Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion, which is articulated by the Qur’an, a book that is considered to be an interpretation of the word of god. Form the teachings and normative example; of Muhammad he is to be considered as the last prophet of God. Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable to any other and that their existence is to worship and cherish God.
Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete version of a primordial faith, which was revealed before many times throughout the world through people such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad who were all considered as prophets. They maintain that the previous messages and revelations have been partially misinterpreted or possibly altered over time, but consider that the Arabic Qur’an has been unaltered and is also the final revelation of God. Most Muslims are from two denominations: Sunni, which hold around 75-90% of Muslims and then the Shia, which are about 10-20% of Muslims. The country with the largest population of Muslims is Indonesia, with roughly 13% of the world’s population of Muslims. 1.6 billion people in the world (roughly 23%) follow the Muslim faith.
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam; its adherents are referred to as “people of the tradition of Muhammad and the consensus of the Ummah” Sunni Islam is the world’s largest religious body and largest religious denomination for any religion in the world. Being Sunni Islam is also known as being an orthodox to the religion.
The Shia represent the second biggest denomination of Islam with the word ‘Shia’ meaning “followers” of Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin Ali, whom the Shia believe to be Muhammad’s successor in the Caliphate. Shia Muslim is based on the Qur’an and the message of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In contrast to other Muslims the Shia believe that God has the right to choose a representative to safeguard Islam, the Qur’an and Sharia. Thus the Shia look to Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, whom they revere and consider divinely appointed, as the rightful successor of Muhammad, and the first Imam.
Shia Muslims believe that the Imam is sinless by nature, and that his authority is infallible as it comes directly from God. Therefore, Shia Muslims often venerate the Imams as saints and perform pilgrimages to their tombs and shrines in the hopes of divine intercession. Sunni Muslims counter that there is no basis in Islam for a hereditary privileged class of spiritual leaders, and certainly no basis for the veneration or intercession of saints. Sunni Muslims contend that leadership of the community is not a birth right, but a trust that is earned and which may be given or taken away by the people themselves.
Shia Muslims also feel animosity towards some of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, based on their positions and actions during the early years of discord about leadership in the community. Many of these companions (Abu Bakr, Umar, Aisha, etc.) have narrated traditions about the Prophet's life and spiritual practice. Shia Muslims reject these traditions (hadith) and do not base any of their religious practices on the testimony of these individuals. This naturally gives rise to some differences in religious practice between the two groups. These differences touch all detailed aspects of religious life: prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, etc.
It is important to remember that despite all of these differences in opinion and practice, Shia and Sunni Muslims share the main articles of Islamic belief and are considered by most to be brethren in faith. In fact, most Muslims do not distinguish themselves by claiming membership in any particular group, but prefer to call themselves simply, "Muslims."
Most statements about Islam apply to Sunni Islam, which represents the vast majority of the Muslim population. Although the differences between Sunni Islam and the various Shiite sects started out as political, the distinction between the two groups has…