Knowing the spiritual backdrop…

To consider if the spiritual allegiance of the population plays some back-drop role in the momentum of the Protest-Movement in North Africa and the Arab world, the following papers can give a picture of the relations of the Sunni and Shia Islam:

Differences in Chart Format:

Shia (or Shi’ah)
adherents called
Shiites, Shi’i
meaning of name
“well-trodden path” or “tradition”
“party” or “partisans” of Ali
current adherents
940 million
120 million
percentage of total Muslims
primary locations
most Muslim countries
Iran, Iraq, Yemen
none, but four major schools of Muslim law are recognized
Ithna ‘Ashariyah (Twelvers; the largest), Isma’iliyah and Zaydiyah
c. 632 CE; theology developed especially in 10th cent.
c. 632-650 CE; killing of Ali’s son Husayn in 680 CE is major event
did Muhammad designate a successor?
true successor of the Prophet
Abu Bakr, father of the Prophet’s favoured wife, ‘A’ishah (elected by people of Medina)
‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, husband of the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah (designated by the Prophet)
qualifications for ruler of Islam
tribe of the Prophet (Quraysh); later, any qualified ruler
family of the Prophet
current leaders
identity of imams
human leaders
infallible manifestations of God and perfect interpreters of the Qur’an
Al Mahdi
will come in the future
was already on earth, is currently the “hidden imam” who works through mujtahids to intepret Qur’an; and will return at the end of time
religious authority other than the Qu’ran
ijma’ (consensus) of the Muslim community
infallible imams
concealing faith for self-protection (taqiya)
affirmed under certain circumstances
temporary marriage (mut’ah)
practiced in the Prophet’s time, but now rejected
still practiced
holy cities
major holidays

Chart developed by

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