Islam - Major Divisions

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Sunnis & Shi'ahs

a.) Describe the differences between Sunni & Shi'a Muslims. (8)

The Sunni Muslims make up the majority of Islam. The Sunnis believe in the Caliphs. The Caliphs are the successors to Muhammad. The first caliphs was Abu Bakr, who was one of Muhammad's very close friends. He married Muhammad's daughter, Ayesha. He lived a humble and simplistic life and was responsible for writing words down of the Qur'an.

The next caliph Sunnis followed was Umar. Umar was a big, strong man who was pro-war and an early companion of Muhammad. Next was Utham, who was deeply religious but a weak leader. He was so unpopular he was eventually assassinated.

Ali was the next successor to Utham, however Shi'ahs believe he should have been the first successor to Muhammad all along, therefore they call him the first Imam. Ali was a son in-law of Muhammad. Shi'ahs reject the first three caliphs.

Then Sunnis and Shi'ahs split in leadership again. Shi'ahs succeeded…


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