Grand Ayatollah Sayyid ‘Ali Khamene’i


What are the compelling reasons and clear sources of Muslim unity under the current conditions? What is the opinion of your excellence concerning the use of the term “Islamic ummah” as applied to those who adhere to Islamic beliefs like the four Sunni sects or other sects like the Zaydis, the Zahiris, or Ibadis that believe in the fundamental principles of the religion of Islam? Is it permissible or not to takfirise them? What are the limits of doing takfir, and what are the parameters today?
We pray to Almighty God for your success and long life in your service to Islam and Muslims, in particular, the Shi‘i world.


Every Islamic sect is considered part of the Muslim ummah and is entitled to all Islamic privileges. Sowing seeds of division among Islamic schools of thought goes against the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet of Islam (S). Additionally, it weakens the Muslims and makes them vulnerable to their enemies. Therefore, accusing the Islamic sects above of unbelief or takfir is not allowed under any circumstance1.

His Fatwa On The Impermissibility Of Insulting Figures Revered By Sunnis

In answer to the request for a fatwa by a number of ‘ulama and Shi‘a scholars from Ahsa, Saudi Arabia concerning the issue of insulting the wife of the Prophet of Islam (S), the Leader of the Islamic Revolution said: “Insulting the symbols and revered personalities of our brothers among the Ahl al-Sunnah is haram. It is even more so haram to impugn the honour of or disrespect the wife of the Holy Prophet (S). When this type of behaviour is not allowed regarding the wives of the prophets in general, it would be especially so with respect to the chief among them, the honourable Messenger of Allah (S).”

The Shaykh Al-Azhar Of Egypt Commends Ayatollah Khamene’i’s Fatwa

Dr Ahmad al-Tayyib, the Shaykh al-Azhar, declared in a statement that this fatwa was issued at a crucial time to prevent a split and estrangement between the two schools [Sunnis and Shi‘is]. Shaykh Ahmad al-Tayyib continued:

I was very impressed and happy by this holy fatwa of the Honourable Imam ‘Ali Khamene’i concerning insulting the Companions (R) or being offensive towards the wives of the Holy Prophet (S). This fatwa was issued with correct knowledge and deep comprehension in response to the danger of what the creators of strife were doing. It is also a statement of desire and yearning for Muslim unity. Another thing that adds importance to this fatwa is that someone who is a great Muslim ‘alim, who is a grand marja‘ of the Shi‘is, and is the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran has issued such a fatwa2.

Further Statements

Every statement and action that would inflame the fires of division among Muslims, insult the revered holy figures of any Muslim community, or make takfir on any Muslim sect is serving the camp of unbelief and polytheism is betraying Islam, and from the point of view of the shari‘ah it is haram3.

Both Sunnis that collaborate with America and Shi‘is that are exported from London to the world are brothers of Satan and agents of Western supremacism4.

The enemy threatens the very existence of Islam, and every community and school of thought should stand together and form a united fist and not let the enemy infiltrate the vast territory of the Muslim world5.

I swear by Allah! Those who go among the Shi‘is and put hatred and malice in their hearts against Sunnis, and those who go among Sunnis and put hatred and malice into their hearts against Shi‘is like neither Shi‘is nor Sunnis. They do not like Islam, but of course they do not know it. Many of them do not understand.

Because of ignorance and forgetfulness or to purposefully incite division, some Shi‘is insult the revered figures of the Ahl al-Sunnah.

I would like to state that the conduct of the two groups is forbidden in religious law (haram shar‘i) and is against the law6.

Sometimes someone helps a Shi‘i defeat a Sunni, and sometimes someone helps a Sunni defeat a Shi‘i. The enemy wants this. When divisions take place, when sectarianism appears, when mistrust happens between each other, when we see each other as traitors, it is natural for us not to co-operate with each other. And if we did co-operate, we would not be sincere with each other. This is the very thing the enemy is after. Both the Shi‘i religious scholar and the Sunni religious scholar should know this. It is evident that both schools of thought have some differences in their doctrines (usul) and their religious practices (furu‘), but they are not differences that should bring about enmity.

One should never imagine that the Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet (S) is exclusive to the Shi‘is and belongs to them. Not at all! They belong to the entire world of Islam. Who wouldn’t accept Fatima al Zahra (A)? Who would not accept Husayn (A), one of the chiefs of the youths of Paradise? Who would not accept the great Imams of the Shi‘is7?

  • 1. Ghazi ibn Muhammad ibn Talal, Ijma‘ al-Muslimin ‘ala Ihtiram Madhahib al-Din, p. 214.
  • 2. As mentioned on the Al-Manar television channel; see
  • 3. Message to the Great Hajj Congress. Aban 1392 (hijri solar calendar). Official Centre for the Safeguarding and Publishing the Works of Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamene’i
  • 4. Remarks at commemorations of the 25th anniversary of the passing of Imam Khomeini, 14/3/1394 (hijri solar calendar).
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Remarks to the gathering of the people of Kurdistan Province, 23/2/1388 (hijri solar calendar).
  • 7. On a visit by Shi‘i and Sunni religious scholars and seminary students from Kurdistan, 23/2/1388 (hijri solar calendar).