Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The origins of Shiite Islam

from The Christian Science Monitor

The major Shiite holidays celebrate the now glorious defeats and martyrdoms of Imam Ali and Imam Hussein, Ali's son ... In Iraq and Iran, the holiday is marked by elaborate processions of men reenacting their own passion play, many of whom self-flagellate with chains to the beat of drums. Such expressions of piety are looked at with disgust by hard-line Sunnis like the clergy in Saudi Arabia, who view the veneration of Hussein and other members of the prophet's family as a violation of monotheism. This view has frequently led extremist groups like Al Qaeda to attack Shiites as heretics.

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