Question Description

Discuss the main similarities and differences between at least two sects of the Islamic religion

Final Answer

The actual differences between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam will probably not seem as dramatic as many non-Muslims presume. There are notable variations in the ways they view their religious leaders and attach meaning to the history of Muhammad's family, however. Cultural and political differences make up the most divisive issues separating the two groups today.

Origins of the Sunni - Shia Split

The split between these two significant sects of Islam can be traced back to the time soon after Muhammad's death in the year 632, and centered on who would succeed the Prophet and become the first Caliph, or leader. A friend and advisor of Muhammad, Abu Bakr, was eventually selected to fulfill this role. Those who accept this decision call themselves Sunni. This group makes up the more traditional, or orthodox, form of the religion.

Some refused to follow Abu Bakr, however, and believed that another man, Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali, was Muhammad's true choice to be first the Caliph. The term, "Shia," is a sort of abbreviated version of the Arabic Shiat Ali, which means, "followers of Ali." The Shiites regarded him as the first in a series of Imams, or high clerics, who were direct descendants of Muhammad and acted as messengers of God. There were 12 Imams before the bloodline died out in the 800s. Each now has sub-sects devoted to his worship within Shia Islam.

sobia (165)
Carnegie Mellon University

Top quality work from this tutor! I’ll be back!

It’s my second time using SP and the work has been great back to back :) The one and only resource on the Interwebs for the work that needs to be done!

Thanks, good work


Brown University

1271 Tutors

California Institute of Technology

2131 Tutors

Carnegie Mellon University

982 Tutors

Columbia University

1256 Tutors

Dartmouth University

2113 Tutors

Emory University

2279 Tutors

Harvard University

599 Tutors

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2319 Tutors

New York University

1645 Tutors

Notre Dam University

1911 Tutors

Oklahoma University

2122 Tutors

Pennsylvania State University

932 Tutors

Princeton University

1211 Tutors

Stanford University

983 Tutors

University of California

1282 Tutors

Oxford University

123 Tutors

Yale University

2325 Tutors