What is the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam?

Islam is a beautiful religion practiced by millions of people worldwide. There are two primary branches of Islam: Sunni and Shia. Although both branches hold similar fundamental principles, there are important variances that distinguish them. So, what are the main differences between Sunni and Shia Islam?

Sunni Islam is the larger of the two faiths and is widely practiced throughout the Muslim world. Sunni Muslims adhere to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, whom they regard as God’s final prophet. They believe that the Prophet Muhammad did not designate a successor before his death, and that instead, the Muslim community should choose their leader.

Shia Islam, on the other hand, believes that the Prophet Muhammad named his cousin and son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib, as his successor, and that the leadership of the Muslim community should remain within the Prophet Muhammad’s family. Shia Muslims have a profound loyalty to and regard for the Prophet Muhammad’s family.

The approach to religious leadership differs significantly between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Religious scholars interpret and apply Islamic law in Sunni Islam, but the religious leader, or Imam, is thought to have direct authority from God and is regarded infallible in questions of religious interpretation in Shia Islam.

Another significant distinction is how Sunni and Shia Muslims commemorate religious holidays such as Ashura. Sunni Muslims observe Ashura as a fasting day, whilst Shia Muslims observe it as a day of sorrow for the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.

Despite these differences, it is critical to understand that both Sunni and Shia Muslims believe in the oneness of God, the Prophet Muhammad as God’s final prophet, and the teachings of the Quran. Both schools of Islam have made major contributions to human knowledge and culture and have made enormous contributions to the development of Islamic civilization.

It is critical to embrace the distinctions between Sunni and Shia Islam with an open heart and mind, remembering that we are all human brothers and sisters. We should accept our differences, learn from one another, and strive for greater understanding and harmony.

Why are Sunni and Shia divided?

The split between Sunni and Shia Muslims is one of the most profound and long-lasting in Islamic history. It is a schism that has sparked much debate and contention to this day. So, what led the Muslim community to split between Sunni and Shia?

The Sunni-Shia split stems from disagreements over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community after his death. While the majority of Muslims felt that the new leader should be elected by the community, a tiny faction, known as Shia Muslims, believed that power should remain in the Prophet Muhammad’s family.

The conflict erupted immediately after the Prophet Muhammad’s death. The majority of Muslims chose Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s close associate, as their new leader. However, a minority faction of Muslims refused to accept Abu Bakr’s leadership because they believed that the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali, should have been the true successor. This faction became known as Shia Muslims.

Sunni and Shia Muslims have long been divided, with each group having its own set of religious practices, customs, and beliefs. Today, the difference continues to influence many Muslim countries’ political, social, and cultural landscapes, with disputes and tensions frequently arising between Sunni and Shia communities.

To summarize, the Sunni-Shia divide is a complex and emotional topic with origins in early Islamic history. It is a schism that has resulted in much grief and conflict, but it has also resulted in the establishment of two rich and different Islamic traditions. As Muslims, we must respect and recognize these diversity, and strive for unity and harmony within the Muslim community.


Do Sunni and Shia pray differently?

Yes and no, there are some variances between Sunni and Shia rituals when it comes to Islamic prayer. Sunni and Shia Muslims do the same basic movements and recite the same prayers, however the intricacies of the prayer differ. 

One of the most noticeable distinctions between Sunni and Shia Muslims is their approach to prayer. While both groups do the same Salah ceremonial prayers, there are some small variances in how they are carried out. Shia Muslims utilize a small clay or stone tablet called a Turbah or Mubahalah during prayer, which is one of the most visible differences. As a symbol of their devotion to the Prophet Muhammad’s family and dedication to the Shia community, they place it on the ground and rest their forehead on it during prostration.

Although the usage of a Turbah or Mubahalah is not mandated by Islamic law, it is a practice passed down through generations of Shia Muslims as a manner of demonstrating their dedication and devotion to their faith. Sunni Muslims, on the other hand, do not pray with a Turbah or Mubahalah, instead resting their forehead straight on the prayer mat.

Despite their disagreements, both Sunni and Shia Muslims adore and honor the Prophet Muhammad and his teachings. The schism between these two communities should not obscure their shared beliefs and values, which include faith in one God and the need of leading a good and compassionate life.

It is essential for Sunni and Shia Muslims to unite and focus on the similarities of their faith rather than the disparities. We can deepen the links of brothers and sisterhood that are at the heart of Islam by working toward unity and understanding.


Can Sunni and Shia coexist?

It is reasonable to wonder whether different faith communities can coexist peacefully in a society riddled with conflict and division. This is especially evident in the relationship between Sunni and Shia Muslims, two major branches of Islam with a turbulent history. So we my ask the question, Can Sunni and Shia coexist?

To put it simply, Sunni and Shia Muslims can live together happily. This is not always the case, and there are other circumstances that might impact the interaction between these two populations.

This schism has been exacerbated over time by political and religious conflicts. There have been moments of fierce violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims, most notably in Iraq and Syria. It is crucial to emphasize, however, that these confrontations are frequently fueled by political objectives and power battles rather than religious differences.

Despite these hurdles, there are several examples of Sunni and Shia Muslims living happily together. Sunni and Shia Muslims coexist in some areas, such as Lebanon, and work together in government and business. Intermarriage between Sunni and Shia families is frequent in other countries, such as India.

Mutual respect and understanding are essential for harmonious cohabitation. Sunni and Shia Muslims may hold opposing beliefs and customs, yet they all believe in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad. Sunni and Shia Muslims can coexist in peace and harmony by focusing on their shared principles and recognizing and accepting their differences.

Political leaders and religious academics must also play a role in encouraging peaceful coexistence between Sunni and Shia Muslims. These leaders can help to bridge gaps, foster communication, and underline the need of Muslim unity.

In conclusion, while Sunni and Shia Muslims have had a complex and often violent past, they may cohabit peacefully. The idea is to emphasize mutual respect and understanding, and to acknowledge that differences are not always a source of contention, but rather a source of learning and growth. Sunni and Shia Muslims can only establish a better future for themselves and their communities if they work together.