THE BLOG
12/04/2013 06:29 pm ET | Updated Feb 03, 2014

An Abrahamic Call for Sunnis and Shi'ites to Stand Together

There is an issue of which all of us who would like to see peace in the Middle East are aware, but which is mostly going unmentioned today because of fear of reprisals. The issue is the state of war currently existing between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. For centuries, both Sunnis and Shi'ites have respectfully shared the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca; but today, sectarian violence is even beginning to invade this most sacred of Muslim rituals, as Sunni and Shi'ite extremists vie for dominance with one another elsewhere. In the past, they may have disagreed about different aspects of Islam; but they did not deny that either was a Muslim, and certainly did not call one another kaffir, "unbeliever," as is now being done. It is time for Sunni and Shi'ite leaders to begin a dialogue together, and to publicly renounce the recent Muslim bloodshed.

As fellow descendants of Abraham, we wish our Muslim brothers and sisters to know that we support the free expression of both Sunni and Shi'ite Islam everywhere, and want to offer humanitarian aid in regions where Muslim populations of whatever variety are being oppressed by tyrannical rulers; but we would ask that progressive Sunni and Shi'ite leaders who stand for peace do their part in resolving the conflict that fuels this current bloodshed. For, if they cannot stand together, it makes no sense for their Abrahamic siblings to lend support to and involve our precious children in a sectarian war in which Islam is the loser.

Both sides claim that Allah is greater than any being, and greater than any matter which may come before us, and yet, they continue to insist on making sectarian distinctions a matter of supreme importance, forgetting the love of God and God's children in the process. Of course, as with so many sectarian conflicts in religion, past and present, politics is playing its part and even driving the conflict; but we must reclaim our traditions from politics and stand together for peace. Allah hu akbar, "God is greater."