Sunnis and Shia: Islam's ancient schism - BBC News
Sunnis and Shiites praying together on Sunday in Beirut, Lebanon, in What caused the split? Because of the different paths the two sects took, Sunnis emphasize God's Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the relationship between the Prophet Muhammad and Ali. Two countries that compete for the leadership of Islam, Sunni Saudi In many countries it has become common for members of the two sects to intermarry and Even as Sunnis triumphed politically in the Muslim world, Shias. The Islamic Republic of Iran, meanwhile, is overwhelmingly Shia, with up to 95 per boil down to two things – the battle to be the dominant nation in the Middle East and or whether only Mohammed's blood relations should reign. Inevitably both Sunnis and Shias claim to be the one “pure” Islamic sect.
In light of the current fighting in Iraq, which is along sectarian lines, NPR is republishing the series. The text includes a number of updates, while the audio is from the original broadcasts seven years ago. Here is Part 1 of the series. Women walk in the courtyard of the Jamkaran mosque outside the holy city of Qom, Iran, in The Shiites are a minority, making up between 10 percent and 15 percent of the Muslim population — certainly fewer than million, all told.
The Shiites are concentrated in Iran, southern Iraq and southern Lebanon. Although the origins of the Sunni-Shiite split were violent, over the centuries Shiites and Sunnis lived peacefully together for long periods of time. But that appears to be giving way to a new period of spreading conflict in the Middle East between Shiites and Sunnis.
With the passage of time, Iranians' readiness to practise Shi'ism grew day by day.
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Yavuz Sultan Selim who delivered a devastating blow to the Shia Safavids and Ismail I in the Battle of Chaldirana battle of historical significance. Pre-Safavid[ edit ] The domination of the Sunni creed during the first nine Islamic centuries characterizes the religious history of Iran during this period. There were some exceptions to this general domination which emerged in the form of the Zaidis of Tabaristanthe Buwayhidthe rule of the Sultan Muhammad Khudabandah r.
Nevertheless, apart from this domination there existed, firstly, throughout these nine centuries, Shia inclinations among many Sunnis of this land and, secondly, Twelver and Zaidi Shiism had prevalence in some parts of Iran.
In many other areas the population of Shias and Sunni was mixed.
What is the Shia-Sunni divide?
The first Zaidi state was established in Daylaman and Tabaristan northern Iran in by the Alavids ;  it lasted until the death of its leader at the hand of the Samanids in Roughly forty years later the state was revived in Gilan north-western Iran and survived under Hasanid leaders until This spread of Shiism to the inner circles of the government enabled the Shia to withstand those who opposed them by relying upon the power of the caliphate.
Twelvers came to Iran from Arab regions in the course of four stages. First, through the Asharis tribe [ clarification needed ] at the end of the 7th and during the 8th century. Second through the pupils of Sabzevar, and especially those of Al-Shaykh Al-Mufidwho were from Rey and Sabzawar and resided in those cities. Third, through the school of Hillah under the leadership of Al-Hilli and his son Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin. Fourth, through the scholars of Jabal Amel residing in that region, or in Iraq, during the 16th and 17th centuries who later migrated to Iran.
When the Ismailis divided into two sects, Nizaris established their base in northern Persia. Hassan-i Sabbah conquered fortresses and captured Alamut in Nizaris used this fortress until the Mongols finally seized and destroyed it in After the Mongols and the fall of the Abbasids, the Sunni Ulama suffered greatly. In addition to the destruction of the caliphate there was no official Sunni school of law.
Many libraries and madrasahs were destroyed and Sunni scholars migrated to other Islamic areas such as Anatolia and Egypt. In contrast, most Shia were largely unaffected as their center was not in Iran at this time.
For the first time, the Shia could openly convert other Muslims to their movement. Several local Shia dynasties like the Marashi and Sarbadars were established during this time. In Egypt the Fatimid government ruled. After the Mongol invasion Shiims and Sufism once again formed a close association in many ways. Some of the Ismailis whose power had broken by the Mongols, went underground and appeared later within Sufi orders or as new branches of already existing orders. The first and central difference emerged after the death of Prophet Muhammad in A.
This group held that Ali was appointed by the prophet to be the political and spiritual leader of the fledgling Muslim community. Abu Bakr became the first caliph and Ali became the fourth caliph. Aisha was defeated, but the roots of division were deepened.
For the Shias, this battle, known as the Battle of Karbala, holds enormous historical and religious significance. For the Shia community, Hussein became a martyr. The day of the battle is commemorated every year on the Day of Ashura.What's the Difference Between Sunni and Shiite Muslims?
Leadership disagreements Over time, Islam continued to expand and develop into evermore complex and overlapping societies that spanned from Europe to sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa to Asia. This development demanded more codified forms of religious and political leadership.
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Sunnis and Shias adopted different approaches to these issues. Sunni Muslims trusted the secular leadership of the caliphs during the Ummayad based in Damascus from A.
Their theological foundations came from the four religious schools of Islamic jurisprudence that emerged over the seventh and eighth centuries.