Sectarian Violence

A recent article in the Venture Inward magazine (published by the Association for Research and Enlightenment, an organization founded in 1931 by Edgar Cayce) talks about the emotions of the past recurring today: WW I, the Crusades, the Jewish Exile by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 597 BC, et al. (A nation in exile is called diaspora.) Sectarian violence permeates the modern world. As a child of European descent growing up in Christian America, I was taught a history punctuated with acts of Christian sectarian violence. But I did not know how long there has been Muslim sectarian violence.

So I researched it and found the following: Violence, especially sectarian violence, has been at the heart of Islam since its inception. Violence against fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

The Islam religion is based on the teachings of Muhammad which were in turn based on the Qur'an. Muslims believe that the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Muhammad by God through the angel Gabriel on many occasions between the years 610 and Muhammad's death on July 6, 632.

In 622 Muhammed and his followers moved to Medina where he established his political and religious authority. A series of wars and battles ensued to maintain his suzerainty and to bring surrounding desert tribes under his control. At his death disagreement broke out over his successor. The first caliph went to war and died two years later. The second caliph was assasinated after 10 years. The third caliph was assasinated after 12 years. The fourth caliph, after fighting off opposition in the first civil war, was assasinated after 5 years. At the death of the fifth caliph, 19 years later, a schism in the Muslim community occurred creating the Sunnis, the Shi'a, and the Sufis.

Expansion continued, by both military warfare and by peaceful proselytism, across centuries and continents. Originally the only good Muslims were felt to be Arabs, but over time that notion died. Islamic empires rose and fell, defeating each other in turn.

Given that Muslim sectarian violence is long standing, what makes the US think it can overcome it sufficiently in Irag in order to establish a democratic government? Apparently there is no evidence of this ever happening in the Muslim world.

Sectarian violence seems to result from the attitude: my sect is right, yours is wrong, and this position gives me the moral high ground that obligates me to offer you the following choices: convert or die. The shorter version is my god makes it right. Or my god is better than your god.

It seems man has fashioned god in his own image—aggressive, violent, vengeful, and un-neighborly.

Revision: 7-21-2007.