"The British drew the boundary lines and created the Shia in an attempt to foment tribal warfare. The Shiite is a creation of the western mind."-- from a reader
1) "The British drew the boundary lines...."
The most important "boundary line" is that separating Arabs and Persians -- the line between Iraq and Iran. That line was drawn not by the British but by representatives of the Ottoman Empire (for Iraq did not then exist, but consisted of three Ottoman vilayets, Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul) and the Persian Empire. This Treaty of 1847 was brokered by Russia. Great Britain had nothing to do with it.
2) "The British drew the boundary lines and created the Shia in an attempt to foment tribal warfare."
The Shi'a have existed for 1300 years. They were not "created" by the British but rather by a dispute over the rightful line of succession to Muhammad, and from that initial rift, grew a number of other differences in belief and ritual. But on the matter of treatment of Infidels, Shi'a and Sunni do not differ.
The British who were in Iraq from 1920-1932, the period of Sir Percy Cox and Gertrude Bell, had no desire to "foment tribal" or any other kind of warfare. Gertrude Bell wrote in her letters about the Shi'a tribes that did not want to accept control by a government in Baghdad, especially one Sunni-dominated (Hashemite king, Sunni Arab elite, with an admixture of non-Sunnis and even non-Arabs).
3. "The Shiite is a creation of the Western mind."
This denies 1300 years of history, denies theology, denies the persecution and murder of Shi'a (hence the Shi'a-originating doctrine of taqiyya, designed to protect them from Sunni Muslims).
Posted on 12/30/2006 1:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald