

The Iranian constitution emphasizes the defense of Palestine and the protection of the oppressed.

It is on this basis that, as I said, the standing up for not only the people of Palestine but all the oppressed in the Islamic world who are attacked by the enemies of Islam have been emphasized per the  Islamic Republic’s higher laws.

That’s why the Islamic Republic, in its early years, moved to defend Bosnia and even some Sunni Muslims went and were martyred there.

Mostafa Zolfaghartalab, Sunni Scholar

Najah Mohammad Ali, an Iraqi political analyst claims that "General Qassem Soleimani succeeded to defeat Daesh through establishing unity between resistance groups and people in West Asia. He succeeded to bring resistance groups and factions together properly and eliminate Daesh.”

According to Mohammad Ali, "General Soleimani considered unity a divine, immediate and strategic duty among the resistance factions." He believes that "had it not been for the Iranian advisory presence and the mobilization of the resistance factions in the region, the Syrian state would have fallen to the Takfiri groups.”

After the emergence of Daesh in 2014 and what they call the “caliphate state” in Iraq, Iran played the greatest role in combating terrorism, overthrowing the terror group and aborting the American-Israeli project.

Following the start of the internal war in Syria and its expansion to Iraq, the Iranian government sent its military advisers to these countries at the express invitation of the Iraqi and Syrian governments.

When the Islamic Awakening took shape, thanks to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the branches of this awakening gradually spread into Islamic societies, and developments took place in different countries, the whole world witnessed that the Islamic Republic was the only country that sprang to their defense.

All that effort we made in the fight against Daesh and sedition in Syria and Iraq wasn’t because they were threatening our borders.

In fact, we felt that they posed a danger to Islam in general and are aimed at sowing discord. Therefore, the Islamic Republic didn’t take a step back in the defense of the rights of the oppressed and their Islamic movement.

Seyyed Mousa Mousavi, Deputy Head, World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought

Describing Iran’s role in the fight against terrorism as “vital” and effective”, Nazim Dabbagh, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) representative in Tehran, says that “General Qassem Soleimani not only helped in the framework of consultation but also in the battlefield, we are thankful and appreciative for Iran’s advisory presence and its arms aid to eliminate the Daesh threat from Erbil. I have said many times that if it were not for Iran, after the fall of Mosul, Daesh could have captured Baghdad, as well as the Kurdistan region.”

“In a word, Iran played a constructive role in the war on terrorism that has brought security and stability to the region. Only those who sponsor terrorism can deny this role."

Islamic scholars believe that Islam offers many cogent and logical ideas: ideas that are cherished by anyone who is given the opportunity to hear them out and ponder upon them.

The fundamental concepts of Islam are attractive to the whole world. The concepts of justice, monotheism, fight against oppression and protection of the oppressed, morality, and kindness in social relations, all these are great prophetic and divine slogans that Muslims rely on and design them to form the dominant discourse of the conversation about Islam and expose those who are after distortion and lie to disgrace the beautiful face of Islam.

Mostafa Rostami, Leader’s Representatives in Iran’s Universities

According to Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s leader, "Today, two willpowers are opposing one another in the region: one is the willpower of unity and another is the willpower of discord. The willpower of unity is inviting Muslims to pay attention to their common goals. If this happens and unity is achieved, the condition that Muslims are in today will change and they will achieve dignity. At the same time malicious, dependent mercenary groups who receive money from the CIA and other intelligence agencies – such as Daesh, and the like – create situations that you have witnessed in Iraq, Syria, and other countries. They do this by using many foolish and ignorant individuals."

Attempts by some domineering countries for sowing discord among Muslims and Islamic societies have undermined many of the capabilities of Islamic societies.

The economic, political, and military power that could be used to promote Islam and the strength of Islamic societies is being wasted away by being used to counter the attacks among Muslim societies.

The only beneficiaries of such infightings are the hegemonic regimes and colonial countries.

Mostafa Rostami, Leader’s Representatives in Iran’s Universities

Scholars in favor of Islamic unity unanimously agree that Sunni or Shia makes no difference; these types of groups are supported by the UK, US and Israelis with the mission to sow discord among Muslims.

In a speech to address this issue Ayatollah Khamenei said, "When you bear witness to certain radio and television channels among the Islamic world that are launched with the purpose to insult the great personalities of Sunni Islam and other denominations--under the title of Shia Islam--it becomes clear that this is British made Shia. This is the message that only the willpower of discord conveys. And, it goes against the traditions of our infallible Imams.”

We need to beware of the differences that the enemies have targeted.

They have sought to promote an American Islam which is either a compromising Islam, or an extremist, bigoted, and ignorant one that is ultimately different from the pure Islam introduced to us by Prophet Mohammed.

The United States and its affiliates are pursuing such an Islam.

Mostafa Rostami, Leader’s Representatives in Iran’s Universities

Iran is includes a variety of religions and sects. However, the official religion of the country is Islam and the majority of Iranians are Shia. This is while Sunni Muslims constitute ten percent or eight million of the general population.

They have a strong presence in different regions of the country such as the Golestan, Kurdistan, Khuzestan and Sistan & Baluchistan provinces.

They are employed in various government and military centers and play a vital role with their presence. Sunnis can also serve in the Assembly of Experts which is the deliberative body empowered to appoint the Leader of Iran.

In fact, currently, three members of the Assembly represent the Sunni population. In addition there are 21 MPs representing them in the Iranian Parliament.

I was one of the youngest members of the Assembly of Experts for the Constitution. I witnessed closely how careful the experts who drafted the constitution were, as well as the instructions that came from Imam Khomeini to the experts.

I saw how careful they were not to write a Shiite law, in the sense that the system wouldn’t consider a Shiite framework only.

Various clauses were written in the constitution that required this system to defend the oppressed of the world, and not only the oppressed of the Islamic world, and to have an active relationship with the Islamic world.

With this basis and strategy in mind, the Islamic Republic has shown to every nation in over 40 years that it even endures problems at home to defend Muslims and Islamic movements.

Seyyed Mousa Mousavi, Deputy Head, World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought

Moreover, the Leader of Iran recently appointed Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, a Sunni Kurdish commander, as the new chief of the Iranian Navy.

Independent research, published recently by the Atlantic Council, reported that contrary to claims by misinformation campaigns "the Iranian government does not systematically and intentionally favor Shias over Sunnis in its socio-economic policies".

Over the years Ayatollah Khamenei has emphasized the need to maintain vigilance in the fight against sectarian divisions and has expressed confidence that "Shia and Sunni communities in Iran have always stood by each other in tough times and have not allowed anyone to divide them.”

The Holy Qur'an not only declares officially that the only relationship that can be between the Islamic society is that of brotherhood, in the words of Imam Khomeini, because of the wording the Qur'an uses, but it’s also declaring that there can be no other spirit among Muslims save fraternity.

That is, all of their relationships are interpreted as a brotherhood in all areas. Brotherhood is different from unity; brotherhood means equality and empathy.

We believe that unity based on fleeting interests is also baseless and simply turns to enmity when those interests are destroyed. But the unity that Islam established is stable and real because it is based on brotherhood and affection.

Seyyed Mousa Mousavi, Deputy Head, World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought

Over the past forty years the Islamic Republic of Iran has endeavored to improve the position of the Islamic Resistance Front and social movements in the region and the Islamic world.

Resistance groups have always viewed the Islamic Republic of Iran as an inspiring pivot point, and a great supporter in achieving their noble goals.

In fact, the failure of the Islamophobic US policies in the region today is seen by analysts as the direct result of the “strategic doctrine of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, which is not limited to defending its own interests and territory.

Iran's entry into Iraq and Syria as advisers at the request of those countries is a good example of this notion.

The recent sale of fuel to Lebanon is another example.

With Lebanon nearly paralyzed by fuel shortages, Hezbollah became a national savior, stepping in where the Lebanese government and its Western backers had failed.

The group succeeded in transporting more than a million gallons of Iranian diesel fuel into Lebanon from Syria while out maneuvering the United States. These events helped Hezbollah win the battle of perseverance against the US siege.

Consistent with the macro interests of the Islamic world, the long term strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of foreign policy has been to function as a presence and influence that is “stabilizing” and equipped to “repel threats and crises” of the regional environment.

Iran genuinely believes that this is the best way to strive for Islamic Unity.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku