The difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims is not Islamic beliefs or spiritual differences, but politics. The division of Sunni and Shia Muslims started after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Sunni Muslims believed that the new leader of the Muslim nation should be elected out of those most capable of the job. Shia Muslims believed that leadership should be passed to his cousin or son-in-law. The leader was elected out of those most capable of the job. Abu Bakr was the first Caliph of the Islamic nation.
The word “Sunni” in Arabic means “one who follows the traditions of the Prophet.” The word “Shia” in Arabic means “a group or supportive party of people.” They are also known as “followers of the Prophet.”
Shias believe that Imams are descendants of the Prophet. Sunnis accept that the first four Caliphs were followers of Mohammad, but do not grant any kind of divinely inspired status to their clerics. Afghanistan is made up of 84 percent Sunnis and 15 percent Shias. Most Pashtuns are Sunni Muslims, while most Hazaras are Shia Muslims.
In “The Kite Runner” Amir and Baba are Sunni Muslims and Hassan and Ali are Shia Muslims. Hazaras are generally Shia Muslims and Pashtuns are generally Sunni Muslims. They have different beliefs but between Amir and Hassan it does not make a difference. Hassan is called derogatory names by Assef and some others because he is a Hazara and a Shia Muslim. Amir is not because he is a Pashtun and a Sunni Muslim.
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