ISLAM & THE PROSPECT OF ANOTHER WORLD WAR
By Alan Caruba
Almost from its beginning, Islam has been a religion divided by warring camps. The tragedy of Islam is that Muslims are far more likely to die at the hands of their co-religionists than by those outside their faith. All religions have their sects and divisions, but Islam’s history is particularly defined by the violence that began shortly after the death of its Founder, Muhammad.
If the turmoil in Egypt is about freedom, then recent history gives little evidence that Arabs have any talent for it. Iran is a prison-nation. Syria is ruled by the son of its former dictator. Hamas rules Gaza. Dictatorships. Absolute monarchies. Et cetera.
I am beginning to think that the world is actually witnessing a repeat of the dispute between the two main branches of Islam, the Shias (also called Shiites) and the majority Sunnis. Meanwhile, in Egypt the killing of Christian Copts continues unabated, while Iraqi Christians are being driven from Iraq.
When the Prophet Muhammad died in 632 AD, what followed was a struggle for control of Islam. Sunni Muslims, the largest of the two branches, believe that Ali, a cousin of Muhammad, was the fourth and last of the “rightly guided Caliphs,” successors to Muhammad. Shias believe that Ali should have been the first Caliph.
Preceding Ali were Abu Kakr (632-634), Umar (634-644), and Uthman (644-656). Uthman was murdered while at prayer and Ali then became the Caliph. He was, however, opposed by Aisha, Muhammad’s widow and the daughter of Abu Bakr. A number of battles ensued. Ultimately, Mu’awiya declared himself Caliph.
Here’s where it gets very odd. The line of Muhammad’s direct decedents through Ali ended in 873 CE when the last Shia Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi disappeared within days of inheriting the title of Caliph. He was four years old at the time!
Shias refused to believe he had died, concocting a story that he was merely “hidden” and would return.
This latter version of Shia is the heart of Iranian Islamic theology, which includes the belief that, in order to facilitate his return, the world must first sink into complete chaos with massive loss of life, a kind of Islamic Armageddon.
Thus, the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran is looked upon by Sunnis and everyone else as truly a matter of life or death on a global scale. It would be the prelude to another World War.
Sunnis take their lead from Saudi Arabia, where the Royal Family is seen as the protectors of the Faith and the two most holy sites of Islam, Mecca and Medina.
Muslims can be found in more than 200 national and multinational states and represent 23% of the world’s population. One out of every four persons on planet Earth is a Muslim. Only 20% live in the Middle East and North Africa, the site of present conflicts.
It has been the fate of Middle Eastern and other Muslims to live with a conflict that began in the Seventh Century. Islam’s Sharia laws reflect Seventh Century values. They are at odds with hard won modern values of civilization.
The culture of the Middle East and northern Africa, dominated by Islam, has kept the people of that region in poverty and under the fist of oppression for the last 1,400 years. Mideast Muslims in the modern era have been striking out at the world, blaming it, not Islam, for their problems. Al-Qa'ida is an example of this, along with the Taliban, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The reappearance of a modern state of Israel in 1948 brought everything to a boil. If Islam is the one true Faith, the presence in its midst of a Western, constitutional democratic, militarily powerful and economically successful Israel severely challenges that belief.
After successive wars on Israel, Arab nations were repeatedly defeated. Further aggravating Muslims is that Israel is holy to both Judaism and Christianity. Jerusalem is not even mentioned by name in the Qur'an.
Sunni-Shia battles commemorate its schism and include Suffin, Karbala and Zab, the last having been fought in Egypt.
In the last century the Middle East was treated as the West’s fiefdom, divided among colonial powers, manipulated for control of its oil.
In recent times, Middle Eastern national and multinational states were invaded, first by the former Soviet Union invading Afghanistan and, after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the 9/11 Islamist terror strikes on America, the U.S.A. invaded Iraq twice. From 1980 to 1988, Iraq waged a long war against Iran, a war that ended in a stalemate. Syria occupied Lebanon for decades. There have been clashes, as well, between Muslim Pakistan and largely Hindu India.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s insistence that the Muslim Brotherhood play a role in any future government of Egypt ignores the fact that this Islamist organization is sworn to kill Christians and Jews or make them dhimmi, subject to special taxes, humiliation, and absolute domination by Muslims.
In its own words, the Muslim Brotherhood’s guiding principles are:
The Mubarak regime ruthlessly suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood, which, among other deeds, assassinated Mubarak's predecessor, former Prime Minister, Anwar al-Sadat, and just tried to assassinate Mubarak's Vice President, Omar Suleiman. Not exactly constitutional democracy in action.
Those who rule Egypt are sorting out their difficulties and will resume power, but, while all eyes are on the land of the Pharaohs, it is Iran that threatens another World War.
© Alan Caruba, 2011
Israel & the Arabs -- The Israeli-Arab Conflict
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
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American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
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Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
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U.S. National Security Strategy
Alan Caruba writes a daily post at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. An author, commentator and business and science writer,
he is the Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about "scare campaigns" designed to influence
public opinion and public policy.
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