Islam’s Doctrinal Divide
Americans were largely ignorant of the Muslim faith prior to 9/11, but in the years since we have at least learned that there are two major branches and that not all Muslims are Arab. I came across this graphic of global Muslim sects in other reading a few days ago and saved it for an opportune moment, not realizing how quickly I would need it.
The geographic display of the divide between Sunni and Shia is a fair match for the count of adherents – about 85% of all Muslims are Sunni. There are several conflicts where the sectarian differences are important. These include:
- Alawite Syrians on the coast, terrified of the coming Sunni majority government
- Majority Shia Bahrain chafing under a Sunni monarchy
- Yemeni Shia fighting to restore the North/South Yemen divide
One bright spot has been NATO relations with the ethnic Hazara minority in Afghanistan. They are clearly visible in the global sects map as a yellow Jafari Shia donut hole in the middle of what is otherwise Hanafi Sunni territory.
Phi Beta Iota: The focus on sects – a much sharper understanding than the standard black and white distinction between Sunni and Shi'ite — is helpful. US policy does not do nuances, in fact it is completely lacking in intelligence with integrity for many reasons, most due to political and financial corruption. Also useful is the reiteration from NIGHTWATCH — actions taken in Syria impact on Afghanistan, 2,400 miles away — we doubt that the White House naifs making policy have a clue.