Sectarianism Between Sunnis and Shiites
What is sectarianism? Is sectarianism really a bad thing? Why sectarianism cannot be considered as an opinion? Who benefit from it? Is sectarianism a psychological disorder? I keep asking myself these questions frequently. These are very simple questions, but hard to answer. I do believe in Involving in any discussion, even if the discussed ideas are about the worst and harmful ideas in the world. So, if discussions happen between racism people and non-racism people would it help? However, I read Ballad of Birmingham, and I think that is happening between Muslims right now.
I defined sectarianism as racism but in religion. Muslims have experiences in sectarianism, and I’m one of them. I want to speak specifically about Shiites and Sunnis sectarianism. According to Blanchard, Sunnis are the majority of Muslims, and Shiites represent about ten to fifteen percent on Muslims. Shiites majority lives in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan. There are also some Shiites lives in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen (Blanchard). However, since Sunnis are majority, so they live allover Muslim world.
The division between Muslims started when Prophet Mohammed died (632 AD). Then the problems started, who will be next caliph, caliph refer to ruler. Shiites believes that Ali ibn Abi Talab—is the prophet cousin—should be caliph after the prophet, and the prophet named Ali as next caliph (Hazleton). But Abu Bakr—friend of prophet Mohammed—was chosen to be caliph. Shiites claim that Abu Bakr stole the caliphate from Ali ibn Abi Talab. However, the problem became bigger when Ali ibn Abi Talab became caliph, after three caliphs Abu Bakr, Omar, and Uthman (those are prophet Mohammed Companions). The alderman of Damascus Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan did not swore allegiance with Ali, because he wants to revenge for Uthman death. Then series of war started. So, the followers of Ali who believe that the prophet named Ali as caliph are called Shiites.
Nowadays, Sunnis and Shiites fight on what happened in the past. This problem has a lot in common with black and white in the US. I remember Sylvia Kersenbaum saying that her parents could get killed because of a date. In the society that I live in (Saudi Arabia), if someone married a Shiite, he could get a lot of problems. For example, his family might disown him. And I did not mention if a Shiite man married a Sunni woman what might happen, because it is impossible to happen. In Saudi Arabia, if I want to marry a woman the father must accept to complete the process legally. Of course the father won’t accept, even if he wants, the society will not accept it. Further more, jobs are hard to get for Shiites. For example, military jobs are hard to get. Also, there is no Shiites minister or ambassador or any important positions in the country. This divides the society as rulers want.
This sectarianism is not only in Saudi Arabia, but also in Iran. In...