Head of the Shiite opposition, left, and Sunni Muslim leader of a liberal opposition party, right, hold a sign reading "No Sunni, No Shia: One unified nation" on March 6, 2011.Hasan Jamali/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.

The Myth and History of Sunni-Shia Divide

Sunnis and Shias have lived together in peace for centuries, and up to the new millennium have barely had a history of bloody conflict. Why now? The Sectarian Elements of a Conflict The Middle East is a mess from which no one can claim exemption. The invasion of Iraq and the Syrian civil war have pulled all the already beleaguered regional governments into tragic quicksand, where alliances and animosities constantly shift. Everyone is stuck in an overly complicated nexus of relations, and the future is so murky no political leader can put forth a plausible way out. The world powers are…
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Analysis of Arab societies through sectarianism does not grasp the complex dynamics of identity politics in the region. MPC Journal/Hakim Khatib

Unlike Sects, Sectarianism Is Real In Arabic Speaking World

Last week, Saudi writer and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, wrote a piece in the London-based al-Hayat newspaper in which he argued that “Sunnis” were targeted as a group and called on them to ‘defend themselves as a sect’. Such flawed, reductionist and ill-informed analysis contributes to little more than reminding us that sectarianism is actually a fait accompli.

Why They Reject Religious Reform

Why They Reject Religious Reform

In a talk show on one of Egypt’s TV channels, an episode turned into a wrestling ring between two guests on a program, when one of the guests, lawyer Nabih Al-Wahsh, a close associate of Al-Azhar, took off his shoes and hit the reformist Sheikh Mustafa Rashid. The debate was about the daring religious edicts (fatwas) of Sheikh Rashid. Sheikh Rashid, a graduate of Al-Azhar himself and the Grand Mufti of Australia, has dozens of publications, fatwas and bold opinions that have been a subject of controversy in debates around Islamic jurisprudence since he issued them. His views are profoundly…
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General Adib al-Shishakli with officers of the Syrian Army in 1953. Front row, to his left sits Head of State, President Fawzi Selu and General Aziz Abdul al-Karim. In the back seat, in glasses, is General Amin Abu Assaf, Riad Kaylani, and Mahmud Shawkat

Remember Syria’s President Adib Shishakli

Nearly 52 years ago, a Syrian political leader hiding in exile was killed in the heart of Brazil. As Syria watchers continue to monitor and understand the country’s grinding civil war, the era of the former Syrian political figure Adib Al-Shishakli could yield some clues. The flag of the Syrian opposition factions bares the green, white, and black tricolor with three red stars. The very same flag once flew over Syria from its independence until the late 1950’s, a turbulent era marked by political intrigue, military coups, early experiments with democracy, and authoritarian rule. At the center of this era…
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Some of the thousands of platinum mine workers reporting for work at a Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa, in June 2014, after a five-month strike in the sector. South Africa’s economy is seen bringing down the continent’s overall growth rate this year. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Legacy of Imperialism and Development Prospects in Africa

This essay argues that Africa is undergoing changes in its economies in the 21st century, not only because of the role that China is playing but owing to intense competition from other Western countries and the Middle East. China’s role is within the capitalist world economy and within the patron-client model of integration that the Europeans followed after African countries achieved their formal independence from colonization. During the second half of the 20th century, northwest Europe remained the conduit for African integration into the US-centred global economy, despite the role of US-based multinational corporations. According to Pew Research Centre polls…
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Al Khalifa wal Moqattam, Cairo, Egypt - MPC Journal/Hakim Khatib

Islam and the Enlightenment

The intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th century that became known as the Enlightenment helped a new class to come to power in Europe. Neil Davidson asks why the more advanced civilisations of the Islamic world did not develop a similar movement of their own. In the current Western controversy over Islam, one theme recurs with increasing predictability. Many writers are prepared to acknowledge Muslim cultural and scientific achievements, but always with the caveat that Islamic civilisation never experienced an equivalent to the Enlightenment. “Islam never had to go through a prolonged period of critically examining the validity of…
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Men’s Hair Takes Centre Stage in Battle Over Legitimacy of Political Islam

The Muslim world’s battle over the legitimacy of political Islam has expanded to the soccer pitch as proponents and opponents of interpreting the faith politically seek to impose their public morals with men’s hairstyles and facial hair taking centre stage. At the core of the battle are fans and players, a reflection of society as a whole, who seek to exercise their right to choose their preferred styles often in opposition to efforts by autocrats to impose their will depending on their attitude towards public morals and political Islam. The crackdown on hairstyles is part of a larger battle to…
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Monotheistic Religions in Contrast

The three monotheist religious traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have more in common than in contention. All three believe God is one, unique, concerned with humanity’s condition. Each takes up the narrative of the others’ — Christianity and Islam carrying forward the story begun in the Hebrew scriptures of ancient Israel that define Judaism. Christianity affirms the vocation of Israel after the flesh, and Islam affirms the validity of the antecedent monotheist revelations, regarding Muhammad as the seal of prophecy and the Quran as a work of God. 


Violence More Common in Bible Than Quran

“Violence more common” in Bible than Quran, text analysis reveals The Old Testament was found to be more than twice as violent as the Quran An analysis into whether the Quran is more violent than the Bible found killing and destruction occur more frequently in the Christian texts than the Islamic. Investigating whether the Quran really is more violent than its Judeo-Christian counterparts, software engineer Tom Anderson processed the text of the Holy books to find which contained the most violence.

Silhouette of soldier

Terrorism: Then and Now

The year 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the Irish Easter Rebellion. Throughout the year I will try to revisit some of the lessons of Ireland’s struggle for freedom. Bombs explode in a subway. The victims are everyday people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. What follows is outrage: Track down the perpetuators. The people who set off the bombs are monsters and inhuman fanatics, thunder the authorities. But the year is not 2016; it is 1883 during the “Dynamite War” waged by mainly Irish-American members of the Fenians against the English occupation of…
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