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Day 2: Islam
Complete the checklist below as you go through the different pieces of the lesson
Part 1
___/2 Completed Do Now in complete sentences
Part 2
___/2 Turned and talked with ONLY my neighbor about the headlines
Aim: Why is there a schism in Islam?
Part 1, Do Now: How do you resolve conflict?
Part 2: Turn and Talk: Write at least 2 inferences based on the headlines below.
Headline #1: Shia-Sunni Conflict in Islam Continues
Headline #2: The Sunni/Shia Split in Iraq: What Does the Future Hold?
Headline #3: Obama and the Sunni-Shiite War: The U.S. tilt to Iran is upsetting allies and disrupting the
Middle East.
Headline #4: Sunni-Shia Conflict: Major feature of Middle East politics
Headline #5: Sunni-Shi'ite tension biggest threat to world security, Iran says
My Inferences (write at least 2, you have extra spaces if you need more):
Part 3: Complete the Venn Diagram below using the reading.
“Schism in Islam”
When the prophet Muhammad died, he had not named a successor or instructed his followers on how to choose
one. Relying on ancient tribal custom, the Muslim community elected their next few leaders. Each of these
leaders was called “caliph,” a title that means “successor” or “deputy.” However, the Muslims had trouble
maintaining a unified rule. After the caliph was murdered in 656, there was civil war and a family called the
Umayyads came to power.
This caused the most important schism in Islam. Two groups developed, one called the Shi’a (or Shiites) and the
other called Sunnis.
Shi’a (Shiite) - The Shi’a believe the caliph should be a relative of the prophet Muhammad. They believe
caliphs should be the direct descendants of Muhammad through the line of Ali. Ali was Muhammad’s cousin,
known and respected by Muslims for his bravery. This belief about leadership is known as the “imamate.” The
imams are considered to be bearers of wisdom with a direct spiritual contact with Muhammad. They are the
rightful caliphs under Shi’a theology (belief). Because of these beliefs, the Shiites resisted the rule of the
Sunni — The Sunnis are the vast majority of Muslims who believe in the successorship of the Caliphs rather
than the Imamate. This means that Sunnis gathered as a community and chose the most trusted, the best among
them to be caliph. Sunnis are the largest group within Islam and are the majority population in most Muslim
nations, with the exception of Iraq and Iran. The Sunnis did out outwardly resist the Umayyads.
Both Sunnis and Shiites believe in the Five Pillars of Islam (and believe in the Prophet Muhammad).
Directions: Place the words or phrases below in the correct part of the Venn Diagram. Beliefs that
Sunnis and Shiites share should go in the center.
Five Pillars of Islam
Leaders should be direct descendants of Muhammad
Resisted Ummayads
Followers of Ali
Prophet Muhammad
Elect or choose caliphs
Did not outwardly resist Umayyads
Majority of Muslims today
Shi’a (Shiites)
Part 4: Options: You must complete ONE of the two options.
Option 1: Read the recent news article below and answer the questions.
“Civil War in Syria”
The Syrian government is persecuting many of its own
1. Who are the Alawites?
Syria’s government is headed by President Bashar alAssad, who is part of the Alawite (Shiite) minority
religious sect. Sunni Muslims, who make up the
majority of the Syrian population, describe a
government crackdown against them. Sunnis believe
that because some of them have protested al-Assad’s
regime, the Alawite (Shiite) government is trying to
force them out of the country.
2. Why do Sunnis believe that the government is
attacking them?
3. What are the two groups in Islam divided by the
Sunnis believe that al-Assad is inflaming the
longstanding schism with Shiites so that Shiites will
help al-Assad attack the Sunnis and force them to
leave Syria.
4. Why is Assad inflaming the longstanding schism
with Shiites?
5. What is happening to many Sunnis?
As a result of these tensions with the government and
Shiites in their communities, many Sunnis have
become refugees. Sunnis describe the violence and
dangers they face each day. Umm Nasser, 34, a
pregnant Sunni woman from a local village, said that
government troops were laying out rifles on the
ground and distributing them to Alawite residents.
Umm Nasser said that in recent months many Sunni
Summary: How is the Sunni –Shiite conflict still
residents had been fired on by their Alawite neighbors. important today? Write at least 2 sentences in
Many Sunnis report being afraid to go outside for fear the space below.
of violence, shootings, and bombings both from the
government and from their Shiite neighbors. Sunnis
report that many have fled to other countries and
become refugees.
Option 2: Imagine that a Sunni Muslim and a Shiite Muslim are having a conversation about their
religion. Fill in ALL of the conversation bubbles below using AT LEAST 3 facts you learned today.
Underline the facts you have used.
Conversation (fill in bubbles below)
Shiite Muslim
Sunni Muslim
Extension: Read the quotation below. Write a paragraph of at least 5-7 sentences connecting this quotation
to the current split between the Shiite and Sunni Muslims. What lesson is the author trying to teach us? Do
you agree or disagree with his message? Explain your views.
“The fight should be for all human rights - - religious, ethnic, sexual. We have to stop
grouping people; they aren't pickle bottles and you can't stick labels on them.”
-Shulamit Aloni