Saturday, December 5, 2015

"Know Yourself and Your Enemy and Win 100 Battles Without Jeopardy" — 孙 子

Self-Appointed ISIS "Leader" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
(Born in Samarra, Iraq as: Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali Muhammad al-Badri al-Samarrai)
(His name: al-Badri al-Samarrai means al-Badri from Samarra) 

 Related: Religions Around the Globe

This post is long, actually dealing with two topic which will be clear as you read the post. I have tried to make it both comprehensive and timely to fit the times we now live in. Enjoy.

Introduction: As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world's largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth (Pew report). Islam was second, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent of the global population and the fastest growing of all religions.

Note: The editors of the World Christian Encyclopedia shows a comparative survey of churches and religions from AD 30 to 2200. There are listed 19 major world religions which are further subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. There are some 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world alone. Therefore, using that analysis we can see that some other estimates put that number to be roughly 4,200 religions in the world. People sometimes use the term “religion” interchangeably with “faith or belief system.” Religion also differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect – hence the larger number as the major ones have been sub-divided as cited for the overall Christian group.

Confusing – yes, it is and that is the root of the turmoil all these millions of years we can suppose. It’s kind of like today with so many various opinions and views about almost any topic or subject wherein people hold a different view or opinion just to be different – or so it seems. At least in my humble view. Lastly, imagine how many people have been killed or whatever and all in the name of religious beliefs or anger at those who don’t believe the same way as others.

World focus these days seems to be on Islam, Muslims, and Muhammad and all that entails.  

Muhammad, is the Prophet of Islam, and is seen by non-believers as its founder, but by almost all Muslims as its last prophet sent by God to mankind to restore Islam which they believed to be the unaltered original monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, Moses,  Jesus, and other prophets. 

He had united Arabia into a single Muslim polity and ensured that his teachings, practices, and the Qu'ran, which Muslims believe was revealed to him by God, formed the basis of Islamic religious belief.

He was born approximately in 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca. He was orphaned at an early age and was raised under the care of his paternal uncle Abu Talib. After his childhood Muhammad primarily worked as a merchant. Occasionally, he would retreat to a cave named Hira in the mountains for several nights of seclusion and prayer; later, at age 40, he reported being visited by Gabriel in the cave and received his first revelation from God.

Three years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that God is One and that complete surrender (lit. Islam) to him is the only way acceptable to God, and that he was a prophet and messenger of God, similar to the other prophets in Islam.

Muhammad gained few early followers, and met hostility from some Meccan tribes. To escape persecution, Muhammad sent some followers to Abyssinia before he and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina (then known as Yathrib) in the year 622. This event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar, also known as the Hijri Calendar. In Medina, Muhammad united the tribes under the Constitution of Medina.

After eight years of intermittent conflict with Meccan tribes, Muhammad gathered an army of 10,000 Muslim converts and marched on the city of Mecca. The attack went largely uncontested and Muhammad seized the city with little bloodshed. He destroyed 360 pagan idols at the Kaaba.

In 632, a few months after returning from his Farewell Pilgrimage, he fell ill and died. Before his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam.

The revelations (known as Ayah, lit. “Sign [of God]”, which Muhammad reported receiving until his death, form the verses of the Qu'ran, regarded by Muslims as the “Word of God” and around which the religion is based. Besides the Qu'ran, Muhammad's teachings and practices (Sunnah), found in the Hadith and Sira literature, are also upheld by Muslims and used as sources of Islamic law (see Sharia).  He is reported to have had 13 wives with 2 sons and 6 daughters, but even that has been disputed by some.

Related to all this:

Caliph: The Sunni Muslims of Islam stipulates that, as a head of state, a Caliph should be elected by Muslims or their representatives. Sunni Islam is by far the largest denomination of Islam. As of 2009, Sunni Muslims constituted 87-90% of the world's Muslim population, and it is the world's largest religious body, followed by Roman Catholicism.

Sunni adherents believe that Muhammad's father-in-law Abu Bakr, not Ali ibn Abi Talib (that Shia believe), was his proper successor – hence the long road of conflict and bloodshed even today.  

Followers of Shia Islam, are Muslims who believe a Caliph should be an Imam chosen by God from the Ahl al-Bayt (the family of the house that is: Muhammad's direct descendants). Shia Islam is the second-largest branch of Islam (behind Sunni). They constitute some 10–13% of the world's Muslim population. Between 68% and 80% of Shias live in four countries: Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and India.

Shias also hold that the Islamic prophet Muhammad's proper successor as Caliph was his son-in-law and cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib. That primarily contrasts with Sunni Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad's father-in-law Abu Bakr (yeah, that name now used by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who runs ISIS and seeks his own Caliphate), and not Ali ibn Abi Talib as his proper successor.

I conclude with this question: How ironic is all this? I mean to kill or punish or harm or destroy people and things and supposedly in the name of “God, or Allah, or whomever or whatever happens to be the head of your religion and beliefs.”

That is a tough question to comprehend. I also believe and sadly, those marked differences are the main sources of a lot of the anger and murder and terrorism and hatred around the globe that we see today. That all seems more so than ever – or maybe it’s not??? Maybe those things are easier to spread and to be reported on and seen by millions in an instant (e.g., ISIS and their massive and effective and instant PR networking that suits their needs and goals). 
Finally, I say in the strongest possible terms: I do know of any religion that advocates the kind of death and destruction that ISIS says they are doing in the name of Allah for the betterment of mankind, etc. etc. Those radicals who are religious zealots have a misreading of the Qu’ran and sadly, are able to convince others that what they do is right and just – it is anything but and it is as bad as the persecution of Christians thrown to the lions by the Romans way back when. Only a madman and his followers will ever believe they are doing God’s work by the things they are doing in His name. And, to paint all Muslims or believers of Islam or any religion for that matter who conduct themselves as the radical terrorists do in the name of religion is also wrong. That also does great harm. 
Thanks for stopping by. This is my way of knowing who or what we are up against – kind of like the military teaches from Sun Tzu's The Art of War: “Know your enemy.”

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