Shia Islam (Arabic: شيعة Shī‘ah, sometimes spelled Shi'a), is the second largest denomination of Islam, after Sunni Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'as but the terms Shiites or Shi'ites are common Anglicisations. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shī‘atu ‘Alī (شيعة علي), meaning "the followers of Ali" or "the faction of Ali". Similar to other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is based on the teachings of the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an and the message of the final prophet of Islam, Muhammad. In contrast to other schools of thought, Shia Islam holds that Muhammad's family, the Ahl al-Bayt ("the People of the House"), and certain individuals among his descendants, who are known as Imams, have special spiritual and political authority over the community. Shia Muslims further believe that Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, was the first of these Imams and was the rightful successor to Muhammad and thus reject the legitimacy of the first three caliphs. Shias regard Ali as the most important figure after Muhammad. According to them, Muhammad suggested on various occasions during his lifetime that Ali should be the leader of Muslims after his demise. According to this view, Ali as the successor of Muhammad not only ruled over the community in justice, but also interpreted the Sharia Law and its esoteric meaning. Hence he was regarded as being free from error and sin (infallible), and appointed by God by divine decree (nass) to be the first Imam. Ali is known as "perfect man" (al-insan al-kamil) similar to Muhammad according to Shia viewpoint. Contents[hide] * 1 Doctrine * 2 Beliefs * 2.1 Succession of Ali * 2.2 Imamate of the Ahl al-Bayt * 2.3 Ismah * 2.4 Intercession * 2.5 Clergy * 2.6 The Occultation * 3 History * 3.1 Origin * 3.2 Safavid * 3.2.1 Akhbaris versus Usūlīs * 3.2.2 Majlisi * 4 Community * 4.1 Demographics * 4.2 Persecution * 4.2.1 Pakistan * 4.3 Calendar * 4.4 Holy cities * 5 Branches * 5.1 Twelver * 5.1.1 The Twelve Imams * 5.1.2 Principles of the Religion (Usūl al-Dīn) * 5.1.3 Ancillaries of the Faith (Furū al-Dīn) * 5.1.4 Ja'fari jurispudence * 5.1.5 Role of religious scholars * 5.1.6 Guardianship of the Jurisprudent * 5.2 Ismaili * 5.2.1 Ismā‘īlī Imāms * 5.2.2 The Pillars of the Ismā‘īlī * 5.2.3 ‘Aql * 5.2.4 Contemporary leadership * 5.3 Zaidiyya * 5.3.1 Zaidi Imāms * 5.3.2 Law * 5.3.3 Theology * 5.3.4 Unique Beliefs * 5.3.5 Zaidi States * 5.4 Ghulat * 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References * 8.1 Further reading * 9 External links
The position of Ali is supported by numerous Hadith, including Hadith of the pond of Khumm, Hadith of the two weighty things, Hadith of the pen and paper, Hadith of the invitation of the close families, and Hadith of the Twelve Successors. In particular, the Hadith of the Cloak is often quoted to illustrate Muhammad's feeling towards Ali and his family. Therefore, collections of sermons attributed to Ali are revered by Shi'as. Although there were several Shia branches through history, nowadays Shi'a Islam is divided into three main branches. The largest Shia sect in the early 21st century is the Ithnā ʿAshariyyah, commonly referred to in English as the Twelvers. Twelvers constitute the majority of the population in Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain,, and Iraq. Countries with a significant minority of Shia are Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Oman and Yemen. Other smaller branches include the Ismaili and Zaidi, who dispute the Twelver lineage of Imams and beliefs. The Shia Islamic faith is vast and inclusive of many...
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