Download Origins and Beliefs of Sunni and Shi`ah Islam

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Al-Nahda wikipedia , lookup

Islam and Sikhism wikipedia , lookup

Islam and modernity wikipedia , lookup

Islam and Mormonism wikipedia , lookup

Ismah wikipedia , lookup

Political aspects of Islam wikipedia , lookup

War against Islam wikipedia , lookup

Succession to Muhammad wikipedia , lookup

Islamic culture wikipedia , lookup

Satanic Verses wikipedia , lookup

Islam and war wikipedia , lookup

Shia Islam wikipedia , lookup

Fiqh wikipedia , lookup

Usul Fiqh in Ja'fari school wikipedia , lookup

Islam in Bangladesh wikipedia , lookup

Ashura wikipedia , lookup

Imamate (Twelver doctrine) wikipedia , lookup

Sources of sharia wikipedia , lookup

Islam and other religions wikipedia , lookup

Twelver wikipedia , lookup

Isma'ilism wikipedia , lookup

History of Nizari Ismailism wikipedia , lookup

Criticism of Twelver Shia Islam wikipedia , lookup

Imamah (Shia) wikipedia , lookup

Islamic schools and branches wikipedia , lookup

Schools of Islamic theology wikipedia , lookup

Origin of Shia Islam wikipedia , lookup

Origins and Beliefs of
Sunni and Shi’ah Islam
The split between Sunni and Shi’ah Islam and
differences in beliefs and practices
In this topic you will understand the origins and beliefs of Sunni and Shi’ah Islam, the
reasons they split and also the differences between the Shi’ah groups of Seveners and
The split between Sunni and Shi’ah Islam
The death of Mu‘awiya was followed by six decades of civil war.
After the death of Husayn in 680 CE the Companions and Helpers rose up in al-Madinah and the Makkans challenged the
faith of the Umayyads. The Umayyads recaptured al-Madinah and raided Makkah for three days during which the Ka’bah
was destroyed.
The civil wars demonstrated tribal disagreements and there were mawali rebellions across Islamic territories.
In the 740s some of the Shi’ah rebels formed alliances with the Abbasids (descendants of Muhammad’s (pbuh) uncle,
Abbas) and declared that all Muslims were equal. In 747, with the support of the Persian mawalis, Abu Muslim defeated
Marwan II, the last Umayyad Khalifah, at the Battle of the Great River. The first ‘Abbasid Khalifah was Abu al-‘Abbas asSaffah. The ‘Abbasids moved the Muslim capital to Baghdad.
One of the principal differences between Sunni and Shi’ah Islam is not an argument about who should have led the
Muslims following the death of Muhammad (pbuh). The central issue is whether there should be a family line of rulers (as
the supporters of ‘Ali believe), or whether Muhammad (pbuh) intended elections to take place to ensure that the most
suitable devout person led the ummah.
‘All divisions weaken a religion.’ Discuss with reference to Islam.
Isma‘ilis (Seveners) and Imamis (Twelvers)
The two main branches of Shi‘ah Muslims are divided according to whether they accept seven or twelve Imams.
Seveners followed Isma’il as the seventh Imam and they are known as Isma‘ilis.
Although Isma‘ilis are Seveners, many followers now believe that there were more imams.
They appeared as a group in 765 CE over a disagreement about the sixth Shi’ite Imam, Jafar al-Sadiq. The Isma’ilis
recognized Jafar’s choice of Isma’il, his eldest son, as his successor and seventh Imam. However, Isma’il predeceased his
Those who recognized his son, Musa, as the heir are the predecessors of the Imamis (Twelvers).
Some Isma’ilis refused to accept Isma’il's death and said that he had gone into occultation (ghayba) and would return at
the end of time as the Mahdi. Others said that, before his death, Isma’il had chosen his son, Muhammad, as his
Origins and Beliefs of Sunni and Shi’ah Islam
Both Imamis and Isma’ilis believe that the sayings and actions of the Imams are equal as a source of divine inspiration
with those of the Prophet. They also believe that Hadiths can only be valid if they were transmitted by Imams or true
Imamis accept twelve imams of whom the twelfth was Muhammad al-Muntazar.
Both groups believe that their last Imam did not die but disappeared mysteriously and is the Hidden Imam who will return
at the end of the world. Some people think that this returning figure will be the prophet ‘Isa (Jesus).
The Hidden Imam is known as the Mahdi.
Shi‘ahs believe that Allah would not leave them without guidance. Therefore, their leaders have authority from the Hidden
Imam to interpret the Qur’an. Since the disappearance of the Imam (in 873 CE for the Twelvers), Shi‘iahs have been ruled
by scholars. The first of these scholars were called Babs – ‘gates’ –, and had direct contact with the hidden Imam rather
than contact in dreams.
In Iran, the scholars are called mujtahids and their leaders are the Ayatollahs – ‘shadows of Allah’. The majority of Shi‘ah
Muslims in the United Kingdom regard Syed Ali Sistani, who lives in Najaf in Iraq, as their spiritual representative. It is
believed that the Hidden Imam sends a leader to renew and revitalise Shi’ism every century. Ayatollah Khomeini was the
renewer for the fifteenth Muslim century.
Ayatollah Khomeini led protests against Western influence and against the Shah, the ruler of Iran. His black turban
showed that Ayatollah Khomeini claimed descent from Muhammad (pbuh) through ‘Ali. Ayatollah Khomeini was exiled for
fourteen years and returned to Iran when the Shah was deposed in 1979. He ruled until his own death in 1989.
Shi’ah Muslims make up approximately ten per cent of Muslims across the world.
The name ‘Shi’ah’ comes from Shiat ‘Ali – the party of ‘Ali.
Although the grouping of Shi’ahs was originally based on political support for ‘Ali as Khalifah, later Shi’ahs developed their
own beliefs and practices.
They hold four distinct key beliefs:
‘Ali was chosen by Allah as the leader of the world (this includes Muslims and non-Muslims)
the existence of the universe depends on the presence of a living Imam
all Imams have to be descended from ‘Ali
‘Ali and his descendants, who are imams, have superhuman qualities such as infallibility (isma), miraculous powers,
and divinely-granted knowledge (ilm).
Explain the difference between the role of the Imam in Sunni and Shi’ah Islam.
These beliefs are central doctrines to all Shi’ah Muslims apart from the Zaidis.
• Fact Box
Zaidi Muslims accept the first four of the Twelver Imams but accept Zayd ibn Ali as the ‘Fifth Imam’ rather than his
brother Muhammad al-Baqir.
Zaidis do not believe in the infallibility of the Imams, nor that the Imams receive divine guidance. They do not
believe that the Imamate must pass from father to son but that it can pass to any Sayyid descended from Hasan ibn
Ali or Husayn ibn Ali.
The most important Shi’ite sects are: the Imamis, the Isma’ilis, and the Zaidis.
The Baha’i religion, though distinct from Islam, originates from Babism, which was a breakaway movement from Imami
The split between Sunni and Shi’ah Islam and differences in beliefs and practices
Differences in beliefs and practices
Sunnis believe that the Qur’an is uncreated and that human history and the universe are predetermined. This theology
can be described as Asharism or Maturidism.
Asharism has its origins in Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Isma’il al-Ashari (d.941/945). It is not opposed to rational thought but to
the use of rationalism in the understanding of scripture or revelation.
Maturidism developed in opposition to the Mutazilites who were using Greek argument and logic to attack orthodox Muslim
Shi’ah follows a type of Mutazilism – they believe in free will and the temporal creation of the Qur’an.
Loyalty to the ‘ahl al bayt’ – the house of the Prophet – is at the centre of Shi‘ah belief and practice. Muhammad (pbuh),
Fatimah, ‘Ali, Hassan and Husayn are the five key figures in Shi‘ah history and theology.
There are some differences in Shi’ah and Sunni practices.
Shi‘ahs add ‘wa ‘Ali wali Allah’ – and ‘Ali is Allah’s friend – to the Shahadah.
The fast of Sawm during Ramadhan is longer for Shi‘ites because they wait until the sun has completely set before they
close the fast. They also spend three of the days mourning ‘Ali because he was martyred on 20th Ramadan.
Shi‘ah Muslims are allowed to pray three times a day instead of five, and washing of the feet is done at a different part of
daily prayers. During prostration, the forehead touches the dust or, preferably, a block of baked mud from Karbala.
Most Shi‘ah Muslims do not regard Friday prayers at the mosque as compulsory although this has changed in Iran since
the Islamic Revolution.
In Sunni countries Zakah is paid to the state but Shi‘ah Muslims pay it to their religious leaders.
Shi‘ah Muslims make minor pilgrimages, called ziyara, to the tombs of the twelve Imams.
Shi‘ahs believe that there is a secret knowledge hidden in the Qur’an, which was told to ‘Ali by Muhammad (pbuh) and has
been passed down through their Imams.
Shi‘ahs only accept the Hadiths which have been transmitted through Shi‘ah Muslims. They believe, also, that their Imams
had special divine authority, sometimes called a ‘guiding light’. These Imams did not sin and could perform miracles.
This belief in the authority and inspiration of the Imams can make it difficult for Shi‘ah Muslims to accept that Muhammad
(pbuh) is the ‘Seal of the Prophets’ though it remains a key statement of faith.
The concept of muta is accepted only by Imami Muslims.
If any of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among
those whom your right hands possess: And Allah hath full knowledge about your faith. Ye are one from another: Wed
them with the leave of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable: They should be
chaste, not lustful, nor taking paramours: when they are taken in wedlock, if they fall into shame, their punishment
is half that for free women. This (permission) is for those among you who fear sin; but it is better for you that ye
practise self-restraint. And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah 4:25)
Nikhu’l-Mut‘ah – literally, marriage for pleasure – is a fixed-time marriage with a preset duration after which the marriage
is automatically dissolved. This is fiqh – a matter of Islamic Law. It is haram for Sunnis but is permitted by Imamis.
Muta can be used to satisfy sexual needs and there is no requirement for a witness or written contract. It can also be used
to create a state where two people become mahram (unmarriable) even though they spend a lot of time together. This
lifts the restrictions on women observing hijab in the home. The couple engage in a Nikhu’l-Mut’ah with a specific clause in
the marriage contract that no physical contact is allowed.
Young unmarried couples may also use Nikhu’l-Mut’ah as an allowable alternative to zina – extra-marital sexual
intercourse. However, this also has specific time restrictions.
Shi‘ah Muslims are often wrongly portrayed by the media as terrorists and fanatics but their history has often forced them
to oppose oppressive governments. The argument about the succession of ‘Ali was also about the dangers of a political
dynasty taking power.
Origins and Beliefs of Sunni and Shi’ah Islam
Western critics sometimes use the word, ‘Fundamentalist’ completely inappropriately to describe Muslim groups who
reject Western secular attitudes and lifestyles. For obvious reasons many Muslims dislike the use of this term for any
group within Islam or, indeed, elsewhere.
Muslims argue that, in one sense, all Muslims are fundamentalists in their beliefs because the Qur’an contains the actual
words of Allah.
Explain why Muslims might object to the use of the term ‘fundamentalist’ to describe them.
‘Shi’ah Muslims have a stronger claim than Sunni Muslims to be the direct followers of the Prophet.’ Discuss.