Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.
Wow! The things we talk about in the office of RHCO. INC. Last week had a client ask if I knew anything about the Sunni and Shiites. I do. It was back in the 1970’s when my first encounter with the Sunni & Shiites began. It was a part of one of the most fascinating fields of study I’ve even had the pleasure of pursuing.
Over at The Ohio State University, back in the early 1970’s, just as a fill in class, I signed up for what was listed as “Comparative Religion”. Now coming from a long, long line of Baptist Preachers, and always knowing that I could preach if I choose to, I viewed this class as a sure “A” of sure. With my dad and all my uncles being Baptist Preachers, I thought, bring it on.
After enrolling in the class, it was the first day, the first hour, the first 2 minutes, when the professor said “In this class we will talk about many religions. Christianity will not be one of them.” It was at that point I found myself thinking “Uh Oh”.
With that shaky start, I embraced myself around Comparative Religion for a total of 6 semesters. I’ve been asked why I studied so long something I never expected to use later in life. The simple fact was I had to get the first 5 semesters out of the way before they’d let me talk about something I knew, Christianity. It was worth the wait. And then I got to preach the gospel according to BobbyRay.
That first class started right out with the Sunni and Shiites, then progressed into other religions I’d also never heard about. Things like Sōka-Gakkai, literally means the “Society for Creating Values,” is a religion in Japan. Not too old by many standards. Created in 1937, this religion has gone on to create its own political branch. Today it’s the most dominate political force in Japan.
Then came the Sikh religion, it was founded by Guru Nanak in the late 15th century C.E. in the Punjab region of what are today India and Pakistan. The centers of Sikh worship are known as gurdwaras (“house of the Guru”) and langar (communal refectory). All Sikhs must enter a gurdwara with bare feet and a covered head. A Sikh worship service includes prayer and singing hymns from scripture. The service is concluded by the distribution of karah prasad, a sacramental food made of flour, butter, and raw sugar that is shared by all to demonstrate equality and the rejection of caste. Sikhs attempt to live balanced lives of worship, work, and charity centered on community. Besides gurdwara worship, festivals are also important community activities. From this religion, we get one of our words in use to this day “Guru”, only our meaning is a little different than the Sikh.
Oh, I’m not trying to be a smart ass here, laying in the C.E. description in the above paragraph. That just means Common Era. it’s an alternative naming of the calendar eraAnno Domini (“in the year of the/our Lord”, abbreviated as AD) BC & AD are much more common that BCE & CE. This BC & AD thing was started back in the 6th century a Christian Monk, named Dionysius Exiguus. His intent was to reference the life of Jesus Christ. It’s interesting to note that neither BCE, CE or BC, Addresses the year zero. The two are numerically the same; thus 2015 CE corresponds to AD 2015 and 400 BCE corresponds to 400 BC. That C.E. kinda threw me the first time I saw it. Oh my, the things you learn when you study something quare.
I almost forgot what I was going to say about the Sunni & Shiites. In some ways these folks are similar to the Hayfield and McCoy Clans way back in the mountains of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. Those similarities are; they mostly have black beards, they pretty well all carry guns, and want to kill the other side every chance they get, they all believe that God is on their side, the battle has carried on into succeeding generations, many, many generations.
Both the Sunni and Shiites have much more things in common than different. They both believe in Ali. The Prophet Mohammad, and the teaching of the Koran are the basis of both groups. Where they part ways is not the core values of Islam but the transfer of power after the death of the Prophet Mohammad. One side wanted the new Puba to be the son of the Prophet, the other side wanted an electoral process of sorts. And so the war began. To this day the war continues. I suspect that very few on either side now know the real origin of the dispute with the other side. Just tech ‘em to kill and never ask why.
This thing that today we all ISIS can just as well be called Sunni, ( or ISIL as only the President of the United States calls them) it’s simply a part of that long, long war between the Sunni and the Shiites. In our nation today, with concerns for safety being expressed in light of the unparalleled influx of God only knows who and what on the southern border, reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago.
An old Indian Chief had gone high into the mountains above the desert to die. Once there in what he expected to be his final resting place he found a rattle snake near death from the extreme cold in the high mountains. The snake said “Please take me down the mountain to the warm sun of the desert. Let me live out the rest of my life in the sunshine”.
The Indian Chief in a moment of compassion for the snake, for he did not want to have to watch him die in the freezing cold on the mountain top. The old Chief had spent a lifetime watching brave solders die without ever having a chance to life out their life in the sunshine.
So he picked up the snake. He then carried the snake back down the mountain toward the desert floor. When the felt the heat of the desert, he stopped and bent over to put the snake on the ground. As he was being lowered toward the ground, the snake bit the Chief.
The old man, now doomed not to die on the mountain top as he had so wanted, but soon to die in the desert heat asked “After what I have done for you, why did you bite me? The snake replied “When you very first picked me up, you knew, you very well knew I was a Rattle Snake.”
The moral of this story is simple: COMPASSION MUST ALWAYS BE TEMPERED WITH COMMON SENSE.
From The EastWing, Sunni & Shiites, Comparative Religions, BCE CE BC AD, Hatfield & Shiites, ISIS Sunni & McCoy’s, The Chief & The Snake.
I Wish You Well,