This refers to the article, “The lost moral of Islam’s divide” (June 21), by Shajahan Madampat My reading of Islamic history tells me that the Sunni-Shia acrimony has its genesis in the disobedience on the part of the first three Caliphs — Abu Bakr, Omar, Usman — of the clear, albeit oral, pronouncement by Prophet Muhammad of his successor, Imam Ali.

The indications were given on a number of occasions during the Prophet’s 23-year ministry. But more particularly, after his last pilgrimage to Mecca just before reaching Medina, he declared that he would soon be gone and was leaving behind two precious gifts: the holy book of Quran and his family. He then called Ali onto the stage and asked everyone to pledge their allegiance to him as their leader. Unfortunately, after the death of the Prophet, the two most eminent persons of the Muslim community at that time — Abu Bakr and Omar — set aside the second of the two legacies, leading to a bitter schism.

A. K. Merchant,

New Delhi

Though the writer’s interpretation of different Islamist groups has some valuable analysis, he seems to be ill-informed about the tenets, traditions and teachings of Islam. With regard to commonalities and differences between Shias and Sunnis, there exist a large number of Hadiths that have been ignored in the article. The messages of the Prophet and the life and teachings of his four caliphs have no contradiction at all; on the contrary, they all converge. Without knowing what Sharia is, which is explained in detail in many verses and Hadiths, the writer misleads us by saying it does not protect other faiths and minorities.

Azhar S. Saiyed,

New Delhi

The article was brilliant with lucid details in proper perspective. As human beings, we all have two choices. One is to lead life in a balanced way, guided by the faculty of reasoning.

The role of religion should be confined to streamlining thoughts and deeds. The noble values of the tenets of all religions should be respected and emulated, leading to the promotion of peace and harmony. The other choice is to allow ourselves to be overpowered by the dictates of radicals and fundamentalists and become parochial in our outlook. This will disrupt peace. Radicals and fundamentalists from all religions pose a grave threat to humanity.

R. Ramanathan,


Only an erudite scholar and a person of intellectual integrity would have been bold enough to call a spade a spade in the fratricide that is engulfing the Islamic world. Written with historical perspective and political insight, the article is timely as well as educative. The points of convergence and divergence in the same religion have been brought out with much clarity. The writer’s comment, “What about justice for those who belong to other faiths or no faiths is a minor detail glossed over by self-righteous rhetoric,” depicts the existential situation in theocracies. In his concluding words we read not a comment but the hushed lament of a humanitarian. I share the writer’s concerns and would love to see peace prevailing in the Islamic world.

K.C. Sreekumar,


The writer delineates the whole Iraq conflict in the clearest possible terms. We must appreciate the candour with which Mr. Madampat tells us that both the sects agree on the need for an Islamic political system and argue for the primacy of an Islamic state. The world has seen how the Arab Spring that kindled some hope among the progressive thinkers turned out to be a regressive form of Islamism. Hence, secular nations must come together to fight this impending menace of religious fanaticism before it engulfs the civilised world.

Ramchander Deekonda,


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