Sunni and Shi'ite: Who, Which, and Why

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That Islam is divided into two major segments and more, if we get off the mainstream, is not news. But why it is divided into those two, and what importance that has is poorly understood in the west.

Let's start first by seeing where Islam is the dominant religion today:


The Faithful of Islam.... nearly 1.6 billion people, just a little less than 25% of the world's population.

Countries
Estimated Muslim Population
% of the Population
Primarily Sunni or Shia
Indonesia
205,000,000
88%
Sunni
Pakistan
180,000,000
96%
Sunni
India
179,000,000
15%
Sunni
Bangladesh
150,000,000
90%
Sunni
Egypt
82,000,000
95%
Sunni
Nigeria
76,000,000
48%
Sunni
Turkey
76,000,000
99%
Sunni
Iran
75,000,000
99%
Shia
Algeria
35,000,000
98%
Sunni
Morocco
33,000,000
c.100%
Sunni
Iraq
31,000,000
99%
Shia
Sudan
31,000.000
71%
Sunni
Ethiopia
29,000,000
34%
Sunni
Uzbekistan
27,000,000
97%
Sunni
Yemen *
24,000,000
99%
Sunni
Syria
21,000,000
93%
Sunni
Russia
17,000,000
12%
Sunni
Malaysia
17,000,000
61%
Sunni
Niger
15,000.000
98%
Sunni
Tanzania
14,000,000
30%
Sunni
Mali
12,000.000
92%
Sunni
Senegal
12,000,000
96%
Sunni
Tunisia
10,000.000
c, 100%
Sunni
* Saudi Arabia
26,000,000
97%
Sunni
*China
24,000,000
2%
Sunni
While Islam is a religion practiced in most parts of the world, it is the dominant faith practiced in just 48 of the world's 195 countries as of 2014. The United States (1%) and the United Kingdom (5%) each have about 3,000,000 Muslims.

How do Sunni Muslim's Differ From Shia Muslims?

With the exception of Iran and Iraq, only two other countries have Muslim populations in which the percentage of Shia is higher than the percentage of Sunni. Those countries are Azerbaijan and Bahrain, where the Shia constitute about 70% of each country's Muslims.

The too frequently bloody disputes between the two primary sects of Islam are over the authority to interpret the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an, and to have religious authority to direct and govern Islam.

The Sunni (which translates as "tradition" or "well trodden path") assert that the rightful successor to their prophet Muhammad was Abu Bakr, the father of Muhammad's wife 'A'ishah. Abu Bakr was chosen by the people of Medina with the claim that Muhammad did not designate his successor.

The Shia (which translates as "partisans of Ali") assert that the rightful successor to Muhammad was designated by Muhammad to be his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib. An event that seems to have firmly set the divide between the Sunni and Shia was the killing of Ali's son Husayn in 680 CE.

The Sunni account for roughly 90% of all Muslims, and the Shia 10%. The Sunni have four different schools of Muslim law, but those do not divide them into separate groups of Sunni, for all Sunni claim to be led by Imams who are seen as human descendants of the tribe of their prophet Muhammad.

The Shia are distinguishable separately as Ithna 'Asariyah, Isma'iliyah, and Zaydiyah, with the Ithna 'Asariyah being the largest of the three groups. all claim to be led by mujahids who are descendants of the family of their prophet Muhammad and unerrant personifications of God and thus perfect interpreters of the Qur'an.




An English translation of the holy book of Islam....

Source

A wonderful reference to teachings of Islam and what they interpret as "The End Times"....

To pursue further Sunni and Shia beliefs, especially as relates to Caliphates and Caliphs, and to Al Mahdi or Mehdi and The End Times as viewed by Muslims, I strongly recommend that the reader use this link: http://www.discoveringislam.org/sunni_mahdi.htm .

Most Christians will be surprised to find out what role Muslims believe Christ will play in the end times, and many will find disturbing parallels in the current efforts of ISIS/ISIL Muslims to establish a Caliphate and those same Muslim beliefs about the end times.

Knowledge is power, but only when it is obtained and applied to the actions which arise from an understanding of the truths knowledge can provide.



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Copyright 2014 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.

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2 comments

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Perspycacious 23 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

It's rewarding that, while there are no comments or scoring of this Hub, there have been folks who stopped by to read and add to their understanding. To those, as yet unknown readers: Thanks.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 12 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

A great truth is that "knowledge is power" and ignorance can be a source of fear. We are not intended to be fearful. We are intended to learn and prosper. I hope this Hub added some of the needed understanding to make today's world less frightening and easier to deal with, as challenging as that may be.

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