Sunni & Shia Muslims

Sunni & Shia Muslims

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Sunni Muslims

  • Sunni comes from the Arabic word meaning 'one who follows the tradition of the Prophet'
  • Agree that a new leader should be elected from among those capable of the job
  • Sunni Muslims make up 85% of the Muslim population
  • believe there is no basis in Islam for a hereditary privileged class of spiritual leaders
  • believe that leadership of the community is not a birthright but is a trust that should be earned
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Shia Muslims

  • Shia is an Arabic word that means a group or supportive party of people, shortened from the historical Shia-t-Ali or 'the Party of Ali'
  • believe that the leadership should have stayed within the Prophet's own family or specifically appointed by him or by Imams
  • leadership should have passed directly to the Prophet's cousin/son-in-law Ali
  • believe that an Imam is sinless by nature and his authority is infallible as it comes directly from God
  • perform pilgrimages to Imams' tombs in the hope of divine intercession
  • significant populations of Shia Muslims live in Iraq and Iran
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