The following is the fatwa of Ayatullah Seestani on this matter:
Whoever recites the Shahadatayn and does not speak anything counter to it and does not show enmity and hatred towards the family of the Holy Prophet (sawa) is considered to be a Muslim.
Sunnis are considered Muslims according to Shia and all Islamic laws apply to them and hold good for them. It is permissible to marry them, they inherit from Shia and Shia inherit from them. Apart from Kharijites and Nasibis, others’ lives, property and honor are inviolable. The allegation that Shia excommunicate the People of Badr and the People of the Redhwan Allegiance, the Believers among the Muhajir and Ansaar, the leaders of the Islamic sects and followers, is a pure lie.
The following is the Statement of the Office of Ayatullah Seestani on the subject of Islamic Unity and Sectarian Strife on 3 February 2007:
وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُو
“And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (strectches out to you), and be not divided among yourselves.” (Surah Aali Imraan, Verse 103)
The Islamic World is going through difficult circumstances, and facing major crises and enormous challenges affecting its present and threatening its future. Everyone is aware of this situation and needs to close ranks and reject those who fan the flames of sectarianism and we must avoid stirring sectarian differences.
Those differences that have existed for centuries, and no completely satisfactory resolution – pleasing to all parties – seems to exist, and hence should not be pursued for the sake of creating controversy and strife, BUT ONLY within the framework of scientific research in a sober manner and in particular in a manner that does not affect the fundamentals of Islam.
Everyone believes in One God and the message of Prophet Mustapha (sawa), and in the concept of Resurrection and the fact that the Quran – which is guarded and protected by Allah from distortion – along with the honorable sunnah which is the source for the Shariah rulings and the affection of the Holy Ahlul Bait (a.s), and so on; these basics are shared by the Muslims in general, among which are the pillars of Islam: Prayer, Fasting, Hajj and so on. These common concepts form the basic core for Islamic Unity. We must focus on them to establish closer bonds of love and affection between people of this Ummah, and indeed do no less than work on peaceful co-existence among each other and move away from bickering and communal and sectarian rhetoric under whatever guise or title.
So every effort must be exerted by all those concerned about the elevation and glory of Islam, and it must be promoted to the Muslims to do everything in their power in order to bridge the gap between them, and alleviate the repercussions of the tensions caused by political pressure, in order to obliterate any chance of further dissension and division. That dissension, if left unattended to, would inevitably give way for the enemies aspirations – to dominate the Islamic Countries and seize their wealth – to be fulfilled.
However, sadly and regrettably it is evident that certain people and parties are working on a completely contrasting agenda. They have been seeking to perpetuate and increase the division and foster deeper sectarian differences among Muslims. They have increased their efforts lately, especially after the recently increased political conflicts in the region and the intensification of the fight over power and influence.
They have exerted serious efforts to elucidate and disseminate the ideological differences among Muslim sects, going so far as to even adding their own made-up differences by methods of tucking and slander, in order to achieve their purposes of discrediting a certain sect and disrupting its followers, and intimidating others against them.
And in pursuit of this scheme, they have published in the media – from satellite and internet web sites, magazines and other means – strange rulings (opinions) which are offensive to some Islamic Schools and Sects. They have attributed these made-up rulings to His Emminence (Ayatullah Seestani) in an apparent attempt to defame his authority for the sole purpose of increasing the sectarian tensions, leading to their specific goals.
The opinions of the Esteemed Syed (Seestani) can only be taken from reliable sources, such as books of his rulings documented and bearing his signature and seal; and they do not contain anything defaming to other Muslim sects. And anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the Syed’s rulings can detect the outrageous lies within what is being said and published.
We can also point out to the instance and statements of Ayatullah Seestani during the past years on the issue of the plight of the wounded of Iraq, as well as his commandment to his followers and muqallideen in dealing with their brethren from the people of the Sunnah with love and respect. Also, he has recurrently stressed on the sacrosanctity of the blood, honor and wealth of all Muslims, be they Sunni or Shia; and that anyone who kills unjustly is to be rejected.
All of these clearly discloses the methodologies followed by this religious authority in dealing with the followers of other schools of thought, and in what light these followers are viewed. Had everyone followed the footsteps of this religious authority, things would have been different from what we witnessing today in terms of blind violence hitting everywhere, and horrendous murders that do not exclude even young children or old people or pregnant women; and unto Allah do we complain!
We ask Almighty Allah, The Mighty, The Most High to take the hands of all to that which is good for the Ummah and for its best interests, Verily He has Power and Authority over all things.
We trust that you have found this series of articles on this very pertinent topic insightful and that it will contribute to the prevalence of sanity, love and respect in our community towards each other and the Ummah at large. Similar verdicts from a wide variety of other ulama are available on request.