Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why Are They Fighting With Us?

In 1972 I took an elective class at UCSB (because I needed one to graduate) called "Islam Sects and Movements".    Professor Wadi taught us a brief history of Islam, from which emerged the split between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites.  We studied the Whirling Dervishes and the Sufis, forms of mystic Islam, which were much more fascinating than the bickering that went on between the two major divisions.

Why am I telling you this?  Much of what I learned in the class has stayed with me over the years and has helped me to put in a certain historical perspective the events leading up to 9/11 and continuing today.  Since this is my Blog, I want to use it to share it with my readers because perspective is empowering.

What is the difference between Sunni and Shi'ite Islam?  Two major sticking points:
  1. One sect believes that Mohammad the Prophet had no descendents.  The other sect believes he had a niece, Fatima, from whom descended a line of relatives.
  2. One sect believes that Allah, Creator of the Universe, is unknowable and cannot be given attributes or described.  The other sect endows Allah with certain attributes that are part of its religious dogma.  
It doesn't seem that these disagreements would give rise to a bloody reign of terror in the 1000's A.D., but in fact they did.  Perhaps they were just an excuse for a grab for power, which is often the source of conflict.

Next Blog will describe the bloody reign of terror in Islamic lands.  Stay tuned.


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