Brief overview on Sunni and Shia in Islam (The origin)

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Sunni and Shia in Islam and the origin of this split, how this division affecting the oneness of Muslim around the world. It is well known to everybody how the enemies of Islam here and there are using this gap to bring down our religion (Islam). One of these tricks is by arming the other side with weapons to kill his brother with simple reason of just being Sunni/Shia, this blood shading will never come to an end until we (Muslims) come to our sense.

The examples are there and you cannot enumerate them, this is really very sorry to be happening to the same people who have been described as the best Ummah chosen among the nations. See what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon just to mention a few.

The same problems seem to be experienced here back home (Malawi) the same enemies of Islam are working tirelessly dividing Muslims just to make sure that they are not united. We hear of Sunni, Qadiria,sukuti and so on, why all these names? Sometimes we Muslims are to blame I don’t think there is a Muslim who is ignorant of what is going under the carpet, at the same time you find that the same Muslim is in forefront supporting the divisions forgetting that a Muslim is brother to another Muslim.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said in one of His Ahadith: Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s apostle said “Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one”. That means no matter how he might be, oppressed or oppressor he is still your brother, help him if he is an oppressor by stopping him that oppress, and help him if he is being oppressed get out of the hands of an oppressor, thus the meaning of the Hadith above.

Here is the story in short: The Shia shahadah (declaration of faith) states:”There is no god but Alláh, Muhammad is the Messenger of Alláh, Alí is the Friend of Alláh. The Successor of the Messenger of Alláh And his first Caliph.” If you are already familiar with standard Sunni beliefs, you will immediately notice the addition to the shahadah regarding Imam Ali (ra), cousin of the Prophet (pbuh), husband of his daughter Fatima, father of Hassan and Hussein and the second person ever to embrace Islam. The term Shia or Shi’ite derives from a shortening of Shiat Ali or partisans of Ali.


Ali is the central figure at the origin of the Shia / Sunni split which occurred in the decades immediately following the death of the Prophet in 632. Sunnis regard Ali as the fourth and last of the “rightly guided caliphs” (successors to Mohammed (pbuh) as leader of the Muslims) following on from Abu Bakr 632-634, Umar 634-644 and Uthman 644-656. Shias feel that Ali should have been the first caliph and that the caliphate should pass down only to direct descendants of Mohammed (pbuh) via Ali and Fatima, They often refer to themselves as ahl al bayt or “people of the house” [of the prophet].When Uthman was murdered while at prayer, Ali finally succeeded to the caliphate. Ali was, however, opposed by Aisha, wife of the Prophet (pbuh) and daughter of Abu Bakr, who accused him of being lax in bringing Uthman’s killers to justice.

After Ali’s army defeated Aisha’s forces at the Battle of the Camel in 656, she apologized to Ali and was allowed to return to her home in Madinah where she withdrew from public life.However, Ali was not able to overcome the forces of Mu’awiya Ummayad, Uthman’s cousin and governor of Damascus, who also refused to recognize him until Uthman’s killers had been apprehended. At the Battle of Suffin Mu’awiya’s soldiers stuck verses of the Quran onto the ends of their spears with the result that Ali’s pious supporters refused to fight them.

Ali was forced to seek a compromise with Mu’awiya, but this so shocked some of his die-hard supporters who regarded it as a betrayal that he was struck down by one of his own men in 661.Mu’awiya declared himself caliph. Ali’s elder son Hassan accepted a pension in return for not pursuing his claim to the caliphate. He died within a year, allegedly poisoned. Ali’s younger son Hussein agreed to put his claim to the caliphate on hold until Mu’awiya’s death. However, when Mu’awiya finally died in 680, his son Yazid usurped the caliphate.

Hussein led an army against Yazid but, hopelessly outnumbered, he and his men were slaughtered at the Battle of Karbala (in modern day Iraq). Hussein’s infant son, Ali, survived so the line continued. Yazid formed the hereditary Ummayad dynasty. The division between the Shia and what came to be known as the Sunni was set.An opportunity for Muslim unity arose in the 750’s CE. In 750 except for a few who managed to flee to Spain, almost the entire Ummayad aristocracy was wiped out following the Battle of Zab in Egypt in a revolt led by Abu Al Abbass al-Saffah and aided by considerable Shia support.

It was envisaged that the Shia spiritual leader Jafar As-Siddiq, great-grandson of Hussein be installed as Caliph. But when Abbass died in 754, this arrangement had not yet been finalized and Abbas’ son Al Mansur murdered Jafar, seized the caliphate for himself and founded the Baghdad-based Abbassid dynasty which prevailed until the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I would like to extend my profound gratitude to Brother Muhammad Maulid for enlightening us on this crucial and controvercial issue. Just yesterday, I was with one of Malawi's renowned Sheikhs, Sh Dinala Chabulika who gave me alift from home to town. I asked him about the beliefs of shias and he narrated to me the scenario about Hussein's death and the circumstances which surrounded it. So, when I read this story today, I was so pleased because I understand how much confused are most Malawian Muslims and other Muslims all over the world on this. Recently, I have been closely monitoring one Tv channel known as Ahlulbayt. They are shias and they really pose a great danger to Muslims becase they make alot of confusion. The most dangerous part is that these people seem to be more knowledgeable, they speak with enthusiasm and confidence. They speak fluent english and they are well resourceful. It is very easy for someone who is ignorant about Islam to be convinced with the authenticity of their references.

    The Sheikh also told me that shias believe that Caliphs like Abubakar, Umar and Uthmaan were kufaars. This is contrary to the Qur'an in which Allah describes Abubakar as the prophet's best friend.

    I would like to ask sheikhs in Malawi and else where to warn the umma against these confusionists. They are slowly creeping in. Muslims, let us be careful!!!

    Brother Maulidi, continue sharing your knowledge with us. May Allah (SWT) grant you more knowledge and wisdom.

    May Allah (SWT) grant all Muslims the wisdom to understand.

    There is only one Islam, and there shall always be one.

    Lailahailallah Muhammadan rasulullah.

    • What a brilliant comment! brother I thank you very much for broadening the article with such wonderful new information,really the topic is very important I do think that I have brought it in a right time, where Muslim around the world are busy killing each other in the name of defending the religion of Islam, this is more than a koje, how could you kill your Muslim brother just because he/she is a sunni/shia does it make nay sense?. coming to the point that why do Sunni and shia differ in some other Islamic activities making that Islam is one, and that we all believed that Muhammad (pbuh) is the last messanger of Allah and that qur'an is our Holy book, brother in short I can say the majority of these who are trying to devide are fanatism they don't understand anything about this beautiful religion which is full of peace love and harmony of course, thas why you will find a lot of verses in the Holy qur'an urges us to use our brain and the education we have instead of just following what others do. Let me give you an example here at home (Malawi) when you ask one of those who use these seperative names (Sukuti, Qadiria) what does it mean, the reply will be I don't know,so why following something that you don't have any information about it, the answer will be my grandmother/grandfather were sukuti/Qadiria. From here then you will notice that, these people are acting as the early disbelievers acted arguining without knowledge. Finally we find that the hole story returns to importance of education as you have said in your comment. Unfortunately there is group of people if not huge organizations all over the world who are well blassed with both physical and financial, the aim of their daily life is to mislead the Muslims,they act as Muslims and they are sweet talkers, they are using TVs or Radios to astry the Ummah, we have to be very very careful with such kind of propagandas. They come as Muslims acompaned with hiden agendas,lets wake up dear brothers/sisters, the only way to overcome this is by educating our selfs and the entire Ummah any kind of religious education so that non can deceive us. One Islam One Ummah, we are all under the umbrella of LAILAHA ILLA LLAH, MUHAMMADU RASULU LLAH.

      • salam alaikum m'bale wanga ndaona mochedwa nkhaniyi, komanso undikhululukire mwina pa chifukwa choti ndafunsa mu chiyankhulo cha chichewa.inshallah tidzakhala tikulumikizana nthawi ndi nthawi. brother ukubweretsa nkhani zofunikira kwambiri pa chipembedzo chathu cha chisilamu. ndiri ndi mafunso ambiri omwe amandisokoneza kwambiri. powona kuti mtumiki wina aliyense yemwe adatumizidwa ndi mulungu akamachoka amasankha munthu yemwe adzakhala mulowa mmalo wake. ngati mmene zimakhalira kwa wina aliyense yemwe ali mtsogoleri amayenera kudziwitsa anthu za mmlowa mmalo wake ngati mmene amapangira osaka ziweto monga ng'ombe kuti nthawi yomwe akutalikira amamusankha munthu kuti ayang'anire ziwetozo ndi cholinga choti zisasokonere. ndipo ndi nzeru zomwe zimalamula kupanga ntchito imeneyi, funso langa ndi loti kodi mtumiki mmene amamwalira palibe munthu yemwe adamusankha kukhala ngati mlowa wake osati mtumiki ayi chifukwa tikudziwa kuti iye ndi mtumiki omaliza. kodi ngati sadasankhe ndiye ummah wake adausiya opnda mtsogoleri? ngati adasankha kodi adasankha ndani? abubakar?
        ndikuyembekezera yankho.

  2. Brother thank you for your informative article. This kind of articles is very important because they deal with the real problems that the Muslim Ummah is facing with on the ground.

    May Allah increase you and everybody knowledge

    • Brother Kaisi let me also thank you for your encouraging comment, Inshaallah me and my fellow writers we will do our best to provide and serve the Muslim community with up to date information concerning our religion. Its very important as you have said in your comment that we should keep on bringing such kind of contemporary issues that Ummah is facing on the fround, we promise to do so inshaallah.

  3. What a beautiful and indeed educative article. Although I have read the article but still don't understand why Ali (ra) is taken more superior than others because I heard that these people believe that Prophecy was of Ali not Muhammad (saw). Can you enlighten me on that as well?

    • Thank you brother for your question, unfortunately there are others who believe that the prophecy was of Ali (ra) which is not true at all, I seek refuge from Allah because by having such kind of believe automatically makes some body to become a disbeliever,because tesfying that Muhammad is the messanger of Allah is one of the pillars of faith (Iman). Nevertheless Ali is the central figure at the origin of the Shia / Sunni split which occurred in the decades immediately following the death of the Prophet in 632. Sunnis regard Ali as the fourth and last of the "rightly guided caliphs" (successors to Mohammad (pbuh) as leader of the Muslims) following on from Abu Bakr 632-634, Umar 634-644 and Uthman 644-656. Shias feel that Ali should have been the first caliph and that the caliphate should pass down only to direct descendants of Mohammad (pbuh) via Ali and Fatima, They often refer to themselves as ahl al bayt or "people of the house"(of the prophet). My Allah grant us wisdom and understanding. Aameen.

  4. A very good topic indeed.To just add something, they even include Ali as a friend of Allah during adhan. I hear it and more about Shiah(including all the narreted issues)on Ahlulibayti TV channel based in UK.This posses a threat to the true faith of islam indeed.May Allah protect us.Ameen.

    • Yes brother you are right, there are a quit number of practical differences between Sunni and Shia, sometimes even the way prayers are conducted differs I wonder from where these pepople got these strange things as the words of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) clearly said "pray as you saw me praying" On a practical daily level, Shias have a different call to prayer, they perform wudu and salat differently including placing the forehead onto a piece of hardened clay from Karbala (Iraq), not directly onto the prayer mat when prostrating. They also tend to combine prayers, sometimes worshipping three times per day instead of five. The Shias also have some different ahadith and prefer those narrated by Ali and Fatima to those related by other companions of the Prophet (pbuh). Because of her opposition to Ali, those narrated by Aisha count among the least favored. May Allah grant us wisdom and understanding this deen. Aameen.

  5. Quite an eye opener. Great thanks. Ahlubayt TV is based in UK that is why they have fluent English Speakers, but the Channel is poison.

    • O yes, so many people have complained about this channel whos main objective is to confuse the followers of Islam, the enimies of Islam in their positions likes such kind of mass communication media because they know that they are saving their own agendas, thats why you will find that they are operating from Uk and not in their strongholds (mother lands),and Uk welcomed them with warm hearted because they knew they will gain a lot from that channel. Now we can witness the fruits of their agendas with our naked ayes,Muslim are now preocupied fighting eachother leaving the enemies doing whatever they want in our owm contries,this is really very unfortunate. Now responsibility lies in our hands as muslims in possession with any kind of religious education (information) to share with others, and warn one another the dangers this TV station is possing to our unity as Muslims and other stations alike.

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