Comparison chart between Sunni and Shi’ah Islam

Explores the difference between the two sects

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  • Created by: Abigail
  • Created on: 29-04-12 13:17
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Sunnah Shia (or Shi'ah)
Sunnis Shiites, Shi'i
Adherents called
Meaning of name "welltrodden path" or "tradition" "party" or "partisans" of Ali
Current adherents 940 million 120 million
Percentage of total
90% 10%
Primary locations Most Muslim countries Iran, Iraq, Yemen
Ithna 'Ashariyah (Twelvers the
None, but four major schools of
Subsects largest), Isma'iliyah and
Muslim law are recognized
c. 632650 CE killing of Ali's
c. 632 CE theology developed
Origins son Husayn in 680 CE is major
especially in 10th cent.
Did Muhammad
designate a No Yes Ali
Abu Bakr, father of the Prophet's 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, husband of the
True successor of the
favoured wife, 'A'ishah (elected Prophet's daughter Fatimah
by people of Medina) (designated by the Prophet)
Qualifications for ruler Tribe of the Prophet (Quraysh)
Family of the Prophet
of Islam later, any qualified ruler
Current leaders Imams Mujtahids
Infallible manifestations of God
Identity of imams Human leaders and perfect interpreters of the
Was already on earth, is
currently the "hidden imam" who
Al Mahdi Will come in the future works through mujtahids to
interpret Qur'an and will return
at the end of time
Religious authority Ijma' (consensus) of the Muslim
Infallible imams
other than the Qu'ran community
Concealing faith for Affirmed under certain
selfprotection (taqiya) circumstances
Temporary marriage Practiced in the Prophet's time,
Still practiced
(mut'ah) but now rejected

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Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem,
Holy cities Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem
Najaf, Karbala
Major holidays Eid alAdha, Eid alFitr Eid alAdha, Eid alFitr, Ashura…read more


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