There is no Shia Sunni strife in USA


The violence stops here.

Incidents of vandalism at a mosque frequented by Shia Muslims in Metro Detroit have prompted media speculation that the sectarian disease plaguing Iraq might be spreading to American soil. But the disease isn't contagious.

Factional violence between Sunnis and Shias is not another thing Americans need to add to their list of things to be afraid of. Shia and Sunni Muslims have lived in peace in Iraq for centuries, just as Catholics and Protestants live together peacefully in America.

The violence that went on for years between the two Christian factions in Ireland had little effect on the relationships between them in America. Likewise, Americans should not fear that the sectarian strife in Iraq today might result in such bloodshed here.

Muslims, irrespective of their doctrinal affiliation, build their faith on five pillars -- belief in One God; acceptance of Muhammad as the last of God's messengers; performing daily prayers, fasting in the month of Ramadan; giving in charity; and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca if they are able to do so.

Upon the death of the Prophet 1,400 years ago, Abu Bakr, a close companion of the Prophet, was chosen to lead the Muslim community as its first caliph. Those who followed him are now known as Sunni Muslims.

Another group of the Prophet's followers strongly believed the successor of the Prophet must come from his immediate family -- insisting that Ali, the Prophet's cousin, was the rightful successor. They have come to be known as Shia Muslims.

This political schism was indeed unfortunate; however, most Muslims today have come to terms with history and restrict their arguments to minor theological distinctions.

This narrow rift alone cannot result in the level of mayhem that is now becoming a way of life in Iraq. Iraqis lived peacefully, as neighbors, before the American invasion.

Reports of the conflict in Iraq are filtered to us through varied prisms -- Sunni Kurds are referred to as Kurds but not as Sunnis. Secular members of Saddam Hussein's regime, who are the primary cause of sectarian massacres in Iraq, are called Sunnis.

The fact is -- rivalries in Iraq have less to do with theological disagreements and more to do with oil, land, political power and the presence of foreign forces.

During the recent Israeli-Hezbollah war, there was tension but no violance among Jews and Arabs in Metro Detroit. When ethnic cleansing of Muslim Bosnians at the hands of Serbs occurred in the former Yugoslavia, peaceful street demonstrations were organized by various groups in America.

Did we see the bombing of churches in Iraq translate into members of the Chaldean community attacking Iraqi mosques? The answer is: Of course not.

Have we seen the kind of violent demonstration in America by Muslim Americans that followed Pope Benedict XVI's comments in some parts of the world? No.

The vast majority of the ethnically diverse Muslim American community today is American born, and they are committed to American values.

Muslim leadership in America, Shia and Sunni, white and black, Arab and non-Arab, have condemned hateful acts against any house of worship or any individual.

As active and concerned members of American civil society, American Muslims will not allow political differences between "Sunnis" and "Shias" in Iraq or else where, erupt into violence at home.

 

Victor Ghalib Begg is chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan in Bloomfield Hills.


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  10 Comments   Comment

  1. Hamza from Kashmir

    Assalamualaikum

    islam doesn't support killing innocents be they of any religion whether they are muslims or shiites.but while condemnning the fighting between the two communities in iraq we should understand that the differences between sunnis and shittes is a fundamental difference and not just of an old power politics.it is a sin if while doing measures of reconciliation we hide the truth.shittes worship ali and hussain which is against the basic creed of ISLAM.fear ALLAH.wassalam

  2. Farhad from Canada

    I totally agree with the author. It would be so stupid if Muslims residing in western countries strife over being Sunni or Shia. With the information available here, a Muslim can easily find out the truth without being influenced by local politics or culture. Current situation is another version of Divide and Rule game. Afghanistan is divided btw different ethnic groups, Pakistan is divided btw moderate and extremists and Iraq is divided as Sunnis and Shias.

  3. Sharif from USA

    Excellent points - I've often made these same points to friends and colleagues. American Muslims are and can continue to be a model for demostrating tolerance to the world.

  4. Romesh Chander from US

    No Shiaa-Sunni Strife!! Always easy to ignore the problem rather than recognizing it and confronting it head-on. Hey, lot of people deny Holocaust -- even Holocaust in Darfur. May be there is no islamic strife in Darfur?

  5. swdr from usa

    How do we know it wasn't a third (non-muslim) party doing it and blaming the muslims. You know divide and conquer? It's too easy to blame eachother. That's what they want. It's the hit and run tactic. They want division in muslim communities.

  6. Sylvia Horton from Canada

    Salam Alaikum,

    I agree with this author. There is no strife between us because American muslims do have values. As an American muslim, I was always taught that it was a sin for a Muslim to kill another Muslim. The poor Iraqi Muslims fell for the okey doke. They actually thought that the Americans would go to their country and save them, and then leave. This is what happens whenever you put your trust in anyone other that Allah. As one stated, the Iraqi's cannot see that it makes lots of people happy in the West, whenever they kill one another.

    I pray that the Iraqi's will wake up and see what most Westerns see. To the West, it does not matter if you are Shia or Sunni to them, we as Muslims are in the same boat. Truely, together we stand, or divided we fall!!!

  7. Nasir A from US

    As fellow Muslims can't we live together in peace and regardless of who should be the successor after the Prophet. Why bring hatred among oursleeves while outsider enjoy this and used it

    to their advantage.

  8. Mukhlis from India

    Brother Said Edwad is justified in his anger at those who think themselves Shias or Sunnys forgetting that they are Muslims before that. In anycase why should they hate each other? There are a dozen different variations in Christianity. They are not killing each other !

    What we see in Iraq is a play started and being managed by the occupiers. It suits them that Iraqis kill 100 of themselves every day rather than the united Iraqis kill 200 a day from the occupiers.

    It seems so simple. Why can the Iraqis not see it ! Miracle or a good management of occupation ?

  9. Said Edward from USA

    As a Muslim American, I say to those who are full of hate from either so called "sect," not in my country and go to Hell. There is no Sunni or Shia in Islam. It is after all a joke to think that they are Muslim. Islam has no hate, no extremism, no killing, no bloodshed, no violence, and no intolerance. A Muslim will not see the gates of Heaven if he/she does not wish his/her other Muslim brother or sister what he/she wishes for him/herself. We all know this and there is no "trickery" with Allah. He is the Ultimate Judge and the most Just. America is too strong for these stupid "mice" who are trying to spread hate and violence. We will not tolerate them and we will put their "behinds" in jail as the law deems fit. We are not tribal and we are not so stupid to act like them. Wake up the so called "Sunnis" and "Shias"!