True Believers

I learned a new word today. “Takfirism“. Takfirism is an internal conflict within Islam, in which a “Takfiri” accuses another Muslim of failing to follow true Islam. 

Oddly enough, this morning I was reading an old email from a Muslim friend, in which she said “some Arabic words need 3 or 4 English words describe just one complete meaning of an Arabic word”. Learning about Takfirism, I realized we have the same concept in Christianity. I’m not certain that Catholics are Christians. How many time have you heard one person claim that another is not following the teachings of their church. In English, we use six words. “The pot calling the kettle black”. Typically Christians don’t kill Catholics except in Northern Ireland, but it hasn’t been unusual for Christians to uphold their belief in the right to life by depriving a doctor of his.

The word came up as I was going over some information from Iran. While the worldwide population of Muslims is about 90% Sunni and 10% Shia, in Iran that proportion is reversed. Takfiri is a term usually applied to fundamentalist Sunnis, and Iran is now using the term to blame all conflicts in Muslim countries on Takfirism, funded by Saudi Arabians and “other regional monarchies”. Apparently, geography and political science are not very popular disciplines in Iran, because the United States and Israel are often referred to as being among those regional monarchies.

I was following a story about the mourning for the eighth Imam of Shia Islam, Imam Reza, who had been poisoned in the year 818 on this date. I was a little confused, it was my understanding that martyrs went to paradise, shouldn’t they be happy for him? Yes, the cynical “I guess that’s how long 72 virgins last” crossed my mind, but after going over a couple of translations of verse o56.036 and it appears that the reward is perpetual virgins. Unlike suicide bombers who defy the Muslim prohibition against suicide, Iman Reza was a true martyr and should be seen as residing in paradise.

As I read further, it turns out the person who poisoned Imam Reza was the Abbasid Caliph Ma’mun, a Muslim whose goal was to end the fighting between Shia and Sunni, an anti-Takfiri. So I’m not sure why he poisoned Reza and how Reza was a martyr for Islam if he was executed in accordance with Sharia. What is obvious is that Abbasid Caliph Ma’mun, though remembered as a judicious sovereign, failed miserably in joining the Sunnis and Shias.

So takfirism prevails, only today it’s the Shias claiming the Sunnis are not true to Islam, and claiming it is Sunni takfiris that are causing conflict.

Do you have a headache yet? I do.

My Muslim friend, a practicing Muslim, has difficulty interpreting the Qur’an. How am I supposed to understand Islam? I understand this much. Believers know that God will pass judgement after we leave this state of being. Non-believers think it is their job to pass judgement. Politicians blame unrest on the segment of the religion they don’t agree with. In those ways, Islam is like every other religion on the planet.


3 comments on “True Believers

  1. MIke R says:

    I’ve been interested in Arab culture since I met a Muslim in 2002 who was raised in Pakistan and who refused to send his children to the local Fresno mosques, due to their preaching of violence and jihad against infidels. He said he had been raised around Jews and Christians and at his mosque he learned to live at peace with all men. I asked him if he believed in jihad, at all, and he explained to me that he had been taught that jihad was the moral and internal conflict that all men experience as they attempt to do good and not evil, and that it lasts the entire human life. Wow. His knowledge of the Qur’an seem fluid as he spoke on and gave references. I could only conclude that Islam, like all religions can be used for good or harm. I

    I am led to think of the Moors, who brought culture and civilization to Spain and who even tolerated Jewish populations there, as well as Christian. Unlike earlier Muslim cultures, as the Ottoman and other brutal powers gained control of the Muslim world, things got ugly(ier)


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