18 December, Monday


Sunni, Shia Muslims hold unity prayer in Azerbaijan - The Editor-in-Chief of the Al-Shurooq newspaper

Culture

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The Heydar Mosque in Baku is the biggest mosque of the South Caucasus. The height of the ceiling of the mosque is 55 meters, the height of the dome is 95 meters. At the same time seven thousand prayers can pray at the mosque which is officially opened by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in 2014.

The Egyptian delegation consisting of seven journalists accompanied by the Cultural Attache of the Embassy of Arab Republic of Egypt to Azerbaijan Dr. Ahmed Sami Elaydi visited the mosque during the last Juma (Friday) prayer.
 
Not only the magnificence of the mosque, the modern style of local architects and Tabriz carpets drew my attention. Mostly I’m impressed by the unity prayer of Sunni and Shia Muslims on holidays.
 
Weekly Friday prayer is performed by turns firstly Sunni Muslims pray then Shia Muslims.
 
When I entered the mosque together with my colleagues, I wasn’t surprised because I had performed Friday prayer at one of the biggest mosques in Baku called Göy (Blue) Mosque at the same day. Although this is a Sunni mosque, Shia Muslims are not prohibited to pray here. 
 
The imam (religious leader) of the mosque was reading the Friday sermon in Azerbaijan language and Quranic verses in Arabic. According to the President of the International Eurasia Press Fund, our friend Umud Mirzayev the last Friday sermon was dedicated to the different topics and one of them was about the advantages and disadvantages of social networks. 
 
The mosque was full. Most of those who came to pray couldn’t find the place for worship. 
 
An estimated 92% of population is Muslim, and jews, christians and the representatives of other religions live in peace in Azerbaijan. 
 
The question I often asked was how Azerbaijan has succeeded to create peaceful atmosphere. 
 
Firstly this people live in the very sensitive region, along with the regional powers such as Russia and Iran, and Armenia which occupied 20% of the territory including Nagorno-Karabakh region of the country. So they don’t need more problems. 
 
Once I asked an Azerbaijani diplomat who was fluent in Arabic: How did you succeed to create mutual understandings and peaceful atmosphere between the different religious sects?
 
He told me that Azerbaijanis don’t divide people according to the sectarian and religious affiliation. “Several years ago I asked my father whether we are Sunni or Shia and he said that my grandfather was Sunni and grandmother was Shia. The most important thing is that we are all Azerbaijanis,” he added. 
 
In parallel, socio-economic development and job opportunities make them cooperate, not to contradict. 
 
Diplomat said that Sunni and Shia Muslims are tolerant and there is solidarity between them. After he concluded I asked myself if we can use the example of Azerbaijan in Iran, Gulf countries and other regions in order to prevent tragedies?!
 
For original version of the article click here
 
Imaduddin Hasan
The Editor-in-Chief of the Al-Shurooq Egyptian newspaper
 
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