Differences Between Shiite and Sunni Islam

Topics: Islam, Iraq, Ali Pages: 7 (1669 words) Published: December 28, 2009
Differences between Shiite and Sunni Islam

Charles Rasmussen

Grand Canyon University

INT 463

Differences between Shiite and Sunni Islam

Mohammed founded the religion around the seventh century in Medina, just north of Mecca. His religion was divided into two factions. The two branches that arose from his founding are the Sunni and the Shiites. This was due in part because Mohammed left no clear successor to fill his role as the sole leader. Ali, Mohammed’s son was finally named

“Shia” is short for Shi’atu “which means the followers of Imam Ali” or “a faction of Prophet Ali”. Ali was the first cousin of Mohammed and the Shiite’s believed that God had chosen Ali to be the successor upon Mohammed’s death. They also believe that Mohammed had also appointed Ali to be his successor.

The Sunni’s believed that Mohammed’s inline successors, the first four caliphs, rightfully took their places as leaders of all Muslims after Mohammed. They only recognize these heirs of the caliphs as the legitimate religious leaders. There are four major Sunni sub-sects. Most Sunnis follow the Hanafi doctrine named after scholar Abu Haneefa. It is said that over 85% of the Muslims are Sunni’s. Their belief is based on the Qur’an. This Qur’an is the format for the education of the Sunni Muslims. Sunni comes from the word meaning followers.

Shiites in their version only believe that the heirs of the prophet Ali, the forth caliph are the legitimate successors of Mohammed. The Shiites believe the in the Resurrection of the “Absent 12th Imam” who mysteriously disappeared from earth during his childhood and will return back to earth someday to fill the earth with justice and peace for all. His name is Mahdi. The place where this child disappeared was known as the Sunni triangle.

Sunnis like to go to the mosques, where as the Shiites worship in Husseineyyahs. The Husseineyyahs are similar to mosques, where in addition to the prayers and services provided, they also mourn Imam Hussein. He was Ali’s son and Mohammed’s grandson. He is revered for standing up for what he believed in and refusing to cocede in a battle where he was out numbered, he along with his entire extended family were slaughtered..

Shiites have developed strict and independent rules for their clergy and hold them in high reverence. Sunni’s on the other hand appointed their clergy and regard them as mere government officials. Shiites are expected to donate approximately 20% of their wages to their clergy. The Sunnis have nothing such as this in their doctrines.

In the Arab and Muslim world the majority are Sunni’s. The Shiites rule the world in Iraq. The Shiites believe in the words of the prophets to be stronger and hold more value then the Sunni’s. Shiism is the smaller branch of Islam who supported Ali. Ali was never accepted by the majority of the Muslims. Wahhabism is a puritanical form of Sunni Islam and is practiced in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is derived from a Muslim scholar. Mohammed bin Abd al Wahhab from the eighteenth century. Wahhabism applies to a Sunni Islamic movement seeking to purify Islam of any and all innovations, practices and ideas that deviate from the original teachings of the Prophet Mohammed and his followers. Less than a century of the first teachings of Mohammed, the Islamic state encompassed an area from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to Central Asia. The empire soon broke out into civil war and fractured. This first war was known as Fitna, then a second war Fitna two. The leadership of the Muslim world would now be claimed by rival dynasties all claiming the caliphate. During the late 18th and 19th centuries C.E., Islamic regions fell under the power of the European imperial powers. Now after many centuries the major claims to the caliphate had dissipated. Mohammad had managed to unite all the various tribes on the Arabian Peninsula during his reign under Islam. But upon the death of Mohammad, a series of caliphs governed...

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