Grand Ayatollah Sayyid ‘Ali Sistani


We have a request for you to guide millions of Muslims on this particular subject. Is anyone who says the shahadatayn, turns towards the qiblah, prays the salah, and follows one of the eight schools of thought (Hanafi, Shafi‘i, Maliki, Hanbali, Ja‘fari, Zaydi, Ibadi, or Zahiri) counted as Muslim with their lives, honour, and property being inviolable?


Firstly, anyone who utters the shahadatayn, does not contradict it in their speech and does not hold enmity and hostility towards the Ahl al-Bayt (A) is considered a Muslim1.

Secondly, from the viewpoint of the Shi‘is, the Ahl al-Sunnah are counted as Muslims, and all of the laws of Islam apply to them. Marrying them is permissible. They can inherit from Shi‘is, and Shi‘is can inherit from them. The lives property and honour of all of them are inviolable. Statements that claim that Shi‘is consider those who fought in the Battle of Badr [with the Prophet (S)], those [who took the pact of] Bay’at al-Ridwan [with the Prophet (S)], the believing Emigrants and Helpers, and the leaders of the Islamic schools of thought and their followers are unbelievers are pure lies.

Cursing the revered figures of the Ahl al-Sunnah is contrary to the teachings the Ahl al-Bayt imparted to their Shi‘is and their students2.

I love everyone. The religion of Islam is the religion of love, and I am surprised at how (our) enemies could create a schism between our schools of thought. Shi‘is should defend the social and political rights of the Ahl al-Sunnah before they defend their own rights. Our discourse should be an invitation to unity. Just as I said before, I am saying now that you should not say “The Sunnis are our brothers”; rather you should say, “Sunnis are our life”. I listen to the sermons of the Sunni imams of the Friday prayers more often than the sermons of the Shi‘is. We don’t believe in differences between Arabs and Kurds. Islam brings all of us together. In researching Islamic law, I used to cite the fatawa of the Ahl al-Sunnah. We are united in our Ka‘bah, salat, and fasting3.

  • 1. Ghazi ibn Muhammad ibn Talal, Ijma‘ al-Muslimin ‘ala Ihtiram Madhahib al-Din, p. 220.
  • 2. See
  • 3. Message by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the first Congress of Shi‘i and Sunni Ulama, 3 November 2007.