The crowd that had gathered in Shah Bagh, Dacca (British India) that winter morning was the largest gathering of Indian Muslims in the memory of anyone living in 1906. It was the twentieth annual session of Mohammedan Educational Conference.
A miracle happened. The Indian Muslim community included the largest number of Sunnis anywhere in the world. On that winter morning of December 30, 1906, it formed a political party in which Shias and Sunni came together without the slightest friction. It was called the All-India Muslim League. Aga Khan III, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Shia sect was elected the president a year later. Welcome to the Valley of Love.
The birth of Muslim League in 1906 was the first time in the entire history of Islam that the largest Sunni community elected an Ismaili to be its president (the last time Muslims came anywhere close to this was in the days of the Umayyid Caliph Omar bin Abdul Aziz in 717 AD, and it was short-lived).
This newborn unity was taken to unprecedented heights in the next few decades. It reached the highest point in the 1940s when the same community of Indian Muslims, which included the largest numbers of Sunni anywhere in the world, declared a born Shia to be its “Quaid-i-Azam”, or great leader. Beyond the Western borders of the sub-continent, the largest Shia state of the world, Iran, was going to declare a Sunni poet, Iqbal, as its spiritual inspiration (“The present times are the Age of Iqbal,” the Iranian Poet-Laureatte Bihar declared not long afterwards).