Shia vs. Sunni Muslims in Iraq
Religious conflict is a terrible but unavoidable part of many religions. It is made even more unavoidable when the religion itself calls for the extermination of disbelievers. Originally the intrafaith religious conflict between the Shia and Sunni Muslims of Iraq started as a result of a small differing in political beliefs. The small misunderstandings soon turned into terrible problems because of discrimination in the form of unequal opportunities for Shia and Sunni Muslims and violence, such as suicide bombings, attributed to the fact that Islam itself dictates the killing of non-believers. Because of these reasons, the religious conflict between the Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq has only been exacerbated during the last 1300 years.
Islam started in the 7th century C.E. when the Prophet Muhammad received revelations from God. Originated in Mecca and Medina, now present day Saudi Arabia, Islam quickly became a very prominent religion because “Muhammad himself had successfully establish the new faith through the conversion and conquest of those who stood against him” (World History Project 2002). After Muhammad’s death in 632, the expansion of Islam continued at an even faster pace because of the Muslim’s dedication to jihad, or “holy war,” which calls for the protection of Islam and the converting of non-believers. Originally jihad did not call for the violent conquest and conversion of non-Muslims, but some adherent’s interpretation of the Quran allowed them to do so. As a result, Islam soon spread throughout the Arabian peninsula.
During its spread, Islam split into two sects, the Shia and the Sunni. The rift appeared because of a small political disagreement on who was to be Muhammad’s successor when he died. The Sunni believed that Muhammad’s successor should be someone elected by the people and who could do the job, namely Abu Bakr, who was Muhammad’s good friend and advisor. On the other hand, the Shia believed that leadership should have been passed down from Muhammad to a member of his family, specifically his son-in-law Ali bin Abu Talib. Because of their differing views, the Shia often times do not follow elected Muslim officials, but rather they follow a line of Imams, whom they believe were directly appointed by Allah himself.
While a majority of the Middle East is Sunni, there is a Shia majority in Iraq, which is where the conflict is. Due to their differing views and beliefs, the Shia and the Sunni are locked in perpetual hostility. According to Hendawi (2012), after “Iraq's ruling Shiites are moving quickly to keep the two Muslim sects separate – and unequal” by barring Sunni from education. In Iraq, the Sunni are barred from going to postgraduate school and barred from getting important university jobs, which were reserved for the Shia. Even Sunni professors who currently hold jobs are not safe from the discrimination. Many qualified Sunni professors are forced into...