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

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.

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