The differences between Sunni and Shiite Islam
Since it is looking more and more likely that the eagerly anticipated Iraq civil war may finally be upon us, a number of readers have written to me asking: "LTEC, can you explain the differences between Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam?"
I'd be glad to. Keep in mind, however, that this is a very complex issue. The answer is not simple, but if my readers will be patient and stick with me, I think they will find this explanation of the differences between the two major sects of one of the world's great religions to be both informative and illuminating. So here goes.
Sunni Islam split off from Shiite Islam (or maybe it was the other way around) a very long time ago, due to some event or other that no one in their right mind gives a rat's ass about today. Ever since then, Sunnis have wanted to kill Shiites for no particular reason, other than that there weren't enough worse infidels around; and Shiites have felt similarly about Sunnis. There are a few other, very minor differences, but they make even less sense.
I hope you've found this explanation useful. If it is well received, I plan to post other explanations about the world of religious thought. I am currently working on a post explaining the theological complexities of the disagreements between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.