Do you know what the problem is in the Middle East? It is just two words believe it or not. The two words are: Shia and Sunni.
These are the two branches of the Muslim-Islam religion. They have clashed since the seventh century AD.
The Muslim-Islam religion is the second largest religion in the world. There are over 1.6 billion humans who practice the Muslim religion and over 80 percent are Sunni. The remaining are Shia.
The Muslims who practice Shia live mostly in Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq. The Sunni live in the rest of the world, but primarily in North Africa, the Near East, India, South East Asia and Eastern Europe.
The two groups separated after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. The entire dispute is because the large group – the Sunni – believed that the rightful successor of Muhammad was his father-in-law, Abu Bakr. The smaller group, the Shia, believe that Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib should be the successor.
Actually there is no written record of Muhammad’s sayings or preaching’s having survived. Those relatives and followers who came after his death started the entire Muslim movement or religion from the then Arab population with their ideas of what the movement was to be.
There is no actual written proof of anything that Muhammad preached. He did, however, have many wives and concubines.
This sounds very much like the beginnings of the Christian religion whose tenets were most probably copied from the Christian movement that arose from Apostle Peter and others.
Peter actually knew Jesus and spread the actual sayings about his leader and prophet after Jesus’ death. Even Jesus’ cousin-brother James of the first Apostles, left no written records.
These men spoke Aramaic and possibly Greek. It is possible some of the first 12 were literate because we do have the Book of James and others. Sadly, we have no written record of Jesus during his lifetime.
Bible scholars disagree on just about anything said about Jesus and his Apostles, so who can say what the truth is?
Illiteracy was most probably the reason for either prophet or followers not having left any personal written record at the actual time of their life.
Saudi Arabia has the largest group of Sunni Muslims today and is beset by the problems of the two Muslim groups. The Muslims’ most holy site, Mecca, is in Saudi Arabia.
The Muslim religion teaches its followers that Muhammad rose to heaven from his birthplace of Mecca in 571 AD and died in Medina in 632 AD. He claimed to be from the family of Abraham, as did Jesus of Nazareth-Bethlehem.
Both groups agree that Muhammad was God’s messenger and they follow the five ritualistic pillars of Islam. These include fasting during Ramadan, five daily prayers and Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Each year the ritual of all Muslims going to Mecca at least once in a lifetime creates stampedes in which hundreds of the faith are killed.
Both groups share the holy book the Quran, however the primary difference is that the Sunni rely on the Sunnah, a record of the teachings and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Shia, or Shites, rely more heavily on what the Ayatollahs say and teach. For instance the present Supreme Leader Ayatollah is Ali Khamenei who resides in Tehran, Iran, and his word is God to the faithful.
In many instances the Shia and Sunni Muslims live together peacefully. However, a recent study has shown that about half of the Sunni Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa do not accept Shias as fellow Muslims.
The continued conflicts in Iraq and Syria are a good indicator of this divide. The Sunni join with rebel groups while the Shia often fight with the local government forces.
Money from petroleum is another huge difference and the cause of most of the fighting.
India was where the first organized religion in the World, Hindu, originated and is beset with problems from the Muslim-Islamist.
Now you can see why it is hopeless for the United States or any other country – Christian or not – to be involved. However, our problem, along with many of the world’s countries, is that the Muslims believe that any religion other than Muslim-Islam is heretic and should not be allowed to co-exist.
One last word: Contrary to what most Christians think, Muslims can do anything they want just like Christians, Islamist are the ones highly restricted in their personal lives.