For some it makes absolute sense to go to history books written a thousand years ago, speaking about events that happened 1400 years ago, to get a better idea of what they mean today. The fact that words continue while their meanings change does not matter. ‘Silly’ used to mean happy. With social and political names the matter is not as straightforward but the logic is pretty much the same. 2100 years ago Britannia was the name of today’s Britain. But it would be nonsensical to read anything about Britain’s modern social and political life by going back to Britannia’s social and political life. Can one understand modern Europe by reading the history of the regions called Europa 2000 years ago? Britain and Europe are words, and as words their meanings changes with time. The same applies to Sunnism and Shiitism. They are words and any thought of continuity of their meanings is a figment of imagination; albeit a useful one for time squeezed journalists and lazy policy makers. (…) So what do those words mean today? And more importantly are they useful to explain events in the Middle East? I cannot answer that here, but I will share six rules of thumb as food for thought to writing about them.
(The usual stereotype we are all expecting to see again on news and media… honestly from my experience hostility was always verbally expressed from sunni friends about shi’a, in Bahrein, KSA, Egypt … and barely never the opposite way. )
Food for thought is always nourishing, ladies and gentlemen, … but same as for ingesting aliments, learning needs some rules and ways to make a difference with simple knowledge stockpiling.
Here are some useful ones about how to look at Islam’s Main Sects.