The Sunni-Shii: The Power Struggle In Islam

Good Essays
Al-Tirmidhi once quoted Muhammad as saying, “Acquire knowledge and impart it to the people”. Muhammad was telling his followers to teach others, both general knowledge, and the laws of Islam. One of the things he taught was quoted by Al-Bukhari as, “Do not nurse hatred towards one another, do not be jealous of one another, and become as fellow brothers.” After Muhammad’s death, there was a major split in Islam, creating two groups, the Shi’ites and the Sunnis. While we do not know for sure which group Muhammad would have supported, and who he wanted to lead Islam after his death, what we do know is that he most probably would not have wanted the power struggle that occurred after his death, and continues today. The origin of the Sunni-Shi’a …show more content…
Muhammad said, “He of whom I am the mawla (master, leader, friend), of him 'Ali is also the mawla” (qtd. in Jafri Chapter 1). While both modern and ancient Shi’a scholars interpret the word “mawla” as meaning master or leader, the Sunni scholars interpret “mawla” as meaning friend, and therefore write that Muhammad never endorsed 'Ali as the next leader of Islam (Jafri Chapter 1). Islam was created in 610, when Muhammad claimed to have received revelations from God, to create a new, monotheistic religion. He became the first head of Islam, and by the time of his death, in 632, he had a big following. After his death, there was a big fight within the Islamic community, over who would become the next leader (caliph). There was a splitting in Islam, as the sect that would become the Sunnis endorsed Abu Bakr as the next caliph, while the sect that would become the Shi’ites endorsed 'Ali. While some modern scholars, such as Phillip Hitti, believe that Husayn’s death in battle signified the split between Sunnis and Shi’ites, most scholars and historians agree that Husayn’s death only “set the seal” on the split, and the split started at Ghadir Khum (Jafri Chapter 7). The real argument is who was part of the Shi’a movement, and what type of a group it was. The beginnings of Shi’a Islam are …show more content…
in Hazelton Chapter 3), saying that 'Ali is part of his family, and therefore he will follow in my footsteps. She also writes about how Husayn, one of 'Ali’s sons, did not want to be the caliph at first, but when it came time to choose whether or not to try to become the caliph, he still set his eyes on becoming the caliph. He did this because he was part of the Ahl al-Bayt or the family of the prophet (Hazelton Chapter 12). The Shi’ites were also especially devoted to their cause, possibly because of the close-knit nature of a familial group, and Husayn eventually gave up his life to become a martyr for the Shi’ites. The idea of Shi’ites being more devoted to their beliefs than others also explains why the followers of Shi’ism were extreme, and very strongly against the Sunni rulers. Hazelton’s case is strengthened by the fact that when Husayn took on the massive, over 4,000-person army of the opposition, he only had 72 warriors with him (Hazelton Chapter 13). This is a testament to the smallness of the Shi’ite clan, which could suggest that all of the men with Husayn were his immediate and extended

Related Documents

  • Better Essays

    University with a PhD in Islamic studies. He previously has served as a past president of Middle East Studies Association of North America, and also American Council for the of Islamic Societies. He is an author of numerous other books that involve Islam. Unholy War was published in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Unholy War begins by going into the making of a modern terrorist, as the first chapter is titled. The main focus is on Osama Bin Laden, and his road to being the number 1 sought…

    • 1367 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays