Tuesday, November 26, 2013

All in the family



Recognize this dude?

No, well you should. His name is Ali ibn Abi Talib. He is the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed. He is to Shia Muslims, what Jesus Christ is to Christians. Or what Woody Allen is to Jews.

Shias, about 190 million strong, believe Ali is the second most divinely inspired man and that his descendants are the sole legitimate leaders of true Islam.

Of course, the Sunnis, numbering well over a billion, aren't buying that story. They believe their man, Abu Bakr, the father of Mohammed's wife…


...was the rightful successor to the Caliphate and that anyone who says otherwise isn't fit to run a falafel stand.

Of course, I'm being glib, and probably somewhat offensive, but the truth is we all could use a better understanding of what divides the believers of one fairy tale from the believers of a remarkably-similar fairy tale.

Because what is essentially a probate debate, a squabble among the Islamic heirs, is actually a clash between theocratic nut jobs that threatens to destroy life as we know it on Planet Earth.

Am I being hyperbolic?
Hardly.

The Iran-Iraq war of the 80's was a decade long battle between Shia (Iran) and Sunnis (Iraq). The fighting has stopped, but the hatred has not.

In fact, as I write this, Secretary of State John Kerry is on his way to Geneva hoping to sign a deal that will stop the nuclear proliferation in Iran.

Who do you suppose is most concerned about a possible nuclear-equipped Iran? It's not the Israelis. Or the Americans. Or, even the Europeans. It's the neighboring Sunni Arab states to the south and the west. As well as the nuclear-equipped Sunni state of Pakistan to the east.

It's a weird day in the middle east when the sheiks of Saudi Arabia find themselves on the same team as the Israelis.

The deal will probably be signed. And if it isn't or proves to be ineffective, we can all take comfort and  count on the good natured, rational peace-loving people who have thoughtfully governed that region for the past 1000 years.







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