Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Shia Revival

Finished Vali Nasr's The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future and found it an excellent short read on the differences between Shia and Sunni variants of Islam. An Amazon reviewer writes,
By creating the first Shiite-led state in the Arab world since the rise of Islam, we have ignited hopes among the region's 150 million Shiites. Yet, our policy still operates under the old assumptions of Sunni dominance.

It never fails that actions often lead to unintended consequences. In this case, however, Nasr clearly lays out a case that there will be no quick fixes.
I don't think igniting the hopes such a bad thing. I did reinforce my feeling that much of what we Americans know of Islam and the Arab world is shaped by a Sunni prejudice fostered by Saudi Arabia and Aramco going well back into the 1950s.

Also, The Belmont Club on al-Zarqawi's feelings about the Shia Revival,
An interview with al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, shortly before he was killed by a US bomb, shows he hated Iraqi Shi'ites more than Americans. Hated them so much he was willing to start a war with the Shi'ites in the hope that the resulting conflagration would burn the Americans out. "

3 comments:

AST said...

I read Nasr's book too and found it fascinating that Islam has, since its founding, treated a significant part of its own people as lower than Dhimmi. Another, Reaching for Power by Yitzak Nakash, covers much the same subject, but in more detail and focusing on Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iraq. The efforts by Wahhabi/Salafi clerics in Saudi Arabia to rid themselves of Shias in that country remind me of the excesses of the KKK and the Inquisition. The Shiites of Iraq have been denied the right to worship as they please by nearly every Sunni regime. We have overthrown the latest and the worst and then handed them the power in their own land. Yet few in the West are aware of the immense implications of this sudden change. The parallel to our own civil rights era is striking, with the Sunnis in the role of Bull Connor and Al Qaeda as the KKK.

To lecture the Shia on how we aren't satisfied with the rate of change is as aburd as blaming the NAACP for not achieving equality for blacks sooner. It can never be as swift as they would like it themselves.

We assume that all Shiites are like the Iranian regime and that the Iraqi Shiites yearn to be governed by a regime of mullah like that country. They have a very clear idea of what they want and it doesn't include being ruled by Persians. Iraq is the home of Shiism and most of its holiest shrines are there.

We would do well to study the preaching of Grand Ayatollah Sistani and promote it, instead of getting counsel from the Saudis. And, while we're at it, we should quit thinking of these people as primitives, incapable of self-rule. That's a bigoted and insulting attitude.

The ISG report is the perfect example of how to destroy a friendship before it can take hold.

At this point, the Sunnis should be told that if they don't want to be ruled by a democratic representative government, they are free to relocate to Arabia. We shoudl stand with Saddam's victims, not his collaborators, and that seems to be what Bush intends to do.

Bill Baar said...

We would do well to study the preaching of Grand Ayatollah Sistani and promote it, instead of getting counsel from the Saudis. And, while we're at it, we should quit thinking of these people as primitives, incapable of self-rule. That's a bigoted and insulting attitude.

Well said ast...well said.

Anonymous said...

We would do well to study the preaching of Grand Ayatollah Sistani and promote it, instead of getting counsel from the Saudis.

Excellent ...totally agree !!