Friday, November 30, 2012

Sunnis and Shias: The manufacture of difference

There are real differences that cause tension between Shias and Sunnis. And then there are imagined differences. Imagined differences are worse than real differences since its heard to bridge the gulf that the imagination creates. Some of the writers on Sunnis and Shia have contributed to misunderstandings and tensions by writing without authority. An example is Judith Palmer Harik’s book, Hezbollah: The changing face of terrorism (2004). Harik has a whole paragraph on the succession of the prophet controversy. The paragraph does not even have one citation. Then she writes, without citation: “When one of these opponents, Muawiyah, assassinated Ali in 661, a split occurred between his partisans and the rest of the community.” Caliph Ali was assassinated by a Kharijite. In this book Harik managed to manufacture another ground for tension between Sunnis and Shias

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