04 April 2007

The Infidel's Guide to the Middle East
Section III: The Sunny and Shitty Sides of Islam

Or, WHY ARABS HATE EACH OTHER

Islam is unique from all other religions in that it is based on the teachings of one charismatic figure who proclaimed himself divine and whose teachings are documented in a “holy” book. Modern Islamic practice is divided between two opposing groups, not unlike the Protestant and Lutheran factions within Christianity, or the Buddhist and Confucist factions within Judaism. Of the Muslims, 83% are Sunni (“Soo(1)-nee”) and 15% are Shi’ite (“Shee-ight”). The other 2% are… well, who cares?

The fundamental difference between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites is the way in which they believe their leaders should be chosen. Sunnis believe that the their leader should be elected by a council—as did the first Americans—while Shi’ites believe the title should be passed down by bloodline—as do modern Americans—stemming from Muhammad himself.

Consequently, each group followed their own leaders since Muhammad’s death. The Sunnis followed their Caliph, which is the same thing as a sultan, which is like a king and a pope all in one. (Since Sunnis were the vast majority, the Caliphs got to lead everybody, not just Sunnis.) The most well known example of a Caliph is the Sultan from Disney’s Aladdin. That short, fat, simple-minded-but-with-a-good-heart Caucasian represented what, undoubtedly, all Caliphs must have been like.(2)

The Shi’ites, on the other hand, followed Imams, of which there were twelve. The last Imam mysteriously disappeared in the year 874, but legend has it that he will return at the end of the world with his sidekick, Jesus,(3) to promote Islam to the dying.

Again, Jesus will return at the end of the world to promote Islam.

Another more titillating, or sexier, difference between the two sects is their views on the act of Mut’ah. Mut’ah (“marriage for pleasure”) is a temporary marriage with a pre-decided duration. No priests or witnesses need to be present, and since the expiration is fixed, no divorce procedures are necessary. Basically, the Shi’ites use Mut’ah whenever they want to have a one-night stand, to the point where one can temporarily marry a hooker with Allah’s blessing. (In their defense, it is also used in platonic situations—such as when a man and woman live together, so that the woman may dress freely; in Islamic law, women are not allowed to show a certain amount of skin, determined by the region, except around their husbands.) The Sunnis have banned Mut’ah because they hate fun.

Now, it is in no way important to know which notable factions in the Middle East belong to which sect, as most U.S. politicians don’t know. However, since it is contemptible to have the intelligence of a U.S. politician, I will do you this favor. Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda are Sunni. The Taliban is hardcore Sunni; under their rule, if a woman had her nails painted they would cut off her fingers, as the Qur’an mentioned somewhere in passing something about “dressing modestly.”(4) Saddam Hussein was Sunni—although, from the looks of it, he wasn’t the most practiced mosque-goer—yet most of Iraq is Shi’ite. The Hezbollah of Lebanon are Shi’ite, but hate the Jews with a passion that transcends religious sectionalism. And finally, Iran is, like, Shi’ite central.

I would also like to note here—because it doesn’t really fit in anywhere else—that Iran used to be the Persian Empire.(5)

Come back tomorrow when we will discuss America's role in the Middle East!

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(1) Rhymes with “zoo.”
(2) Disney’s Aladdin is the most in-depth and historically accurate account of Arabian history and should be referenced often.
(3) On the advice of his agent, Jesus made a cameo appearance in the Qur’an as a lowly prophet preparing the way for Muhammad.
(4) I wish that were a joke.
(5) Isn’t that cool!

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7 Comments:

Blogger SadButTrue said...

"Shi’ites believe the title should be passed down by bloodline—as do modern Americans"

Is bloodline really a good enough reason to put a dry-drunk idiot maniac in control of an entire country? A country, I might add, that leads the world in their possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

4/04/2007 6:23 PM  
Blogger Ali Gator said...

Actually, Iraq is mostly Shiite, not Sunni. That was one of the problems with Saddam (a Sunni) ruling. They tended to get the shaft from Saddam.

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