2 May 2013

Sunni – Shiite Rivalry Revealed to be an Ancient Hoax

In a dramatic turnaround in the Middle East, it has been revealed this week that the so-called Sunni-Shiite rivalry is in fact an ancient hoax. The hoax appears to have been created by an eighth-century satirist who was generally regarded as a loser by his contemporaries.

Abu-Hayyan Zafer al-Ajayebbi, as he was known in his native Basra in modern Iraq, had penned a number of fake scrolls describing a deep Sunni-Shiite rivalry that were taken at face value by historians because he had not included a warning that the scrolls were works of satire. The sense of rivalry was passed down the generations uncritically and without proper regard to academic standards of source-checking.


The discovery was made by historians studying the scrolls at Bastik University in Turkey. It did not take them long to figure out that the scrolls were amateurish works of satire and not real historic documents. The author had used an irritating style of writing that appears to be factual when in fact it is describing nonsensical events and fictional characters. The scrolls spread throughout the ancient Islamic world when other amateur satirists copied them in order to make their friends laugh. This flippant attitude had dire consequences for the entire region.

Since the discovery was made public, Sunni and Shiite scholars confirmed its findings and announced the end of their traditional rivalry. Religious and political leaders flocked to announce their relief and promised to be more careful in the future because ‘sectarianism isn’t a joke’ in the words of one. Many were indeed left red-faced with these revelations.

The Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, known for his television program on Al Jazeera, said: “I feel really embarrassed now, this has taken me completely by surprise. From now on, I will double-check before espousing sectarian views.”

The Iranian Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei also apologised and announced the beginning of a new era of Sunni-Shiite cooperation and joked “there is no shortage of sects and religions to antagonise after all.”

Saudi-based Syrian cleric Sheikh Adnan al-Aroor was remorseful: "All this sectarian venom I had been dripping for years, I'm so upset. It was all for nothing. I must reassess my life choices now."

The Lebanese Salafi leader Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, who had recently called for jihad in Syria and Lebanon, was full of regret: “I’m so angry with myself, we nearly poured oil on the fire burning in Syria. Thank God the crisis has been avoided, we have established new procedures to avoid such a situation in the future.”

The leader of Hezbollah Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah also declared: “I can’t believe we almost started a regional war because of a mistake like this. But you all know that we at Hezbollah learn from our mistakes. This discovery was a divine gift.”

The ordinary Sunni and Shiite citizens that were interviewed expressed their delight with the news. Many said that the rivalry had been going on for so long that people had forgotten how it had started, and it was a good thing that someone decided to check.

For his part, the leader of al-Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri declared that he was satisfied with the discovery and announced that al-Qaeda will be re-assessing its priorities now and introducing new guidelines to omit antagonism towards Shiites and focus its hatred on other minorities and religions instead.

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Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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