Excerpts from Urdu books

Ameer-e-Shariat Ataullah Shah Bukhari on Shi’a-Sunni differences

Ataullah Shah Bukhari 1892 – 1961

‘The news of Shi’a-Sunni riots in different parts of the country has greatly hurt me. Muslims due to paltry issues have shed the blood of their brethren and all my efforts of the past forty years have thus gone waste.

‘The basic cause of the Shi’a-Sunni conflict is the issue why Hazrat Ali became the fourth caliph and why was he not made the first one?

‘Shia-Sunni differences in customs such as the Ta’zia tradition etc have nothing to do with the actions or edicts approved by their [Shi’a] scholars and ancestors. This is simply a ritual like many others that have prevailed among the Sunnis.

‘I have been sitting here since yesterday. Why was I not given the chance to speak first? Is it not my insult? Maulana Abdus-Sattar Niazi spoke before me—he is an Ansari. Our Chief Organiser is an Arain and I am one from the Ahl-e-Bait, a Syed and a Hashmi. Those who converted from Hinduism to Islam were given the chance to speak first. Is it not the insult of Aal-e-Rasool? ——‘

(There was pin-drop silence among the audience, he then asked the audience and taking their silence as an answer said), ‘Being the last speaker is not demeaning at all to me. When Maulana Abdul Sattar was about to start his address, I asked him that if he did not mind then I would like to speak first. To this he responded, “Who will care to listen to me after you?” (Ameer-e-Shariat then asked the audience. ‘Is this an honour or an insult?  To follow is not a proof of being less in degree or importance.

‘This argument of mine is substantiated by the fact that on the night of Me’raj all of the Messengers of Allah SWT prayed behind Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Thus was our Prophet (PBUH) honoured or – God forbid – deemed to be less respectable?

‘Muslims believe that Muhammad (PBUH) was the last Prophet and that no other prophet will ever follow after him. To keep this tradition of the Prophethood being the honour of the Hashmi family the Caliphate therefore should have also ended in the Hashmi family.

‘The Sunnis believe that Prophethood ended with the Leader of all the Prophets Mohammad (PBUH) and similarly Caliphate ended with Hazrat Ali (RA). The Prophet of Mercy is the seal of Prophets and Hazrat Ali is the seal of caliphs. After Hazrat Ali started the rule of kings and those kings have been good and bad both.

‘This is, however, a different issue that being a descendant of Ali (RA) I would have been happier if my great great grandfather was given the first caliphate. Or maybe, if I was around then, I would have become a candidate myself, like that Sir Syed was once asked what he would have done if he was there at that moment? To this Sir Syed replied, ‘I would have tried to succeed as the caliph.’ The fact is that Hazrat Ali was destined to be honoured as the seal of Caliphs.

‘If all Muslims get united on this issue then what will there remain to differ? These Taziaz and processions are just frivolous things and nor are these part of our deen. Muslims should not pay attention to petty issues like these. But, alas! These petty issues are becoming major problems and have now led us even to bloodshed.

(With a smile on his face he then concluded) ‘There is no prophet after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), no caliph after Hazrat Ali and no speech, in this meeting, after mine.’

Excerpted from Hyat-e-Ameer-e-Shariat by Janbaz Mirza. Published, January 1970, by Maktaba Tabsarah, Lahore. This speech was delivered on 27 August 1957 in a small town Kanda Sargana near Multan. 

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