MPAC Condemns Bombing of Shi'a Shrine in Iraq

February 22, 2006

The Muslim Public Affairs Council today condemned the heinous terrorist attacks which destroyed one of Islam's most revered shrines, the 1,200 year-old al-Askariya mosque in the town of Samarra, Iraq. Insurgents detonated powerful explosives today that crumbled most of the building and prompted thousands of Shi'as to react against Sunni mosques in protest.

MPAC today called upon Muslim leaders to sign a June 2005 resolution by national Shia and Sunni Muslim American leaders stating their unequivocal condemnation of escalating sectarian violence in Iraq. Led by MPAC, the resolution is also signed by leaders from the Fiqh Council of America, the Al-Saadiq Foundation, Masjid Ahlul-Beit, and the Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya (the liason office of Ayatullah Sayyid ali Sistani in North America). Email to sign on to the resolution.

SEE: "Muslim Leaders Sign Resolution Calling for End to Sectarian Violence in Iraq" (MPAC, 6/12/05)

The resolution reads, in part: "We, as nationally recognized leaders of the American Muslim community, demand that internationally recognized religious leadership from Al-Azhar University (Cairo), Qum (Iran), the Najaf Marjia (Iraq), and the Organization of Islamic Countries unanimously condemn the disregard for the sanctity of human life in Iraq. We request that these internationally recognized leaders form a high-level delegation to travel to Iraq in order to isolate leaders instigating the violence, and to work to disengage the warring parties. We will convene townhall forums on Sunni-Shia relations in major cities and college campuses across the country."

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shi'i leader in Iraq, today called for a period of mourning, asking that government offices be closed for the next three days. The site, known as the Golden Mosque, holds the tombs of two of the twelve imams revered by Shi'as as successors to the Prophet Muhammad, and it is also the place where the twelfth imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, is said to have gone into hiding.

For Shi'as in Iraq and elsewhere, the attack on al-Askariya represents an attack on their values and beliefs. The terrorists who perpetrated this and other acts of violence have unjustly targeted the community based on an extreme distortion of the tenets of Islam. The action and reaction we saw today have perpetuated a cycle of violence between Sunnis and Shi'as that is a clear deviation from the tenets of Islam, which upholds the sanctity of life and forbids such crimes against humanity. In an attempt to justify their irrational actions, these merciless criminals have manipulated religion as a weapon in their political belligerence.

Islam does not tolerate the use of terrorism for any purpose, regardless of the identity of the aggressors or the nature of their motives. Islam considers the use of terrorism to be unacceptable for any purpose. MPAC condemns the exploitation of people and issues, regardless of the perpetrators and their justifications and considers the current sectarian hostility to represent a clear regression in the advancement of Iraqi political maturity and sovereignty.

During its fifth annual convention in December 2005, MPAC had a panel discussion on "Confronting Sectarian Divisions". Hear the audio from the session, which featured Dr. Maher Hathout (Senior Advisor to MPAC), Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini (Director of the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, CA) and Zahir Janmohamed (Executive Director of the Qunoot Foundation).

MPAC also recently announced a joint fellowship with the Qunoot Foundation for outreach to and research on the Shi'a Muslim community in the United States. To learn more about the Qunoot Foundation, please visit

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