Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sunnis and Shias

Back in the 2000's I remember hearing, possibly from comedian Bill Maher, how President Bush (42nd) didn't know the difference between the Shia and Sunni Islam.  I don't know how true it was, but it made me shutter in embarrassment not only (for my President if it were true) but for myself because I didn't know either.  Since I am not and never will be the leader of the free world, I got over it pretty quickly.

I always assumed that the schism was over something that happened a long time ago, I just never realized how long ago.  When the Islamic Prophet Muhammad died in 620 C.E. the schism occurred over how succession would be handled.  The Shia wanted succession to be based on an election by the caliphs (basically, the leaders of Islamic communities).  The Sunnis wanted the succession to be handed down through the Prophets descendants.  This would begin with his cousin and son-in-law Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib. The two sects differ in a lot other ways since then.

A majority of all Muslims in the world are Sunnis (75 to 90%).  Only about 15% are Shia.  Other smaller sects are Sufism, Ahmadiyya, Ibadi, Quaranists, Yazdânism and the newest, the Nation of Islam.

1 comment:

Olga said...

I have to say i do not know much about these sects except that Sufis have some great stories/fables.