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Thu Jan 16, 2014, 09:54 PM

I am not very knowledgeable about the different groups that make up the Islam religion.

I do know that the largest groups are the Shia and Sunni. What I do not understand is the hatred that seems to divide them,

I can think of the same type of animosity between catholics and protestants which has also been very violent, Why do these groups, the sunni and shia, hate each other so much and does anyone see an end to the violence.

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Reply I am not very knowledgeable about the different groups that make up the Islam religion. (Original post)
pennylane100 Jan 2014 OP
grantcart Jan 2014 #1
pennylane100 Jan 2014 #2
Alameda Jan 2014 #3
mostafamohy Jul 2015 #4

Response to pennylane100 (Original post)

Thu Jan 16, 2014, 10:54 PM

1. There are 3 main groups Sunni, Shia and the Sufi.

The largest, Sunni, takes what we would consider a more conventional approach to religion in general.

They represent the majority of Muslims in all but two countries, Iran and Iraq. They have a greater trust in secular type governments and take a broader philosophical perspective. I believe that this perspective is based on a broader understanding of the significant contribution that Islam has made (in math and science) and therefore have confidence that over time Islam isn't just a blessing to Muslims but contributes significantly to world understanding.

This important era forms the philosophical basis of the Western Enlightenment but is largely ignored in our schools. You can read about it here:

Shias broke away almost immediately after the death of the Prophet over secessionist issues with many of Mohammed's closest relatives, including his daughter and son in law, objecting to the succession of the caliphat by Mohammed's father in law.

Eventually Ali (son in law) and daughter Fatimah take over the 4th Caliphat but Ali is assassinated. Shia's believe that Allah chose Ali and that the succession away is the result of false actions against Allah.

In terms of theology the differences are that Sunni followers separate government and religion into two different spheres and that Allah chooses leaders of both.

Shia believe that a government should be formed like a Caliphat (Theocracy) and that the leaders should lead through a group leadership and no one cleric ever gets too powerful.

The result is that today many Shia consider the Sunnis to be cultural and political 'sell outs' and many Sunnis consider Shia to be fanatical 'end of timers'.

During the middle ages when Christendom was going through tremendous violence and the inquisitions the Islamic countries had the most tolerance, the best libraries and universities. Algebra and the Scientific Method were developed during these times.

The largest Islamic countries in the world are Indonesia, Pakistan and Bengladesh. There are more Muslims in China than Saudi Arabia. So Islam is mostly an Asian religion and most Muslims live in peaceful settings. Indeed Muslims around the world look at the US and wonder why there is so much violence here, especially when they read the constant barrage of spree killing at the work place and at schools.

Sufism is a mystical form of Islam http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sufism that actively encourages their own type of meditation and peace.

The Islamic Institute in Mannheim, Germany, which works towards the integration of Europe and Muslims, sees Sufism as particularly suited for interreligious dialogue and intercultural harmonisation in democratic and pluralist societies; it has described Sufism as a symbol of tolerance and humanism—nondogmatic, flexible and non-violent.[141]

You might be surprised to find that these are well remembered teachings of some of the Sufi prophets

“Prophet Muhammad, the Rasulullah (Sal.), placed the Qur'an in the hands of his followers and said, "In order to understand this, go even unto China to learn divine knowledge ('ilm)." Within one word in the Qur'an, there are thousands of meanings. Don't hold onto to just one meaning. Look within and there will be another meaning. Within that is another meaning, and within that is still another. As you uncover meaning after meaning, you will see Allah at the very end. When you go beyond all the messengers (rasuls) and look within, you will find Allah. The angels are also there. Go beyond them and look, go beyond everything and look, and then you will see heaven. Go beyond heaven, and Allah is there. Do not pray for heaven. Go beyond and look. Allah will be there."

Before we try to destroy someone else, we should first pass judgment on ourselves. Before finding fault with others, we must first pass judgment upon ourselves. Before we backbite others, we must first pass judgment upon our­ selves.

Faith is a restraint against all violence, let no Mu’min commit violence.

If you look at organized political violence, whether it is the Bolsheviks, the Nazis or Al Queda it is interesting to note that those that seem to be most ripe for violent revolutionary action are those from an aspiring middle class that were then faced with little or no professional or occupational options. People like Mohammed Atta (and engineering graduate in Egypt who went on to study in Germany) get their expectations raised that they have done everything right. In reality economic development in many of these countries left many of their best students without reasonable chances of employment, in part because nepotism keeps the few good jobs reserved for family members of the elite.

Most Muslims would find your question surprising because they view their countries as peaceful and the US as violent.

For example the murder rate in the US is 4.7 per 100,000 while the murder rate in Saudia Arabia is 1.0, Egypt 1.2, Tunisia 1.1 although a strict statistical comparison is difficult because our statistics are more likely to reflect a more complete number.


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Response to grantcart (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 17, 2014, 01:52 AM

2. Thank you very much for your reply, it was very interesting

I has certainly given me a lot of follow up reading to.

Yes, I do agree that Muslim scholars certainly have contributed greatly to the early Renaissance times and their contribution often goes unrecognized, but what I will never understand about one of the worlds greatest religions is their treatment and attitude to fifty percent of their population, i.e. the female half.

They .are still centuries behind the rest of the world in the treatment of the their female citizens. Those communities that you describe as living in a peaceful setting are able to do so because they are run with very little input from the female half of of the community.

None of the major religions give the respect and accolades that are due to their female members and Islam has the most work to do to in catching up. Which is a shame because it it has so much to offer

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Response to pennylane100 (Original post)

Tue Jan 28, 2014, 07:09 PM

3. Like in all religions

At it's most basic, anyone who to witnesses or "to testifies to the belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet. is a Muslim.

As in all religions, there are many different interpretations. It would take a very long time to explain all of them. To simplify, think of the vast disparity in Christianity, such as: snake charmers, Christian Zionists, Unitarians, Trinitarians and all the various versions therein. Look at the Roman Catholic church and all the orders therein.

As I see it the main division in Christianity are between Protestant and Catholic, but it's more than that. It gets to the concept of the Trinity or Unity.

In Islam you have Sunni and Shi'a....which really only has become an issue recently. I know many Muslims who are both, and we didn't care or even question it, until the Iraq war started.

As for the idea that Sufism is a separate order or branch, I would not agree with that, it is an integral part of Islam. Rather that idea is an Orientalist concept that indicates that Islam does not have inner dimensions in itself. Even at that, people think of the Mevlevis as the Sufis, but there there are many different interpretations as well. At it's most basic, the word Sufi comes from the word Tasawwuf, which comes from the word purity. Thus those who seek purity are followers of tasawwuf....which became Sufi in the west.

We have seen the spread of the Salafist doctrines from Saudi Arabia growing and spreading in the last 40 years, primarily due to their oil wealth. The Salafis are like Christian "Fundamentalists".

You have Sunni & Shia, in that you have in the Sunni the Hanafis, Malekis, Shayfis, Hanbalis, and in each of these are different schools of jurisprudence, and in them things drill down even more.

In Shia leadership goes through hereditary lineage. It gets complicated....and I don't feel qualified to write a lot about it, but I hope this helps somewhat.

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Response to Alameda (Reply #3)

Sun Jul 26, 2015, 08:30 AM

4. Islam

Many of non-Muslims are trying to distort Islam, the below link is an article about Islam to tell all people (especially non-Muslims) the truth about Islam.


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