JNN 11 Mar 2014 TEHRAN – A group of Iraqi lawmakers have launched a petition to nominate Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a top Shia Muslim cleric, for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, the Iraqi daily Azzaman reported.
MP Hassan al-Yasseri said on Saturday that the main objective behind the move is to show to the world that the Shia school of Islam is fiercely opposed to sectarianism and takfiri thought and that it seeks peace and dialogue among religious denominations.
Al-Yasseri said the move can highlight the efforts made by the respected cleric to promote peace and unity between various sects and religions.
“Ayatollah Sistani’s nomination for the prize proves that the principles of true Islam does not stop at the borders of sectarian, ethnic and geographic conflicts,” independent MP Abd al-Hadi al-Hakim said in an interview with the daily.
Daily Telegraph’s Colin Freeman also published an article on Wednesday in which he admitted that the best one to attain the Nobel Peace Prize at the time being is Ayatollah Sistani.
“No, I’m not talking about a posthumous award for Nelson Mandela (he won it in 1993). Instead, the man I have in mind is Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the highest ranking Shia Muslim cleric in Iraq, who has done arguably more than anyone to turn the country away from all-out civil war,” Freeman said in the article.
Back in 2005, a group of exiled Iraqi Christians in the United States also launched an online petition nominating the Shia cleric for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, drawing more than 6,000 signatures from around the world.
Ayatollah Sistani “gave Muslims all around the globe a good example how to follow peaceful ways to resolve complex social [and] political challenges that face them, condemning terror and emphasizing … rule of law,” the petition said.
Sistani, 84, is one of the most widely acclaimed figures for Twelver Shias, especially in Iraq, India, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf states.
There are other Shia clerics in Najaf, other Iraqi cities, Iran and other countries with Shia populations. Among these prominent clerics are Ayatollah Mohammad Saeed al-Hakim, Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammad Ishaq al-Fayyad and Ayatollah Sheikh Bashir al-Najafi.
The house of Ayatollah Sistani lies a few hundred meters from the shrine of Imam Ali (AS) in Najaf in southern Iraq. It’s located in a poor neighborhood in the Houeich area, which comprises old houses and small shops.
The Shia clerics of Najaf have always provided a spiritual reference to their followers, while at the same time playing an important role on various levels.