About 70 percent of the group identifies as Shi’a and the rest as Sunni. However, the Shabak religious practice is a fusion of elements from various Islamic sects and local beliefs. Hence, their rituals differ from most of their orthodox Shia or Sunni neighbors: Shabaki religion includes elements of Christianity, namely the confession, which is an important feature of Catholicism. Moreover, the Shabak religion incorporates some Yazidi elements.
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Madrasas generally taught calculation, grammar, poetry, history and above all the Qur’an and sacred law. At a higher level they taught literary subjects and arithmetic. While memorization of texts was emphasized, personal instruction, lectures and imitation of the teacher by students were also held to be crucial to minimize errors in religious understanding.
Observers nonetheless hope that MBS will succeed in curtailing the influence of Wahhabi clerics. Then again, his foreign policy does not appear to offer an effective means to combat terrorism. Saudi Arabia’s devastating bombing campaign in Yemen is a case in point. With the country now completely fragmented, extremists have thrived.
IS’s state-building efforts appear to have been thwarted for now. But saving the children exposed and potentially indoctrinated in its ideology is key to avoiding further terror attacks in the West, tackling the root causes of regional upheaval, and working toward a future where children play instead of fight, and schools teach instead of drill.
The pressing economic problems, paralyzing air pollution and transnational identity politics have made Khuzestan an important challenge for the Islamic Republic. Although the Arab separatist movements are still weak, the status quo, if left unchanged, will provide a breeding ground for further politicization of ethnic Arab identity in Iran. Internal Arab grievances will lead to more racialization, which could be exploited by Iran’s regional rivals, notably Saudi Arabia.
The culture wars, including the Valentine’s Day battlefield, suggest that Prince Mohammed’s effort to introduce a degree of greater social freedom and plan to halt Saudi funding of ultra-conservatism elsewhere is likely to have limited effect beyond the kingdom’s borders even though the kingdom with its traditionally harsh moral codes is/was in the Muslim world in a class of its own.
Like the Baathist ideology in its time, IS’s takfirist discourse, excommunicating Muslims on the basis of their supposed apostasy and promoted by Jordanian jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his Iraqi followers, is inseparable from the cycles of civil conflict that have plagued Iraq. It may re-erupt as IS has not been entirely defeated on the ground.
Although Sufis were marginalized for much of Qaddafi’s rule, circumstances have arguably worsened since he died. After the revolution, Sufis worried that new religious officials were inspired by Salafist ideologies, leading them to appoint extremist sheikhs in mosques that pro-Qaddafi preachers once occupied. Some of these new sheikhs quickly pressured authorities to replace other long-time Sufi imams with hardliners.
Central to the Saudi deradicalization approach is a process known as munassaha, which roughly translates as ‘counselling’. The process starts in prison and involves clerics engaging with convicts to persuade them that their notions of jihad are based on a misinterpretation of the Koran. However, the Saudi authorities say the success rate of their approach has been as high as 90 per cent