The Schism Between Shi’ites and Suunis

The schism between Shi’ites and Sunnis began on the day of Muhammad’s death. According to Sunnis, Muhammad died without appointing a successor. As such, Abu Bakr was chosen by the Muslim community to act as their leader. He was the first caliph, the Muslim “kings” who ruled during the height of the Islamic Empire.

Shi’ites disagree with this story. According to Shi’ites, Abi Talib was chosen by Muhammad to lead the Muslim people after Muhammad’s death. Shi’ites believe that Abi Talib was granted the true knowledge of Islam by Muhammad and that Abi Talib passed that information on to his descendants. Abi Talib and his decedents were called the Imams and were responsible for teaching the esoteric inner knowledge of the Quran. Shi’ites add the line “and Abi is the friend of God” to their call to prayer in order to identify a mosque as Shi’ite.

Islam is a religion layered with rich history and traditions, many of which are not understood by non-Muslims. As with every religion, Muslims practice Islam with varying levels of devotion and differing interpretations. Still, regardless of a Muslim’s degree of faith or sect, all strive to live a holy life. After all, the word muslim means “one who submits to God.”

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