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Which Muslims

Reader comment on item: How the Cartoon Protests Harm Muslims [by Leading to a Separation of Civilizations]

Submitted by Abir Chaaban (Canada), Feb 15, 2006 at 07:31

It is quite interesting to read this analysis about "Muslims" and the fact that you do classify a group of people as "Muslims" in a category that is seemingly homogeneous in some type of belief that is called Islam, and accordingly you are forecasting that an economic crises will be harming those "Muslims", and might lead them into isolation.

Conversely, there is no such thing that is called a homogeneous population of "Muslims" who share common goals and aspirations. There is no such thing that could be called an Islamic state that includes all "Muslim" in a form of a nation that has the power to isolate itself from the superbly powerful "modern" world. It is fascinating to see that the "modern powerful world" has a problem with an imaginary group of "Muslims" that does not even exist in the reality of the world of nations and nation-states.

I am positive that a Sunni Muslim does not view a Shii Muslim in the same clarity and affection as the way you describe them to be, needless to say that Arab-Muslims do not even want to identify with the Pakistani Muslims and their extremists backward understanding of religion, which was quite obvious in the Pakistani demonstration of the governments of "donkeys". How could these two have a common identity that could risk the fate of crises?

Moreover, I am sure that the achievements that you claim are being collected by the Muslims past are perceived by the Arabs as well as the Pakistanis in terms of an Arab hegemony and not a Muslim hegemony of the era. Today's "Muslims" are multiethnic groups of nationals of states, who are very aware of their ethnicity. These ethnicities had historically proven to be more effective than their mere being Muslims, remember that the Arabs revolted against the Ottomans, when in this case they were both Muslim Sunnis.

I think that it is important to understand what do you mean when you say Muslims and maybe explain a bit about this claimed Muslim identity that the Muslims should adhere to. I seem to disagree with this categorization of all followers of Mohamed as one group of Muslims since there is no such thing as a Muslim nation or a Muslim identity that justifies a claim of a Muslim identity crisis.

Muslims are monotheists who come in different flavors and different religious laws, Shiites and Sunnis have historically disagreed on their interpretations of their religious laws and their understanding of political life. Sunnis and Shiites share nothing in common religiously or historically except disagreements, wars, and documented annihilation by the Sunnis of the Shiites, as in the case of Lebanon after the Mamluks took over from the Crusaders and expelled all the Shiites of Kserwen of Lebanon as a result of the Shiites support to the Crusaders against the Sunni Mamluks. This episod is well documented by Philip Hitti in his book "a History of Syria".

"Muslims" are nationals of various states that are not necessarily Muslim states, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are good example of states that have a large Muslim population of people who view themselves as Iraqis, Lebanese and Syrians, and even better, they have historically gotten into conflict not because they were Muslims but because they were Alawites, Shiites, Druze, and Sunnis each trying to achieve political power and neither was calling for some Muslim world, nation or identity to be reestablished in these states.

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Daniel Pipes replies:

I am well aware that there is no single body of Muslims - nor, for that matter, of Westerners. Nonetheless, in a short analysis, this is a useful short hand term.

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