Shi’a Islam, or the “Shi’a of Ali” (the Party of Ali), is the second largest branch of Islam after Sunni Islam. In spite of sharing a common approach to the fundamentals of Islamic belief with their fellow Muslims – such as the Shahada (belief in the unity of God through God’s Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad) – the Shi’a differ from the Sunnis on the question of proper succession of leadership after the death of Muhammad and the essence of the desired leadership of the ummah (the Muslim community). The word Shi’a means “adherents” or “collective,” referring to those first Muslims who became followers of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, with the conviction that only he and his descendants were the rightful authority to rule the Muslim community. The dispute over the succession of the Prophet is the basis for the biggest split in the Muslim world, between two schools of Islam, as it spawned a parallel religious culture beside the Sunni world – Shi’a Islam.
During his lifetime,...
KeywordsImamate Occultation Mahdi Martyrdom Prophethood
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