The Saudi-Iran feud gets more ridiculous

I hope you’ll forgive the light posting the past couple of days. I’m back at it, but “back at it” has meant writing for LobeLog instead of here. For example, as you know, the annual Hajj took place over the weekend. This year, contrary to most years, there weren’t any Iranians making the pilgrimage (at least not officially), because Iran opted to boycott the Hajj as part of its long-running and incredibly destructive (though not to either of the principals) spat with Saudi Arabia. Specifically, the Iranians are upset about the terrible stampede that took place during last year’s Hajj, in which somewhere in the neighborhood of 2400 pilgrims were killed, many of them Iranian (the Saudis will only allow that about 700 pilgrims were killed, but nobody believes them).

Abdulaziz b. Abdullah Al al-Shaykh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia

On the eve of the Hajj, Iranian officials started sniping at the Saudis over last year’s disaster, in particular pushing the idea that management of the Hajj should be taken out of the Saudis’ hands and internationalized. In response, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia declared that, well, he declared that Iranians aren’t Muslim (later, the Saudis engaged in what I have to admit was a pretty clever bit of trolling by making Persian-language TV broadcasts from the Hajj, to let would-be Iranian pilgrims know what they were missing). At LobeLog I picked up from there, and managed by the mufti’s own standards to determine that there actually are no Muslims:

The theological implications of the mufti’s pronouncement are enormous and, presumably, escaped him. If Iranian Shi‘a cannot be Muslim because they descend from Zoroastrians, then by the same token Iranian Sunnis (descended from the same Zoroastrians), Turks (largely descended from shamanists), Indians and Pakistanis (Hindus), Pashtun (Buddhists), and, indeed, Arabs (polytheists, Jews, and Christians) don’t qualify as “Muslims” either. It’s also worth noting the commonalities between the mufti’s declaration, a classic example of takfir (the principle by which certain Muslim groups claim the right to declare that self-professed Muslims are actually unbelievers), and the ideology that animates the Islamic State, which is takfiri to its core.

Indonesia, the country with more Muslims than any other country on the planet, used to be predominantly Hindu and Buddhist, so you can rule Indonesians out of the faith as well. This takfir business can take you to some strange places.



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