A daily collage of religion news from the war in Iraq.

Also new today on The RevealerAtrios & the “Liberalish” Debate; & Julia Rabig writes onPoor, Poor Clergy.
Sadr v. Shrine
“Sadr’s forces have evicted more than 100 rival Shiite clerics and shrine employees, replacing them with their own armed militiamen, who roam the rooftops and courtyards of the shrine with rifles and rocket-propelled-grenade launchers hung over their shoulders…. Some residents and religious leaders bristled at Sadr’s occupation of the city, particularly the takeover of the Ali shrine. ‘Is his battle with the Americans or with the shrine?’ asked Wahab Sheriff, 44, whose family has lived in the holy city for seven generations.” — The Los Angeles Times‘ Edmund Sanders reports from Najaf on what may be the eve of a battle.

Worth noting one significant error in the report: Sanders writes of a “Imam Mahdi, a messiah-like figure in Islam who is the inspiration for the militia.” Only, Imam Mahdi, the Hidden Imam, is not a messiah-like figure. Shi’ites believe that Allah hid this imam to protect his life around 1100 years ago, and that he will eventually return to lead humanity in a battle against evil. After which Jesus — yes, Jesus — will return along with other Muslim prophets. Imam Mahdi is a “gift from God” — but he is not God, or the son of God. Nor is he, properly speaking, a savior, since salvation is essentially a Christian doctrine. The Hidden Imam is an apocalyptic theological figure, but not messianic, in the Christian sense Sanders uses it here.

Bogeyman v. Bogeyman
The Americans have their myths — “the phantom-like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s ‘man in Iraq,'” said to be behind every bombing — and the Iraqis have theirs, reports Nir Rosen inMother Jones. “That’s the way it is in Baghdad these days. Sunnis and Shi’ites are united — like never before — in the belief that the Americans and the Jews are responsible for all the sectarian attacks. They reason that the Americans want to remain in Iraq and are trying to provoke a civil war to serve as a pretext for staying. The Jews are blamed simply because they’re the Jews. In Iraq, ‘the Jews’ are everywhere — feared and loathed. The Jewish hands are always working their evil, the Jewish fingers reaching into every nook and cranny, selling drugs and pornography, defiling Islam.” More…

The Magic of CNN
Faiza, the mother of A Family in Bagdhad, is being driven to to God by CNN. The news she sees is so full of distortions, she writes, that she has no choice but to pray. When she volunteers to round up escapees from Fallujah for a CNN correspondent to interview, the correspondent declines; Westerners, he explains, “will say those from the street are liars.”

“What world are we living in?” asks Faiza. “The truthful one is accused…the liar says what he wants…and everybody believes him…. And lying voices are stronger and louder. But our faith in God doesn’t shake. He will expose this lie in his own way….And will do more magic than the magician.”