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For example, in Saudi Arabia, Sunni Wahhabism is a prevalent and puritanical faction. Sunni Islam and Shia Islam are the two major branches of Islam or, in other words, two of the main sectarian divisions. They provide a structure or framework for a Muslim's life, just as pillars do for buildings. The division among Muslims is rooted from differences in political beliefs. Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images. Both Sunni and Shia Islam accept the Muslim teaching that Jesus is one among the many Prophets in Islam. Large Shiite minority communities are also in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Lebanon. The religious differences are so embedded in the culture that intolerance often leads to violence. The following chart compares some basic facts about Shi'a and Sunni Islam. In this sense, many people compare the two groups with Catholics and Protestants. Therefore, Shia Muslims often venerate the Imams as saints. Instead, it is a conflict between two governments who, respectively, abuse Sunni and Shia Islam for their own political agendas. The split between the two main sects within Islam goes back some 1,400 years. The commonly-known term is shortened from the historical Shia't-Ali, or "the Party of Ali." While most of Muhammad’s followers thought that the other elite members of the Islamic community should choose his successor, a smaller group believed only someone from Muhammad’s family—namely his cousin and son-in-law, Ali—should succeed him. Learn Religions uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. A massive Sunni army waited for them, and by the end of a 10-day standoff with various smaller struggles, Hussein was killed and decapitated, and his head brought to Damascus as a tribute to the Sunni caliph. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia are predominantly Sunni. Sunni and Shia Muslims follow the Quran as well as the Prophet's hadith (sayings) and sunna (customs). The division between Shia and Sunni dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. Fundamentally, they share some common beliefs but practice in different manners. Ali, himself, was killed in 661, as the bitter power struggle between Sunni and Shia continued. Spiritually, both groups practice the Five Pillars of Islam that is Shahadah (Faith), Prayer, Zakat (Charity), Fasting and Pilgrimage. They do differ, however, and that separation stemmed initially, not from spiritual distinctions, but political ones. Sunni and Shia Muslims follow the Quran as well as the Prophet's hadith (sayings) and sunna (customs). These differences touch all detailed aspects of religious life: prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and more. It is in areas of the world where Sunni and Shiite populations are in close proximity that conflict can arise. Stemming from the initial question of political leadership, some aspects of spiritual life now differ between the two Muslim groups. In fact, most Muslims do not distinguish themselves by claiming membership in any particular group, but prefer, simply, to call themselves "Muslims.". “This was important, because by the time he died, he had basically brought all the tribes of Arabia together into a kind of confederation that became the ummah—the people or nation of Islam.”. Today, about 85 percent of the approximately 1.6 billion Muslims around the world are Sunni, while 15 percent are Shia, according to an estimate by the Council on Foreign Relations. This includes rituals of prayer and marriage. Sunni Muslims are the largest denomination of the Islam religion. Shia Muslims tend to feel animosity towards some of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad. They both ideologize faith. Sunni and Shia Muslims share the most fundamental Islamic beliefs and articles of faith and are the two main sub-groups in Islam. Abu Bakr, later leader of the Islamic community, is seen bending over him. Both Shia and Sunni observe the … Sunni Muslims make up an 85 percent majority of Muslims all over the world. Over the centuries, these political differences have spawned a number of varying practices and positions which have come to carry spiritual significance. “When society breaks down, you fall back on old forms of identity, and Shia and Sunni are 1,400-year-old forms of identity.”. The death of the prophet Muhammad depicted in a 16th-century Turkish miniature. Coexistence in Iraq and Lebanon, for example, is often difficult. While Shia represent the majority of the population in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Azerbaijan, and a plurality in Lebanon, Sunnis are the majority in more than 40 other countries, from Morocco to Indonesia. Shia Muslims tend to feel animosity towards some of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad. The word Shia in Arabic means a group or supportive party of people.

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