Iranian Shia Muslims take part in a mourning ceremony during the Muslim month of Muharram. (AP)

October 11, 2007

Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi has said all Muslims are Shiites, dismissing as ignorance the classification that divides Muslims as “Persian Shiites and Sunni Arabs”.

Gaddafi insisted “Muslims are all ‘Shiites’ of ‘Ahl al-Bayt.'” The word “Shiite” originally means “follower” and “Ahl al-Bayt” refers to “Mohamed and his descendants”, in a speech he gave at a religious ceremony commemorating Lailat Al-Qadr (A night that Muslims believe all their prayers are responded to and it falls at an odd night during the last ten nights of Ramadan).

Gaddafi also reiterated that all Muslims follow Sunnah — the prophet’s teachings and the origin of the word “Sunni”, according to Jamahiriya Arab News Agency (JANA).

The Libyan leader, known for his controversial ideas, stressed that the only triumph the descendants of the prophet achieved was the Fatimid Empire in North Africa and that the North African identity is basically Shiite and the culture is Fatimid.

Shiite customs, he argued, are prevalent in this region, including Libya, till present day. Mourning on the day of Ashurah is the most significant example. Ashurah, the tenth day of Muharram (the first month of the Islamic calendar), is when Al-Hussein ibn Ali, the prophet’s grandson and a very revered Muslim figure for both Shiites and Sunnis, was martyred in the City of Karbala, now in Iraq. Shiites revive his death annually in major festivals.

For Gaddafi, Egypt is the heart of the Shiite Fatimid Caliphate whose culture still dominates the entire African continent and Lebanon.

Gaddafi has previously called for founding what he called “The Second Fatimid Caliphate” in North Africa to ease the tension between Sunnis and Shiites: “A nation that will unify Arabs and Berbers under one identity will save the region from disintegration.”

Gaddafi further launched a scathing attack on the “historical fallacies circulated by the ignorant who do not know that Shiites are Persians and Sunnis are Arabs.”

Source: Al Arabiya News

About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.