Sunni - Shia: Brief History

Both Sunni and Shia Muslims share the most fundamental Islamic beliefs and articles of faith. The differences between these two main sub-groups within Islam initially stemmed not from spiritual differences, but political ones. Over the centuries, however, these political differences have spawned a number of varying practices and positions which have come to carry a spiritual significance.

The division between Shia and Sunni dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad , and the question of who was to take over the leadership of the Muslim nation. Sunni Muslims agree with the position taken by many of the Prophet's companions, that the new leader should be elected from among those capable of the job. This is what was done, and the Prophet Muhammad's close friend and advisor, Abu Bakr, became the first Caliph of the Islamic nation. 

The word "Sunni" in Arabic comes from a word meaning "one who follows the traditions of the Prophet."

On the other hand, some Muslims share the belief that leadership should have stayed within the Prophet's own family, among those specifically appointed by him, or among Imams appointed by God Himself.

The Shia Muslims believe that following the Prophet Muhammad's death, leadership should have passed directly to his cousin/son-in-law, Ali. Throughout history, Shia Muslims have not recognized the authority of elected Muslim leaders, choosing instead to follow a line of Imams which they believe have been appointed by the Prophet Muhammad or God Himself. The word "Shia" in Arabic means a group or supportive party of people. The commonly-known term is shortened from the historical "Shia-t-Ali," or "the Party of Ali." They are also known as followers of "Ahl-al-Bayt" or "People of the Household" (of the Prophet).

From this initial question of political leadership, some aspects of spiritual life have been affected and now differ between the two groups of Muslims.

Shia Muslims believe that the Imam is sinless by nature, and that his authority is infallible as it comes directly from God. Therefore, Shia Muslims often venerate the Imams as saints and perform pilgrimages to their tombs and shrines in the hopes of divine intercession. Sunni Muslims counter that there is no basis in Islam for a hereditary privileged class of spiritual leaders, and certainly no basis for the veneration or intercession of saints. Sunni Muslims contend that leadership of the community is not a birthright, but a trust that is earned and which may be given or taken away by the people themselves.

Shia Muslims also feel animosity towards some of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad , based on their positions and actions during the early years of discord about leadership in the community. Many of these companions (Abu Bakr, Umar, Aisha, etc.) have narrated traditions about the Prophet's life and spiritual practice. Shia Muslims reject these traditions (hadith) and do not base any of their religious practices on the testimony of these individuals. This naturally gives rise to some differences in religious practice between the two groups. These differences touch all detailed aspects of religious life: prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, etc.

Sunni Muslims make up the majority (85%) of Muslims all over the world. Significant populations of Shia Muslims can be found in Iran and Iraq, and large minority communities in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Lebanon.

It is important to remember that despite all of these differences in opinion and practice, Shia and Sunni Muslims share the main articles of Islamic belief and are considered by most to be brethren in faith. In fact, most Muslims do not distinguish themselves by claiming membership in any particular group, but prefer to call themselves simply, "Muslims."


Huda Dodge is an educator, freelance writer and editor. She is the author of The Everything Understanding Islam Book, published in 2003 by Adams Media Corporation. She has been active on the Internet for over a decade, and has been's Guide to Islam since 1998. She currently teaches elementary school in the Middle East.

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  94 Comments   Comment

  1. alma-zahra(muslim name) from saudi arabia

    thank you very much, such a very informative article especially for me as i am a muslim convert, it added to my knowledge and had cleared some hearsay that i am hearing. and also as a muslim convert i should know about the two groups

  2. Hind from Morocco

    Thank u soo much for the valuable information. You have answered many of my questions. May ALLAH bless you all.

  3. Aliyyu Ibn Muhammad from Nigeria

    Assalamu Alaikum dear sister in Islam.

    Iam impresed with your article titled sunni-shia brief history,but what I did`nt quite aggree is the saying of yours that sunni & shia diffrences is political.these fallacy is what the shiite wants to shere whith the islamic world so as to recognise them as muslims.My reasons are :

    1 they denie the authenticity of the QURAN.

    2 They are insulting the sahaba e t c. try and look at these.

  4. Wahab from Saudi Arabia

    Dow you really think Abu Bakr was a good friend and advisor of prophet Mohammad (PBUH)? Why didn't he burried him? Why didn't he joined the people who took prophet to the graveyard at the time he died? And do you know what happend in Saqifa? I'd really give you a kind advice to go and expand your knowledge and then change your first paragraph. I don't even need to read further.

  5. Sayyid Naqvi from US

    Respectful Author, Muslim Brothers and Sisters

    Assalamu Alaikum

    I am a Muslim, the follower of Shia School of Thought:

    Author's attempts to appease the differences b/w Sunni and Shia Schools is worth of Following.

    However, I want to make a Correction of Her Perception of nature of dispute b/w these two ARMS of Islam.

    She said, that the Dispute is Political in Origin.

    Actually, with all due respect, it is NOT Political in nature. On the other hand it is absolutely SPIRITUAL in nature.

    In Shia School, the SPIRITUALITY is Supreme and all other Disciplines of Humanity come under its jurisdiction, one of those disciplines is Politics.

    This is one of the Fundamentals of Shia school of thought.

    So what Shia say is:

    "As, Hazrat Ali (A.S) was the true Successor of SPIRITUALITY of Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W),he was, in turn, his due Political Successor as well".

    Wassalam A'ala Manittaba'al Huda

  6. Omar from India

    May Peace upon all of u brothers and sisters whose comments i've read.... coz we really need it!

    I came into islam after reading the quran.

    but my faith weakens after reading the comments clarity of life seems to be losing ground.

    there are so many opinions, so many proven points, so many ahadith, so many sureties all u guys point out to.... and i know everyone thinks they're true.

    but the quran tells me to stay firm to it, which i will.

    but i dont understand what to do about the various ahadith u all point out too. i feel like letting go of religion sometimes.... coz when i entered islam i had taken oath that i shall enter islam submitting myself totally.....

    but the problem is in this totality. if the quran was in totality, then y all this confusion within the hadith and fiqh?

    What really happened after the prophet passed away!? or does it really matter?

    pls dont consider this a mocking at all the comments, or a sattire on religion.

    some ppl would consider me as an example of a hypocrite, and some ppl would consider me too sentimental in contrast with the reality of life, and also some ppl might consider me to be a weak believer who will be thrown in hellfire, atleast for sometime maybe....

    but what i really want ppl to think is - are we really helping others when we think out aloud?

    i know from history, that the companions of the prophet were very careful to speak out even one hadith, for the feared they could be worng. then how can we shed comments like these at the drop of a hat?!

    I just wish God was online....

    P.S - The article was less-authentic, for it hurt the trmendous imaan of some believers who have fought to stay in the one school of thought they believe in, but it was good for the intention that the author tries to bring ppl together.

    anyways, we shall all continue to do what were doing, coz any of these comments dont have any authority.

    i pray that Allah guides us all to

  7. mohamed haris from india

    Nice article, she strived to show the unite in umma in theoretical way, if we see the face of practical life it is tearing the paper by using axe.

  8. Samir from usa

    what planet do you live in?

    if you think shia are a stream of islam you must go back to books of fikh and aqeeda and history.

  9. Ali Hassan from Canada

    Shia's are still on their agenda (the prime example is Iraq after Saddam) of dividing Muslims by taking sides, they are practicing idol and grave worship and naming it Islam, do you think we can get more strength by uniting with idol worshippers ? its against the basic tenant of Islam which is Tauhid.

  10. Ibrahim from Malaysia

    It is a very interesting article. Both sunni and shiite muslims should stop despising each other. They both should unite against the tyranny imposed by the enemies of Islam. They would do anything to divide us.

    Put aside the differences and start looking at the similarities. When my great-great.....grandfather died in Karbala on Ashura day, it is was never his intention to divide the Muslims. He tried until the last of his breath to stop any the division in Ummah. Respect that. Whether you praise Saidina Hussein or not, please always remember that what he really want is a united ummah not a divided one. Start working together, put aside philosophical and political differences.

    We had been arguing too long and as the results, our brothers and sisters in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other places suffered the consequences. Therefore, we are guilty as charged. Stop bickering, work things out.

    Let's be one united ummah. Ameen.

  11. 1wayout from International

    Assalam walaikum, first i would like to commend the author on a brief introductory article for the completely clueless, however, inconsistencies with the real world and contradictions within the article seem to appear. The author also fails to follow her train of thought to its end, so allow me to finish it off.

    An example of this can be seen specifically where she states,"Shia Muslims reject these traditions (hadith) and do not base any of their religious practices on the testimony of these individuals. This naturally gives rise to some differences in religious practice between the two groups. These differences touch all detailed aspects of religious life: prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, etc." This statement being true indicates, these actions would clasify the Shia "muslim" as not a muslim at all.

    The directions, instructions, and legislation regarding prayer and its time, fasting, fornication, and POLYTHEISM have been clearly indicated in the Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad(SWS) marking the differences between muslims and non muslims.

    Which leaves us with the last issue stated by the author which is a good point, as she puts it,"In fact, most Muslims do not distinguish themselves by claiming membership in any particular group, but prefer to call themselves simply, 'Muslims.'"

    And to follow her train of thought to its end, this is because of the hadith narrated from Mu'aawiyah ibn Abi Sufyaan(RA) that he said: The Messenger of Allah(SWS) stood among us and said: "Those who came before you of the people of the Book split into seventy-two sects, and this ummah will split into seventy-three: seventy-two in Hell and one in Paradise, and that is the jamaa'ah (main body of Muslims)."

    I do not care wether or not the Shia recognize the hadith, but any Muslim who rationalizes, understands they want to be the one that goes to Paradise, so what they and all other sects are claiming is to be muslim, yet refusing to follow the traditions of the Prophet(SWS).

  12. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia



    It is night time in Malaysia. As I was perusing through the various articles in IslamiCity, I was also watching the cable television. Al-Jazeera displayed the scene at Gaza, Palestine. The blockade by the Zionist regime began to show it's painful results. The power plants at Gaza had to be shut down because of no fuel. That means no electricity. I wonder what would be the nights like in Gaza, nothing to heat up homes of the Palestinians, nothing to support their medical services at the hospital, the operation theatre must be empty as no surgeries can be perform without electricity and the most urgent case must be conducted in the most spartan of ways.

    An e mail came from my friends at Ramallah, family is in Gaza, his cute little daughter was sick and the pharmacies were running out of medicines and drugs. My heart began melting down. While I could pledge something to the ICRC over there, I just could not fill in the pharmacies with the medicines that his daughter needed most.

    And in the TV screen in front of me, Gazans were flocking to Eygpt. I felt a sense of pain, as much as those Muslim brothers in Gaza felt.

    And here I am, looking at my lap top computer, reading volumes of Muslims, Sunnis and Syiahs disagreeing to a lot of extent, as if there is no more tomorrow. Let me tell all of us, we are guilty in many sense for the suffering of our Muslim brothers and sisters worldwide. That being simply because we can't find the cause of unity among ourselves. Hence our Brothers and Sisters in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan are suffering from our antics and indifference.

    Our enemies relish this disunity among us, while we continue to quarell, tell me who among us will ensure that there'll ne no hungry and cold Palestinians suffering tonight, without medicine, or the Iraqis, without a decent home and lifelihood. Please, think about it, and if we still don't have a sense of guilt, then I'm just lost for words.

  13. Asif from USA

    Which world is the author living in-

    she has to go the Muslim world (both Arab and non-Arab) to see that Sunnis and Shias identify themselves by this distinction.

    Goto any Muslim country and see if a sunni goes into a shia mosque and vice-versa. In extreme cases, Pak, they kill each other.

    Most of the time it is cold war. We would like to say that we are Muslims but the reality indicates otherwise. And not to put blame on anyone, but I feel Shias try to reinforce this more than sunnis.

  14. Zahida from Canada

    I commend the author for shedding some light on 'Sunni/Shia divide, however simplistic it may be. It would be worthwhile to invite a shia scholar to put forth his or her point of view to balance it. That is, if we are really seeking to understand what really divides the two groups. Also, instead of pointing out the differences, someone should highlight what's common between the two groups, especially considering the volatile climate in the muslim world today. Theres is a great need for the Unity of Muslim Ummah. Are these differences irreconcilable or can we find some common ground while holding on to our particular way of thinking? The diversity of thought in the Ummah can also be considered a source of healthy pluralism. Both parties have their own unique way of looking at things depending on the sources that they have cited in their defence. One thing remains constant - the sacrifice of Imam Hussain and the purpose of it. At least we can commemorate it in unity. If we claim to love our Prophet, Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him, we should feel the pain what hurts him and be happy what makes him happy. This is an integral part of calling ourselves 'muslim' according to the Book of Allah and the Hadith.

  15. Dr Edriss from US

    in time of the Prophet Salla Allah alaih wa sallam, manythings were done thru what we can name "Verbal Elections" which mean someone give an idea and wait if the majority agree or disagree with him. even the Prophet Salla Allah alaih wa sallam did so in the matters who are not from revelation.

    actually, this form of election is the best, much much much better than what happened in Athens thru casting votes in a jar, because it is easy to cheat by filling the jar with the kind of votes you would like to have. which can never happen when you are sitting face to face with the people discussing specific matter.

    after the Prophet Salla Allah alaih wa sallam death, the companions had a Verbal Election in the house of Saad Ibn Ebadah between the Anssaar and Muhajereen that ended with the opinion of zaid Ibn Thabit Alanssaari accepting Abu Bakr as khalifah of the Prophet of all moslems calling his people to do so.

    this people who name themselves shia today, claim that Ali did not attempted this election and was in the house of the Prophet with Aisha radia Allah anha, means it was not right!!!

    unfortunatly, their claims is just a non sense and something that I can never understand about this people (most of them located in Iran and east part of Iraq) is they curse Omar and Abu Bakr, while we all know, Islam reached Iran and Iraq thru the leadership of Abu Bakr and Omar, Radya Allah anhuma. I wonder if they feel how ungreatful it is, tu curse the people who brought the right message of the Almighty to you...

    we belong to Allah and to Him we return, if this people just pick books and learn instead of following their mullas blindly!!!

    also, this bay'aa of Abu Bakr was repeated in khutbah of jum'aa where Omar asked all the moslems to give Abu bakr Albay'aa. all gave it, include zubay'r and Ali radya Allah an'huma.

    Ali never cursed his people. then why who claim to follow him do that!?

  16. waseemuddin from india

    As Salaam Alai kum

    just wonderfull , short and easy to understand by masses.....

    More such Art required by people like to make Ummah aware the grand plan of ZIONIST to divide peacefull belivers....




  17. Muslim mum from UK

    We Muslims should not be divided. We should learn from the Jewish example and stick together and be strong. Christians accept and respect differences. Lets stop pooping on our own doorstep. Otherwise, divide and conquer?!

  18. Eugene S. Jones from United States

    Maybe the problem of the Muslim World is the divisions we have. I seeit over problems concerning modes of salat to what school of thought we adhere to.

  19. Adam from USA

    Assalamu Aleikum,

    I can be wrong yet here is what I think is true. SHia are a majority in Bahrain and not minority. There are more Shia in Lebanon than Sunnies.

    I do not know how many people participated in the elction of Abu Bakr as the leader. In his sermon in Nahjul Balagheh Imam ALi (as) asks what were the conditiond to qualify one to participate in the election of Abu Bakr that I did not have and was denied the participation.

    Umar was selected by Abu Bakr, and Uthman by a committee of few chosen by Umar. There never been an election of a khalifah during Bani Umayyeh or Bani Abbas. I don't ho wthe author uses the term election among SUnnies. Allah knows the best.

  20. zinedine from Morocco

    The five daily prayers:

    We must always pray for Ahlul lbayt & we always do anyways otherwise our prayers will not be accepted. This is wajib (obligatory) & this is what all Muslims say in their daily prayers at least 17 times a day not counting Sunan (nawafil):

    "Allahoma Sali ala Muhammadin wa ala aali Muhammadin kama salayta ala Ibraahima wa ala aali Ibraahima; wa barik ala Muhammadin wa ala aali Muhammadin kama baarakta ala Ibraahima wa ala aali Ibrahima fil alaamina innaka hameedun majeed etc"

    Although Muawiya Bnu Abi Sofiane (Attaleeq) started the tradition of insulting Imam Ali from the minbars during the Jumua prayers, this tradition lasted only for 80 years but the just & fair Khalifa Umar Ibnu Abdul Alaziz (the grand son of khalifa Umar Ibnu lkhattab (raa) made an end to this horrible tradition. Imam Ahmad bnu Hanbal did an even better job: he added (cannonised) Imam Ali to the list of Khalifas as the 4th Khalifa of the Kholafa' rashidoon: Abu Bakr, Umar & Uthman.

    Pls read your history..

    See Ibnu L'ateer see Albidaya wa Nihaya or Sharh Nahj libni Lhadeed or tareekh Bnu Quotaiba

  21. zinedine from Morocco

    Salaamu alaikum brs & sisters,

    This is my quick response to sister Muin:

    We Muslims are obligated to say "Allahoma sali ala Muhammadin wa ala Aal Muhammadin; wa barik ala Muhammadin kama baarakta ala Aali Muhammadin fil alaamina innaka hameedun majeed... so if you don't pray for Ahlu Lbayt your prayer is null and void. Sister Muin, pls don't forget to always say: Alaihi salaam and Karrama Allaho wajhah whenever Ali's name is mentioned.

    To brother Ahmed Asgher, I just found your email today & I will email you this coming Monday insha Allah.

  22. Ali from afghanistan

    as muslim why we don't just get along with each other, who cares if you are sunni or shiit as long as we are muslim thats all that matter. you can pray whichever way you wish to, you are praying for God not for shiit or sunni. its all up to God to decide who's right and who is wrong. i think muslim people should grow up and come back to reality, that divergen can harm them severely, which it does now. Allah bless all of us

  23. Shapandi Sardi from Singapore

    I agree with Claire Mbugua that as Muslims we should limit ourselves to being Sunnis or Syias, especially now. Should build upon our similarities, not fight over our differences. As Claire Mbugua mentioned, we should unite as our enemies are taking this opportunity to create more discord and enimosity amongst us. After all, we all share the same shahadatain. We all have to accept the difference between us and strive together to ahieve unity.

  24. Ita Rosita from INDONESIA

    we are a moslem, let make it be unity of us, no matter how different is our ides,politic and culture.

  25. Ita Rosita from indonesia

    life is how to share with everyone around us, no matter muslim or not muslim as long we can respect to each other, we have the good learning from our prophet how to live in kindness

  26. AbdulRasheed from India

    I was born in Sunni and used to follow the same till 30 years old (last year). But, my great experience in Arabian Peninsula (never found on any human in my life time) with Arabs for six years while I was working as an engineer, I started to review the Hadith deeply, and I found the right path is in the hands of Shia leaders as Muhammad's life(Peace be upon Him). Now I follow Shia. I would like to add some Hadith...

    "A hadith given by al-Bukhari and Muslim states that Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated Allah's Messenger (saw) as saying: If the Religion were at the Pleiades, even then a person from Persia would have taken hold of it, or one amongst the Persian descent would surely have found it. Abu Hurairah (ra) also narrates: We were sitting in the company of Allah's Apostle (saw) when Surat al-Juma was revealed to him and when he recited amongst them, (those who were sitting there) said Allahs Messenger? But Allah's Apostle (saw) made no reply, until he was questioned once, twice or thrice, and there was amongst us Salman the Persian. Allah s Apostle (saw) placed his hand on Salman and then said: Even if faith were near the Pleiades, a man from amongst these would surely find it.

    Muhammad (saw) patted on the legs of Salman and said: "He, and his people." And the he continued: "By the True One, in Whose hand is my life, if the Faith of God should be suspended in the Pleiades, surely, men from Persia shall reach it."

    (This tradition is accepted by both Sunnis and Shia's and is included bay Nasafi in his book, Vol. IV, p;age 169, as well as by Muhammad Farid Vajdi, in his book, third edition, page 676.)"

  27. Al Haidar from USA

    Salaamun 'Alaikum

    Actually, a sizable minority if not even majority of Sunnis believe in intercession through learned scholars or saints. It's called Tawassul/Shafaa. Look it up.

    Wa Salaam,

    Al Haidar

  28. FIKRIYE from USA



  29. Muin Sarguroh from india

    I agree that Shias do not accept first three khalifas; but one major difference which i noticed is that we sunni believe that prophet Mohd(SAWS)is the last prophet and after that there will be no prophet;but shias say that HAzrat Ali(RA) is the next prophet becoz of whcih when they take the name as Hazrat Ali (Alaihissalaam).

    As far as my knowledge goes (Alaihissalaam) title is used only for Prophets such as Adam (Alaihissalaam), Ibrahim (Alaihissalaam),Moosa (Alaihissalaam),Isa (Alaihissalaam)etc...

    Please clarify.

  30. Hussain from Canada

    I agree with Adam's (Negeria) comments.

    I am againt Muslims killing anyone innocent anywhere, with reqrds to what is happening in Iraq, its was first an insurgency against occupational forces and its supporters by sunni jihadis, the jihadis were attacking US forces and its supporters irrespective of their sect Sunni or Shia, then comes Shia militiants from Badr and Sadr groups, sadr group openly was againt US forces but in the background they were targeting sunnies as well, the Badr group is more organized they taken over the interior ministry, they started full scale kidnappings of sunnies from homes in ministry uniforms and trucks killing hundreds just because they are sunnies. After the crimes of Badr targeting innocent sunnies, sunni jihadis groups become anti shia and anti government beside anti US, then comes the incident of Sammarah where a shia sharine is bombed and as we know the killings still continue. Even today sinnies attack anyone who support US occupation be it a shia or sunni. But shias killing anyone who is a sunni weather they support the insurgency or not.

  31. claire Mbugua from USA

    Sometimes distiguishing leads to sepeartion that leads to limitation. Do not limit yourselves. All are Muslim and that is your stong and beautifil tie to eachother. With disagreement leaves room for penetration of outside forces that mean you harm. Unite as a people and stop the violence. This was not the almighty's intention. I am not a Muslim but these words are from the heart that loves all.



  32. Tayseer from united states

    Alsalaam 3alikum. Thank you for the article, it clearly distinguish the difference that is raising the question to the non-Muslims. It note clearly that difference is more politically and that leadership is not a birth right in Islam. And as noted by the writer that sunni Muslims counter that there is no basis in Islam for a hereditary privileged class of spiritual leaders.

  33. Adam from Nigeria


    to sell their evil teachings.

    Islam is not by heridetry where the son acquired from the father or ortherwise cos if it was meant to be that then Allah in His wisdom will have allowed Ibrahim or Abdullah or Qasim to have had a longer life so as to inherit their father the noble Prophet (SAW). Or going further the son of Noah (AS) wouldnt have gone as an unbeliever. The base is clear .. Inna Akramakum 'indal-Allahi atqakum..

    Islam came to do away with servititude but some sects especially the sufi sect wants to make this the basis of their aqidah, that is why the "sainthood" is made heridetiry, only the sons of the "sheikh" made it to the top while the followers nomatter how intelligent or well versed in the teachings will forever remaing a follower (marid).

    Fellow muslims lets follow the true aqidah, that aqidah of the salafus- salih; the sahabas, the tabiin and all those that follow them in truth so that we get our TRUE freedom, from psychological and physical bondage being propagated by these sects. Remember the key words


  34. Adam from Nigeria

    No Sir, the only way to unite ummah is by holding to Lailaha illa-Allah Muhammad arasulul-Allah..Why? So many reasons from the Quran where Allah and His messenger were mentioned jointly in many verses one of which goes;

    "Say (Ya Muhammad) O' Men I am sent to you all as Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongeth the dominion of heavens and the earth; there is no God but He; it is He that giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His MESSENGER THE UNLETTERED PROPHET, who believeth in Allah and His words; FOLLOW HIM THAT YE MAY BE GUIDED." Q7:158

    So we infered that by following the Quran (the words of Allah) and by following Hadith (the sayings, actions and silent approvals) of the Messenger we become one ummah in Islam and thereby UNITED.

    Hadith is the interpretations of the Quran by the Prophet (SAW). Umm Mumineen A'isha (RA) was asked who was the prophet? She replied; he is the Quran in motion.-Allahu Akbar.

    Any interpretation wether by Abubakr (RA) the first among the ummah, or by Ummar (RA) the second, or by Uthman the third, or by 'Ali ibn Abi Talib the fourth, or by any sahaba or by tabi'in or by tabi'i-tabi'n; examples like Imam Ja'afar, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi'i, Imam Abu hanifa, Imam ibn Hambal, Abdulkadir Jelani, Imam ibn Taimaiyyah, Ibn Kathir, Imam Muhammad ibn Abdulwahhab..etc must by NECESSITY go back to the base ie the interpretations by the Messenger Muhammad (SAW). Where there is clash no matter the magnititude the former (interpretations by others) give way to the later (interpretation by the Messenger).

    There are only transmitters/reporters of hadith and not manufacturers! as by its definition HADITH can only be a manufacture of the Prophet (SAW). And it is by only studying the science of Hadith you will be able to separate the rice from the chaps. Cos a lot of fabricated ahadith are going round in order to change the true aqidah in islam. In fact all the known sects more often took refuge behind these fabricated ahadi

  35. Supandi Mohamad from Malaysia.

    Dear Huda,

    I agreed on certain aspect of your article, but do not agree when you say that the differences are merely political.

    Been a descendent of the sunnah, I still believe that after the second week of Zulhijjah Muslims should gather together for prayers to enter the new year of Muharram month, the fist month of Hijrah. My forefather did their fasting until the 10th of Muharram. After doings all the prayers and rituals (zikurullah and selawat to our Rasullullah S.A.W), they will then have a family feast among which their imams disciples will read the Al-Quran until the next day Suboh prayer of 11th Muharram.

    I do not see the logic for a Shiite Muslim to wack their body and to feel the agony of Sayidinna Hussien R.A.

    Please correct back their version of pain and agony.


    Shia and Sunni both are Muslims so we should not quarrel for petty things. We both have fiath in the same God and prophet. We should always call ourselves as muslims instead shia or sunni so that the difference between shia and sunni will decrease.

  37. ahmed asgher from bahrain

    Zinedine: thank you for your kind advice. Those whose hearts are blotted, they can not see even if truth is as bright as thesun itself. We both know that anyone can attain friendship with Allah if they choose to do so within a breath and remain on their belief till their last breath. I give you my emal to contact me directly as a freind for Allah's sake.

    [email protected]

  38. mohamed khan from xxxxzzz






  39. Mykgerard from U.S.A.

    This is a nice article concept, however it is worded in a way that leans towards Sunni views while implying impartiality. I hope to see less of this type of misleading in the future in this newsletter.

  40. Abd. Azim from U.S.A.

    Does the dialoque have to escalate to violence between the two mentioned groups? What was Prophet Muhammed (saw) a Shia or Sunni? Does the qur'an mention either? If we are admonished to argue with the people of the book in a "goodly manner", why can't we do that among ourselves or with eachother, is that such a hard thing? Where does it say that killing another innocent Muslim is acceptable? If WE as a group are to give da'waah, then are we representing Al-Islam in the best light, are we even worthy? Just some questions Brothers and Sisters to consider. Jazakallah khrail and as salaamu alaikum.!

  41. Mohammed Saadiq A.W from Ghana

    I'm a Muslim and dont belong to any sect but the notion that leadership in Islam is a birth right needs a critical look. Is a leader chosen based on his excellent credentials and track record or because he belongs to a particular family. The Caliphs were noble and honourable men and likewise the Imams so we should be circumspect as Muslims when making comments about them. Islam needs harmony to progress. Since the Kalima is one, we are all Muslims and not Sunni nor Shia.

  42. ajaz rasool from india

    There have not to be any sects in islam.When Allah is one,Prophet is one,Quran is one the religion of islam cannot have sects.

  43. Patricia Lynn Morrison from United States

    Thank you for this helpful article on the distinctions between Sunni and Shia in Islam. I have read many articles explaining this topic, but this is one of the most clear, concise and readable that I've found in some time.

    I am a Roman Catholic Christian and a journalist who has had the privilege of working in the Muslim world and am always looking for information I can share with non-Muslims about Islam. Your site is one of the most helpful and I always learn something new myself! Thank you! Shukran! God's/Allah's blessings on all of you.

  44. Shukurah from NigerifJ|K:Lk;l

    I have been increase in my islam. may allah Strengthen you

  45. Sha from South Africa

    and certainly no basis for the veneration or intercession of saints.

    This is an incorrect statement on Sunni beliefs as WE DO Believe in True Saints an We DO definately venerate True Saints.

  46. Nasiru Lawan Maigoro from Nigeria

    The issue of Sunni and Shia is really a real mess in the Muslim community, but if one knows and understand the real teahing of the HOLY QUR'AN and strictly adhere to it, there would be no question of Sunni or Shia. Islam is Islam if you BElief in what the Prophet comes with (the QUR'AN) you are a muslim. and there is only one version of it, no more.

    the muslims have alot to uncover, the discrepancies and distortions in our History, conspiracies about the origin of the holy QUR'AN irrelevant traditions referred to the holy prophet without basis contributed to the divisions of the muslim UMMAH.

    There is need for us all to think, research and address the issue of sectarianims.

  47. Fazlyn from srilanka

    This is a long dispute between muslims for centurys now. The truth is that definetly the shias group has deviated from the true teachings of our beloved prophet and gone astray. They are so far that its very difficult to make them understand the truth today. Only allahutala must guide them and bring them to the right path.

    The most important issue today is to see that we do not fight amongst our selves but to unite and build a strong feeling of brothrhood if not we will be perished by the enimies of islam who are working day and night to destroy us. Oh allah let sanity prevail amongst us and guide us to the correct path.

  48. mary claypool from Moroco

    From all my experience in Islam and everything I have read I don't see how the Shia in their current state of worship can be considered in any way akin or similar to Sunni (which I am not). In the Koran Allah says to ignore the ignorant. He also says to leave to Him those that divide their religion into sects. These people who divide the religion into sects will be punished by Him. Therefore we must not divide our religion into sects and we must all call ourselves simply, Muslims. Also it is imperative that every muslim read, understand and follow the Hadiths, specially the Al-Bukhari which are suppose to be the most authentic. The Prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.) said, I have left you (meaning all muslims) two things, this book meaning the Koran and my sunna. Meaning my way.

    Allah Himself says we are suppose to follow the Koran and the prophet (s.a.w.). So it is actually a circular argument which means if you want to be a muslim on the righteous path then you will instruct yourself on the Koran and the Hadiths and follow those two things only. We must never divide ourselves into sections. In the name of Allah the Almighty, the All-Seer and All-Knower

  49. Ali from Pak

    What a misleading article!!!!

    May Allah save from these type of mustashrikeen-Ameen

  50. Kassim Manji from U.K.

    Its a shame that some Western vested powers with the help of Taliban and/or so called extreme un-educated religious leaders, are deviding Muslims into sects. Sunnis and Shias are all Muslims, followers of the Holy Prohpet and the Holy Book and believe in peace and should stand up shoulder to shoulder and say loudly "Allahu Akbar".

    May Allah (SWT) guide us.

  51. mustapha muye from nigeria

    Shia and Sunni divide is destroyin Islam,we apeal to the champion of these misdeeds to stop because they workin for jewz.Spread the peace and love that Islam preaches not hate.PEACE TO THE WORLD

  52. Muhammad Asim Nisar from Saudi Arabia

    This is not a simple issue otherwise it could have been solved centuries ago. Book of Allah and Sunnah of Prophet (S.A.W) is the basis of unity for this Ummah, if any of the sects doesn't trust in Quran or Sunnah of Prophet (S.A.W), how the unity can be acheived and on what basis they should agree? If someone says the Quran is incomplete or it has been modified or few or most of the companions were not sincere, then let me say we don't have any thing common to unite. All these sects can't be converted to one Ummah unless they accept the Quran as Divine and Preserved Book of Allah and Sunnah of Prophet is the only criteria to follow.

  53. Rizvi from India

    Dear Islam, Salamun alaikum. Shia-Sunni A brief History is a misleading history not the correct one. Please give the history in its proper perspective. The importance of Ahlulbait is recorded in Quran which needs support from history. History is full of correct and false ones which should be demarcated in the light of Quranic commands.

  54. Iwan from Indonesia

    talking about sunni and shia will not finish or solve the unity of ummah. sunni is muslim and if shia has the same belief on Allah, malaikat, kitabullah,rosul, yaumul qiyamah, and qadr so they are muslim too. If shia do not hate abu bakr and umar so they are muslim too, if shia has not taqiyyah as one of their tauhid so they are muslim too.

  55. Syed M. Shareef from India


    Most of common people are following the deen of fathers,I dont blame present sects i have few questions for shias they should answer this

    1. Is Prophet mission was failuer?

    He unable to identify Moonafiq around him?

    the whole life he was surronded by them.

    because shia's says that Except Ali and some

    of sahaba, all others became moonafiq (by not

    accept prophet order given about Ali).

    2. Why following Iranis who didnot fully support

    Hazrat Ali(read history) and when killing of

    muslim Bin Aqeel & Hazrat Hussain why not

    came to support and NOW they are champoins of

    love toward Prophet family?

    3. If Hazrat Abu Bakr / Omer & Osaman came to

    power illegally why Hazrat Ali accepted it ?

    4. Why Hazrat Hassan & Hussain accepted Hazrat

    Mawwiyya as ruler.

    5. Who Killed Hazrat Omer ... is it not Irani

    6. Who Killed Hazart Osman... is it not Irani

    7. Who Made the issue of Hazrat Ayeesha on the

    time of Prophet...It was moonafeeqeen

    only .... and Why shia still follow that?

    8. If sunnis was wrong then... why Hazrat

    Hussain did not told all Madina people to

    follow shiaism or Hazrat Ali only.

    9. After becoming Khalifa why Hazrat Ali(RA) did

    not declared that AbuBakr/Omer/Ali was not

    real Khalifa, and all the people who followed

    them was wrong.

    10. Do you not see that Persians took revange

    with Islam by creating a sect on name of

    love toward prophet family?

    Please shia people open your eyes... you are in trap on the name of love.... but in reality Jews & persians created this sect just to divid and rule.

    Wa salam

  56. omarhassan from gambia

    Masha Allah. Shia/sunni/malki/hanbali/shafayi/hanafi/wahabi/practising /simple/radical/extremist/just (MUSLIM) are you slogans to confuse us and divide us.


  57. yasser from UAE

    I have a long Sigh to give.

    I'm very much disturbed by the new conflict between sunnies and shiies, i would like to see a poll that clarifies how many muslims are aware of the real dimensions of the conflict and who benefits of it.

    I would also like to trace the websites, books, persons... who are promoting hate and see who stands behind them.

    good words are not enough anymore, some brave actions should

  58. sajjad ahmed from usa

    I'm a sunni muslim by birth. If my being "sunni" causes my "Shia" muslim brothers and sisters to have any form of animosity towards me, then let me be just called a Muslim. Islam does not teach hate and I'd rather have all muslims in the world as my brothers and sisters in Islam. Peace Salam to all Muslims in the world, whatever their sect.

  59. K. Idrissi from USA

    Very misleading article. Author does not decern nor understand Islam to say:"The differences between these two main sub-groups within Islam initially" What sub-groups are talking about? You can yourself Muslim whereas you are not. Prophet Mohamed, peace and blessing of Allah on him, said that the Jews have divided into 71 sects, the Christians into 72 sects and his Ummah will divide into 73 sects all of them in hell except one and he was asked who was it and he replied the one that follows what I am doing and my companions.

    Shia have a big problem whithin their article of fait and to mention just a few the shia believe that their Imams know the un-seen, the Quran is corrupt, Aicha (mother of all muslims as per verses in the Quran, is unchaste, prophet companions reverted to Kufr (unbelief)...ect. One should know what is he / she talking about before venturing into writings that does not make any sense. I am intersted in knowing those appologetics who say that we should have a unity amongst the muslims regardless of their beliefs and I would like to know where do they get their ideas in the light of the Quran and Sunnah of His prophet Mohamed, peace and blessing of Allah on him.

  60. Husayn Bolivia from Bolivia

    As salam aleikum warahamatulah:


    You said a true history of these two schools, alhamdulilah we need to live togheter shia and sunnis.


    Husayn Bolivia

  61. Hussain from Canada

    I think is very simple, ask any Shia if he believes in Quran 100% correct and complete, if he says yes then he is a Muslim but if he claims that there are discrepancies in Quran (Nauzbillah) then he is not a Muslim.

    Well a majority of them claim Quran is not complete and have discrepancies (Nauzbillah) and they are waiting for the he so called 12 imam to comes back with the right version. Their believes are full of SHIRK and BIDATH which makes an open enemy of Islam than even Jews. Because they trap ignorant muslims to believe what they are doing is Islam and which is not.

  62. Al Mubin from Brunei Darussalam

    I don't know about sunni and shia but by refering to hadith Rasullullah (PBUH) only one group of muslim can enter Jannah and they're Ahl Sunnah wal Jamaah. Wallahu a'lam

  63. Rafee from USA

    Salaam Br. Yazid, I agree with you, that we should not be fighting about what happened 1400 years ago. Your name caught my attention. When I name my son "Mohammed" I have the Prophet's name in mind and name it. I humbly request you to find out who Yazid was in the history. Thank you

  64. Zinedine from Morocco

    Salaamu alaikum Brs & Srs,

    The ONLY way to unite our Ummah is by holding tight to the rope of Attaqualain. The Qura'an & Ahlu lbayt! They are our common denominator. They are what bring us together especially Ali (KAW). Yes we all love Allah & our prophet (pbuh) & I hear this all the time: We must follow only Allah (swt) & Muhammad (pbuh) but how? Answer: Who has been able to interpret the Quran & the Hadith for us to understand them best other than ALI (KAW)? No one other than Ali. This is the testimony of all the great Sahaba (pbut) including Abu Bakr & Umar (pbut). "Qaataltuhum ala tanzeel wa anta ya Aliun tuquatiluhum ala taweel" Hadith Sahih. Umar said "Lawala Aliun la halaka Umar" . After Rasoolo Allah (SAAWS) no one compares to Ali (KAW) no one!!! Lets stick with the facts and put emotions aside please!!! We need to rewrite history by changing our ways of thinking, our ways of analysing history & finally our behaviour. Lets teach our children all five schools of fiqh & tell them the truth that Imaam Jaafar Sadiq is the master Imaam before Malik , Ashafii, Abu Hanifah & Ahmad bnu Hanbal! When we know the facts, we will realise that Shia Jaafaria are Sunnis too then I am sure Sunnis & Shia will be able to make some compromises! All Muslims regardless of their sects share the same Quraan but the interpretations are different sometimes. Let's ask our Shia brs & srs politely to stop insulting Sahaba (not Tolaqa & Munafiqueen) but we must admit that some of the great Sahaba made some serious historical mistakes that we today are paying the price for.

    They probably wanted an "equal" balance of power between all tribes of Makkah but it backfired.

    People like Myariam are so ignorant to the point that educating them is just as useless as pouring water on sand. Brs & srs don't waste your breath, teaching them Islam is fruitless!

  65. Adam from Nigeria

    Corrections to my comment No. 43720 ;

    Part of the verse 2:137 qouted should read ...wa in tawallau fa inna ma hum fi shiqaq.. if they turn away (to what was revealed to you O Muhammad) they will be in schism..

    Rabbana la tu akhizna inna sina au akhda'ana...

    And the leader of the muslim brotherhood i refered to should have been Sayyid Qutb not the jnr brother Muhammad who i presume is still alive in-sha-Allah.

    We should try and avoid all satanic revelations that more often tend to deviate us from the main teachings of islam.

  66. ahmed asgher from bahrain

    Maryam Abd al Ghafur. You have made a very grave mistake. Shia DO NOT have their own Quran. As a 56 years old person who grew up in a major Shia family and travelled the world extensively, I only saw The Quran that you and any other Muslim has seen. I have NEVER heard of nor seen any other version that you allege the Shia have. This is a venomous lie which will only lead to further hate between Muslims. Quran tells us to be peacemakers and not create mischief on earth.

  67. Tasneem from USA

    This is in response to Maryam ..I dont think you have any knowledge what Karbala stands for ..In real life if your husband boss children would be introduced to would have little respect just because your husband works for return..just think what we did to Rasool allah children and grand children...I have refrained myself from what I belve in but if you want any peace on this face of the earth you have to have little respect irrelavent of our differences and then only we can talk abt peace otherwise we can fight for the rest of our lives and live in condition 100 years behind the rest of the world.

  68. shoaib from india

    Assalam. "some muslims are not claiming membership in any particular group" are creating a new group(by name 'muslim') in ISLAM

  69. Adam from Nigeria.

    I like the comment of brother Yazid.

    The fact of the matter is that there is no half baked Islam. Somebody is mentioning the common belief in shahada, praying, fasting etc. But is that all? Even in the main article of the shahada some of the sects have failed woefully already, in that they believe in the uniqueness of Allah and the only one who deserves all form of worship but negate the second part of the believe that only prophet Muhammad (SAW) UNIQUELY deserves total obedience. You don't obey your "Saint", "Imam" or "Mullah" in a matter already interpreted or determined by the prophet!

    There is no way we will be of different sects and say we will meet somewhere in a "unified" form, NEVER Cos' it is a decree of Allah ...fain tawallaitum fa inna hum fi shiqaq..

    The muslim brotherhood of Egypt is a clear example they have been at it, for some century now what do they have to show for it. They call for sufis, shias, etc to unite and fight so that a 'form' of caliphate is establish but what did/do we see? The movement was crushed, Muhammad Qutb slaughtered and most of the leadership now are either in prison or in disarray. Going back further it is the same TURNING AWAY from the islam of the prophet and his sahaba that sees to the downfall of the ottomans. ..Fa in tawallaitum fa inna hum fi shiqaq..

    And so it shall continue unless we have a rethink and come back to the correct aqidah and worhip as ordained to us by Allah and his prophet (SAW), not doing a half baked islam and expect Allah's help it won't come!

    Ya ayyuhal ladhina amanu 'udhulu fis silmi kaffatan.. O' you that have faith enter into Islam COMPELETELY .... The verse continue to warn us against following the footsteps of Shaitan cos he is to us an avowed enemy.

  70. Ray Meem from USA

    This article is too simplistic, with infallible imam

    and receptive motivations Takkiya and keeping grudge in the hearts against the mainline Islam, the grotesque public display of sad o masochism during the Muharram of each year really sucks. Can't you see if some event happened at Karbala in some summer 1400 years ago, how can continue to use lunar calender to reenact the scene in winter and some time in spring and so on. This is not like fasting month of Ramadan which makes super sense to rotate for all people globaly to catch all seasons twice in a life time. But keeping a fixed event to follow a mutable calendar is for the lunatics not people with any sence.No wonder the Muslims are getting kicked around for so long.

    Allha will not change the grace which he hath bestowed on a people until they change what is in their souls 8:53

  71. Yazid from usa


    If ANYONE can find me one mention in Qur'an or Hadith of Suni or Shia ... I will convert to that sect of Islam.

    I say "CONVERT" because that's what you'll have to do if you are a Muslim ... convert to Suni or Shia because there are tremendous differences between being Suni's, Shia's and Muslims.

    Both Suni's and Shia's MISS THE's about ALLAH and ALLAH alone!

    For HE is a jealous GOD ... wants NO ONE put before him.

    For he is a selfish GOD ... all praise is ONLY for him.

    For he is the only GOD ... there is NONE like unto him.

    So, put your backwards teachings and practices of your ancestors behind you ... and embrace Islam as it was taught by our Prophet.

    We are Muslims ... a nation of believers ... the guiding light for mankind ... not political parties with competing adgendas and beliefs.

    I hope this Ummah wakes up soon ... the world is passing us by and WE ARE FAILING MISERABLY in our duty to practice, teach, and live the deen as it was prescribed to mankind.

    Peace and love ...

  72. Muhammad from USA

    I am surprised, the author does not mention that FIVE pillars of Islam are the same for Shia and Sunni muslims. For example, Hajj ot the pilgrimmage to Mecca and associated mandatory formal ritual practices are the same at Mecca and Medina during pilgrimmage..

  73. Maryaam Abd al Ghafur from US

    Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullaahi

    I give the writer credit for actually writing the edges of the differences. In today's political climate, that takes bravery.

    But the Shi'a have their own Qur'aan, they claim infallibility for the Twelve Imaams, they allow mut'ah marriage, they disparage many of the Ashabah, and this after we have the words of Allaah Ta'Alaa Himself fi'l Qur'aan on these issues. (Take what the Prophet gives you, and refrain what he orders you to refrain from, to paraphrase) And then there is the matter of worshipping at shrines, which is shirk, the one sin that Allaah says that He will NOT forgive unless the actor repents of it and refrains from it.

    When one listens to the khutbah of Ayatollah Khomeini, where he called many of our ummahat ul mu'mineen prostitutes, when one listens to him crediting human beings, ie the Twelve Imaams, with asmaa wa sifaat of Allaah Ta'Alaa, one can only beg Allaah to forgive one for listening, and then make ghusl more thorough than that of the junub, and still the feeling of immersion in filth remains.

    Learn the religion from the ones who taught it best, Allaah, Rasul Allaah, and then those who were guaranteed Jannah. And what one does not understand, keep silent about, lest the tongue or the electronic pen earn one the sobriquet of supporter of the enemies of Allaah, Hizbul Shaytaan, wa na'udhubillaahi.

  74. Gulshan from Canada

    Assalamu Alaikum: Thank you for one of the most important subjects of Shia and Sunni.

    Sometimes ago I converted to Islam from Ismailism and accepted just the teaching of Prophet Muhammad s.a.s, and put a stop to all the other innovated teachings of Imams from about 45 sects of Shia.

    Consequently, I call myself a Sunni and strictly follow the Prophet as a final Imam as following him one cannot go wrong in any ways.

    Thank You.


  75. zinedine from Morocco

    Salaamu alaikum brs & srs, here is what was ignored to prevent more fitan but truth must be told & those with weak imaan need to strengthen it: 1-Hadith alghadeer 2-Saheefa ljamia 3-"Man kuntu mawlah fa Aliun ma'ulah" Hadith Sahih; Khalifa Umar said " Bakhin bakhin laka ya Ali (congratulation to you Ali)today you have become my leader & the leader of every Muslim & Muslima) 4-The prophet's (will) wasia 5-Who said "the prophet is hallucinating;we don't need a wasia; the Quran is enough..." causing division see Hadith Bukhari for details 6-Usama's army & who refused to be led by a 17 year old 6-The Saqueefa event 7-The attempt to burn Ali's & Fatima's house 8-The battle of Khaibar 9- The battle of Aljamal 10- The battle of Siffeen 11- The battle of Nahrawaan & Du-Tidia12- Aeesha & kilab alhawqal hadith 13- To put Talha, Zubair, Salman, Hassan & Hussain's death into historical perspective.14- Banu Umayya, Uthba; Marwane bnu lmalik,Muawiyya, Yazid, Bnu Ziad 15-Banu Labaas;see Lhajaaj Bnu Yousof Taqafee & Said Bnu Jubair 16-Putting Taqia into Quranic perspective 17-The teacher of the four Sunni Imaams Jaafar Sadiq who said:"My hadith is the hadith of my grand father (meaning Imam Hussain) and my grand father's hadith is that of his his grand father's(meaning prophet Muhammad pbuh)& his hadith is that of Allah. Btw: Do you where Fatima Zahra was buried & why not? Did you read Muawiya's response to Muhammad bnu Abi Bakr letter? Did you also know the history of Shia Jaafaria in North Africa? That's a brain teaser for us all!!! This is for a starter so please investigate this issues yourself. Idon't want toelaborate onthis for fear that my comments will not be posted. I respect islamcity's concerns but still truth must be told if we are to unite our divided Ummah.Worried about more fitan, pls don't becs we will come out clean insha Allah & we will all eventually unite under khilafa ala minhaji nubua one day insha Allah!

  76. Hilal Shah from USA

    Sister Huda, Assala-mu-alaikum:

    Good informative article. May Allah Azzu-Wa-Jall be pleased with you. As you rightly indicated that there is no such thing as Shia or Sunni based on Islamic Ideology, but rather it is based on political discourse. However, this difference of oppenion, who is to lead the Muslim Ummah after the Prophet, has caused enemocity and blood shed amongs Muslims. Pray to Allah that Muslim should unite for the cause of Ummah.


  77. Zinedine from Morocco

    Salaamu alaikum Ali,

    Here is what was ignored in this article to prevent more fitan when truth must be found:

    1-Hadith alghadeer 2-Saheefa ljamia 3-"Man kuntu mawlah fa Aliun ma'ulah" Hadith Sahih; Khalifa Umar said " Bakhin bakhin laka ya Ali (congratulation to you Ali) today you have become my leader & the leader of every Muslim & Muslima) 4-The prophet's (will) wasia 5- Who said "the prophet is hallucinating; we don't need a wasia; the Quran is enough..." causing division see Hadith Bukhari for details 6-Usama's army & who refused to be led by a 17 year old army general 6-The Saqueefa event 7-The attempt to burn Ali's & Fatima's house 8-The battle of Khaibar (who killed Amroo Bnu Abdi Wud? 9- The battle of Badr; Uhud, Hunnain & Alkhandaq who carried the Muslim flag? 10- The battle of Siffeen 11- The battle of Nahrawaan & who killed the leader of alkhawarij, Du-Thidia? 12- Aeesha & kilab alhawqal's hadith 13- To put Uthman, Talha, Zubair, Salman, Hassan & Hussain's death into historical perspective.14- Banu Umayya, who eliminated the leaders of kufr Uthba; Saad bnu Laas? How did the leaders of Nifaq Marwane bnu Lmalik, Muawiyya, Yazid, Bnu Ziad became powerful15- Banu Labaas; see Lhajaaj Bnu Yousof Taqafee & Said Bnu Jubair 16- Putting Taqia into Quranic perspective 17- The teacher of the four Sunni Imaams Jaafar Sadiq who said: "My hadith is the hadith of my grand father (meaning Imam Hussain) and my grand father's hadith is that of his his grand father's (meaning prophet Muhammad pbuh) and his hadith is that of Allah. Btw: Do you know where Fatima Zahra was buried & why not? Did you read Muawiya's response to Muhammad bnu Abi Bakr letter? Did you also know the history of Shia Jaafaria in North Africa (from Morocco to Egypt)? That 's a brain teaser for us Sunnis!!!

    This is for a starter so please investigate this issues yourself. I don't want to elaborate on this for fear that my comment will not be posted!

  78. Tasneem from USA

    Mr. Bhawany thank you for bringing it to authors attention that Gadhir-e-khum was completely not mentioned to explain and that changed everything. I also believe that we can all have our ,sunni,wahabi or any other branch but why we cant live with our differences like the rest of the world..and yes we should respect each other belief and live in peace.

  79. idris bankston from usa

    As salaamu alaykum!

    greetings and salutations!

    I converted to Islam 7 years ago.

    Before that I was introduced to Islam by

    a muslim sister by the name of Saabira at work. She was an Ansaar of the Ansaar'ullah community

    here in Detroit. Since then I have considered myself a muslim and only a muslim.

    I do not differentiate any sects of Islam.

    I am a convert. An American muslim and I pray that

    all muslims, Inshallah, will see a more and more

    people convert to Islam: the TRUE Religion.

    Peace and Blessings

  80. ahmed asgher from bahrain

    Quran/God tells us that the best of people are those who listen to what is being said and follow or accept the best of it. God then tells us hold fast to the rope of Allah's Unity and do not be divided into various sects. He also tells us that all prophets are humans and they will have to go/die and thus follow only ME. We are blessed to be left with His words, untampered and primosed by HIM to be preserved till Eternity. So, why do we have to follow other historical stuff, even if there is truth is some of it, whilst knowing that it will lead to dscourse between us and thus contradict the advice given to us by the Creator not to be divisive? After 1400 years should not we, as Muslims, be united and thus presenting the Beauty of Oneness to the rest of this world. God asks us to be His 'witness=shaheed'. We should be talking about uniting Christians, Jews, Budhists, unbelievers, etc and not be in the same rut of a thousand year old. This is how we glorify HIM by promoting HIS UNITY. Let us expand our spirits. God is ALL-ENCAMPASSING. Should we not try a little to mimic HIS beautiful qualities.

  81. sayed from usa

    A very good article, appreciate your brief explanation and facts about the two religion.

    we have family members who are good practicing shia muslims as well as community members who interact and pray in either shia or suni masajids. There is not bad feeling among us as individuals and as community members. Personally as good practicing muslim I suggest more emphasis practicing Quran and Sunna of the prophet Muhammad, that way we will have more unity among the muslim Umma.

  82. ahmed from Bulgaria

    Quit agree it's no place for additional comments


  83. Sylvia Horton from Canada

    Salam alaikum to all,

    Thanks for this article. It has really opened my eyes up to the difference between the Shias and the Sunnis. Me personally, I only see Muslims as Muslims. I never hear a Muslim ask another Muslim if they are Shias or Sunnis. I think that some people are using this term to keep us divided. I agree with the author whenever she states, most Muslims do not say that they are of a certain party. They just consider themselves to be Muslims. I to am one of those people.

  84. Muslim from India

    Salaam Alaikum,

    This is an excellent article; short and to the point. I am Sunni and my closest friend is Shia. We never had any differences about religion.

    When I hear people of either community criticising the other; I say this..

    Do you pray 5 times a day ?? if answer is yes; next question. Do you pay 2.5% of your earnings for the welfare of the needy ?? and so on. When the answer in "No. But ..." Then I say. "Please go and do these first and regular. Allah SWT will allow you to enter Jannah. Other things down the line have no meaning if one fails in the basics".

    I think this is how the differences could be avoided.

    Once again, credit to the sister for explaining the Sunni-Shiah difference in simple words.


    Mumbai - 19/3/07

  85. Muhammad Ali Bawany from Pakistan

    I read your brief history about Sunni and Shia but you didn't give clear meaning about the word 'Shia'. Everyone should respect other Religions and Sects but I am not satisfied about your research Shi-ite because you did not give reference of Gadhir-e-Khum which has immense importance in Islamic world. This century is the century of logical explanation and we can not refuse it.

  86. Salma Rose Dacanay from Philippines

    Assalamalaycum,my sister Huda. I appreciate your article and you have given me a good and sound knowledge of Islam. I am a balik-Islam and have found my true faith in Dubai, UAE where i experienced so many sacrifices including the first attempt of fasting (even in that time that i was a Christian). I look forward to reading more of your contributions.All the best! Salam

  87. ahmed asgher from bahrain

    i am pleased that this issue is being addressed since for most muslims in both camps it is a dividing issue which has to be understood before it is put behind us. only when a root cause of an issue is grasped that most of us are able to move on. as suggested by ali abbas more from mentioned notaries should be presented for the visitors to read and understand the reasons behind this divide which has put a blot on the islamic history. as for those who seek Allah alone, they are really not into such issues they have already moved on but it is also our responsibility to embrace al our brothers since that is what Allah wants from us. islam is a religion of kinship and brotherhood and just as ibrahim has prayed for his progeny, so did our prophet pbuh. there is a great similarity between these two prophets pbu.them.

  88. Sister Kareemah from USA

    As salaamu alaykum!

    I thank you my dear sister for your thoughtful article. Your hope for Muslim unity regardless of differences came through loud and clear.

    Baraka Allah feek.

    Wa alaykum us salaam,

    Sister Kareemah

  89. Leyla from US

    I am happy to see there is an article which reminds us all that, despite some differences in practice, whether sunni or shia, we are muslims.

    It is very sad to see the umma be so divided at a time where it would most need its unity. Instead of spending time judging each other and cultivating what makes us different, it is so very important to remember that no oppression can ever be fought, no injustice ever be straightened, no strength has ever been gained, by being an umma divided upon itself. I strongly believe that part of the message of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was one of unity, and it really would benefit all muslims to think of themselves of muslims as first and foremost (regardless of school of thought), strive to righteousness as best we can, and found our unity at this time of crisis. After all, if we cannot do this for ourselves, how can we expect anyone to do this for us? All comments are welcome.

  90. Ali Abbas from USA

    In the Name of the Most High

    assalam o 'alaykum ...

    I don't think that my sister, Huda Dodge is qualified to speak about the topic of Shi'i-Sunni Issue. In her authored work, she equates the belief of isma as akin to that of the Catholic pope, and is extremely offensive in her caricature of the practices of the Shi'ites: which is even reflective of the article on

    At best, her knowledge about Shi'i and Sunni Islam is a portrayal of Wahabi/Salafi Influence, and at worst bereft of any serious Scholarship. The likes of John Esposito, Mahmoud Ayoub, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Khalid Yahya Blankinship, Wilfred Madelung, who are all well respected authorities on Islamic History and the Shi'i Sunni Divide ought to have been consulted.

    Muslims, all shi'ites and all ahlal Sunna believe in the spiritual legacy of the ahl al bayt, exemplified through the tradition of hadith al-thaqalayn, which is both spiritual and worldly, found in the works and corpus of Sahih of Muslim and that of al-Tirmidhi, rigorously authenticated to be mutawattir.

    I advise the editors of the web site to remove her article, and pursue more balanced, ahlal sunna writers, like Feisal Abdul Rauf, Seyyed Hossein Nasr in understanding this divide, rather than her narrow confines of a Wahabi/Salafi centric look at the matter

    and God only Knows Best,

    Ali Abbas, [email protected]