Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Schism in Iraq

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"I'm the Pope!"

"No! I'm the Pope!"

"Uh, actually, I believe that he is the Pope, as a matter of fact."

"...Ramadan starts Monday!"

"No, it already started this weekend!"

In Iraq, there is one more reason to hate your neighbour. Not like it's anything new for one group to blow up the mosque of the other but perhaps that's not the kind of "charity" that Ramadan calls for. And now there are some serious discrepancies of authority between Shiites and Sunnis.

They already have enough issues to disagree over, from adjustments to their charter how the profits of their oil will be spent once things settle down (if they can ever get the country on the roll) but now this. The clerical conflicts are showing themselves in how Muslims celebrate the holy ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan.

Like the Western Schism that temporarily fractured Christian unity (for at least the second time), the flaring animousity between at least two groups of Muslims in Iraq is now heightened by a disagrement over dates, during this annual celebration of peace. Sunnis started observing fast on Saturday, while the Shiite-led government declared Monday the start of Ramadan, taking Grand Ayatolla Ali Al-Sistani's word for it.

In 1378 there was what is known as the Western (or Papal) Schism in Christianity. Those in the Western hemisphere regarded the Pope d'Avignon as the legitamate Pope while in the Eastern hemisphere, the authority of the Roman Pope reigned supreme. However, just as the "Schism" between Sunnis and Shiites is more a political, rather than a theological problem, so was the Schism between Roman and French Catholics. The whole conflict took 29 years to resolve.

Will it take that long for people to start getting along in Iraq?

Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki was kinda hoping that Ramadan would be a good excuse for Iraqis not to kill each other, at least for a month.

"Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?" -Alanis Morissette

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Blogger seƱol javiel said...

then, we should start a 3 years (or more) ramadan time.

7:51 p.m.  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

Fasinating post. I study medivalism, so I am familiar with all the various schisms and anti-popes and what have you. The battles between the Sunnis and the Shiites is still an area of great study for me. To answer your question, I hold out few hopes. Either the two factions have to reach an accord or another strongman a la Saddam has to be put in to crack the whip. The American presence is not helping the situation; I'm so sick of people saying that we are preventing civil war. As far as I can see, civil war is already happening. If anything, the American presence is a bandaid at best, and an instigator at worst. It just sickens me.

4:05 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

indeed fascinating post.

Why do people insist on having leaders? Especially in catholicism. There's no referral to religious leaders or popes in the bible anywhere.

What's the big point? You just create movements that grow farther away from each other. Sometimes it seems "the believers" have forgotten what it's all about. In the end we all want the same thing.

8:15 a.m.  
Blogger Anki said...

Err...i am a little apalled by this post.The Shia-Sunni division is certainly a prominent cause of conflict but i think you are looking at the issue from a calculated distance.Presently, Shias and Sunis comprise the muslim population in various countries and in several regions there are no major conflicts between the two factions.It is definitely a political problem arising out of the vested interests of the clerical elite. However, in Iraq, the Shia-Sunni divide would not have raised its ugly violent head in such a prolific manner if it wasn't for the illegal American invasion. I think the answer to your question "Will it take that long for people to start getting along in Iraq?" lies in the introspection of the US foriegn policy rather than the Shia-Sunni divide.

4:04 p.m.  
Blogger sirbarrett said...

senor javiel -If peace would result, I'm for it.

enemy of the republic -Yes, I think the military presence militarizes all the other powers, and thus corrupts them. You can't hold up your rifles as an example of peace.

kunstmaecker -Someone always tries to assume the bigwig position.

Anki -I agree. I think an environment of war just prolongs itself. And I didn't mean to suggest that Sunnis and Shiites are inherently divided, just that there is a lot of violence in Iraq, (which is why it's politically, not religiously motivated). I'm just looking at this isolated issue and comparing it to the historical Catholic situation. You're right that many Muslims live in peace together elsewhere but this is simply what I refer to as one of many "Schism in Iraq", not elsewhere.

12:57 p.m.  
Blogger Anki said...

My bad :-)..."one more reason to hate your neighbour" I see it now!

3:40 p.m.  

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