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Islam Sunni-Shi'a Conflict, Why Does It Continue?
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[global news CheonJi] Islam Sunni-Shi'a Conflict, Why Does It Continue?

▲ On the 4th (local time) Shi'a Muslims in Najaf, Iraq are launching anti-Saudi demonstration with holding up the picture of Sheik Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a Shi'a leader executed in Saudi Arabia. (Newsis Photo)

Korean ▶ [global news CheonJi] 이슬람 수니·시아파 갈등, 왜 지속되나?

Conflict began with the controversy of a successor

This was due to a difference in understandings of politics and religion

The Middle East called as the powder keg of the world. At the center is the 1400 years of conflict between the Islam Sunni and Shi'a. Starting from the New Year as Saudi Arabia, which is an Islam Sunni suzerain state, and Iran, the leading power of Shi'a, collided head- on, this is raising concerns in the international society. The lightning speed execution of Shi'a leaders in their own country by Saudi Arabia early this month became the spark. The enraged people of Iran warned of 'revenge in the name of God.' At this, Saudi Arabia and its allied nations declared a severance of diplomatic relations with Iran; and the conflict between the two nations as well as the religious denominations grew deeper. The Islamic religion is second only to Christianity in terms of divisions within the group. The Muslim (Islamite) population is about 1.6 billion people (Sunni 83%, Shi'a 17%) in the entire world. Their conflict between religious denominations has gone beyond political dispute into a variable that shakes the world situation.

◆Sunni-Shi'a conflict that began with the controversy of a successor

In A.D. 632 after the death of Mahomet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, the Islam religion fell into a big maelstrom. When Mohammed died without choosing the next successor, the conflict between the two denominations started. . In a society where religion and politics is not divided, Islam becomes divided on the matter of a successor. The people who strongly consider the tribal traditions and people who strongly regard the bloodline of Muhammad Ali. The Sunni said, "Let us newly choose a successor under agreement." while the Shi'a said "Let us elect a successor from the family of Muhammad." Conflict arose as each made their claims. In the process, the Shi'a chose the younger cousin of Muhammad as the successor and tried to establish him as the highest ruler called 'Khalifah'. However, the act of assassination by the Sunni took place in A.D. 661. At this time, many thousands of people in the Shi'a group suffered martyrdom. This was the beginning of the religious war between the Sunni and the Shi'a.

◆International Society in a headache because of the misuse of conflict between religious denominations by the IS

The Sunni consider the religious text of the Quran as eternal and they remain faithful and devoted to the interpretations. On the other hand, the Shi'a consider the 'imam(one who guides)' as one who comes close to Muhammad as an absolutely perfect existence and they believe in their interpretations of the Quran.

Other than the five pillars of Sunni, which are confession of the one and only God, service, offerings, fasting during Ramadan, and pilgrimage, the Shi'a are including the jihad(temple) and good deeds as additions. Especially because of the jihad concept that one can head to the temple to protect Islam territory, creed, and instruments, the Shi'a gives an aggressive impression.

Saudi Arabia·Egypt·Sudan·Arab Emirates·Turkey etc are Sunni countries and Iran·Bahrain etc are Shi'a countries. The Middle East, which is composed mainly of Islam countries, is unceasing in conflicts due to the difference in understanding on politics·religion. The reason why Islam armed forces, the Islamic States(IS) and the Taliban are swinging their arms is here. The IS, which is striking fear on the entire world especially through civil wars and terrorism, is cleverly using the religious conflict and causing a headache on the international society by raising dispute between the Middle East·Europe and refugee situations.

Recently a public survey research organization in America let out a prediction that by the year 2070, the Islam religion will rise as the world's largest religion. But some people voice their concerns that if the a solution for the dispute between the Islam religious denominations. If it is not found, we cannot guarantee a bright society in the future for the young generations. Even American President Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon are appealing that people of religion and the international society must put their heads together to resolve the disputes and conflicts caused by religion. The time has come for politics·religion·people to hope for peace with one heart through the law and order acknowledged by the international society.

By Park Jun-sung   
pjs@newscj.com

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