However, the problem with a religion based upon law is that if someone else has a different understanding of what laws are required, it becomes your duty to fix that person, or one of you might die while you try. For Christians this comes across in the door to door style of evangelism where the person seems convinced that if you don't agree with their rules they can't leave the house until they change your mind.
The claim of Islam is that they all have the same fundamental religion with minor differences based upon which of a handful of historical figures they follow for the correct interpretation of the Koran. This is true to some degree, it is those different interpretations of the Koran that cause all the trouble. The Shiites believe that it is secret meanings hidden within the text itself that is the important part of the religion, and that only an Imam can correctly interpret them. The Sunnis believe that the life of Mohamed after he completed writing the Koran is the key to correct interpretation of the Koran, and that the letter plus those examples are easy for anyone to understand.
Although it is clear in the Koran that no Muslim is ever to take the life of another Muslim, they seem to have both gotten over that restriction by claiming that the other's interpretation makes them less than a true Muslim. Therefore, except during the month of Ramadan, they hate each other more than they hate Christians and Jews. Of course, many moderate Muslims will point out that the Koran calls Christians and Jews children of the Book and a kind of brother. However, since neither of us follow all of their laws, and we encourage others to do the same, we can easily go from fellow children of the Book to infidels who fail to honor Allah or his prophet.
The problem with trying to bring peace to a country with both Shiites and Sunnis is that they don't want to have peace with each other. At least the religious leaders are convinced that peace is impossible until the other group changes their interpretation of the law, and they seem to have little difficulty finding followers willing to die for that cause.
The local population has little time for any of this, but most of them cannot read and are therefore poor Muslims at best. Also, their daily lives are filled with difficulties and hardships that leave them little time to worry about one interpretation of the law over another. But even here they are often fighting amongst each other, even though they are all of the same branch of Islam.
With all of that said, I do not believe the situation here is hopeless, but it is going to be difficult. For all that those who claim we shouldn't have come to begin with say about the loss of life due to this war, there are few Muslims dieing at the hands of the insurgents now than died at the hands of Saddam and his sons before the war. There are more and better hospitals and schools, power plants are being repaired, and the lives of the average person has improved. They and the world are better off today than they were three years ago, but those arguing against our presence here seem to be little deterred by the facts.
I look forward to going home, however. This has been an experience, but Dorothy was right, "There's no place like home."
Look here later for a defense of the non-legalistic religion of Christ.