For the first time: Shias, Sunnis 'Shoulder to Shoulder' to offer joint prayer in Lucknow, India

For the first time: Shias, Sunnis 'Shoulder to Shoulder' to offer joint prayer in Lucknow, India

Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas said, "I appreciate the work of people who have taken up this historic initiative. All of us should help take it forward. This should not only be limited to Lucknow taken up in other parts of UP and India."

LUCKNOW, India - Ahlul Bayt News Agency - This Baqrid (Eid-ul-Adha prayer), the historic Imambara Sibtainabad in the heart of Lucknow will play host to an event that has no precedent in the city's history. As part of a citizen-driven initiative called 'Shoulder to Shoulder', a joint Shia-Sunni prayer will be held in the Imambara lawns to send out the message of universal brotherhood. Interestingly, Eid-ul-Adha prayer will be led by a Sunni cleric in a venue that is often perceived as "a Shia monument".

The initiative began with a Whatsapp group that reached the maximum limit of 100 members in the first day of its inception. A Facebook event was subsequently created and has gone viral since. Mohammad Haider and Atif Hanif, who are part of the core group, said this is an attempt to find common ground, forget artificial differences, and accentuate the similarities between the two sects.

"‎Lucknow‬, a city of rich cultural, linguistic, architectural and culinary heritage, is also infamous for sectarian strife. Almost every year, big and small clashes between the Shias and Sunnis make headlines nationally" Haider said, adding, "A joint Shia-Sunni prayer held in New Delhi last Eid gave us hope and inspiration for a similar event in our own city."

Hanif said, "This is the need of the hour. The clashes between the two sects give the community and the entire city a bad name. We wanted to send out a strong message for unity and what's better than beginning it with joint prayer."

There were many challenges but they were ironed out with mutual understanding among the group members. The most significant one was fixing the venue and timing for the namaaz. The concept is largely the same but there are minor differences in the way of performing Namaaz (prayer). Sunni Muslims, unlike the Shias, can offer sacrifice only after namaaz, so the prayers are often held early in the morning. "Baqrid Namaaz or (Eid-ul-Adha prayer) for Shias usually happens much later in the day. But after a mutual discussion among the core team members, we arrived at the 8am timing,'' said Haider.

"We purposely chose a venue which is not in the Old City. It's a movement for peace and we didn't want any tension on the day. Imambara Sibtainabad is in the heart of the city, is easily accessible and has ample space,'' said Hanif, highlighting that the initiative is not backed by any political party or organization.

Welcoming this historic initiative, 44-year-old Mujtaba Khan who hopes to be a part of the joint prayer, said, "Lucknow's Muslims want a better environment to prevail in the city. This event will help bridge differences and free people of age-old prejudices.''

For 21-year-old Aamir Abbas, a recent graduate who has offered logistical support for the event with his group of youngsters, the most remarkable aspect of the Shoulder to Shoulder movement is that is purely a people's initiative. "This is an opportunity to leave our differences aside and come together for peace," he said.

Clerics from both the sects have welcomed the move. Sunni cleric Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali said, "It's a great initiative meant to do away with differences between people of both sects. People with vested interests should stay away from this unique initiative."

Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas said, "I appreciate the work of people who have taken up this historic initiative. All of us should help take it forward. This should not only be limited to Lucknow taken up in other parts of UP and India."





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ویژه‌نامه ارتحال آیت‌الله تسخیری
پیام رهبر انقلاب به مسلمانان جهان به مناسبت حج 1441 / 2020
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