Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by mathman, Jun 17, 2014.
Is the Shia - Sunni conflict in Iraq and Syria a religious issue or an arab cultural issue?
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It is a religious issue. The Sheii wouldn't allow any Suni into Parliament which was one of the causes of this conflict today. They are all Arabs but have been at each others throats for 1000 years or more.
It seems a tad more complicated.
Religion seems to be the focal point of the facade camouflaging a deepening geopolitical battle.
The conflict arises from drawing national boundaries in conferences between the colonial powers in a different continent without considerations for the local inhabitants.
There are conflicts between religious factions, ethnic groups, tribal affiliations, and different language families.
The conflict du jour arises from a backlash of majority vs minority control of power.
Consider it a pendulum which was pushed in one direction since the control of the british who forced their chosen (sunni)"king" on a country constructed in negotiations in europe.
Maliki is just a radical back swing of the pendulum. As long as the Saudis and Iranians chose to fight for regional power through easily duped "religious" fighters(proxies), the conflict will offer fertile ground for the more radical elements like ISIS/ISIL.
And, we ain't really done much to dampen the swings of that pendulum. It would seem that we have done quite the opposite.
The Shia/Sunni distinction is Islam-wide, it isn't an Arab cultural thing. Sunnis and Shia Muslims are found in non-Arab Muslim countries like Iran and Pakistan. And obviously the Shia/Sunni distinction doesn't apply to non-Muslims, outside Islam. It's clearly an Islamic thing.
Having noted that, the whole cultural/religious distinction is kind of hazy in the case of Islam, which from the very first conceived of itself as God's divinely-commanded social order on Earth. Culture and religion are difficult to separate in Islam.
Historically speaking, the distinction between Sunni and Shia was originally political, arising from a leadership dispute in the early Muslim community not long after the death of Mohammed. But that dispute was always thought of as being religious as well, and all kinds of religious ideas subsequently accreted to the two parties over the succeeding 1400 years. The two groups' differences over how the Muslim community should be led kind of morphed into bigger and more clearly religious differences in how they imagined God's leadership of the Muslim community being manifested.
The five countries with the largest Muslim populations, housing in aggregate almost 3/4 of the world's Muslims, are (in order) Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nigeria. None of these are Arab nations.
I would like to clarify my original question. As we all know there is a lot of horrific fighting, massacres and take no prisoners, going on in Syria and Iraq, between Shiites and Sunnis. Is this really a religious issue, or is religion an excuse for different groups trying to get or maintain power? At present it doesn't seem to be happening in the rest of the Moslem world.
That's because most Muslim nations are overwhelmingly Sunni or Shiite (or one of the other smaller, less well-known sects) so there's no conflict.
But some of them are not, and that's where the problem comes from. Much of the Middle East was part of the Ottoman Empire prior to WWI. When the war was over and the Ottomans (who quickly changed their name to "Turks") had lost, the winners--all European Christians with virtually no understanding of Islam or non-Europeans--drew arbitrary lines on the map and created new nations which, in many cases, were to be "shared" by residents who did not share the same religion. This is how Sunnis and Shiites ended up in the same country in some cases.
We're still dealing with the fallout from that blunder.
Oh, and we're also dealing with the fallout from their second blunder, the one they made after WWII. They were truly repentant about the millions of Jews killed, but they wouldn't go so far as to invite them back to live in their countries. So they looked at a map and said, "Here's a little place called 'Palestine.' It doesn't look like anybody lives there (nobody important, anyway, maybe a few Muslims) and it's worthless land that we don't want. So let's give it to the Jews and pretend we're doing them a favor!"
No matter how long America stays in Iraq with troops the time will come and they will leave and what's happening now will happen then. So the people there must learn to deal with their own problems and fight if they must for their own values.
And this is a perfect illustration of why religion is not just pure bullshit, but dangerous bullshit. It motivates people to go to war over things that are purely imaginary.
One scholar noted that Islam has developed at just about the same pace as Christianity, having started about 600 years later. He also noted that what we euphemistically call the "Reformation" in Christianity was actually one hundred years of constant war between various factions of Christianity. Islam seems to be going through the same thing right now!
Palestine as a Jewish homeland was established after WW I, not WW II. After WW II there was an attempt to divide it up between Jews and Arabs, but the Arabs wouldn't accept the division. Net result Israel (pre 1967) was significantly bigger than the partition boundary.
"It's best, not to get involved in a 5 sided argument."
It seems that we were ISIL/ISIS angel investor when we supplied them to disrupt Syria.
And, now we're being asked to help kill the breast that we created.
At one point, there were at least 13 different rebel factions in Syria being funded by different groups and countries.
The Saudi's have been supporting the Sunni extremest in Iraq and elsewhere, and now are warning Iran to not get involved in Iraq. (remember that 15 of the 19 men involved in the 9/11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia)
When the Saudi's supported jihadists in Afghanistan, some of the Saudi's there, came home and tried to assassinate members of the royal family.
Now, in Syria, crazy young men from all over the western world and middle east, are rushing to join the extremest armies. Soon, they will return to their native countries and bring the "war" back home.
When does opportunism eclipse religion?
Who has what to gain by disrupting stable governments in the middle east?
Or even a 2-sided argument between the Israelis and Palestinians. If we tell the Israelis, "This was the homeland of the Palestinians before it was fraudulently given to you, so you must give it back," the Israelis will say, "Okay, then. You must now give Arizona back to the Mexicans."
So we hastily develop a new point of view and tell the Palestinians, "This was the homeland of the Jews for centuries before they were conquered and marginalized and you moved in--a hybrid 'people' who didn't even exist in Biblical times--so you must give it back." The Palestinians then reply, "Well okay. You must now give Arizona back to the Navajo."
Not to mention, about 90% of the money that financed the plot came from Saudi sources, and virtually all of the planning was done by a member by marriage of the Saudi royal family: Osama.
This put Backward Baby Bush in a difficult situation, since the Saudis are his family's colleagues and bosom buddies in the energy industry. He couldn't very well have bombed Riyadh and Mecca, even though merely threatening to do so would have resulted in King Abdullah shipping Osama's head to the White House service entrance in a FedEx truck within 36 hours. (Does anyone really believe that the Saudi King, with all his resources, didn't know his own brother-in-law's whereabouts at every moment?)
So BBB distracted us from the truth by making up the fairytale that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.
The resulting war destroyed what little stability the Middle East ever had, creating almost overnight a new Shiite-dominated state to align with Iran and Syria against the Sunni majority in the Middle East--and in the whole world for that matter.
It also raised the national debt by $3 trillion, since BBB didn't increase taxes or issue war bonds like every president did in previous wars. He just borrowed the money from China! And Americans, with their incredibly short memory, blame Obama for the fiscal crisis. (BBB was also responsible for the subprime mortgage meltdown, since his own appointee, the Comptroller of the Currency, was asleep at the switch and didn't notice that his army of bank examiners weren't telling bankers that writing mortgages to people who will never be able to pay them back is not a rational business tactic, so they had to stop or lose their credentials. Since the banks were selling a lot of these mortgages to pension funds, one comedian put it very simply: "The banks were making a profit by stealing from old ladies.")
Religion is belief in supernatural events and creatures for which no evidence exists, and therefore is simply a popular form of superstition. Since it is based on unreasoned faith rather than logic and proof or even reasoned faith (e.g., "my dog has been loyal for 8 years so it's reasonable for me to have faith that he will continue to be so"), it can be taught to people who are desperate for a way out of their miserable lives. The "opportunism" refers to the people who are selling religion, not the poor uneducated people who are buying it.
So opportunism does not eclipse religion; it utilizes it.
For a long time it was the majority-Christian regions: Western Europe, the Soviet Bloc, North America, the booming economies in East Asia, the Antipodes and Oceania, (yes, a few of these are not Christian nations) and anyone who was allied with them. The cheap petroleum alone was enough for us to treat them like vassal states.
In addition, never forget that the U.S. has a de facto 51st state: Israel. Much of our Middle East policy is crafted for no other purpose than to reduce the probability and destructive power of attacks against Israel.
We should just make this official and declare Israel to be a non-voting U.S. territory like Puerto Rico. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
[Disclaimer: I have no quarrel with the Jews; many of my family members are Jewish; and I have enough "Jewish blood" for Hitler to have gassed me if he had won the war and occupied America. My quarrel is strictly with Israel, and a lot of young Jewish Americans feel the same way.]
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While largely true, and it isn't only one scholar who has drawn the comparison, the thing that most fail to consider when making those comparisons between the Abrahamic religions is that the Muslim world is completely and utterly failing to learn the lessons Christianity has taught over the preceding centuries.
It has been said, without checking the exact quote, that those who fail to learn from the mistakes in history are doomed to repeat it.
To my mind, the Muslims (with particular reference to the middle east, and with due consideration to those nations such as Malaysia who appear to be growing beyond it) are far too concerned with basing their entire social structure on the fallout from petty squabbles over particular passages in a silly little book, than actually attempting to progress the fabric of their society.
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