Currently, Islam is divided into two main denominations: Shia and Sunni. About 75 to 80% of all Muslims are Sunni; another 10 to 20% are Shia. There are several smaller denominations (or “sects”) in Islam. However, many Muslims do not identify with any Islamic denomination, despite being counted as nominally Shia or Sunni. See the Wikipedia article on this topic.
Unfortunately, a new version of Islam is rising up: violent extremist fundamentalism. The fundamentalists of any religion oversimplify every belief, dogmatize every belief, and then villainize all who disagree. Fundamentalism, speaking generally, is not necessarily connected to violence. But many Islamic fundamentalists believe that they have a right and a duty from God to use violence to spread Islam, to force conversions, and to severely punish anyone who violates their understanding of morality and religion.
This trend toward fundamentalism and violence is developing among Sunnis, especially in the group called ISIS, and among Shias, especially in the Twelvers of Iran. Both groups adhere to a similar extremist version of Islamic eschatology, which requires believers to make war against infidels and apostates, so as to usher in the Islamic extremist version of the End Times. They expect an apocalyptic war, which will result in a single worldwide Islamic kingdom (caliphate). And they intend to require all persons worldwide to convert to their version of Islam or be killed. Convert or die is their motto.
These ideas — fundamentalism, extremism, apocalyptic war, a worldwide Islamic State — are not specific to Shia or Sunni or any other denominations. Moreover, the oversimplification of Islam found in this fundamentalism has a tendency to sweep away all of the differences between Shia and Sunni theology. As a result, a new version of Islam is developing, which is neither Sunni nor Shia. It is a violent fundamentalist version of Islam, which is driven by the desire to force everyone to agree to their version of religion.
Currently, this “version” of Islam is not a formal sect. It is a set of ideas that is driving away all opposing theology. It is a set of ideas that is bringing together Muslims regardless of denomination. But I believe that this set of ideas, and this process of persons coalescing around those ideas, will soon result in the formal proclamation of a new Islamic sect. And I believe that this new sect in Islam will become the majority denomination of Islam in the Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa, and that it will play a major role in the events of World War 3 and World War 4.
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