‘Soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, we had the first major division in Islam, which produced the Sunnis and the Shia… Then, the Shia split into two major factions: the Twelve-Imam Shia and the Ismailis… Throughout my Islamic education, the Shias were never mentioned… Still, that was better than what most Sunnis actually learn about Shiism: in most Sunni circles, the Shia are painted as dark outsiders who denigrate the Rightly Guided Caliphs… Sunni hostility towards the Shia has produced a whole genre of derogatory literature designed solely to locate them outside the boundary of orthodox Islam.’
Yes of course Christianity has had its schisms and suchlike, but we know all about them. And we also hear much about ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islamic unity’, though it is often only hinted at. There is also the bogus claim that all Muslim woes are all a result of ‘the West’ or ‘colonialism’, when it is clear that Muslims, qua Muslims, have been at each other’s throats since the death of Mohammed in the 7th century. Why don’t Islamists ‘educate’ the kufr about these aspects of Islam and Muslim history as well?
An interesting 20th century example of the Sunni-versus-Shia drama occurred during the Islamic Revolution in Iran :
‘… I had my concerns [with the revolution]. The overemphasis on the Shia nature of the revolution troubled me. Everyone I spoke to insisted that the revolution was not only ‘Islamic’ but Shia: a well-structured and organised clergy with the ability to lead a revolution could be found only in Shia Islam. Sunnis, therefore, could not produce such a revolution. As Riza asked me sarcastically: ‘Where is your Sunni Ayatollah Khomeini?’
Needless to say, Sardar is a Sunni Muslim, even if he does have certain leanings towards Sufism (that is, Sunni, not Shia, Sufism).
There is another result of this inter-Islamic rivalry, this time between the Shia and the Wahhabis:
‘The relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia had degenerated [by the late 1980s] into open hostility. During the hajj season, it has become a ritual for the Iranian pilgrims to shout anti-Saudi slogans. Ayatollah Khomeini had openly suggested that the Saudi monarchy was not a suitable guardian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia had warned Iran ‘not to export its revolution’ to areas of Saudi influence.’
Of course a Muslim may say that these are political or national disputes, not religious ones. But Islam is political, isn’t it? That’s what Muslims are always telling us. Yes of course all political disputes require ideological rationales. The rationales here are religious. However, that does not negate the religious nature of these disputes, especially if one bears in mind that the Sunni-Shia dispute, for example, goes back to the 7th century. What about the Wahhabi-Shia dispute, how far back does that go? I don’t know. I do know that Wahhabis believe that all non-Wahhabi Muslims are actually ‘infidels’! So I have something in common with the Ayatollah Khomeini and all those psychotic Shia men who brutalise themselves with knives – that is, being an infidel!