Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Real Difference Between Shia and Sunni

The difference between Shia and Sunni is both simpler and more complicated than it appears on the surface.  But here is the standard version from  Ace of Spades.  

The news that we have taken official action (writing their names on a list!) against some al-Qaeda thugs isn't news. Where they are operating shouldn't be news either, if any of us were actually paying attention to that mysterious motivating factor common in essentially all terrorist activity on earth.

U.S. Levies Terror Sanctions Against Iran-based al-Qaeda Leaders

Three senior al-Qaeda operatives landed on the Treasury Department's Specially Designated Global Terrorists list on July 20, joining the U.S. government's international who's-who of terrorist operatives. What's perplexing is that two of the three al-Qaeda figures aren't based in the stereotypical al-Qaeda hangouts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen. Instead, they're hiding out in a country that's seen its relations with the U.S. and the broader international warm considerably in recent years: Iran.

Many people (including me) have understood the schism between Shia and Sunni Islam to be permanent. Oh, they hate us, but they spend a lot of energy killing each other because of differences of opinion as to who should have succeeded Mohammed when he died in 632. Yup...that's the big difference. The Sunnis wanted succession to be decided by selection, 
and the Shia faction wanted it to remain in Mohammed's family.

That fracture in Islam has prevented concerted action for much of the last 1,400 years, and that is a very good thing. But no less an authority on the fight against the West than some guy name Bin laden (a Wahhabi Sunni from Saudi Arabia) said not to attack Iran, in spite of it being the center of Shia Islam, because so much of his funding and support flowed through there. As he wrote:

I have some notes about your threats against Iran. I hope you and your brothers take this well. You did not consult with us in this dangerous matter that harms everyone's interests. We expect you would consult with us for these important matters, for as you are aware, Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel and communication, as well as for the matter of hostages. There is no need to open a front with Iran.

The point? Islam has huge internal issues, but the external enemy, The West, can unify them. Not all of the time, and with luck they will continue to kill each other. But Iran, which truly is the nexus of terrorism in the world, is willing to work with anyone who hates America and who will attack us. They have sublimated a 1,400 year old religious-cultural fight in furtherance of their goal to humble, and perhaps destroy America and the West.

Here is the real issue.  One of the unstated purposes of Islam is to transfer the God's Chosen People status from the sons of Isaac to the sons of his elder half Arab brother Ishmael.  

Thus making the Arabs God's Chosen People.  QED.

This is magnificently unacceptable to Iranians.   

The ancient kings of Persia refereed to themselves as the Kings of Iran and Non-Iran. The modern Iranians share this worldview.  There was a time when the Persian empire was biggest gorilla in any monkey house and they have never moved on from that.

Sunni is very big on banishing all traces of religions prior to Mohammed as being from "The Age of  Ignorance."

Gearshift!  Did you know that the early Christian church would invent new holy days so that pagans could continue to celebrate their annual festivals?  It's true!  Thus did Roman Saturnalia become the Christ Mass celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, (since they had long since lost track of the actual date, when the birth was celebrated, conveniently didn't matter).  And whatever Celtic holy day at the end of October became All Saint's Day (AKA Halloween).

Iranians did the same thing when they created Shia Islam because there was no way in hell they were giving up their monotheist hero kings.  Particularity if Arabs said they had to. So they invented a caveat allowing Shia Islam to revere ancient virtuous monotheists.  Which indeed the Persian Zoroastrians were.

Big no-no, so far as the Sunnis are concerned.

All of which is a side issue to the real cause of the division between Sunni and Shia. 

Arabs and Iranians have been killing each other for the better part of four thousand years.  Having a schism just gives them an excuse to pursue this hobby.

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