Did you ever wonder what the critical difference between two major Islam denominations is – Shiite and Sunni? That is a serious question that needs some background knowledge to answer it. So let’s explore the answer together!
The denominations are always hard to assess, as they vary and often have only some minor differences that can even be hard to notice for people from outside. As the trusted sources show, according to approximate calculation Sunni Muslims is the dominant denomination. There are at least 85% of Sunni Muslims in the world.
The Shiite Muslims are fewer only 10-15%; however, the number is still significant enough to call it another major denomination. Sunni Muslims mostly reside in most of the Arab world as well as South Asia, China, Southeast Asia and Africa. Meanwhile, Shiite Muslims can be mostly found in Iran, Iraq, and Azerbaijan.
Interesting is the situation with the denominations in Pakistan: the country is considered to be the both second-largest Shia and 2nd largest Sunni Muslims state.
What is the history between the split of Sunni and Shiite and when did it happen? It all started with the death of their biggest prophet Muhammad and finished with the Sunni and Shiite conflict. As you know, Muhammad died 632 years after Christ was born. The adherents of Islam were not prepared to discuss the question of succession of Muhammad meaning that they did not have an answer to the question like who should be elected as his successor and what functions this person would have.
In the course of the discussion, the Muslims split down the middle. Muhammad had no children that would survive; thus, they could not be the ones chosen as his successors. A friend of Muhammad offered one candidate for the post, Abu Bakr, and the majority supported the idea.
However, there was a group of people that opposed the decision. Thus, the conflict arose and led to breaking Islam into smaller groups of adherents that had different understanding for succession of Muhammad.
READ ALSO: Can a Muslim Get Married With a Catholic?
The conflict led to a fight in which Hussein ibn Ali was murdered after which those who supported his candidacy decided to pay the enemies back. In the course of time this conflict became known as Sunni and Shiite conflict between Muslims.
The history has shown that the conflict only got worse and was never solved. This can be seen from the actions of what we now know as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. After starting this organization, militants started a large-scale genocide of Shiite Muslims.
Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Nigeria have been having a conflict for a long time. As the history shows, even Muslim authorities that are dominantly Sunni Muslims tend to put much pressure on Shiite minority.
However, the fact remains that Nigeria is one of the African states with highest number of citizens apart of who are Shiite Muslims. There was an incident in 1998 when the governmental authorities claimed that they oppose the fact the leader of Muslim Brotherhood was a Shiite Muslim. This incident was very appealing to the Shiite minority of Nigeria, as they are significantly fewer in number and most of the religious organizations founded by Muslims are Sunni ones.
So this is the history that stands behind the split of Islam into two major denominations: Shiite and Sunni Muslims. This split started back in the 7th century and still cannot be put an end to. It has caused many wars and troubles even though it seems that the conflict only started with the minor issues and misunderstandings.