HISTORICAL EVENTS THAT CAN BE SEEN TO HAVE CAUSED THE SPLIT
- After the death of the Prophet Muhammad it was wondered who would be his successor. Senior theologians and lawyers at Medinah decided that the successor should be someone elected by the community, who would ensure that the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet were properly understood and interpreted. This is the basis of the Sunni branch of Islam.
- The split can be seen to occur by the election of the first Khalifah; Sunni Muslims regard the first four as "Rightly Guided" whereas Shi'a Muslims consider the first three traitors of Islam rather than "Rightly Guided".
- Sunni Muslims believe that Abu' Bakr was the right candidate for the role after the death of the Prophet as he was seen as acceptable by both Meccan and Medinah people. The also regard Umar, Uthman and Ali as "Rightly Guided" as they all personally knew Muhammad (PBUH) and were one of the first settlers of Medinah.
- Shi'ah Muslims however believe that Ali should have been the first Khalifah as he was a close companion of Muhammad but also he was his Cousin and Son-in-Law. The reason why the Shia'hs believe that Ali should have be the first Khalifah is that they believed that the the khalifah should have been related as close to Muhammad as possible; to create a dynasty. Also the reason why the Shi'ah Muslims believe that the first 3 Khalifahs are traitors of Islam is because they were thought to have known that Muhammad had hinted on many occasions that Ali should have been his successor and that they deliberately kept quite.
- Also another reason why the Party of Ali(another name for the Shi'ah=Qurra) occurred is due to the during the period of Ali's reign, Mu'awiya Uthman's cousin refused to acknowledge Ali as Khalifah, as it was thought that members of Ali supporters had been responsible for Uthman's death. Eventually Mu'awiya and Ali met with their armies at the Battle of Suffin; during this battle Ali was forced to compromise due to the fact that Mu'awiya's soldiers put Qur'ans on the end of their spears, with the result of Ali's pious supporters refusing to fight. Ali's supporters regarded this as a betrayal and he was struck down by one of his own supporters in 661 CE. during Ramadan.
- Mu'awiya now took advantage of this to make himself Khalifah. He moved the capital from Medinah to Damascus. The Qurra never acknowledge Mu'awiya as Khalifah and even though the Qurra and Mu'awiya were in control of the empire until 750CE, they formed the party of Ali(those who still regarded Ali as the true Khalifah.)
SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BELIEFS OF SUNNI AND SHI'AH
- The Imam= For Sunni Muslims an imam is a prayer…