Afghanistan (MNN) — Afghans fear a renewed wave of terrorism after two suicide bombings at Shia mosques.
Shia and Sunni Muslims
Nehemiah from FMI says this violence has roots dating back to the death of Muhammed. “Shia Muslims believe that Ali, who was Muhammed’s cousin and son-in-law, should have been his successor. Instead, Abu Bakr, Muhammed’s faithful friend and father-in-law, was chosen to be the first of the rightly guided caliphs. Ali was chosen later as the fourth caliph in 656. But his followers disagreed, and so the Muslim community split.”
From there, the two branches diverged. Shia Islam follows a more centralized structure, Nehemiah says, believing in one leader for all. “Sunni Islam is more diverse with each country having its own religious leaders. Today, about 65% of Muslims are Sunni. Sunni Muslims are the majority in most Muslim countries other than parts of Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Pakistan. Iran is mostly Shia.”
The Taliban and ISIS-K
In Sunni-majority Afghanistan, groups like ISIS-K see the Taliban as not violent enough towards Shia Muslims. Nehemiah reports many Taliban fighters are deserting and joining the more radical ISIS-K.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has failed to operate as Afghanistan’s government after years of fighting against the civilian government. Nehemiah says, “Life is dead. No one is coming to work. No one is going to school. People have stopped coming to the offices. So they are a completely failed state now.”
“If ISIS-K takes over Afghanistan in a few weeks or months, I won’t be surprised.”
Ask God to protect Afghan Christians caught up in this struggle. Nehemiah says Sunni Muslims see Shia Muslims as heretics. But they see Christians in an even worse light.
The header photo shows ISIS-k fighters who surrendered in 2018 after being defeated by Taliban forces. (Photo courtesy of Mirwais Bezhan (VOA), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)