The Difference between Sunni and Shia

When the original Islamic prophet Muhammad died in the year 632, there was a dispute over the succession.

The early leaders of the Muslim nation were called Khalifat Rasul Allah, the political successors to the messenger of God. Some academics transliterate the term as Khalīfah.

Sunnis believe that Abu Bakr, the father of Muhammad’s wife Aisha, was Muhammad’s rightful successor and that the method of choosing or electing leaders endorsed by the Quran is the consensus of the Muslim community.

Shias believe that Muhammad divinely ordained his cousin and son-in-law Ali (the father of his grandsons Hasan ibn Ali and Hussein ibn Ali) in accordance with the command of God to be the next caliph, making Ali and his direct descendants Muhammad’s successors. Ali was married to Fatimah, Muhammad’s daughter from his wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid.

The dispute intensified greatly after the Battle of Karbala, in which Hussein ibn Ali and his household were killed by the ruling Umayyad Caliph Yazid I, and the outcry for his revenge divided the early Islamic community.

[I encapsulated these details from Wikipedia. Learn more details here.]

And thus the dispute started over 1300 years ago and continues to this day.

The two main sects still hate each other sufficiently, at least at the power and leadership level, that they are willing to kill each other and innocent bystanders for it.

Today 87–89% of the world’s Muslims are Sunni  and 11-12% are Shia.

Did we really believe that by toppling Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, by the way, in Iraq, one of the countries where the Sunni were actually a minority, we would once and for good solve the ancient dispute between the two Muslim sects? Bush and Cheney, with presumably access to the advice of the best experts on Islam in the world, did apparently not consider this situation sufficiently before they dismantled the power structure in Iraq and the surrounding region. All they did was stir up the powder keg.

Cheney recently remarked that by 2007 or 2008, they had pretty much sewed up the situation in Iraq.

This is history we’re talking about. Things don’t happen in a matter of days, weeks or even months. History sometimes takes years or decades or more to “resolve” situations. The Shia – Sunni situation has taken more than a millennium now. Do we really think they’ll come together now just because the imperialist United States would like them to?

While many Americans now blast Obama for passivity, I applaud him. He actually seems to understand that further meddling with a situation that we don’t even properly comprehend can not result in any satisfactory outcome other than more innocent dead, more American soldiers dead, more billions of American money (that we don’t have) spent, and more anti-American sentiment around the world. Finally, there would be more terrorism directed against the United States as the great Satan, fomenting religious zealotry and escalating world-wide terrorism as a result.

If the Middle East were not rich in oil, none of us would care about it. We would not even be able to point to Iraq on a map. Do you need proof? Point to Liberia or Namibia on a map.

Now that oil as a valuable resource is in decline and the world is rapidly (on a historic timescale) converting to renewable energies, we will see the Middle Eastern countries revert to feudalism and religious irrelevance. I predict it will take no longer than a couple of hundred years and nobody in the industrialized world will give a hoot about the difference between Sunni and Shia – and they will still be killing each other.

Thus are the benefits of religion to mankind.

3 thoughts on “The Difference between Sunni and Shia

  1. Reblogged this on Norbert Haupt and commented:

    A year and a half ago I researched the conflict of Sunni vs. Shia Muslims. They started hating and fighting each other more than 1300 years ago, and they are still at it today. Within the last century, the United States came along and started thinking that because there is oil under those countries, we could rearrange their belief system and government structures to make them more suitable to the way we like to do business. The Sunni and Shia conflict will go on for another 1000 years, no matter how much we think we want to meddle. The only question is: How many of our children do we send in there to die for one Ali or the other?

  2. Ray cullen

    Hi again, Norbert–!!!
    I agree wholeheartedly with all of the sentiments you expressed—both in the original post—& in the more recent addendum.
    Thankyou—most interesting stuff—!!!

    And guess which “small” (by population, rather than land mass) country is ALREADY contributing the second largest military “committment” (after the U.S.of course–!!) to the Syrian “effort”-?!?
    Yup—-Australia–!!! With a total population–(counting dogs,cats & the occasional GALAH–!!!)—about equal to that of New York–!!

    Because—like we are soooooo “close” geographically to the situation—!!!
    And Australia is soooo directly effected by this latest iteration of the perpetual fighting over religious nonsense, which so characterizes the entire Middle East—!!!
    And we’re going to be able to sooooo effectively train the Iraqi army, as to enable them to “take the fight to ISIS”.
    EXCEPT—–that we already DID this about 15-16 years ago—on a far larger “scale”—-with CRAP results–!!!

    After the invasion of Iraq, Australia provided “boots on the ground” over many years—-in what many here saw as kow-towing to our hugely “bigger”//vastly more powerful “big brother” ally. (The U.S.)

    Despite all of that “blood & treasure” being expended—-& much of same was devoted to military training of “the locals”—–once the West withdrew, that supposedly well-trained army was soundly “whipped” by ISIS–!!
    In fact, many whom we trained, ARE now part of that murderous gang of “religious” THUGS—!!!
    NOW we are supposed to believe that with a FRACTION of the U.S. military committment to the “original” Iraqi occupation, & within a fraction of the time-frame of that earlier “excursion”—-that somehow, the result will be better—!!??!!!

    The Middle-East is a military QUAGMIRE–!!
    As with ANOTHER (earlier) war into which Australia was all-too-ready to follow the U.S.—(Vietnam) there are some fights from which NO ONE emerges as a “winner”–!!

    Herein lies ANOTHER difference between Obama//certain of his (especially Republican) predecessors—& the bumptious fool who just might succeed him.
    Obama actually GETS the notion of “no win” situations–!!! He actually seems to VALUE the lives of military personnel—& of innocent civilians—-& is willing to preserve human life where feasible—& “wear” the criticism from the Right which paints him as “weak”.

    I suggested above that it’s ANOTHER difference between Obama & Trump—-because there’s ALSO the fact that Obama is INTELLIGENT, ELOQUENT,—& doesn’t look, act or speak like a HALF-WIT—!!!!!

    I’ll TRY to “restrain myself” & “sit out” the NEXT few posts, Norbert–!!
    You’ve heard more than enough from this “quarter” for a while–!!
    UNLESS of course, you happen to write about that Trump fellow—!!!
    That would epitomize the notion of EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES—!!!


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