One of the most remarkable theological anomalies is that the Iranians adopted Shia Islam under the Safavid Empire which is the very Arabian belief system that utterly destroyed and replaced their ancient religion.
Let me elaborate as readers should know the background so as to be able to make much more informed conclusions. The Persians had one of the oldest, most advanced and greatest imperial civilization in the ancient world for over 2000 years until they were conquered, slaughtered, plundered and subjugated by the Arabian Muslim uncivilized hordes in 651AD.
After being named Caliph (the 4th after Muhammad) in 657AD, Ali bin abi Talib established his capital in Kufa in present day Iraq. He and six more of the 12 Shia Imams are buried in the Shia areas of Iraq.
Because Islam’s Sharia imposes the onerous Jizya (penalty for not converting to Islam) upon all conquered peoples, hundreds of thousands of the subjugated peoples converted to Islam to escape this financial burden.
From 1501-1722 the Safavid Dynasty took over Iran. The Safavids had their origin in the Safavid Order of Sufism. It was an Iranian dynasty of Kurdish ancestry and became the first native Iranian dynasty since the Sassanids were conquered by the Arabs in 651AD. They reasserted the Iranian political identity and established control over a large empire of not only current Iran but also parts of the many surrounding countries such as (current) Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Georgia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Uzbekistan etc.
They were the ones who adopted and established the Twelver school of Shia Islam and imposed it forcefully not only on Iran but also on Anatolia, the Caucasus and Iraq. Thus the Iranians, in the most controversial theological turn of events, adopted the belief system of the very Arab people who subjugated, plundered and transformed their culture in the first place. In fact, and contrary to all other explanations, the Iranians have been ARABIZED not Islamized.
They after all believe in the Arabs Ali and his sons Hassan and Hussein as supreme leaders in their theology instead of the Persian Zoroasterian religion.
They write using Arabic script instead of the Pahlavi of the Sassanids.
Their holy book is the Quran of the Arabs, their occupiers. They pray to an Arabian pagan god called Allah instead of their one and only God, Ahura Mazda.
They pray facing the Kaaba in Mecca, an Arabian pagan shrine.
Hence, the Ayatollahs and clergy of Shia Iran subscribe to the beliefs of their oppressors and conquerors, the Arabs. They have been traitors to the Persian people all these centuries because they should have re- established their original religion instead of that of their persecutors.
This abnormality is similar to Jews converting to and or adopting the paganism of the Greeks and glorifying it.
To their credit, the Safavids established an efficient bureaucracy and state based upon checks and balances not upon whims and perceptions. They introduced innovations in architecture and were very much engaged in advancing Arts, Music and Education contrary to Sunni Sharia.
Although their dynasty was over in 1736, the most important legacy they left behind was the resurrection of Iran as a strong economic imperial power straddling East and West and the worst was the spread of Shia Islam to the Middle East.
65-70% of the Iraqi population is Shia oriented and are mostly in the southern provinces and Baghdad.
Iraq is made up of Arabs, Kurds, Iranians, Turkomen and others.
In the most basic theological terms, the Sunni-Shia split in Islam started with a controversy over who should take power after Mohammed’s death.
The Sunnis believed that any Quran knowledgeable and decent Muslim can be elected to the Khilafa (Caliph) while the Shia insist that ONLY a male from the bloodline of Muhammad such as his cousin and son in law Ali bin abi Talib and his descendants can be.
Today, of course, Iraq’s sectarian problems aren’t about seventh-century disputes; they’re about modern political power and grievances and these do tend to fall along Sunni-Shia fault lines.
Iraq became the first Arab country to be ruled by a Shia government since Salahadeen al Ayyubi (Saladin the Kurd) overthrew the Fatimids of Egypt in 1171.
Unfortunately, like most Muslim and Arab ruling leaders, they are mostly unwilling to share power the instant any of them takes the reign of government. Based on historical reality, neither the Shia nor the Sunnis accept being under the rule of each other, hence perpetuating conflict, instability and enormous corruption passed on with incredible misery upon the absolute majority of Iraqis.
The current unrest with violent and deadly demonstrations that are spreading all over Iraq is the result of obscene degrees of corruption by the ruling elites who have been plundering the state coffer of billions of dollars.
Even in the 1960’s, Iraq had better infrastructure, sanitation, electricity, water, education, jobs and a civil society than they have now in the 21st century because of the ineptitude of their leaders and the introduction of Sharia, the nemesis of all human intellectual, religious, moral, theological and judicial freedoms.
Although over 65% of Iraqis are Shia, nonetheless, they are Arabs not Iranians and hence Arab nationalism is extremely important in this cauldron of death, destruction and uncertainties engulfing Iraq today.
These demonstrations do not yet have a single leader or even a group of them. They are manifestations of spontaneous rage against the utter failure of their leaders to take care of the people in one of the richest countries on Earth with abundant natural resources.
The oppressive one year’s old current regime has stopped all internet communications to suppress the spread of the insurrection. Killing dozens of civilians so far, will not in the final analysis stop young unemployed and frustrated men (and some women) from trying to change the regime.
Once again in the Muslim world, most probably, another military leader will take over (as usual, in the name of the People) to fill his own coffer as soon as possible and the cycle of violence and corruption will continue to go on.
The anger by these Arab youth is also directed upon the Iranian Ayatollahs who are supporting the corrupt regimes that have taken over since the fall of Saddam Hussein. In fact, the Western news media are not telling Americans and Europeans that millions of both Shia and Sunni Iraqis bewail the days of Saddam when at least they had very little corruption and a functioning state. Many of them are saying “Allah bless you Saddam” just as hundreds of thousands of Iranians during recent football matches shouted in defiance of their oppressing clergy “God bless you Shah Reza”
For the Ayatollahs of Iran, Iraq’s stability is extremely important for their own survival since if the current regime is replaced by a nationalist Arab leader, their attempts to become the Hegemon of the Middle East will collapse.