Running head: THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SUNNI AND SHIITE MUSLIMS 1
Thedifferences between Sunni and Shiite Muslims
Thedifferences between Sunni and Shiite Muslims
Originof the Islam religion
Itis evident that Islam is one of the most prominent religions acrossthe globe. Depicted as a monotheistic faith, Islam is the secondlargest religion after Christianity all over the world. According toBerkey(2003), Islam means obedience and submission to the will of Allah.The Islamic religion dictates most of the daily decisions of theMuslims. Subscribing to the Islamic religion defines one’sbehavior, aspects of life as well as social ideals. The intent ofthis paper is to examine Islamic religion through a close scrutiny ofits origin as well as giving an account of the differences betweenSunni and Shiite religious sects within Islam.
Accordingto Berkey (2003), the origin of the Islamic religion dates back inthe 7thcentury. As a monotheistic religion, Islam was first developed in theMiddle East within the doctrines of Prophet Mohammed. Islam wasfounded as a form of acceptance and submission to the teachings ofthe Quran. Muslims believe that the creator of the universe is Allahto whom all human life should be dedicated (Auer,2012).The Quran which dictates the religious norms and ideals of Islam isbelieved to have been written by Prophet Muhammad through theguidance of Allah. According to the most ancient survivingbiographies, Muhammad began writing the Quran at the age of 40 yearsin 610 CE. Prophet Mohammed dedicated his life imploring people toworship Allah as the only God and abandon the polytheism religiousideals. He further asserted that the contents of the Quran that hetaught were God’s revelations to him through angel Gabriel.
Duringthis period Mohammed was persecuted by the Mecca authority andaccused of perpetuating discriminating religious discords which wereintended to disrupt the Mecca’s social order. This was a majorsetback since even the few Muslim converts at that time were alsopersecuted. These Muslims were detained for 12 years by the Meccans.After this duration, the Muslims immigrated to Medina in 622 CEestablishing Medina as a Muslim state as dictated by the economicjurisprudence of Islam (Berkey, 2003).
Bythe time of his demise in 632 CE, Muhammad had converted all thetribes of Arabia into one Muslim community. The classical era wascharacterized by the further spread of the Islamic religion in Indiadue to increase in trade ventures (Berkey, 2003). Sources contendthat during this period the expansion of Islamic territories was atits apogee thus the epoch is usually referred to as the Islamicgolden age. By the 19thcentury during the pre-modern era, Islam had spread across Africa,Asia as well the Europe and America.
Withthe rapid growth in industrialization and globalization in the modernand the contemporary epochs, Muslims immigrated to new areas,bringing Islam to new regions including America’s Caribbean andIndonesia (Hunter, 2002). Apparently, sources contend that Islamicreligion is growing at an awfully rapid speed than any other religionin both eastern and western Africa.
TheSunni and Shiite are some of the notable sects within Islam. However,it`s worth noting that these sects articulate different religiousdiscords. According to Barkey (2003), the major reason for thecreation of Sunni and Shiite sects was the demise of ProphetMuhammad. Since he had not appointed his successor, successiondisputes emerged which instigated the split of Muslims into Sunni andShiite groups.
ShiiteIslam holds that the proper successor of Prophet Muhammad as thecaliph was Ali Talib, his cousin and son in law (Hunter, 2002).Shiite Muslims believe that Ali was divinely appointed by Allah tosucceed the Prophet Muhammad. Shiite Islam bases its religiousdoctrines on the Hadith and Nahj- Balagha as the religious books. TheShiite Muslims also believe in the imams as the spiritual anddivinely ordained clerics. They believe that Imams receiverevelations from Allah, which are then imparted to the worshippers.The Shiite Muslims belief that Ali was appointed by Allah as therighteous heir of Prophet Muhammad. Additionally, Shiite Muslimsbelieve that political leaders are appointed by Allah and must comefrom the lineage of Prophet Muhammad. According to the Shiite MuslimsMahdi had already been born before man was created and that he oncesojourned on earth. They, therefore, hope that Mahdi will be comingsoon for the second time.
Thebeliefs of Sunni
Accordingto the Sunni Muslim sect, the rightful successor of Prophet Muhammadwas the one who was amicably voted by the Islamic communities. TheSunni, therefore, regarded Abu Bakr as the righteous heir of Mohammedsince he was Mohammed’s close advisor. They also believed that theclergy leaders as well as the political leaders must not necessarilycome from the descendants of Prophet Mohammed. The Sunni belief thatMahdi is not yet born and they hope he will be born and come to earthto salvage his people from sin.
Itshould be noted that Sunni and Shiite Muslims use the same teachingsand principles of the Islamic religion. However, they differ in onlya few aspects making Islam religion a less cohesive religion.
Inconclusion, Islam is undeniably present in every corner of the worldtoday. There have been major controversies and misunderstandings inthe Islam religion, especially the jihad issue. A section of Muslimshave organized militia groups claiming that they are fighting jihad.This is factor that has elicited Major debates with some Christianstates restricting Muslims to sojourn or transact any businesseswithin their states.
Auer,B. (2012). Symbolsof authority in medieval Islam.London: I.B. Tauris.
Berkey,J. (2003). Theformation of Islam.New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hunter,S. (2002). Islam,Europe`s second religion.Westport, Conn.: Praeger.