There are now many different Shiite- or Shiite-descended groups, all of which are oriented toward the special status given to those who come directly from the family of Muhammad. The historical figures in that line of descent are all referred to as “imam,” as opposed to the Sunni tradition of naming their leaders “caliph.”
Various Shiite groups think this line of descent ended after 5 imams (the Zeidis in Yemen), 7 imams (the Ismailis, who live mainly on the Indian subcontinent) or 12 imams (the Imami Shiites in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran). In some cases they believe the last of the line has been “hidden” from the world for centuries waiting for the time of return in glory to “judge the living and the dead.”
There is a widely held belief in Islam (both Sunni and Shiite) that a messiah (mahdi) will come to assure the ultimate triumph of Islam. This notion of the messiah is often conflated with that of the “hidden (12th) imam” in such a way that one man is expected to be both. In the Shiite tradition, it is thought the messiah/hidden imam will return with Jesus of Nazareth and that together they will judge the world.
Sufis. For many humans, law and obedience to law is not enough solace in dealing with the daily travail of life. For many Muslims, the traditional Islamic orientation toward a man/God relationship mediated by religious lawyers has never been enough comfort.
In response to this, Muslims developed forms of mysticism that remain, with enthusiastic support, in most parts of the Islamic world. Islamic mystics of this kind are called “Sufis.”
Only the Hanbali/Wahhabi/Salafist tendency in Sunni Islam firmly rejects Sufi mysticism as impertinent blasphemy. For other Muslims, however, Sufism is not an alternative identity, but a special devotion added to their more conventional observances.
There are many orders, or tariqas, among the Sufis. Some, such as the Qaderis and the Naqshbandi, are very old. They all possess a special liturgy, or thikr, and form brotherhoods that are not necessarily the quiet groups sometimes described by their friends in the West.
In the 19th century, Sufi brothers fought the Imperial Russian armies for decades; they later fought the Soviet Army in Afghanistan and continue to fight the Russian Army in Chechnya. There, as in the Balkans, they have made common cause with their Wahhabi adversaries. What the result of that will be, only time will tell.
Ibadhi. This is the prevalent form of Islam in the Sultanate of Oman. Ibadhism is probably descended from the Khariji revolt, which took place shortly after the death of Muhammad in 632. The Ibadhis do not accept that idea, but, it is, nevertheless, probably the case.
The Ibadhis are neither Sunni nor Shiite and consider both to be unbelievers. They do not believe the Quran is the uncreated word of God, but believe Muhammad to have written it inspired by God. The Ibadhis’ refusal to accept the validity of other views of Islam is undoubtedly the result of isolation and the innate divisiveness of the consensus process of group formation in Islam.
Post a Comment |
Tags: Christianity Muslim Islam Shiite