Ian Morris’s attempt in the ES to explain 1400 years of Muslim history in 500 words neglects to mention that, theological speaking, in Islam you are meant to have a direct relation with god without any intermediary.
The history of the Sunni/Shia split is intrinsic to Islam and whilst we should attempt to understand it, our primary aim should be to stop the sectarian violence of the Middle East reaching our own shores. This would involve stopping the likes of Anjem Choudury and his mob pedalling anti-Shia rhetoric and also Sheikh Al-Habib doing the reverse by inciting anti-Sunni sentiments. We should not only react to the actions of these divisive factions, we should be proactive in our approach to stopping them.
The sectarian nature of the violence is also a very good reason not to get involved in direct action in the Middle East.