Islam or Submission.
The Arabic term "Islam" itself is usually translated as "submission"; submission of desires to the will of God. It comes from the term "aslama", which means "to surrender" or "resign oneself". The Arabic word salaam (سلام) ("Peace") has the same root as the word Islam.
Islam or Submission
But what do we submit to? Is it to God or people who say that they speak for [interpret the Scriptures, Bible, Torah or the Quran/Hadiths]?
In Christianity, Judaism and yes Islam we have had religious leaders who say that they
1] They, and only they have studied the above religious books sufficiently to understand them.
2] Their interpretation are the correct ones and as such are not up for discussion.
3] The only way to understand the above books is in the original language, be it Hebrew, Latin/ Greek and yes Arabic.
4] If after reading the above religious books we come to our own conclusions, which in some occasions disagree with the conclusions/interpretations. We are branded as heretics at the least or at the worst blasphemers.
By the way all religious authorities have used the term blasphemy, [and with it the death penalty] if we continued to disagree. Which in most cases deters arguments and makes people wary in questioning their authority.
5] Yet religious authorities do not always have the same views, and come to the same conclusions. Apart from [Trust us we know best, or else] and we are in charge.
Yet over the years brave individuals have challenged these viewpoints, and luckily survived. Also over time some of these viewpoints have been proven wrong, [or at the least miss guided]
In Judaism there are different sects that whilst still being Jews have vastly different viewpoints and the way they relate to each other and non-Jews,
In Christianity the two main sects, Catholics and Protestantism fought religious wars on how their leaders viewed Christianity. Indeed when I was growing up you was expected to have little or no mixing with Catholics. The same applied to Catholics in relations with Protestantism. Plus the leaders of both main Christian sects looked down on non-conformist Christian sects.
Islam had disagreements in interpretation of Islam after Mohammed died. The biggest disagreement led to the Sunni-Shiite after the death of Muhammad in AD 632. Shias believe that Ali, who was Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, should have been Muhammad’s successor. Instead, Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s faithful friend and father-in-law, was chosen and became the first of the ‘rightly guided caliphs’.
Ali was chosen later as the fourth caliph in AD 656, but his followers disagreed and so the Muslim community split. Shias believed that a direct relative of Muhammad should be the leader and some espouse that Muhammad himself had dictated that Ali should be his successor.
Over time, both Sunni and Shia Muslims developed their own theology, groupings and creeds. Shia Islam is more authoritarian in structure, looking to one supreme leader, [similar to Roman Catholics and the Pope] whereas Sunni Islam is more diverse, with each country having its own religious leaders. [Protestantism]
So all three main religions have had differences on the interpretations of their theology.
So the religious leaders can come to different conclusions, so the theology is not set in stone.
Next if you really look into it, the infighting between the religious leaders was not over theology, it was who as going to be the leader of the mass of people that they wish to control.
The majority of people in the west have are cynical outlook on religion, whilst happy to let people have their own religious beliefs. So long as they do it quietly and leave the majority to get on with their own lives. Indeed Political Parties appear to have taken over in the west from religious parties/sects.
Islam is now trying to be a world political and religious power base. But it has a few problems.
1] Who will be the overall leader. Hence all the talk of a new caliphate.
2] Which sect of Islam is to be the dominant sect, or can they come to some sort of compromise? But I can’t see the Saudi – Iran differences come to a compromise any time soon.
3] Most of the conflict in the Mid-east leads on from 1 & 2] above. The west may or not be playing one side of against the other [you will come to your own conclusions anyway]
What the rank and file Muslim should be doing [IMHO] is to think hard and long about their own religious beliefs and how to interpret it for today’s world. Not a world of a 1000+ years ago, just as Christians have done over the last few hundred years.