(Last revised 12-15-2013)
Islam is divided just as Judaism and Christianity are, because all three Abrahamic religions became tainted to various degrees by myths and misinterpretations of scriptures, and by the erroneous opinions, misguided judgments, and erroneous doctrines of men.
Consequently, today there are "wolves in sheep's clothing" who claim to be religious authorities and the “official” clergy of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But they are hypocrites who pick and choose certain words and phrases from their scriptures to try to justify their arrogance, aggression and offenses, while simply ignoring God and the full context and true meaning of their religion's original texts.
For example, "Muslims" who wage False Jihad ignore the fact that Mohammed's Qur'an makes it very clear that Islam does not cancel out the messages of previous prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, David, Solomon, Enoch, and Jesus. In fact, it is based on them, and the Qur'an commands Muslims to speak with great courtesy to Jews and Christians, because they "all believe in the same God" (Quran 29:46).
After Muhammad died, however, some of his followers ignored such things, and they did not understand that his mission was to give Arabs scriptures of their own to bring them into the family of Abrahamic religions. Instead, some followers of Muhammad wrote in their Hadiths that he was “The Seal of the Prophets” and assumed Islam superseded both Judaism and Christianity. But it does not, just as Christianity was not intended to be a religion that superseded Judaism (See About Christianity).
Even though Muhammad was truly inspired by God in many respects, he certainly was not the last or final prophet, and he was not perfect. In fact, like many of the greatest Jewish leaders he was a warrior who killed, breaking the foremost commandment of God. And having established Islam in 610 CE, and having had trouble converting some people to his faith, he resorted to violence, which Muslims feel was necessary. By 629 CE Muhammad was victorious in the conquest of Mecca, and by the time of his death in 632 he had managed to unite the tribes of Arabia into one religious-political-military-industrial empire.
Unfortunately, because of Muhammad's failings and especially the failings of his followers who enhanced his status after he died, today there are false or misguided sects that claim to serve Allah when they are actually wicked and evil, such as al Queda, the Taliban and many other groups that rule certain other "Muslim" countries where people are persecuted, oppressed and killed by hypocrites claiming to be Muslims, even though they are totally ignorant of Allah/God.
However, there are many good Muslims, just as there are good Jews and Christians, who understand that the basic and true purpose of their religion is to create conditions under which the humble, gentle, kind, peaceful and meek may inherit the earth.
However, hypocrites and pretenders do not understand that, and yet claim they represent their religion.
Such pretenders, false prophets and false shepherds have created religious organizations by distorting the actual purpose of their religion to justify themselves, and they tend to think that God gave them the right to rule even if it takes imposing political action, coercion, or force.
Muslim patriarchs, like Jewish and Christian patriarchs, feel justified, unfortunately, by patriarchs who went before them. For example, many patriarchal authoritarian Muslims believe in Islamic eschatology about the so-called coming of an Imam Mahdi, who they believe will be the redeemer-messiah of Islam (much as Christian eschatology is about the so-called "second-coming" of the Christ Jesus of Nazareth).
According to the Hadith or Hadiths – which were not written by the Prophet Muhammad but by followers – the Mahdi will be accompanied or preceded by an army "led by mighty men with long hair and beards." This army, it is said, will come from the East and march towards Mecca under the banner of "the black flags of Khorasan," an ancient term for Afghanistan. That is why the Taliban and al Queda consider Afghanistan the birthplace of the "true" Army of Islam. But they are wrong, and they are hypocrites who betray Allah and Islam.
They adhere to a misguided, patriarchal, authoritarian doctrine which has justified men who claim to serve God but subjugate and control women, and rule ruthlessly. It is somewhat similar to the patriarchal doctrines of certain Jews and Christians. And such doctrines have inevitably led to their fighting "holy wars."
However, the term "holy war" is an oxymoron. There is no such thing, because the only "weapons" of God’s true servants are divinely inspired words of truth written by those with true Wisdom, for as Solomon wrote, Wisdom is more powerful than the weapons of war.
As Jesus of Nazareth (also known as Yeshuah and Issa) said, we should love even our enemies; resist not evil, but love good; overcome evil with good; overcome hate with love; and live not by the sword but by Wisdom and the will of our God who would have us all love one another as our selves.
As Solomon wrote: "Wisdom is beneficent and kind. She is the aura of the power of God, the radiance of the eternal Divine Light, a spotless mirror of God. She renews all things, and passing into holy souls from age to age, She produces friends of God and prophets. She is firm, but Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Her paths are peace. She is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon Her. And Wisdom is far better than weapons of war."
And as Muhammad wrote, Muslims should not be offensive and should refrain from retaliation because killing is always a great evil. And you should speak with great courtesy to Jews and Christians, because we "all believe in the same God."
The problem is that many Muslims misinterpret and take out of context certain language written in the Qur’an (just as many Jews do with what is written in the Torah and Tanach, and just as many Christians do with what is written in the Christian Bible).
Many Muslims have been led to believe that Muhammad was "the Messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets." But if the prophet Muhammad actually used the word "Seal," it did not mean the last or final prophet. And while Muhammad was a messenger of God, he delivered the message needed by Arabs, so that Islam could be the third of the Abrahamic religions.
It was Muhammad’s followers who assumed that Muhammad was the final prophet in the line of the Abrahamic prophets of Judaism and Christianity. But that is not true, just as some claims made by the followers of Jesus were not true.
No man’s word is the final word, because no man has ever been or ever will be God. Only God the eternal, omnipresent Holy One is God, and besides God there is no Savior (as Isaiah wrote).
The word of Jesus of Nazareth was not the last word, as even he himself said, nor was Muhammad’s, nor is the work of the modern son of man.
Nevertheless, his work comes at the end of an age to usher in the next, and it’s just the next stage in our evolution. And it clarifies that the Abrahamic religions are merely three of many genuine religions in the world.
Now, this is to tell you that we, the people of the world, must step up and take responsibility to stop the madness, death and destruction that is being wrought in the name of religious superiority.
Only we, the people of the world, can stop it — not by becoming part of the problem, but by realizing the solution. For peace will not be "won" when all sides are wrong.
Peace will be made – when what is crooked is made straight, when truth prevails over myths and falsehoods, when differences are reconciled, when grievances are redressed, when all offenders make amends – when the world becomes "new," changed by a reformation of governments and religions, particularly of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
A reformation is needed because certain sects of all three Abrahamic religions have been coopted and taken over by proud, militant, self-serving extremists who claim to serve God, but actually ignore and betray God.
They are spiritually blind shepherds and false prophets who divide and alienate their blind flocks and lead them astray, even into carnal, deadly warfare. Thus it is misguided Jews, Christians and Muslims who are causing the most conflict, division, violence, death and destruction in the world, and their deadly actions are having disastrous repercussions in the spiritual and material state of our world.
We must understand that they are ignorant of God and the Spirit of truth, which tells us that the only "weapons" of God are words of truth and wisdom. And only truth and wisdom will overcome and prevail over false doctrines and myths, just as only love will overcome and prevail over hate, and only good will overcome and prevail over evil. For two wrongs do not make a right.
Remember, even though Jesus may have said he was greater than Solomon, the Christian New Testament contains second and third-hand reports as to what Jesus said, either written decades after Jesus died, or revised later.
But we know that Jesus would have agreed with the wise Solomon, who wrote: "Wisdom is beneficent and kind. She is the aura of the power of God, the radiance of the eternal Divine Light, a spotless mirror of God. She renews all things, and passing into holy souls from age to age, She produces friends of God and prophets."
Solomon also said that pride goes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before a fall, and it is better to be of a humble spirit than to join the proud and militant in their aggressive and offensive pursuit of the "spoils" of war.
The trouble is, certain arrogant, proud and militant "religious" leaders do not know that. They do not have wisdom, but claim they do, and they tend to be self-important, self-righteous and even dictatorial in their patriarchal, theocratic efforts to rule. They may have originally become religious leaders out of truly good intentions, but gradually, whether unwittingly or otherwise, they became corrupted by egocentric delusion and/or the misguided doctrines of men. And some are so corrupted and malicious that they could be considered as evil masquerading as good, and as "goats" and wolves wearing sheep’s clothing.
Fortunately there are truly good, faithful Jews, Christians and Muslims, just like there are truly good, faithful Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Zoroastrians, etc. They are likened to "sheep" because they are humble, gentle, peaceful and loving, and they understand that the meek shall ultimately inherit the earth, and that men and women should be equal partners.
Now the misguided "goats" must be corrected. In other articles the problems with misguided Jews and Christians are discussed, but here we will discuss Muslims because it is crucial that we understand why they are so divided, why the Shiites and the Sunnis are so at odds, and why groups like the Taliban and al Queda are even more misguided. We need to understand some important parts of the history of Islam. And, more importantly, we all need to understand what True Islam is really about, because it has been distorted by the self-serving doctrines of men, just as Judaism and Christianity have been.
It is especially important that Americans learn the truth about Islam, because most Americans know nothing about it. Many Americans have been led to believe that most Muslims hate America and want it destroyed. But that is not true. Surveys have shown that most Muslims do not hate the American people, and that they actually admire America for its technology, democracy and freedom of speech.
For example, Georgetown University Professor John Esposito, and Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, helped organize a survey and published their findings into a new book, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think. It is based on a Gallup Poll, the largest of its kind, which surveyed Muslims in more than 35 countries. It asked questions about gender, race, terrorism, the separation of church and state, and the prospects of peace with the West.
This research shows that most Muslims in the world admire the West for its technology and democracy. They support freedom of speech, the rule of law, and the transparency of government. Even in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia, only very small percentages said they admired nothing about the West. But what most of them disliked most about the West is the lack of proper judgment and restraint. (And no wonder.)
However, the most important thing Americans should understand is that only seven percent of Muslims think that the al Queda attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001 were justified. But, almost all of those seven percent of Muslims do not think there is any religious justification for suicide bombers and their attacks on civilians. They are against military imperialism and occupation of Muslim lands by the West, and by Israel, and they desire independence, autonomy, and respect.
Moreover, very few of that seven percent of Muslims are actually the terrorists who do the killing. The mass murderers and terrorists and the demagogic leaders who incite them are a very small minority compared to the billions of Muslims in the world. Nevertheless, it is important that we understand that seven percent of Muslims is 100 million people, and they are sympathetic to those terrorists who are willing to die to fight American and Israeli occupation and imperialism.
Americans and Israelis need to fully understand that, and redress the grievances that so many Muslims have (see the page on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict). For only when amends are made and Muslim grievances are redressed, and only when the small minority of misguided Muslims follow True Islam rather than bigoted, hypocritical hatemongers and warmongers, will we have peace.
It will help if everyone understands why certain Muslims sects misunderstand or ignore certain core teachings of the prophet Muhammad — just as certain sects of Christianity misunderstand or ignore certain core teaching of the Christ Jesus, and just as certain sects of Judaism misunderstand or ignore certain core teachings in their religious scriptures.
After all, the militant, murderous hypocrites who only claim to be Muslims ignore what the Qur'an says in context, and like the radical "Christian Right" they pick and choose isolated words and phrases from their scriptures to try to justify themselves. But we can do the same to prove they are wrong.
What Does the Quran Say?
Mohammed's Qur'an makes it very clear that Islam does not cancel out the messages of previous prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, David, Solomon, Enoch, and Jesus. In fact, it is based on them, and the Qur'an commands Muslims to speak with great courtesy to Jews and Christians, because they "all believe in the same God" (29:46).
The Qur’an 2:136 instructs Muslims to say: "We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us, and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered."
Beyond that, according to Islamic principles and the Prophet Muhammad, even the Hindu Lord Krishna was a true Prophet of God, and the original core teachings of Hinduism and Islam are the same -- the unity of God and Humanity. In fact, the Quran says that God sent "messengers to every people" (10:48) and "We raised among every people a messenger" (16:37).
The Qur'an also condemns violence and aggression, and holds that killing is always a great evil (2:190 and 2:217). Moreover, they ignore the fact that even though the Qur'an does permit a war of self-defense to fight foreign invasion and persecution, when the Prophet Muhammad had it written, one of his main purposes was precisely to stop indiscriminate killing!
The Qur'an states quite clearly that warfare is not the best way of dealing with difficulties and conflict. It says that the faithful should "argue (with unbelievers) in the most kindly manner, with wisdom and goodly exhortation."
It does say that, if attacked, the faithful may retaliate in an appropriate way that is proportionate to the wrong suffered. However, it also says that tolerance is far more advisable than retaliation. It says: "To bear yourselves with patience is far better for you, since God is with those who are patient in adversity." (16:125- 127) Indeed, it even says it is a meritorious act to "be charitable and to refrain from retaliation." (5:45) It is very similar to the teaching of Jesus, which advises us to "turn the other cheek" rather than retaliate by striking back.
The Qur'an also makes it clear that Mohammed's mission was not to create a new world religion, but to bring the religion of Abraham and Jesus to the Arabs, because they had no prophet before Mohammed, and they had no scriptures in their own language.
In fact, Jesus is mentioned more than Mohammed in the Q'uran. It speaks of the "good news" of the Righteous Messiah Jesus (3:45-46). It also states that a Muslim should say: "We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us, and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob ... and that which Moses and Jesus received, and which the prophets received from their Lord God. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto God we have surrendered." (2:136136).
Furthermore, Mohammed made it very clear that he was not founding a religion to which everyone had to belong. According to the Qur'an, "There must be no coercion in matters of faith" (2:256). Therefore, coercion or the imposition of religion on unwilling people or all citizens is not permitted. If people disagree with a Muslim, he is to say: "Unto you your moral law, and unto me, mine." (109:6) In fact, in the Qur'an, as in Jewish and Christian scriptures, there is an emphatic prohibition of imposition, force and compulsion in religious matters (which is something the imposing American Christian Right really needs to learn and abide by).
Additionally, we need to understand how and why most religious sects, whether they call themselves Jews or Christians or Muslims, misunderstand prophecy, and how and why they have been misled, divided, and pitted against each other.
Of course, there are an incredible number of false beliefs about how prophecy will be fulfilled. Each religion and each of their religious sects have different ideas about it. But, many Jews believe in the imminent coming of a Mashiach King, just as many Christians believe in the imminent "second" coming of Jesus as a Superman King. And some Muslim sects believe that a messiah-like "Imam Mahdi" will come around the same time that Jesus "comes again," and they will work in concert.
Even worse, many proud and militant Jewish Zionists and Christian and Muslim fundamentalists erroneously believe there must be a "final holy war between good and evil" (as they judge it), and it doesn't seem to matter to some of them whether the "evil" they judge is another sect or faction of their own religion, or another religion, or all other religions.
Therein lies the problem, because aside from the fact that most of them have false expectations about a messianic figure, they simply do not understand that killing is wrong, and that only good can overcome evil, only love can overcome hate, and two wrongs do not make a right. They do not realize or understand that as they judge they are so judged, and their enemy is a reflection of their very selves.
That is made clear in Judaic scriptures (the Torah and Tanach), the Christian Bible, and the Qur’an (Koran), just as it is made clear in the scriptures of all other religions. But religious hypocrites ignore that, and they pick and choose certain isolated words in their scriptures to justify themselves.
The problem is that many Jews, Christians and Muslims have been misled by the inaccurate opinions of men who only thought they served God, because those opinions are considered as "gospel truth." Therefore, they have been given the wrong idea. They do not realize there will be no "second coming" of the Christ Jesus, nor will the Imam Mahdi come in person.
But, a man does fulfill the real prophecies.
The Prophet Muhammad said in the Qur’an (25:31) that the time would come when the Qur’an would be abandoned or distorted by self-serving men. There is also a saying of the Prophet to the following effect:
"There will come a time upon the people when nothing will remain of Islam except its name and nothing will remain of the Quran except its inscription. Some of their mosques will be splendidly furnished but destitute of guidance, and they will revere as divine the worst people, who create strife."
However, the Prophet of Islam and the wisest Muslim seers foresaw that God would send a man who will bring about a renaissance of Islam to reform Islam and correct Muslims and mankind, consistent with the prophecies and teachings of the Qur’an, the Tanach, and the Bible.
This was recognized also in the books of the Muslim Hadith, which also indicate and acknowledge that there would come a just judge from among you; that he will refute erroneous doctrines with reason and clarification; rebuke the greedy and the hypocritical; and stop war.
That man is the prophesied son of man. But he is merely a messenger who serves the Spirit of truth, and thus he represents the spirit-consciousness of the Ancient One who is in heaven with God. For the Ancient One is the Oversoul who is represented by all those with the title of Mashiach, Avatar, Buddha, Saoshyant, Sage, Christ, Messiah, Mahdi, etc. And, in a larger sense, the Ancient One’s Spirit of truth will increasingly influence and inspire us all, from within, just as it has influenced and inspired the son of man.
Part of the problem is that much of the "Islamic" doctrines that have caused conflicts, and are still causing conflicts, stem from writings not in the Qur’an. For example, as already mentioned, the Hadith or Hadiths are writings by followers of Muhammad. Some were apparently written by those who had known Mohammad. But some were written by those who had heard what his companions had said, and are merely hearsay. And some were written as late as three centuries after Muhammad’s death. And yet, like the epistles and books in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the Hadiths are revered as "gospel truth." And they are considered by some Muslims as a major source of religious law and moral guidance, even though they were not the scriptures for which Muhammad was actually responsible.
Furthermore, just as Jesus was not God, Muhammad was not God. He was a fallible human being, just like all authors of religious scriptures — which is evident in his dictating and decreeing harsh traditional Arab punishments and sexist rules as if they were sanctioned by God/Allah. But then, Muhammad, like the writers of Judaic and Christian scriptures, was a man of his times, and some of his words have become outdated and rendered obsolete.
Like other writers of scriptures, Muhammad also left some of his words to be easily misinterpreted and distorted by prudish, tyrannical patriarchs. And the worst of them, like the leaders of al Queda and the Taliban, don’t stop there. They simply ignore Muhammad’s words that don’t suit their purposes — words that actually contradict their brand of Islam. And, in that respect, they are like the proud and militant zealots who claim to be Jews and Christians, who conveniently pick and choose which words in scripture to justify themselves and ignore words that don’t suit their purposes.
Each religion has sects that use their scriptures to suit their own purposes. For example, Wahhabism, the dominant Muslim sect in Saudi Arabia, is rigidly puritanical. It is based on an absurdly literal interpretation of the Qur’an and the Hadith, promoted originally by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. He hated the Ottoman Sunni Muslims and claimed they did not follow "true" Islam, and his followers killed any Muslim who did not accept Wahhab’s intolerant, puritanical version of Islam. Wahhab personally stoned a woman to death, and his followers also banned music and flowers, forced men to grow beards and women to be veiled and secluded. That was in spite of the fact that the prophet Muhammad made no such demand or recommendation, and in spite of the fact that Muhammad forbade coercion or force in religious matters, and said killing was evil.
Of course, there are other Muslim sects or groups that are also misled, some of them terribly, like the Taliban and al Queda. But even so, and in spite of religious leaders who tend to be despotic and theocratic, most Muslims, like most Christians and most Jews, are good people.
It is only the arrogantly proud, militant, misguided few who are causing the oppression, conflict and violence. Unfortunately, as we've seen, those few can create horrendous havoc, death and destruction. That's why everyone needs more understanding of the situation, and the history of Islam. In fact, it is crucial that people in the West and in Israel be educated about true Islam, so they can encourage and join true Muslims in speaking out to expose the false, hypocritical, militant bigots who only claim to be Muslims.
We all need to understand the differences between Shiite and Sunni extremists, because it is complex. Each of them believe that the other sect is part of the "evil" they must destroy so that prophecy will be fulfilled. And, because the Shiites and Sunnis are the largest Muslim sects, we need to understand their history and beliefs.
We should start by looking at why the rebel Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr was able to gather a so-called "Army of the Mahdi" after American forces removed the Sunni Muslim Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, and why Sadr was able to muster them around the Shiite's holiest shrine, the golden-domed "Imam Ali Mosque" in Najaf, the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali.
Along with that, we should look at and understand why Sadr and his army have been so ready to fight to the death both the "infidel" American occupiers and the "infidel" Sunnis.
According to Reza Aslan (a Muslim Iranian-American Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a writer whose books include No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam), the schism and conflict began in the year 680 in Karbala, where the Prophet Mohammed's son-in-law Ali's son, Husayn, along with most of the prophet's family, were brutally massacred by the forces of the Syrian Caliph, Yazid I.
According to Aslan, that happened because when Mohammed's son-in-law Ali died, the caliphate (leadership) of the whole Islamic/Muslim community had passed to the then- governor of Syria, Muawiyah (Yazid's father). That was according to a power- sharing agreement meant to ensure that when Muawiyah died the caliphate would once again belong to the family of the Prophet Muhammad, and that Ali's son, Husayn, would become the Caliph. However, Muawiyah reneged on the agreement. After transforming the Muslim community into a united, expanding, dominant Arab-Muslim kingdom of enormous wealth and power, he then instead named his son Yazid heir to his throne.
Of course, there are other scholars who submit that even thought the massacre of Husayn (or Hussein) in Karbala is one of the most significant events of Shiite history, the schism in Islam is much older than that. They believe that the problems started when Muhammad was still alive and there was rivalry among his followers regarding future control of Islam. Believing that there must be a ruler, some thought that the next one should be an elder close to Muhammad, while others thought that Muhammad’s young son-in-law Ali should be the next ruler. There are even some reports that one of Ali's confidants wanted to just go and ask Muhammad about it while he was still alive, but Ali said no because if Muhammad rejected the idea Ali could never be the ruler.
Whatever the case, Muawiyah’s betrayal had dire consequences. Throughout the Islamic Empire, and particularly in Iraq and Iran, a large group of non-Arab Muslims banned together as the "Shiatu Ali" (the Partisans of Ali). They rose up in revolt, and they asked Ali's eldest surviving son, Husayn, to lead them in battle against Yazid, who they believed was a false Caliph.
But Husayn didn't make it, because Yazid's army intercepted and massacred Husayn and nearly every last member of the Prophet Muhammad's family. That's what split the Muslim community into two major factions. One was the sect now known as the Sunnis, who believed Yazid was the legitimate Caliph, and the other was the Shiatu Ali (who later became the Shiites), who believed that Ali's son Husayn should have been the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad's authority.
Four years after the massacre, some of the Shiatu Ali gathered secretly at Karbala to mourn the death of Husayn, and also to atone for their failure to protect him. Then more of the Shiatu Ali began gathering at Karbala, and gradually they became a new sect of Shiites and established the belief that Husayn willingly sacrificed himself in a "holy" war for justice against the tyranny and oppression of a false Caliph (Yasid). They exalted Husayn as a holy martyr, even though Husayn was merely the son of the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. They didn't realize that the "mantle" of religious authority does not pass from men to their relatives. It's not inherited. It is purely a gift from God only, and it is given only to called, spiritually anointed servants, prophets and messengers who are chosen by God.
Due to their misunderstanding, a huge gap between the Shiites and the mainstream "orthodox" Sunnis was created. And one of the big differences was the Shiite notion of atonement through sacrifice, because they came to believe Husayn's martyrdom at Karbala, like Jesus' sacrifice at Gethsemane, was predetermined by God. They celebrate his martyrdom every year with festivities that include passion plays about Husayn's "martyrdom," and they even conduct absurd demonstrations in which participants flog themselves or otherwise punish themselves in some way, thinking it's a religious act of contrition and atonement.
Most Sunnis believe such acts go against the original principles of Islam. They believe that Muhammad's Qur'an does not require any such acts to achieve salvation. They believe only God can forgive sins, and they reject the idea that Shiite Imams can act as intermediaries between Allah and those who worship Allah. In other words, Sunnis reject the idea that Shiite Imams and Ayatollahs are divine. And they are quite right about that, because they are not, just as Christian clergy and Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals and popes are not "divine beings." They are only human, and no human has ever been or ever will be divine or holy. Only God/Allah is the Divine Holy One.
The Shiites, on the other hand, believe that the Qur'an "speaks" to them in a way that is not understood by Sunnis. Like the early Christians who sifted through the Hebrew Scriptures looking for anything that might possibly be interpreted as a referral to Jesus, the early Shiites sifted through the Qur'an looking for references to justify their beliefs. They gradually came to believe they are the recipients of a secret knowledge passed down from God to Muhammad, from Muhammad to his son-in-law Ali, from Ali to Husayn, and then down to the rest of the "holy" Shiite Imams and Ayatollahs. But that is simply not true.
Sunnis correctly believe an Imam is simply the person who stands at the head of the mosque and leads the congregation in prayer, while the Shiites believe the Imam and the Ayatollah are divinely guided leaders and embody the living spirit of the Prophet Muhammad and Allah. The Sunnis consider that to be heresy. In fact, the Sunnis believe it is blasphemy to consider any human being divine, because only Allah (God) is divine and holy. And they are quite right about that.
The Shiites counter that they do not believe the Imam is equal to God. But they do believe that, like Christian Saints, the Imam is above the rest of humanity and may even be prayed to. They believe the Imam's authority is derived from his connection to the Prophet Muhammad, and they believe the line of Imam's will ultimately culminate with the expected one who would be known as the Imam Mahdi. But they are wrong about all that as well, just as some Christians are wrong in praying to those regarded as saints. We should not pray for the ears of men, nor should we pray to men. As Jesus said, we should pray in secret to our God who hears us in secret.
Now, many Muslims believe the Imam Mahdi will be a messianic figure who will return at the "end times" after a "final war of good against evil" to usher in a time of peace and justice. Like many Christians who believe in the "second- coming" of Jesus, they believe it will be an "apocalyptic" event preceded by wars, earthquakes, famines, and false prophets.
The truth, however, is that while the terrible tribulation we are suffering through was foretold, and while wars and the seven plagues and many other terrible things have certainly occurred prior to the coming of this son of man, as was prophesied, the "Apocalypse" is misunderstood.
Apocalypse means the uncovering, revealing and unveiling of the real meaning of prophecy, and it’s about the judgment from God and the Spirit of truth. But the judgment is about the truth prevailing over false beliefs and myths, and the weapons of God are not carnal or lethal.
In spite of that, many Muslims believe they can judge, and that there must be a "Great Jihad" and the utter destruction of their enemies. They believe that following the Jihad the Mahdi will be the harbinger of the return of Jesus, and that then both prophets will rule the world together. But they grossly misinterpret and misunderstand real prophecy, because God wants us all to love one another and share the throne in God's New World Kingdom, where only God in heaven reigns Supreme over heaven and earth. The person who fulfills prophecy is not a king or ruler, but a fellow servant, from your midst, and of your brethren.
It should be understood that the Christ and the Mahdi are one and the same, and the two titles are but two of many for the Oversoul which has guided all divinely inspired human beings on earth. The Oversoul is the Ancient One who is with God in heaven. And now, anyone on earth who claims to be the Christ or Mahdi or Avatar or Buddha or Saoshyant, etc., is a pretender. And anyone claiming to know where "He" is in this world has been misled and does not know the real truth. The Ancient One-Oversoul-Christ-Avatar-Buddha-Mahdi is in ALL of us, but we have to receive the ultimate gift of revelation from God to realize it.
Unfortunately, not very many members of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) have realized that. And Sunni and Shiite Muslims differ in their beliefs about the nature and role of the Imam Mahdi. The biggest difference is that the Shiites believe that the Mahdi's role would be to avenge the unjust killing of Husayn and his followers by the Sunni authorities at Karbala. That is why the rebel Shiite warmonger Muqtada Sadr was able to gather his "Mahdi Army"after the fall of the tyrannical Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein, and take control of the sacred cities of Kufa, Karbala, and Najaf in Iraq. Sadr exploited traditional Shiite beliefs by masquerading as the herald of the coming Mahdi, and by fighting the "prophesied Jihad" ("holy war") prior to that coming. But Sadr is in fact a false prophet, just as surely as certain people masquerading as Christians and Jews are false prophets.
Anyway, the conflict and civil war between proud and militant Sunnis and Shiites is partly because of all that history, and partly because the tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein was a Sunni who oppressed, persecuted and even murdered many of the Shiites. Shiites want to take revenge, not only for Husayn's murder, but for Saddam Hussein's murderous tyranny.
Both the Sunni and Shiite factions need to realize the extent to which they have been misled, because even though they have legitimate grievances, they are both incorrect and wrong to a certain extent. They are both wrong particularly about killing, because Muhammad said killing is always evil, especially indiscriminate killing. Both Sunnis and Shiites misunderstand prophecy, just as many Jewish and Christian factions misunderstand prophecy.
All Jews, Christians and Muslims need to understand that the so-called "mantle of divine authority" did not pass from David or Jesus or Muhammad to anyone else by blood line or inheritance or discipleship. It just does not happen that way. It is not passed on or inherited from men. It's given as a gift from God only, given to individuals who are truly called and anointed by the Holy Spirit and then chosen by God when they have proven they are worthy. For while many are called, few are worthy to be chosen by God, who knows all.
The Shiites need to realize that their Imams and Ayatollahs are not "holy" men, just as no other religious clergy are "holy" men. They are not authorized by God to dictate the affairs of their people. They should be modern servants of God/Allah, who desire that all men and women be equal partners, and that all human beings be united, empowered and liberated from the rule of self-important individuals.
Religious patriarchs do not understand that. For example, on June 13, 2009, the "Supreme Ayatollah" of Iran endorsed the re-election of President Ahmadinijad, validating it as a "divine assessment," in spite of the fact that the election results were unclear and questionable, and it is quite obvious that huge numbers of Iranians wanted change and freedom from suppressive rule. And it was shameful that the government immediately began to use violent and even deadly force to squash dissent and protest, and sensor the news on television so that the country would not see the police riots in the streets, which injured many and even killed some demonstrators.
Americans should understand that the U.S. is partially responsible for what Iran has become, and why its Muslim leaders are against America and Israel. During the Second World War, the Americans supported the Shah of Iran, who was able to maintain and expand his power with significant financial and military help from the U.S. But, many Iranians were negatively affected by the Shah’s abuse of power and they resented U.S. support of the Shah. That resentment grew after the U.S. CIA engineered a kind of coup in 1953, playing a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Massadegh. The U.S. Government’s actions were mainly to protect the interests of American oil companies and to address other strategic concerns, but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is very understandable that many Iranians continue to resent America’s intervention and meddling in their internal affairs (which were recently revived by the Bush Regime).
The Shah, with American support, enacted various controversial policies, including the banning and suppression of any dissent or opposition. By 1978 the Shah’s forces had silenced as many as 2,200 political prisoners, many of whom were tortured. By 1979, political unrest became so great that it was transformed into an outright revolution which forced the Shah to leave Iran after 37 years of rule. Soon thereafter, the revolutionary forces led by Ayatollah Khomenei transformed the government into an Islamic republic.
Khomenei had been living in exile in Paris, and had promised that if and when he could return as the Supreme Ayatollah in Iran it would be a democratic, parliamentary country, and that the job of clergy would not be theocratic but would merely provide counsel. But, after the revolution, Khomenei betrayed his supporters and he ordered the killing of many of those who had started, fought and won the revolution for him. Thus, by deception and then murder, Khomenei established a Shiite theocracy with him as the "divine ruler" (Supreme Ayatollah). And the present one, Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomenei in 1989, has been spouting radical anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric ever since.
Americans should now realize why, because his feelings about the U.S. are somewhat valid. He is well aware of the long history of self-interested U.S. meddling. He is well aware that the American media had been predicting the defeat of Ahmadinijad and was creating expectations of it before the last election. And he is also well aware that the U.S. CIA has been working covertly in Iran to provide considerable support to radical Iranian groups that have been trying to bring about the downfall of Ahmadinijad and Ali Khamenei.
That’s been documented. The renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed his findings on the Bush Regime’s covert operations inside Iran, which were and still are waged by U.S. operatives in Iran to stir up foment and provide support for the anti-Iran terrorist organizations Jundallah and MKO.
However, even though there are some very valid reasons for Ali Khamenei’s feelings because of troublesome U.S. and Israeli actions, the Shiite Supreme Ayatollah does not understands the will of Allah. He wants to pontificate, impose his own will, and assume "divine" authority. And in that sense, he is like the Christian Popes who used to rule by Theocracy.
That is why Salman Rushdie wrote "Satanic Verses" criticizing the Qur’an. But, Rushdie merely pointed out the same verses that are misunderstood and used by "Jihadist" Muslims to justify their killing their fellow man and even committing indiscriminate mass murder. And it could be said that there are Satanic verses in the Hebrew Torah and Tanach, and in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, which have been used by proud, militant Jews and Christians to justify their killing their fellow man. We need to face those facts, and be fair and reasonable.
Of course, al Queda is far worse because its members commit indiscriminate mass murder, beheadings, etc. And the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan have proven themselves to be murderous thugs who kill innocent people to gain power and control, and falsely claim to be servants of Allah.
But, Americans should remember that the U.S. is largely responsible for the rise of the Taliban to power in the first place, along with the rise to power of Osama bin Laden and al Queda. That was back in the late 1980s when the U.S. provided financial and military support to the "Mujahadin" (which means Islamic Freedom Fighter) who were fighting Russian military imperialism in Afghanistan. And, while the U.S. support enabled the Mujahadin to drive the Russians out, it enabled the Taliban and al Queda to take over afterward. That’s when the "Mujahadin" in Afghanistan stopped being freedom fighters, and instead became cruel, murderous oppressors of their own people.
Even so, Americans should realize that even though the Reagan Administration was nearly as foolish as Russia in what they did in Afghanistan in the late 1980s , the U.S. can now redeem itself and help the Afghanis achieve freedom. But, the U.S. needs to stop causing so many civilian deaths and maimings by senseless bombing and strafing in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and stop ignoring local customs in their rude invasions of households in their searches for Taliban and al Queda criminals. The U.S. forces must gain the total support of the civilian population by showing respect and rectifying the mistakes made by past policies, and reform the policies and "rules of engagement" that are even now causing inexcusable "collateral damage" and death and causing deep resentment and horror in the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Regarding the whole Israeli-Palestinian-Muslim-Christian conflict and the Sunni- Shiite conflict, in my view we will be able to establish lasting peace only when all Jews, Christian and Muslims understand that they were meant to be and actually are a family of religions; that there is indeed One God, One Holy One, the Supreme Universal Consciousness. Whether they call God Yahweh or Jehova or Elohim or "Father in heaven" or Allah, God is the Great Spirit-Parent by any other name, and God wants us all to love one another as brothers and sisters, and to treat others as we would have others treat us if we were them. They must obey God's Will, reconcile their differences, make amends, and make peace, or they will continue to suffer the pain of disobedience and the consequences of their misguided, egocentric, ethnocentric folly and iniquity. God wants them to love even their enemy, and realized that their enemy is a reflection of themselves.
As for the Sunni-Shiite civil war, that will cease as soon as they both start following the teachings of their prophet and those who preceded him, and stop choosing isolated words and phrases from the Qur'an to try to justify their evil, murderous activities. They must start acting like real Muslims instead of criminals and murderers. And that also goes for others who do the same thing in other countries where misguided Islamic sects work iniquity and cause conflict, division, violence, death and destruction. They are bigots, hypocrites and murderers, and their followers should ignore them and repent.
However, we understand and sympathize with most Arabs and Muslims, and especially Palestinians, because they have very legitimate grievances against England, the U.S.A., and Israel. Palestinians have been terribly and outrageously wronged ever since 1917, and the injustices increased enormously in 1948 when the modern State of Israel was established. The injustices increased more since the 1967 war, and even more recently in all outrageously unfair criminal violence, killing and destruction the Israeli military has inflicted. Two wrongs do not make a right, and violence and toughness only begets more reciprocal violence and toughness.
Of course, U.S. and Israeli offenses do not justify the murderous activities of misguided Muslim extremists. There is no excuse for murderers. The only time killing is justified is when it is to protect the life or lives of those in imminent danger of being killed or cruelly oppressed and persecuted.
In other words, all sides in these battles have been wrong in certain respects. And it is crucial that Israel repent and stop the offenses, incursions and atrocities she has been committing for so long against her neighbors, and make amends. And radical, violent, murderous "Muslim" hypocrites must also repent and stop their evil warfare.
The "Christian" Right in America must also repent and start acting like real and true Christians instead of divisive bigots, hypocrites, and militaristic, imperialistic theocrats, who not only want to rule America and the world, but also blindly support Israeli Zionism even though it is grossly unfair to Arabs and Muslims.
The message from the Spirit of truth will provide significant help to expose and stop them, but it will also take authoritative good Jewish and Christian and Muslim voices to speak up to help tell the truth to expose the bigotry, hypocrisy and error of the false and spiritually blind shepherds who divide and lead their blind flocks astray into offensive and even violent conflict. Only the message and enough good people speaking up to validate the message will reduce the followers of the false, misguided Jews and Christians and Muslims. For once they are fully exposed, they will eventually have no followers at all.
Again, it is important to keep in mind that most Muslims simply want the West to respect them as much as most of them respect the West. That will require many Christians and Jews to admit to their prejudices, religious bigotry, and hypocrisy, while it will require many Muslims to admit to theirs as well.
So, all good people must stand up and speak up, and spread the word about the message from the prophesied Spirit of truth and all other sources of truth. That's the only way things will change.