Finding Healing in Division
August 2023
By a member of SEND’s Diaspora | North America team 

July 19 marked the beginning of the new Islamic year. But, instead of celebrating the new year with joy, one branch of Islam called Shia, welcomes it with 10 days of mourning. They do this to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussain, the grandson of Mohammed, who was killed in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD.During these 10 days you will often see black cloth draped near Shia Mosques with slogans written on them. On the 10th and final day, there is a procession. Many times, the men will whip and beat themselves into a frenzy with rope or chains that have small knives, marching along even if it results in hospitalization. This self-inflicted pain helps them remember the great loss that they suffered when Hussain was martyred.The Great DivideThere is another Muslim sect that does not participate or perform this mourning ceremony. The Sunnis are a group that believes that the leadership of Islam should be elected from among current senior leaders. This division came soon after Mohammed died. The Shia felt the leadership of Islam should follow the family line of Mohammed while the Sunnis felt otherwise.The division became so heated that Ali, Mohammed’s son-in-law and the first Shia leader, was assassinated. Not long after, one of Ali’s sons was poisoned. His other son, Hussain, was killed in that massive fight between the two groups called the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. The Sunnis, who were larger in number, defeated the Shias and have basically ruled the world of Islam ever since.There has been an ongoing animosity between these groups ever since. You can also see this played out today politically on the world stage: Iran is mostly Shia, and Saudi Arabia is mostly Sunni. These two countries are constantly at odds with each other.

Two muslim friends hugging

Brokenness Can Lead to OpennessYou and I might wonder what difference this makes to us? On the surface, both groups seem adamantly opposed and closed to the gospel. However, I think that perhaps the oppression that the Shia branch has felt over the centuries from the Sunnis has helped prepare their hearts to soften to the gospel.We are hearing about the Holy Spirit moving in powerful ways in Iran to draw many former Shia Muslims to Jesus. For some strange reason, many of us have to be at the end of our ropes before we turn to Jesus. We struggle, we strive, and we seek to find a way forward ourselves. Yet, we always fall short.It is in his divine timing, that he calls us to himself. Many Muslims, having tried Islam their whole lives, are now realizing that it is not providing answers to the questions they have. Where can they find true peace and hope? Where can they find forgiveness, love, and acceptance? They certainly are not finding any of these things in Islam.Can you and I see beyond the smoke screens of toughness and anger? Can we see beyond the veil of darkness that has consumed them for so many years? Can we shine the love and light of Christ and bring hope into hopelessness? They are lost unless they hear that Christ loves them with an everlasting love. They are lost unless they hear that Jesus went to the cross for their sins and that he rose from the dead, conquering sin and death once and for all.The apostle Paul says it so clearly in Titus 3:3-5, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated, and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (NIV) What Christ has done for us, he can do for them. Make it so, Lord Jesus!


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