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Shia, Sunni – what’s the difference? March 14, 2007

Posted by Al in : educational,people,politics , trackback

It’s always worth knowing what people are fighting about, and although the war in Iraq has been going on for years, with the actual people of the Middle East fighting for far longer, I’ve never really understood what they have been arguing about. Well after reading this brief, but succinct article I know understand the differences between these 2 Muslim sects. I was going to make some more comments, but before doing so I think I will try talking to some of my Muslim friends and find out whether they are Shia, Sunni, or some other faith, and then find out their opinion on the world and the Middle East. That way I think I stand less chance of making an incorrect comment or causing offence.


1. Zahra - March 15, 2007


I’m a Shia Muslim, and let me assure you, undertsanding the both sects isn’t as easy as it seems. The ‘succinct article’ is too casual and brushed, nevertheless it gives a good background.

BTW, the term ‘Rafidhi’ ‘refusers’ is a derogatory term used by anti-Shias, and any Shia would be offended by that, quite obviously. Likewise, no, Saddam wasn’t the only one causing a rift, and neither is it a 50 yr old thing. The Shias were always in the minority and have been persecuted throughout the history, unfortunately.

The sectarian violence is a huge problem in the Indo-Pak Asian sub-continent too. For example, there are Saudi Arabian sponsored organisations in Pakistan, which have the sole aim of targetting influential and key Shia figures. These organistaion i.e. ‘Sipaha Sahaba’ are namely banned by the government but still function under-cover.

In the year 2004, more than 400 Shia doctors were shot dead, along with Shia judges and directors. In any case, Shias often do strike back if a very influential figure is targetted, but its never-ever the first move.

Its a sad issue and I must admit the intolerance rises when the people let it.

Great blog, by the way. 🙂



2. Al - March 15, 2007

Thanks for commenting, Zahra. I didn’t believe that the trouble was entirely caused by Saddam Hussein, or that it was only serious for the last 50 years – not if the original split occurred over 1,000 years ago.
Being totally non-religious I find it difficult to understand why different religions, let alone why different sects of the same religion, fight each other. After all, if you’re confident that your take on religion is correct then you will be the one who will be laughing in heaven, whilst those who didn’t follow your religion would be suffering elsewhere. Given that your time on Earth is short, whereas the theoretical time in the afterlife is very long – why waste your time fighting those who don’t agree with you? Why not just shrug and be happy in the knowledge that you will be better off after death?
What I would like to see is a complete separation of religion from government. I think if all governments were not allowed to enforce religious based laws, and the people were then allowed to practice whichever faith they preferred, then religious conflict would soon lessen and hopefully disappear. However I can’t see this happening any time soon – not until the time the general populace has the courage to face up to the fact that death is final. Once you realise this then you realise there is not enough time on this world to waste it hating and hurting people – you need to get on with enjoying your life and hopefully helping others enjoy theirs.
I can always hope – even if I know it’s in vain.