8 Responses

  1. Why is such an oversimplification allowed when it considers Muslims , it’s like saying that the difference between Protestants and Catholics is based on the fact if the pope is or isn’t God’s representative on earth .. and leave it at that ..

    • When it comes to disinterested agnostics, that’s about as much as I like to know about the difference between protestants and catholics.

      The only reason I bother with the difference between Shia and Sunni Islam is because of its geopolitical implications, which I am profoundly interested in.

    • Just want to be clear on this, no disrespect intended, there’s no doubt in my mind that Islam in all its variations has lots to offer. It’s just that I am personally disinterested in the finer points of religion for religion’s sake. My interest is limited to the extent that it informes history and politics.

      This video is probably more aimed at such an audience.

  2. I think this video is posted as more of an attempt to get a reader thinking than it is as a complete summary of the difference between the various factions of Islam. Dr. Cole himself has written extensively on the Sunni and Shiite schism, such as…
    “I see a lot of pundits and politicians saying that Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq have been fighting for a millennium. We need better history than that. The Shiite tribes of the south probably only converted to Shiism in the past 200 year s. And, Sunni-Shiite riots per se were rare in 20th century Iraq. Sunnis and Shiites cooperated in the 1920 rebellion against the British. If you read the newspapers in the 1950s and 1960s, you don’t see anything about Sunni-Shiite riots. There were peasant/landlord struggles or communists versus Baathists. The kind of sectarian fighting we’re seeing now in Iraq is new in its scale and ferocity, and it was the Americans who unleashed it.” He also had this to say in 2014, link to juancole.com.

    • Very good analysis Jack Thanks for the insight

      The 2003 American invasion and occupation of Iraq created the pre-conditions for radical Sunni groups, like ISIS, to take root.

      America, rather unwisely, destroyed Saddam Hussein’s secular state machinery and replaced it with a predominantly Shiite administration.

      The U.S. occupation caused vast unemployment in Sunni areas, by rejecting socialism and closing down factories in the naive hope that the magical hand of the free market would create jobs.

      Under the new U.S.-backed Shiite regime, working class Sunni’s lost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

      Upper class Sunni’s were systematically dispossessed of their assets and lost their political influence.

      Rather than promoting religious integration and unity, American policy in Iraq exacerbated sectarian divisions and created a fertile breading ground for Sunni discontent, from which Al Qaeda in Iraq took root.

      These are the present day issues that add to the discontent between Sunni and Shia, it is political rather than religious

    • The US is to blame for a lot of things, but I don’t think that the Sunnis and Shiites infighting is one of them. The narrow minded closing of the mind that Wahhabism promotes would have occurred regardless of any US action.

  3. I think Sunnism has been greatly influenced by the petro dollar puritanism.

    Anti Shia attitude spread so that now many Sunnis make really unreasonable criticisms which historically are new.

    It was only when I looked behind the petro dollar and saw what Sunni Islam in this respect, did things start to fall into place and explain why we experience some of the criticism toward ahul bayt amongst some, a attack never expressed in classical Sunni Islam.

    I’m sure anything I say can be debated , but this is loosely what I thought:

    A Shia’ scholar said he envied Sunni ulama for their beautiful poetry of love for the Prophet s.a.w. and it started me thinking that yes Shia spend quite a lot of energy into negative thoughts towards companions etc where as Sunnis have a positive or neutral view of it all.

    It therefore looked somewhat reactionary to an event, rather an ‘off shoot’ than the core of Islam

    It also seemed rather far fetched that people that had suffered exile in the desert eating leaves for many years etc would suddenly apostacise on the Prophet’s s.a.w. demise.

    And this might be corroborated by the Quran 9:100 since the companions are described as the foremost – ahul bayt are not mentioned.

    Also whilst I understand the concept of the infallible Imam – and it is certainly serving Shi’ism well in keeping order and avoiding the extremism of some ‘Sunni’ groups – I believe that a friendly and respectful approach is more correct.

    One thing I did find hard was that propaganda exists from both sides,

    Spend may be an hour reading non Muslim academic readings of Islamic history to get a more objective view.

    Anyway, overall I actually think Sunni Islam (in the sense of what that used to mean) has more in common with Shia Islam than say Wahhabi, Salafi Islam.

    There will be that valid question hanging over the succession and the questionable actions of the Ummayyads and their unforgivable, paranoid driven, oppression of the ahul bayt, which we may disagree over.

    However, in terms of fiqh and tasawwuf which really have been the life blood of Islam (one observation I have made as a difference with Christianity is that we have not focused on theology) we can work happily together as Muslims.

    Perhaps Mustafa Akkad’s – Allah have mercy and ever increase him amin! – approach of creating a film of the Prophet s.a.w. that was approved by both al Azhar and the Lebanese Shia Council is the way forward for us all.

    Since the split was so early both Sunni and Shia contributions to Islamic history have to be nothing but praised.

    So we each do our best, remain silent over what we disagree on as it is NOT actually a matter of belief/disbelief and 1400 years of debates haven’t categorically convinced either, and leave the rest to Allah
    Ideas of a blogger William Voller

  4. I’ve noticed that the various forms of Sufi Islam are almost never talked about.

    They’re important currents within Islam.

    Look for books by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri, Shaykh Kabir Helminski, Martin Lings, and William Chittick.

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