From  The  Economist  - May 2016


SPECIAL REPORT

THE ARAB WORLD

Religion


The new strife


There Is but one God, yet different forms of Islam are fighting for their own version of him



THE BOMBASTIC POSTERS and statues of Saddam Hussein disappeared long ago. Now the most visible iconography in Baghdad is of Ali and his son, Hussein - revered by Shias as two of the rightful leaders of Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Once the seat of the great Sunni caliphate under the Abbasid dynasty, Baghdad has become a visibly Shia city.


In Saddam's time Shias were arrested for trying to go on the 100km pilgrimage from the capital to Karbala; now the city's main roads are closed to cars for Ashura, a big Shia festival, because so many people set off on the long walk. The coffins of Shia fighters killed in battles against the Sunni jihadists are loaded onto cars and taxis and driven in procession to be buried in Najaf, another holy city in the south about 160km away. Sunnis in Baghdad - those that remain, that is, after years of communal violence that has driven many of them out - find such Shia triumphalism distasteful, even deliberately intimidating.


The two branches of Islam split during the great Jimo, or strife, over the succession to the Prophet Muhammad. Sunnis claim that the leadership passed down the line of the four rashidun (rightly guided or perfect) caliphs who had been the Prophet's companions: Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman and only then to Ali, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law. After that the mantle passed to the Umayyads in Damascus, followed by the Abbasids in Baghdad. Shias say the succession was usurped. It should have passed through the family of the Prophet, first to Ali and later Hussein. But Ali was murdered in Kufa and buried nearby in Najaf, whereas Hussein was killed in a battle against the Umayyads in Karbala and buried there-hence the importance to Shias of the two cities. Shia leadership then passed down a chain of imams that broke off at different points, according to their secteg, the Zaydi "Fivers", the Ismaili "Seveners" and the majority "Twelvers". Twelver Shiism became the state religion of the Persian Safavid empire, which is why hardline Sunni Arabs tend to regard the Shias as foreign enemies, even non-Muslims.


Shias are given to emotional commemorations of the martyrdom of Ali and Hussein, including public self-flagellation. They are often accused of revelling in almadhlumiya, or "victim-hood". These days, though, it is often Sunni Arabs who feel and behave like the underdogs. Though they make up the majority of Muslim Arabs, Sunnis often feel disenfranchised in the Arab heartland-sidelined by the Shia majority in Iraq, under murderous attack by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria (dominated by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiism), intimidated in Lebanon by HizbuUah (a powerful Shia militia), and dispersed and occupied by Israel in Palestine. In Yemen, they have been ejected from power by Houthi fighters, issued from the Zaydis.


International brigades of Sunnis and Shias now confront each other in Syria. Those fighting for Mr Assad include Shia recruits from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, led by Hizbullah and senior officers of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Against these stand two broad groups: the jihadists of Islamic State, made up of volunteers from many countries, and looser alliances of Syrian Sunni rebel groups supported to varying degrees by neighbouring Sunni states, mainly Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan. Suicide-bombings, the poor man's guided missile, were first adopted by proto-Hizbullah in 1983; they were copied by Palestinian Islamists and are now a favourite tactic of Sunni jihadists.


Islam is more than ever the cause for which everyone claims to be fighting. But which Islam? ….


THE  ARTICLE  GOES  ON  FOR  SOME  LENGTH.  YES  THERE  ARE  5  TYPES  OF  ISLAM…… SO  IT  IS  VERY  COMPLICATED  ON  THE  WORLD  SCENE.


IT  MAY  SHOCK  MANY  TO  REALIZE  ISLAM  LIKE  CHRISTIANITY  IS  DIVIDED  ON  WHAT  CONSTITUTES  "ISLAM  RELIGION"  TODAY.


I'M  SURE  THE  READER  CAN  FIND  ALL  ABOUT  IT  ON  WIKIPEDIA  


Keith Hunt



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