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Author Topic: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.  (Read 35408 times)

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Offline alextaylor

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2013, 08:51:40 AM »
A bit misleading. I'd say that the Shia' consider Ali as the next prophet, but not as the 'rightful prophet'. They still consider Muhammad as a prophet. Otherwise, Formless did a good explanation of things.

With a religion the size of Islam, it is really hard to say who believes in what. I've met plenty of Sunnis who believe Shia' should be killed, and plenty who get along just fine, hug each other. I'd say most Sunnis view Christians and Jews as more closely related than they'd view Shia'. Intolerant Sunnis would still get along with a Christian, but very rarely with a Shia'. One is considered misled, the other is considered a traitor.

There are many people, like myself, who refuse to take sides and neither identify as Sunni nor Shia'. It's arguably forbidden to identify as either sect (Quran 6:159, 30:31-32)

I wouldn't say the Shia' are 'intolerant'. Rather look at the political angle. They believed that Ali was... treated unjustly by certain factions, namely the Abu Bakr group. They have a strong hatred for those who supported Abu Bakr's political objectives. But with the degree of influence that Abu Bakr had on Islamic history, that's a lot of people to resent.


Oh, I didn't mean this as any sizing up of your argument specifically, with regard to those persons from the first hundred or two hundred years of Islam. Ali and Hussein are central to Shi'ism, that's for sure, I mean they are the defining heroes of the movement. I was trying to characterize a tendency to bring key persons and struggles of those years close into talk about modern-day, present-day politics, it's a tendency I've noticed with muslim friends of mine here in Europe. I've also seen it pointed out a few times by researchers and historians around here (in Scandinavia) who have been working for decades in middle eastern history and politics.

I can see the merit of digging into the roots to unravel something, when one is bringing out something that's been happening in history sometimes that's what you have to do - look at what happened early on, discuss it and reassess it. My point was that there's a sort of unconscious difference to the west here. Most people in the modern west are not that heavily concerned with history in this way, not even the early centuries of our own religious and cultural core traditions. You won't often hear a Frenchman, a Brit or even less an American arguing passionately about the merits of Pericles, Cicero, Augustine or Alexander the Great, or using them directly, off the cuff, for comparisons with modern politicians, constitutions, writers or religious leaders. I think there's much more of an attitude of "yeah, okay that's history" here - even if Alexander the Great is admirable and influential, within antiquity, he isn't really a figure who belongs in *our* modern world - the world we know personally in some sense - his campaigns and opening up of the eastern world happened a long, long time ago...although they can become the stuff of movies!  ;) The same with Augustine, Bede the Venerable or even most of the apostles of Christ - they are historical figures from a long time ago, but not everyday, immediate points of orientation to us.

I'm an Islamic history fan, even minored in it in college, and I read a bunch of historical theses as a hobby :P

It's hard to explain this in a short post, but I'll try. Islamic dogma is based on two things - the Quran itself, and historical narrations and judgements in the form of "Hadiths". The Quran itself is straightforward. No Muslim would speak against the Quran. It's just about interpreting verses differently. For example, the verse 24:31 either means that Muslim women should wear a shirt (cover their chests), wear a long hijab (wrap their headcovers over their chests), or wear a long veil (wrap their facecovers over their chests). Different cultures translate that verse differently. But this is up to the theologists and Arabic language experts, nothing to do with your armchair Islamic historian.

A Hadith is a chain of oral narrations, something in the form of "Abu said that Malik said that Ilyas said that Jabar said that Muhammad said so-and-so is evil". Normally they would be a few of these from different chains in order to prove that Muhammad really said something.

Now the fun part is that if you can prove that Malik was not a reliable person, everything that includes him as a narrator falls apart.

There are tens of thousands of Hadith out there. So being able to hold the power to mix-and-match what you want to believe falls on proving the credibility of certain historical figures.


Let's take an example more relevant to modern times. It's said that leaving Islam (apostasy) is punishable by death. This is supported by several Hadiths in Muhammad's time saying that Abu Bakr, Umar, Khalid killed people who apostated.

The ruler of many countries do not want to actually kill apostates, because it's a hell of a legal mess, hurts foreign relations, kills important members of society, etc. But opposition radical Islamic parties will often support it... it's easier to campaign to change to a controversial law than it is to improve the economy.

For those who debate the law, they can say the following:
1. It was never explicitly in the Quran that apostasy is punishable by death. There's the base ruling that "anything which is not explicitly forbidden is permissible", meaning that it's permissible to let people go for apostasy and permissible to behead them for apostasy.
2. Various interpretations of the Hadith that support that ruling - mainly saying that it was 'tax evaders get beheaded', not 'apostates get beheaded', because Muslims during the era were given some tax cuts.
3. Some historical evidence of people who have apostated and were released. Since there is no evidence of this, it lends more credibility to the anti-apostasy group.

4. Removing the credibility of any Hadith that supports this. This can be done by discrediting Abu Bakr's inner circle. This is also why the Shia' is considered a different religion, even though they hold only political differences at heart.


While Point 1 above is a matter of theology, Point 2, 3, 4 of the above require some very strong historical knowledge to support. A non-Muslim with considerable Islamic history knowledge can argue what the religion says, even if he has never read the Quran.

And because of the 'inverse pyramid' system of the Hadith narration chains, those who know about the early Muslims have the most power to manipulate this system. Arguably, those who are knowledgeable about the later Muslims, including the Abbasid (golden age) era of Islam are not able to use this knowledge for political purposes. You can study the most recent 1000 years on Islam and it won't be as influential as the first 30 years.

Offline FormlessTopic starter

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2013, 09:12:30 AM »
Retribution
Formless -> Thank you again, in my schooling when Islam came up the catch description always given by the teacher was that Islam advocated spreading the faith "by the sword." So war of conquest was viewed as acceptable. After reading what you have to say I see that is not necessarily a correct interpretation. But working on that sort of educational background my impression of Muslims always was that on a personal level all either wished to convert me or kill me. It was just a matter of how boisterous they were about those beliefs when it came to being an extremist or non extremist. I see now my education was faulty and it certainly alters my way of thought.

I also saw a show on History channel a few weeks back. On the level of the extremists the show spoke of a vision of an Islamic empire. So I often wonder if there is a political motivation dressed up in religion at play. My college professor I referred to used to say that terrorism is about political power and influence not religion.

It is never ruled out that religion is used to fortify a political claim and gain support. In an Islamic or any other society that heavily dependant on religion as a source of guidance. But to me , I always prefer to detach religion from any form of interaction. It helps approach others much easier. Cannot be the same to every other Muslim though. Even when they are supposed to spread peace and harmony , yet somehow , some think that they should be aggressive with those who do not share their belief. I cannot really defend those , the teachings are clear in some aspects , and some are mis translated. It all falls upon those who teaches Islam to other Muslims within an Islamic society. ( And those are the ones responsible for anything wrong with labelled with Islam really. )

Offline Retribution

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Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2013, 09:24:47 AM »
Formeless -> That is nothing different from any religion. You can find examples in Christianity and Judaism as well. On a personal level I view it as  people twisting religion to justify their own point of view. In all of this I am struck by another show I watched. It was an extensive interview with the Muslim American who interrogated Saddam. He was under pressure to get information and spent a lot of time with the man. In the end when it came to possible links to terrorism Saddam, who I believe was a Sunni said in essence "those people are fools, there is no place for religion in politics." I doubt anyone would argue Saddam was not a nasty piece of work, but I find that statement to be pretty accurate.

Offline FormlessTopic starter

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2013, 09:26:21 AM »
Alextaylor. Allow to replying in this form to avoid a large post.

I wouldn't say it is misleading. I'd say it is all wrong since that conflict was merely political and far from being religious. It was the followers who made it so. Ali was never a religious figure. Not untill the end of the " Amawy " era. ( The one that followed the four Rasheed rulers. )

As I said in my very first post. Religion is a state of mind and soul. So even with the narrative chain of hadiths , some people still choose not to believe in them.

Qur'an , is the one source Muslims will never argue over. But as you mentioned about  apostasy , that was never mentioned in the Qur'an. And since the day Mohammad died , muslims chose to ' improvise ' ( Choosing this term for the lack of a better one )

Also regarding the chains of narrations. Some Hadiths are labelled ' weak ' . And the reason behind that is one of the people is not really trusted. While some like the Bukhari and Muslim ( His first name was Muslim ) they are always considered true.

The modern age muslims got into a conflict , especially since some Hadiths ' hindered ' globalization. And they started to dismiss most hadiths. And that created a rift even with sunni themselves. It all boiled down to ' how can we really believe that? '. Insurance was a huge issue in Saudi arabia during the late 90s. Simply because Islam prohibits taking money for a service without providing it. So some people thought ' I pay for a whole year and i never made an accident. I need my money back ' And that mentality did not really serve the insurance provider. Now? They realized that insurance prevents more problems than they can manage and so they allowed it.

That is one example out of many. And I'll have to say I agree with most of your points. Its good to see someone with a grand knowledge of it who isn't a muslim. :-)

Offline FormlessTopic starter

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2013, 09:32:07 AM »
Retribution
Formeless -> That is nothing different from any religion. You can find examples in Christianity and Judaism as well. On a personal level I view it as  people twisting religion to justify their own point of view. In all of this I am struck by another show I watched. It was an extensive interview with the Muslim American who interrogated Saddam. He was under pressure to get information and spent a lot of time with the man. In the end when it came to possible links to terrorism Saddam, who I believe was a Sunni said in essence "those people are fools, there is no place for religion in politics." I doubt anyone would argue Saddam was not a nasty piece of work, but I find that statement to be pretty accurate.

It is very accurate , either said by Saddam or anyone else. And here is why from my own point of view.

Religion is like a language. But not a language that can be translated unfortunately. So to speak your politics with a language that no one understands will surely never benefits your own status. Thus why Religion should be something for someone to delve into on their own and not forced upon others. Other countries do not believe in the same religion you speak of , so how the hell would they agree with you?

That is how I think of it.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2013, 09:48:09 AM »
How does Sufism fit in? Is it another branch? .. school? .. of your faith?

Offline FormlessTopic starter

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2013, 11:28:59 AM »
Sufism. I think its another school? The basic idea of Sufism to worship god and abandon any other form of joy in life. As in , instead of watching TV , you should spend that time praying or reading the Qur'an. I stead of going out with a friend , you should stay home and practice other prayers. You should wear the cheapest kind of money and spend the rest for charity in the name of god.

That is the basic idea , but in this day and age , hardly anyone follows it or practice it the way it was intended to be. I started in the third Islamic century and I think that equals the 900ad era ( I could be wrong ).

And the name of it Sufism = soof which in Arabic means wool. So during that time they opted to wear wool and not other expensive fabrics.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2013, 03:22:22 PM »
I also saw a show on History channel a few weeks back. On the level of the extremists the show spoke of a vision of an Islamic empire. So I often wonder if there is a political motivation dressed up in religion at play.

All of it, it's all politics at the top.  To push an agenda.

Now correct me if I'm wrong (and please, Formless, please do) but I was under the impression that the Quran was supposed to be read by every Muslim.

And if I am remembering that correctly, then the current Middle Eastern habit of only the head Cleric reading and interpreting it is not only incorrect, but is the issue at which causes terror attacks and fanaticism.

For the record, it's not an Islamic thing either.  Christianity has done similar at various stages of it's existence as well, for example.  We humans tend to make a mess of things like religion once we get our hands on it.

My college professor I referred to used to say that terrorism is about political power and influence not religion.

He's (or she's) right.  At the top, it's always been about power and influence.  If I remember correctly, a lot of famous terrorist leaders were both educated in the West and quite rich.  Two things that are often looked down upon as corruption by these same extremists.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2013, 03:29:09 PM by Chris Brady »

Offline Retribution

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Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #33 on: September 08, 2013, 03:45:48 PM »
Working on the assumption it is politics at the top of the terrorist agenda which I think it is. Then I think the other ugly face to the problem is plain old poverty. There is vast money in the region from oil, but as my perception of the matter has evolved I get the impression that money tends to stay at the top so to speak.  I get the impression there is a lot of poverty and desperation lower down the social rungs. That makes a fertile ground for those with an agenda to enlist soldiers for lack of a better description.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #34 on: September 08, 2013, 05:08:33 PM »
This whole religion thing is a smokescreen, all of it, to mask the real reason for causing acts of war.  The truth of the matter is that the mass majority of, in this case, Islamic peoples is to live their lives as best they can.  Often, they'd rather do it peacefully, and often, likely without caring about the nitty gritty of how each other worship.

Sabir the Shi'a Butcher wants to sell his produce so he can feed his family, while Abdul the Suni just wants meat for dinner.

It's when you keep your people in poverty, which often these 'Clerics' (and by that I mean political leaders, as opposed to true men of faith) use as a means to incite anger and drive people to hurt each other.

Thank you for trying to clear up the often common misunderstandings, and although I am not Muslim, I have read a little about them, and frankly, we're all human.  Good and bad.

Offline FormlessTopic starter

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #35 on: September 08, 2013, 06:26:12 PM »
Chris Brady
All of it, it's all politics at the top.  To push an agenda.

Now correct me if I'm wrong (and please, Formless, please do) but I was under the impression that the Quran was supposed to be read by every Muslim.

And if I am remembering that correctly, then the current Middle Eastern habit of only the head Cleric reading and interpreting it is not only incorrect, but is the issue at which causes terror attacks and fanaticism.

For the record, it's not an Islamic thing either.  Christianity has done similar at various stages of it's existence as well, for example.  We humans tend to make a mess of things like religion once we get our hands on it.

The Qur'an is allowed for any Muslims to read. It is actually sold as well as being gifted by charities. Of course there's the standard that a Muslims need to be ' cleansed ' to hold it ( in physical aspects , otherwise in his mind he can recite it as much as he likes. )

For interpretation. There's books that interprets Qur'an in many ways. The radical ones are obviously banned. Extremists who publishes any interpretations ad their books banned as well. Anyone can stand up and interpret it theway he wants , but no one will listen. However three decades ago , it is true that only those with a higher religious knowledge were allowed to interpret the Qur'an.

I hope that clarifies the Issue?

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Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #36 on: September 09, 2013, 01:51:30 AM »
Of course there's the standard that a Muslims need to be ' cleansed ' to hold it

I have a copy of the Qur'an (actually I have two, one in Arabic, one English translation).  What's the view on me handling it, as a non-Muslim?


Offline FormlessTopic starter

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #37 on: September 09, 2013, 04:31:09 AM »
I have a copy of the Qur'an (actually I have two, one in Arabic, one English translation).  What's the view on me handling it, as a non-Muslim?

The translated copy is not really considered ' holy ' in strict religious standards so to speak.

But the Arabic one. Honestly ... I am supposed to encourage you to read it and try to follow its teachings. And eventually while you read it , you'll find the verse that mentions that this holy book is only touched by one whose cleansed.

No one approves of the way I mentioned. Usually they'll just tell you to never touch the book until you chose to be a Muslim. But I don't see that as the right way to enlighten anyone about the book. Heck I can't protect every book in the word from the curious , the passionate or the wicked.

So ... I hope that clarifies it.

Offline alextaylor

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #38 on: September 09, 2013, 04:56:10 AM »
I have a copy of the Qur'an (actually I have two, one in Arabic, one English translation).  What's the view on me handling it, as a non-Muslim?

It's ok, as long as you are "clean" - at least washed up your hands, face, arms, feet if you've done anything 'dirty' recently. Or showered if you've had sex or touched a wet dog (dry dogs are clean).

It's considered a faux pas by ultra-conservative Muslims for non-Muslims to touch it. The more liberal ones consider it a compliment, and will happily give them out as gifts on request. So pick whichever side you want :P

Offline Sabre

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2013, 02:22:13 PM »
Conflicts within Islam stems from the compounding fears, loyalties and antagonism along tribal lines and concepts rather than theology.  As a political opposition Shiism was championed less by individual scholarship and more through adoption by entire tribes of Arab, Berber, Persian or Turkish clans.  Even Sunni Islam is dominated by these cultural forces:  The election of the first four Rightly Guided Caliphs just to happens to follow Agnatic seniority succession laws still common in gulf state monarchies.  Abu Bakr and Umar were both Muhammad's father-in-laws.  Uthman and Ali were Muhammad's son-in-laws.  Muhammad married Abu Bakr's daughter before Umar's, and Muhammad's older daughters married Uthman while the youngest married Ali.  The Abbasids and Fatimids were both dynasties claiming kinship with Muhammad's tribe.  The rivalries between the Quraysh tribes and among those outside Mecca and Medina heavily affected early Muslim history with their feuding and civil wars.  The Shia grew from a period where the Ummayads, a rival branch to Ali's Fatimids, took control of the Caliphate and was involved with several conflicts with Ali's political supporters.

They all developed their own mythology, and through the old custom of constant moral storytelling in support of one version of events over others developed their own culture which filtered down into local Middle Eastern clans that adopted them.  So by the 10th century the Sunni-Shia split was more than just political - it had become a matter of tribal lineage, ethnicity and culture.

Offline FormlessTopic starter

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2013, 08:17:33 PM »
Sabre
Conflicts within Islam stems from the compounding fears, loyalties and antagonism along tribal lines and concepts rather than theology.  As a political opposition Shiism was championed less by individual scholarship and more through adoption by entire tribes of Arab, Berber, Persian or Turkish clans.  Even Sunni Islam is dominated by these cultural forces:  The election of the first four Rightly Guided Caliphs just to happens to follow Agnatic seniority succession laws still common in gulf state monarchies.  Abu Bakr and Umar were both Muhammad's father-in-laws.  Uthman and Ali were Muhammad's son-in-laws.  Muhammad married Abu Bakr's daughter before Umar's, and Muhammad's older daughters married Uthman while the youngest married Ali.  The Abbasids and Fatimids were both dynasties claiming kinship with Muhammad's tribe.  The rivalries between the Quraysh tribes and among those outside Mecca and Medina heavily affected early Muslim history with their feuding and civil wars.  The Shia grew from a period where the Ummayads, a rival branch to Ali's Fatimids, took control of the Caliphate and was involved with several conflicts with Ali's political supporters.

They all developed their own mythology, and through the old custom of constant moral storytelling in support of one version of events over others developed their own culture which filtered down into local Middle Eastern clans that adopted them.  So by the 10th century the Sunni-Shia split was more than just political - it had become a matter of tribal lineage, ethnicity and culture.

While I agree with all these points. They can be simply interpreted differently from the perspective of another individual.

However , The Turks hardly come into play with the creation and growth of the rift between the Sunni and the Shee'ah. They simply received both of these ideas and lived along with them. Islam did not reach those lands until the two movements were well defined.

And in regards of the relationships that presented the Four Khaleefah ( The four who governed Muslims after the death of Muhammad. ) May have some truth to it , but no Sunni would really agree with it. To them , these figures are too ' pure ' to be tainted by favors towards in-laws. Even history tells that Muslims in both Makkah and Madinah elected them and they did not force themselves upon the Muslims.

Now the way these things transcended history and became a tribal heritage. I absolutely agree with that. Because that is how it happens in the gulf countries. A person is born into a society where they worship what their ancestors follow. And they are fed the same morals. Which also means they are taught of their closest and farthest enemies. Surprisingly , A Sunni hate a Shee'ee , and a Shee'ee hates a Sunni. To the modern age it never matters how it started , because they see it as ' the way we believe '.

Offline Sabre

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2013, 12:48:56 AM »
The Turks come into play relatively earlier than is assumed, and both ideas were not truly defined within the first few centuries.  The problem with Islamic historiography is that much of it is the work of 10th century and later scholars retroactively applying their hopes and ideals onto the 7th century, and much of what we know about the events of the 7th and 8th centuries, while technically sourced to contemporaries, is instead secondary sources commenting or copying these texts which did not survive to our times.

While Islam did not reach Turkic lands yet, the Turks reached Islamic lands.  The Maddhab schools which we consider the basis of Sunni tradition were not yet what we consider them today.  Instead they were academic circles largely isolated from the lives of most Muslims in the same way your local university's department of physics is rather isolated from the city and suburbs surrounding it.  At this time Ummayad administration was in a tumultuous time where arbitrary and seemingly impious rule was seen as common, and qadis were not always the same as religious scholars as was the case during the 9th century onward.  So while the events surrounding Ali and his heirs did happen and did cause division within the Muslim world, the fault lines were almost always tribal and political whereas conflicts with theological bents were limited to anarchist movements like the Kharijites and the Zanj rebellion.  The beliefs of Sunni and Shia were not all that different, even regarding things like the holiness of the Prophet's bloodline and the like.  This belief pervaded the elections of the first four caliphs (they were chosen in order of logical Arabian succession with arguments stemming mostly from who was closer to the Prophet).  Such beliefs were less the result of a doctrinal dispute between 'churches' and more the result of local Middle Eastern influences on an otherwise undeveloped religion, and the ones who were deemed 'Shia' were mostly those who rejected the Ummayad claim or denounced its government. 

Both the Abbasids and Fatimids, one Sunni and the other Shia, were movements that relied on popular support for the idea of the Sayids, the descendants of Muhammad, and only then when Cairo and Baghdad became rival seats of power for the Caliphate did the fault line between Sunni and Shia widen beyond politics.  And with the Buyids, a Shia Persian faction, conquering Baghdad came Sunni 'orthodoxy', now beginning to become an actual theological response.  The Seljuk invasion of the Middle East brought a new, barely-Islamized foreign element into the region which was acclimated through a kind of new fanaticism.  Seljuk sultans, viziers and emirs founded hundreds if not thousands of new madrasas, began inviting theologians to court and away from out-of-the-way places like Mecca and Medina and Basra, and promoting the jihad as a more integral aspect of the state and faith.  The theologians invited duked it out in open court and the last ones standing we know today as the four main schools of Sunni jurisprudence, further defined by their opposition to the Fatimids and their Shi'a inclinations.

The modern antagonism has its roots back then of course, but its real cause lies in the last century and not over a thousand years ago.  Sunni-Shia antagonism in our modern age stems mostly from the rise of Islamism, a political movement which has slowly encroached upon popular theological belief and attitudes and moved the sovereign unit from the family or tribal patriarch to the territorial state.  This has led to the reduction and political repression of non-Muslims in the past century, and similarly colors the clash between these Muslim sects.  The shadow war between Saudi Arabia funding fundamentalist, Arabist Sunni movements and Iran funding Islamist, nationalist Shia movements throughout the Africa, the Middle East and South Asia is the most direct cause of violence today between the two, and will continue to be.

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Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2013, 07:36:00 AM »
The modern antagonism has its roots back then of course, but its real cause lies in the last century and not over a thousand years ago.  Sunni-Shia antagonism in our modern age stems mostly from the rise of Islamism, a political movement which has slowly encroached upon popular theological belief and attitudes and moved the sovereign unit from the family or tribal patriarch to the territorial state.  This has led to the reduction and political repression of non-Muslims in the past century, and similarly colors the clash between these Muslim sects.  The shadow war between Saudi Arabia funding fundamentalist, Arabist Sunni movements and Iran funding Islamist, nationalist Shia movements throughout the Africa, the Middle East and South Asia is the most direct cause of violence today between the two, and will continue to be.

Is it possible that the politicals involved have used the historic split as a way of bolstering their position and diminishing their opponents?  i.e. 'Of course that man would say that, he's a ______,' in a similar way that US politicians might subtly play the 'race card' or 'gender card'?

Offline FormlessTopic starter

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #43 on: September 12, 2013, 11:27:43 AM »
Sabre
The Turks come into play relatively earlier than is assumed, and both ideas were not truly defined within the first few centuries.  The problem with Islamic historiography is that much of it is the work of 10th century and later scholars retroactively applying their hopes and ideals onto the 7th century, and much of what we know about the events of the 7th and 8th centuries, while technically sourced to contemporaries, is instead secondary sources commenting or copying these texts which did not survive to our times.

While Islam did not reach Turkic lands yet, the Turks reached Islamic lands.  The Maddhab schools which we consider the basis of Sunni tradition were not yet what we consider them today.  Instead they were academic circles largely isolated from the lives of most Muslims in the same way your local university's department of physics is rather isolated from the city and suburbs surrounding it.  At this time Ummayad administration was in a tumultuous time where arbitrary and seemingly impious rule was seen as common, and qadis were not always the same as religious scholars as was the case during the 9th century onward.  So while the events surrounding Ali and his heirs did happen and did cause division within the Muslim world, the fault lines were almost always tribal and political whereas conflicts with theological bents were limited to anarchist movements like the Kharijites and the Zanj rebellion.  The beliefs of Sunni and Shia were not all that different, even regarding things like the holiness of the Prophet's bloodline and the like.  This belief pervaded the elections of the first four caliphs (they were chosen in order of logical Arabian succession with arguments stemming mostly from who was closer to the Prophet).  Such beliefs were less the result of a doctrinal dispute between 'churches' and more the result of local Middle Eastern influences on an otherwise undeveloped religion, and the ones who were deemed 'Shia' were mostly those who rejected the Ummayad claim or denounced its government. 

Both the Abbasids and Fatimids, one Sunni and the other Shia, were movements that relied on popular support for the idea of the Sayids, the descendants of Muhammad, and only then when Cairo and Baghdad became rival seats of power for the Caliphate did the fault line between Sunni and Shia widen beyond politics.  And with the Buyids, a Shia Persian faction, conquering Baghdad came Sunni 'orthodoxy', now beginning to become an actual theological response.  The Seljuk invasion of the Middle East brought a new, barely-Islamized foreign element into the region which was acclimated through a kind of new fanaticism.  Seljuk sultans, viziers and emirs founded hundreds if not thousands of new madrasas, began inviting theologians to court and away from out-of-the-way places like Mecca and Medina and Basra, and promoting the jihad as a more integral aspect of the state and faith.  The theologians invited duked it out in open court and the last ones standing we know today as the four main schools of Sunni jurisprudence, further defined by their opposition to the Fatimids and their Shi'a inclinations.

The modern antagonism has its roots back then of course, but its real cause lies in the last century and not over a thousand years ago.  Sunni-Shia antagonism in our modern age stems mostly from the rise of Islamism, a political movement which has slowly encroached upon popular theological belief and attitudes and moved the sovereign unit from the family or tribal patriarch to the territorial state.  This has led to the reduction and political repression of non-Muslims in the past century, and similarly colors the clash between these Muslim sects.  The shadow war between Saudi Arabia funding fundamentalist, Arabist Sunni movements and Iran funding Islamist, nationalist Shia movements throughout the Africa, the Middle East and South Asia is the most direct cause of violence today between the two, and will continue to be.

The rise of Islamism, isn't a rise so to speak. The modern globalization , or modern age of ruling started in the 19th century. Most African countries were under the rule of European countries. When they gained their independence they announced their rule as an Islamic ruling country. So it wasn't much of a rise as much as an international announcement of their beliefs. Islam was always there and it always governed their lives. The world was given a huge headline is all.

And I should not forget to mention the Islamic , invasion of the Persian lands. It was Islamic because the Persians had their own beliefs at the time. Some people can easily link the ongoing rift between the Persians and the Arabs to the roots of that invasion. Hence why since most Arabs took to Sunnism , the Persian took the Shee'ah belief. Its not accurate or not even convincing , but the Islamic history is quite fickle from my stand point.

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Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #44 on: September 12, 2013, 11:39:54 AM »
Okay I am gong to seem really ignorant here, which apparently I am. I thought Persians were considered Arabic just a slightly different tribal background or what have you? The more I think I have leaned the more confused I get and I suspect Oniya is correct that a lot gets used for political purposes.

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Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #45 on: September 12, 2013, 11:48:10 AM »
Think of Arabs and Persians , the same way you think of any neighbouring countries that - to the outside world - looks the same.

Persians speaks their own language. While they share many of our costums and are an Islamic country by rule. We're vastly different , but that difference is amongst ourselves and closer observers.

There is nothing ignorant about this Retribution. I admit that I always thought Europeans are all the same. Same goes for the British and the Americans. But the more I learned , the more I realized there's grand and subtle differences in everything that gives it a definite unique identity.

Offline Sabre

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #46 on: September 12, 2013, 11:52:33 AM »
Oniya:

Yes indeed.  It's good to remember that the true cold war in the Middle East isn't Israel versus Iran but Saudi Arabia versus Iran.  Between the both of them we have the backers of most every militia and subversive element in the Near East save perhaps for the Muslim Brotherhood and its derivatives.  Ever since the founding of Saudi Aramco and its US partnership in the Cold War Saudi Arabia has busily promoted itself as an Arab leader to counter the revolutionary and Arab Nationalist forces of Egypt-Syria-Iraq and their hot-and-cold relationship with the U.S.S.R.  They've also siphoned off their internal religious fanaticism by helping fund missionary work and religious adventurism in conflicts like Afghanistan, Bosnia, etc.  But from 1979 onwards Iran finally stabilized and became independent to again threaten its neighbors as it always could, being the equivalent of France to the rest of the region historically.  The Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution was never meant for just Iran, and the nation would attempt to export its revolution across the Middle East.  Plans faltered however with the sudden invasion by Saddam Hussein's Iraq (backed of course by both the US and Saudi Arabia) which bogged down the nation for many bloody years.

Now however with Saddam gone Iran has been free for some time to pursue their international efforts.  They've worked on undermining Iraq and the Gulf States through support of its Shia populations - who are the majority of course in Southern Iraq, Qatar, and Eastern Saudi Arabia (where much of its oil fields are located by the way).  They've also supported Shia groups in Afghanistan against the Taliban, and of course those in Lebanon.  Ruled by monarchs, usually, these areas are ripe for Islamist appeals which their rulers fear will lead to their downfall and replacement with an Islamic Republic.

The Sunni-Shia hatred is then exacerbated mostly through the engines of Middle Eastern conspiracy thinking where 'the other' are blamed for perceived acts of subversion, blasphemy, and unsolved crimes, not unlike the way you might expect Jews were treated in Medieval Europe.  In the absence of trustworthy news sources, with Al-Jazeera regularly banned and state broadcasts widely thought of as just empty propaganda, the Middle East has turned to rumor mongering on an unprecedented scale, leading to much tragedy as this group or that are falsely accused of crimes that play into preconceived prejudice.


Retribution:

Persians are a different ethnicity from Arabs.  Though they have adopted Arabic letters and religion, their language and culture are distinct from the Semitic group.


Formless:

Professing an identity in being Muslim isn't Islamism.  Islamism is the political revivalist and utopian ideology defined by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Iran's Islamic Republic.  The way Islam governed the lives of Islamist ideologues was inherently different from the way Islam governed the lives of non-Islamists.

The example of Iran's Shia conversion is just one example of what I was saying to Oniya.  The reason people feel closer to Middle Eastern history and talk about events as though they happened yesterday is because of such oral traditions where rumor and 'truthy' factoids are easily spread.  So people readily believe and change history around to suit their prejudices.

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Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #47 on: September 12, 2013, 12:40:08 PM »
Thank you both Sabre and Formless I am really trying to understand and not give into my own lack of knowledge and as I have said before just plain anger. Bear with me on the day after 9/11 because the anger is closer to the surface. But I think I understand what you mean by the difference between Persian and Arab. And as you can tell it is a revelation to me and I am guessing cultures in the Middle East go deeper than I can imagine or understand. All of us humans are probably like that and I will use myself as an example so as not to offend anyone in my lack of knowledge. I am born and raised in the north central US. But my family hails from the Ozarks so growing up around family I have what would be classed as an Ozark or Hillbilly accent. Now, most uneducated for lack of a better word, who hear me would guess my dialect as southern, but those who are from the south would probably narrow it down to its true origins.  Those with roots in the Ozark Mountain Country have an entirely different culture. So after listening to the two of you I am getting that the different cultures in your part of the world go deep as well. And you are probably as baffled by the description I offered above as I am some of yours.

And as I did some reading inspired by all of this I found the Iran/Saudi Arabia conflict often referred to as a shadow war. Of course I am making conscious efforts to not give into stereotypes considering the origins of Bin Laden for example. Of course problems in places like Iran and Afghanistan I would move have a long historical cause. I say that because I think we all recall a Greek or more specifically Macedonian fellow named Alexander. I get the impression that a lot of the unrest essentially started with his conquests and has only mutated over the ages since.  I think this is especially true when we consider that Afghanistan was where his long march stopped and I am starting to feel bred many of the issues we face to this day.

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Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #48 on: October 10, 2013, 04:08:09 AM »
Okay I am gong to seem really ignorant here, which apparently I am. I thought Persians were considered Arabic just a slightly different tribal background or what have you? The more I think I have leaned the more confused I get and I suspect Oniya is correct that a lot gets used for political purposes.

I made that mistake as well until I called a Persian girl from Tehran, Arabian. It's like slapping somebody sainted holy mother in the face :D

All in all, if I may add something to a discussion that is already mostly closed. I think there are a few similarities between Islam and Christianity, also in terms of radicalization. A lot of right wing parties in western europe are scared shitless of radical islamists but completely ignore cults like the Westboro Baptist Church or other insanely Christian groupings.

I know about Islam a little bit since my girlfried was/is a muslim. She still owns a copy of Qu'ran in her native language, but since she isn't Arabian, I guess that makes it all a bit more complicated. I never read it, but I never read the bible either. A large part of her family struggles with her being with a woman and not living to Islamic rules and traditions but the same can be said from my family, not accepting her because she doesn't believe in the Christian God, thus making her a heathen.

In my opinion, the people who are afraid of the islam, are people who know nothing about it and are ignorant of their own religions. The muslims that I know are really wonderful and friendly people and do I feel scared among them? No. I think (or actually know for sure) that most muslims were just as upset as everybody else at all the terrible things that were done 'in Allah's name'. (Think of 9/11 and the recent murder here in London of the young soldier.)

Offline FormlessTopic starter

Re: Islam , A variety of discussions from a non extreme perspective.
« Reply #49 on: October 10, 2013, 09:59:59 AM »
Ethnicity is a sensitive issue in Asia. Mostly because of how different from the inside each country is. To the outsider , they all look the same. In a way , they are. But not completely. Besides the constant feud between the Persians and Arabs for example , makes one offended when he is mistaken for the other by an outsider. Of course I learned that these mistakes are not intentional. I myself cannot tell between many European countries , or between Americans and Canadians. In a way , I am ignorant as well.

However , for Islam to be mistaken as a horrible religion , as I stated in a previous post , is only expected. I only hope that people would consider socializing with others on an individual and personal level , rather than an ethnic and religious one.

Now regarding how Christianity and Islam are similar , they are. It may differ in how each is practiced , but they are supposed to bring the best in a person. Well ... supposedly anyway.

However , For Muslims , they believe and are taught that Christianity was the previous holy religion , and Judaism before it. Since to a Muslim , these are all religions brought down by God himself. So for me , I see a Christian & a Jewish , as another who worships my own god , in a different manner. But that is not the case since Muslims are also taught that Islam came down and ' cancelled ' every other religion. Making it the only true religion for this era.

That raises the question of ' So why did god change the way people worships him? ' I have yet to know that myself. And any Islamic teacher consider it a sin to question such a thing. As for other religions , they do not believe that Islam is a holy religion to begin with , rendering it a moot point to discuss that question with them.

All in all. Religion shouldn't be the judge of one's character. Alas , it is not in an individual's hand to change much but his own circle.