We’ll the post-WW1 drawing of imaginary borders did mess up a lot, creating sunni states with a sizeable shia minority and vice versa - Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. And the Kurds into the mix - the largest ethnic group in the world without a nation state and you’ve created quite a mess, creating additional friction points between sunnis and shias.
Yes, literal interpretation of Quran is the problem. People in the West tend to dismiss this point because literally no one takes the Bible word-for-word immutable. Sure, some profess their belief in, I don’t know, every single word in the Old Testament but they’re not actually backing that up with actions - otherwise we would have slaves and stoning of adulteresses.
In the West it’s broadly acceptable for members of society to hold very specific wildly divergent doctrinal viewpoints and still be able to function inside the society. Sides may clash on doctrinal issues such as abortion, gay rights and exchange angry posts on Facebook but, extreme cases aside (McVeigh), they’re not actively trying to violently bring down the present system of government but to influence it from within through the democratic process.
So Westerners deep down believe, that like Christians, salafi islamists do not actually mean all that about sex slaves, division of plunder and the need to submit infidels to the will of Allah. That’s it’s just a method for adressing their specific grievances such as “islamophobia”, advancing their political agenda and what not.
Bad news - they actually mean it. I don’t know if you’ve read the Quran and the Hadiths but one things that immediately stands out is how weirdly specific they are. No ambiguous theological thought, just submit to the will of Allah and do so and so, in great detail. It’s a “how to” guide for desert tribesmen - prohibition of alcohol was the competitive advantage in battle in times when literally everybody was drunk all the time and personal hygiene requirements were designed to address disease outbreaks during military campaigns.
And here we come to the root of the problem - a bunch of backward warring desert tribesmen who lived virtually ignored for hundreds of years became awash with oil money. Like I said in my previous post, Saudi Arabia without the oil would have been Yemen - one of the poorest countries in the world.
It’s no surprise that the literal interpretation of Islam survived in three distinct places - what is today Saudi Arabia, Sudan and with Pashtuns in Afghanistan. All of these places were isolated and dirt poor. And then, one of them (later Sudan as well) struck rich.
It’s difficult to emphasize how backward the Arabian peninsula was. Ottomans, who nominally controlled the entire peninsula, controlled the coastline, Mecca and Medina and at the end of the 19th century built the railway from Aden to Palestine, never bothered to venture deeper inland. Why? Nothing else but sand, the occasional camel and a bunch of unhinged fanatics better left to their own devices.
So suddenly these unhinged fanatics started raking in billions of oil money and immediately set on taking over the sunni world with their literal version of islam. Don’t forget that 60 years ago socialism was the next big thing in the Arab world, slowly supplanted by the Saudi virulent strain of islam.
And slowly, Saudi funded mosques started spreading throughout the muslim world, from Pakistan to Europe, spewing hate. One of the bizarre side effects of this is that today, based on several studies, Pakistanis living the UK exhibit the strongest antisemitic attitudes, despite practically never been in contact with the Jews in history.
So to address this cancer-like spread of salafi islam, one has to address the funding from Gulf dictatorships - Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain… Killing ISIS footsoldiers is simply not enough.