Sunday, February 15, 2004

More reasons to read Juan Cole.

"Speaking of Sistani, I received by email a fascinating account by a participant of a recent joint visit to Sistani of Kurdish and Sunni Arab clan leaders. I was given permission to quote from it by the person who sent it to me, on condition that I guard the confidentiality of the persons involved. I thought that as an educated Sunni Arab impression of Sistani, the account has historical significance."
Impressions of Sistani:

"He had a heavy (and I mean really heavy) Persian accent which he didn't (and couldn't) hide. He used classical Arabic, but the structure of his sentences was not perfect . . .

. . . he went on and on about Sunnis and Shia saying that these were doctrines differing on how to interpret Islam and they were all decent and good-intentioned. They were definitely no reason for bloody strife. He talked about the ancient pillars of the sunni doctrine and praised them all in detail and said how he respected them as men of faith and as scholars. The difference between the Shia and Sunna, he believed, was far less significant than the danger facing the Iraqi nation at present. Well, personally that put him on my right side!"

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