Friday, September 11, 2009

Fatefull schism in Islam

The Wall Street Journal has a book review by Eric Ormsby on After the Prophet by Middle East journalist Lesley Hazleton.  It deals with the Sunni-Shia schism that developed after Muhammad died; a schism that still haunts Islam and the world.
When the Prophet ­Muhammad died ­unexpectedly after a brief illness in ­Medina, in present-day Saudi Arabia, on June 8, 632, his followers were stunned. A contemporary called it "the greatest of calamities." Their grief was not only for the loss of an irreplaceable leader. ­Muhammad was "the seal of the prophets," the last in a line that stretched back to Adam. He had ­received revelations as "God's emissary" for some 20 years—revelations that he had communicated to the ­embattled community of his followers, first in Mecca and then, after the hijra, or emigration, in 622, in Medina—but now they came to an end. It was as though God, who revealed Himself through the Prophet, had suddenly fallen silent.

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