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In the Name of God بسم الله


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  1. As an agnostic person (a former Catholic but in name only) living in America, I have this to say about the interviewee: He was polite throughout the interview but lied through his teeth so that he wouldn't look bad to his Sunni buddies. I liked his point that perhaps unity was not possible - that seems evident to me - but he kept on suggesting that somehow the Shia and Sunni were equally at fault or equally violent or equally inflammatory. As a neutral ref, I can tell you with 100% certainty - when American say "there is a problem with Islam," even when Donald Trump supporters say there is a problem within Islam, they don't know it, but the problem is actually a Salafi problem, a Sunni problem, and the two from what I can tell are becoming harder to distinguish.
  2. He is a very impressively-learned man and incidentally has a great and authoritative speaking voice. It's too bad that I've seen Anjem Choudary on cable news but never this guy. I'll keep watching his videos.
  3. To all Shia on this board: first my condolences from the United States to any of you who were touched by the brutal murder of Sheikh al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia. I am not a Shia or a Muslim but a human being who is disgusted by what took place and disgusted that our leaders here in this country do not have the courage to condemn this act of barbarism. I understand as well as you do that there is more at play behind the scenes and we all know that the US, for its faults, does not actually want anyone to be beheaded, let alone an innocent and holy man like the Sheikh. We are greedy and deceitful beings - all of us - and evidently whatever Saudi Arabia does for the US is calculated to be worth our morals and decency as a nation. I've said it before: some day, historians will look down on the US during this period for being so nakedly self-serving to the point of enabling medieval barbarism. That brings me to the second thing I want to say: please do not judge Americans by the conduct of our government. I know many of you are probably American but many are not, and the America you see on television and read about in editorials, kissing the ring of King Abdullah/Salamander and bombing people with robots. The truth is that most of us are too busy or too stubborn or unfortunately too ignorant to think a moment about the significance of what America does abroad. A large part of that is due to our history and our geography; we've never been invaded and most of us think that war is something that happens "over there" to "those people" because the media and even society feeds us that notion to keep us from knowing better. So the focus of attention in America shifted immediately from an inconvenient truth (that our "ally" "over there" is a deceitful barbarian) to a welcome truism (Iran cannot be trusted and doesn't respect international norms because it is radical). At best, or perhaps worst, you might hear a commentator speak of it as though Saudi and Iran are equally to blame or equally radical and bad. "The Shia and Sunni never get along," etc. Sadly you may even hear "well, they're fighting each other..." as though the Iraq-Iran War was a glaring success and not a bloody atrocity. All that Americans (and many other Westerners, but particularly Americans) understand is that Muslims seem to be engaging in violence everywhere. They don't know or ask which Muslims or what they are fighting about because if you work a 9-5 job and have to raise kids and pay your bills and all that, you don't think you have the time to learn about some exotic far away conflict; you just think: Muslims fight, it's what they do! This takes me to the third point I'd like to raise: that the Iranian reaction and prominent Shia reactions in general have either served the enemy's purpose and played into Saudi hands, or otherwise focused on the wrong things. I won't waste your time explaining how burning the Saudi flag/embassy is counterproductive or why cursing Saudi's Western enablers for supporting evil won't win converts. Please keep a level head now and in the immediate future - as Shia usually do - because if you do, you will win. What Saudi represents and supports is not only disgusting; it's unsustainable even in the medium run. This doesn't mean I encourage you to lie down and take it or to be silent; rather, I am encouraging you to operate within the bounds and norms of the law to shed the light on Saudi evil. Don't walk into the trap they set out of desparation; fight only from a position of strength when you are guaranteed a victory. You already have what is just on your side, just be patient with us and give us time to catch up! I know you will because as I mentioned previously, Shia are always at the receiving end of the salafi nonsense. They get attacked by salafi and then called a terrorist by the salafi governments in the Middle East. Eventually the superiority of Shia morality and intellect will lead to victory; I am not Shia and I can see that 10000 miles away.* A caveat: give em hell where they already are in Iraq and Syria!
  4. First of all peace to you and thank you for your kind words as well. I just really wanted to say thank you to all the Shia who (in my opinion, astoundingly) remain calm and quiet in the face of a lot of intolerance and injustice from all sides. I feel especially obliged to say this as an American who sits comfortably at home typing away while Shia are fighting for their dignity and lives in Iraq and Syria while being cast aside by the so-called "civilized" West. I love this country, the US, I really do, but I have been ashamed of what we have done in the Middle East - supporting Saddam through atrocities, supporting the Saudis who fund all terrorism, torturing the Iranians for no reason, and refusing to speak up for millions of disenfranchised Shia Arabs in the Middle East because of oil. It sucks to know your country is on the wrong side of good and evil and that the people are too stupid to realize it. Yet. Some day history will show that America made big mistakes supporting the Sunni dictators who keep people uneducated and terrorists armed. I hope we are turning towards Iran now but there may be too many factors against it. I am glad you have found a home in Shi'ism and that Shia are so inviting and tolerant. It helps me to remember that there are good people. It seems like the farther toward Sunni orthodoxy you venture, the more you risk becoming misguided, and yet the most learned Shia are obviously spiritually-connected men like the Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq. Whereas you only hear about hatred and misguidance coming from the "fatwa alley" in Saudi Arabia, anyone can look at Sistani and see that whatever his religion, he is a wise person who is at peace, not at war, with existence.
  5. Yes, I am familiar with the concept and even the word... I read news from Iraq and other countries in the region from time to time, and several political parties/movements feature the word in their names. Yes, and for those of you who do not live in the states: these guys operate outside of many major mosques even in medium-sized cities. They do not say who they are, they do not say "we are salafi" at least openly, but they preach a very conservative and very Sunni message of Islam. I think too of "preachers" like Dr. Zakir Naik and his "outreach" in South Asia. He received Saudi's highest honor last year I believe for spreading his version of Islam. I do not believe he says "I am a salafi" but he does get questions about this and rather than address them directly he says something like "well, there is a hadith about the first three generations being the best," and so on. He is totally an ultraconservative Sunni and moreover he is deceitful about his message, his mission, and his sources of funding. Where is a Shia [similar to] Dr. Zakir Naik? He is desperately needed. These preachers of hate are spreading anti-Shia messages to impressionable people and I think must be countered with a positive message, for the positive will win in the long run. I am glad you mention this because it reminds me of a story. My Twelver friend, whom I have known since middle school, was at school of course when 9/11 happened. In the days after that he was verbally harassed by some students and even a teacher. Of course he is a great guy and had many friends so more people stood up for him, but he never became angry or spiteful even when students called him "Osama" and asked him if he was from Afghanistan, etc. (Ironically, his family is from the Afghanistan and Pakistan border region.) One day I asked him if it bothered him, and he said, "of course man!" I was actually surprised because he never let it affect his outward mood. We talked even back then about some of the happenings, and jihad came up. He said: "do you know what jihad means? There are two types of jihad. There is the lesser jihad, which is basically self-defense. This is all the idiots understand, and even this they do not grasp because they do not understand what is legitimate self-defense. But they don't know about the greater jihad, which is the conflict within yourself to basically be a better Muslim and better human being." I'm sure he was dumbing it down for me but it really stuck. He said then, "this little bit of embarrassment is nothing compared to what some of my religious heroes had to endure; I think about them when I start feeling bad for myself." On the Quran verse I have heard there is an exception - that killing is prohibited unless it is for someone sowing corruption, which may be translated different ways and of course take on different meanings. Obviously I am sure you understand "corruption" to mean something sensibly bad, but for some Sunnis, corruption could be something quite petty. I have actually read the Quran in its entirety although I admit I did not understand all of it because it is rather difficult to relate to some of the stories. Those people who think it is the reason for Sunni behavior are totally misguided because there is nothing in the Quran that I could find that logically leads to, for instance, suicide bombing. I felt the same way towards it that I do towards the Bible - many good lessons and morals but I have some issues believing that it is the word of God. That said, it has a much more reliable chain of transmission than does the Bible. Imam Ali I will learn more about because I know he is an important role model for all Shia. From what I know about him, some of those wonderful salafs that some people love to emulate conspired against him out of jealousy and out of what seems like stupidity, even though many people at the time loved him because he was a very kind and humble leader but also strong and capable. I also know he was murdered by what some people call the ancient version of Daesh even though the ideology is not 100% the same. The Sunnis also think he was a righteous and rightful caliph but after Abu Bakr and Uthman? I have not formed an opinion either way on Abu Bakr, though from what I know he seemed to be awfully interested in the reigns of power for a guy who was supposedly so religious. And then there is his successor, Uthman, who (do not take offense) appears to be a [controversial person].
  6. I heard today about a Shia protest in DC against terrorism. This is the kind of thing that will get press eventually and like you said, perhaps change some hearts & minds. The Saudi lobby is indeed powerful, and combined with the might of the defense industry and the media industry, extremely entrenched in American society. I just feel awful for God-fearing religious Shia both here and in the Middle East where you cannot seem to catch a break. Hezbollah is demonized even though at this point it acts as a moderating force in the region. Iran is vilified even though it is the only major player with skin in the game (besides Iraq and Syria). Perhaps Shia efforts at conversion can be stepped up as well, even though I know that must be very dangerous. Perhaps this is all to work around the obvious point that to fix this, the cancer in Riyadh needs to be surgically removed. But that seems pretty far-fetched right now.
  7. Wow, mightymask, what a post. Everyone, thank you for the warm replies, and peace to you as well. It is a little depressing to read your opinions even though I understand they come from experience and not desire for how things ought to be. I wanted to ask the question because it has always struck me as odd that the Shia in, say, the USA generally emphasize the theme of solidarity with all Muslims rather than distinguish themselves from the Sunni extremists who always commit these acts and as you say who have done this sort of thing historically in one way or another. I think about, what if after the next act of barbarity, the Shia community says "this is always committed by a Sunni Muslim who is sponsored by wealthy Saudi and Emirati donors" instead of "there are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, this is just a few of them." Because I suspect the truth is that as mightymask says, even if only less than one percent of Sunnis support the actions of ISIL, probably about ten percent of Sunnis may sympathize with al Qaeda (and much higher percentage of Arab Sunnis in the Middle East), and probably majority of Arab Sunnis if not all Sunnis are against Shia and in favor of outright forms of discrimination. If Shia worked to publicly separate themselves from Sunni basically, and say, these guys are not Muslims, not just the actual terrorists, but the salafis, the takfiris, the Wahhabis, fundamentalist and ultra-"orthodox" Sunnis, basically anyone who doesn't think Shia is Muslim (this is fair), then yes they would be targeted more, but they are already being targeted so I wonder what there is to lose. Ordinary Americans for instance think of Hindus and Sikhs very differently than they do Muslims I believe. This should extend to Shias - they are harmless and just want to live in peace, treated with honor and respect, and be part of the community. Now I have read you are starting to have success in converting some Sunnis in the region to your faith. Even though I am agnostic I have never been more in favor of a religion having success in conversion; if more people can become Shia then I believe this will have a civilizing effect. I don't mean to sound imperialist or whatever, but I think in your heart you know this is true. So I wish you all the best and I really hope you can both spread your faith and also can distinguish yourself more from the Sunnis in general and of course from their worst elements in particular.
  8. I originally posted this in "the Thinkers' Discourse" but it is more appropriate for this forum (and it is bigger). Let me begin by mentioning that I have no connection to Islam beyond a friend from middle school who happens to be a Twelver. I myself was born and baptised into the Catholic faith but left religion altogether in my high school years. I am happily agnostic. That said, I am not one of those people who believes "all religions are equally bad" or any of that nonsense. Nor do I judge religions by reading a few snippets about their supposed beliefs or YouTube videos. Rather, I judge the religion by the quality of its adherents. This is why I have the utmost respect for Shia Islam. I will refrain from offering too many details on how I feel about the so-called Sunnis. In my opinion, the Shia are some of the most patient, level-headed, and brave in the world. Why do I say this? Well, take a look around you. Almost every day, it seems, there is another "Muslim" terrorist attacking innocents. The backlash is only growing. In the US, at least, Muslim community leaders are pleading for the public to maintain a level head, to refrain from judging the Muslims by the actions of a few nutcases, etc. Well, a few years ago, I got very interested in why this was happening. I've felt that US foreign policy is stupid and counterproductive - at least since W Bush invaded Iraq - but I also felt that there was something wrong with "the Muslims" for constantly causing mischief, etc etc. When I looked into it, I found the truth - which is not hard to discover by any means - that literally every so-called "Islamist" terrorist attack is committed by a Wahhabi or salafi - typically convert. "Islamic" terrorism? Ha. Try "Wahhabi" terrorism and see the reaction. But the media never reports this. They always try to make the case that "you cannot lump all the Muslims together," which is true, but they never go the next step of asking: okay, so which Muslims exactly are into this? This brings me to my props and my question to the Shia on this board: first, the props. Props for taking the high road and enduring the discrimination, the hate, the blame, the violence, and the other consequences for the actions of a group of people who mock your belief system and probably want to kill you. And as much as I am into taking the high road, my question: At what point will you stand up and say: the terrorism problem is a SUNNI problem, not a SHIA problem. And specifically, it is a WAHHABI and SALAFI problem, not even just a SUNNI problem. Why don't you say it? It would be controversial, for sure, but you would have the truth on your side. Americans do not understand this point and it would eventually make a big difference I believe.
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