General Question

gailcalder's avatar

What are the major differences between the Sunnis and Shiiites?

Asked by gailcalder (92points) November 26th, 2006
Can this ? be answered in less than a thesis?
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16 Answers

ben's avatar
I just saw a cnn video about this, though it was only mildly enlightening... this article has a link to it midway through the page:
ben's avatar
A quick search also reveals this article:
Michael's avatar
Very briefly: The schism dates back to a succession battle over who was the rightful leader of the Ummah (Muslim community). Some, those who would become the Shiites, believed that only members of Muhammad's family could properly lead the community. Others, Sunnis, did not feel that way. Sunnis are the majority (almost 90% of Muslims are Sunni), but some key Muslim countries, like Iran and Iraq are predominantly Shiite.
gailcalder's avatar
Thanks, William. Very clear explication considering the brevity. Too bad they can't get along better, like the Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform Jews. (Hi, Ben. Thx for sites.)
Abby's avatar
Also, I think it has become a class divide in the more recent past. Not sure who is who, though.
Evan's avatar
The official break was in 680, or more specifically October 10th, 680 - when Husayn, who had refused to acknowledge Yazid as the a legitimate caliph, died when his 72 warriors attacked Yazid's 10,000. Husayn was the 3rd in the succession line, after Hasan, who followed Ali. The term Shi'is, or Shi'ites, comes from Shi'at Ali (the Party of Ali). The movement was, in the begining, really a political movementt couched in religious terms (that leadership should be continued through the Hashimite clan, which was Mohammed's clan, through his cousin Ali, since Mohammad had no sons).
Evan's avatar
Later on, the two sects developed more distinct differences, they developed separate traditions and over time. Also, Persians have only really been associated with Shi'ism since about 1500 as a result of Safavid invluence (which begain in Azerbaijan, and moved south).
Evan's avatar
(sorry for all they typos above.. i was caught up in the reading and forgot to proof read) :) :)
gailcalder's avatar
Thank you, typos or no. Interesting how peoples can find reasons to hate each other, isn't it? I guess that it all started w. the 35 members of a tribe wanting to keep the cave, water and food supplies for themselves. That involved turning their aggression outwards and bopping the neighboring tribes rather than stabbing their cavemates for snoring too loudly.
vampy's avatar

that is so ignorent crap.

gailcalled's avatar

@vampy; if your unparsable, misspelled and vague outburst is directed at me, shame on you. Do some reading about the research done on aggressive behaviors in early man and primates before you spout off teen-aged drivel that is helpful to no one (but maybe says something abut YOUR latent aggression.)

Scholarly research done by E O WIlson, PhD

vampy's avatar

lol all am gona say is that arabs started using cars instead of camels ages ago incase you havent noticed. and i bet you anything you dont even know who Ali or Mohamed i dont mean to be disrespectful or anything just read more first.

gailcalled's avatar

@vampy: the combustion engine was developed in the late 19th century for popular use. The conflict between Sunnis and Shiites started for undocumented ideological reasons (as most religious or ethnic conflicts begin) in the 7th century. Very few fossl-fueled cars then, unless – as you imply – I am once again sadly misinformed. All of the answers here are informed, which is the point of this site.

Jimmy the Greek would put good odds on my knowledge of Mohammed being pretty thorough, since I have been thinking and reading and writing since I was sentient – in the 1940’s. So how much would you like to wager?

A wonderful and horrifying novel about the conflict between Muslim and Hindus (and the various castes) in India during Indirah Gandhi’s regime is A FINE BALANCE, by Rohinton Mistry (and recommended by Rovdog.” It delves deeply into the irrational and complicated hatred of those “different” from us.

Vagueness of language is not informative, BTW. IE: “all arabs, “ages ago,” etc. How old are you, anyway?

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
syed_shaji's avatar

Assalamualaikum(may peace be on you)....

Many Non-Muslims and unfortunately even many Muslims have this misconception that today in Islam there are two main groups of Muslim beliefs i.e the Sunni and the Shia…

Let me clarify that shia-ism came into existence only because of political differences….

If we read the Holy scripture of Muslims i.e Quran we wont find any words like shia or sunni in it…

Instead the Quran teaches not make any sects…

Allah(God Almighty) says in the Quran :

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. (3:103)

Here Allah says to the Muslims to hold firmly to the rope of Allah i.e the Quran and be not divided…

Further it is mentioned in chapter 6 verse 159 in which Allah says :

“Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects – you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do.”

What name did Allah(God Almighty) gave to His followers :

”‘And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you “Muslims” before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give zakah and hold fast to Allah . He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper.”” (22:78)

The following video might give you a better understanding :


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