Shi’a and Sunnis
The division of the Umma that occurred after the death of Prophet Mohammed caused many issues till this day. The difference between Shi’a and Sunnis is an arising issue nowadays, as it is much worse than before. The word ‘Sunni’ in Arabic means ‘one who follows the traditions of the Prophet’, and the word ‘Shi’a’ in Arabic means ‘a supportive group of people’, in this case, ‘Shi’a Ali’, who are the supporters of Ali. There were minor differences only about 50 years ago. One would only say that his religion is Islam, however, nowadays, a person would say Shi’a or Sunni. There was no such thing as two groups of Muslims when the Prophet was alive and the leader of the Umma. The issues between Muslims kept changing, and became much worse since the Prophet’s death, after the Prophet’s death in the old days, and nowadays. Muslims are being separated and opposing each other, as if they are two different religions.
Before the Prophet’s death, everyone was united in an Umma, a Muslim community, created by the Prophet. There was no hatred between people and everyone worked together hand by hand. They all obeyed the prophet, adhered to his actions and words, and the Holy Quran. The Umma made all the different clans bonded by allegiance to Islam, God and Mohammad. It was more than just a federation. Love and tenderness was shared amongst all Muslims, which led to a happy life. Marriage between people was easier as the people weren’t separated in groups. Moreover, stronger relationships and friendships were built.
Once the prophet passed away, the issue of the successor of the prophet led to the division of the Umma. His death destabilized the community. He did not name his successor, and so, who was to lead the Islamic nation? A political crisis occurred right after his death about the issue of leadership and authority. This was due to different beliefs of who the prophet has chosen to be the Caliph. Caliph is defined as a leader or a successor. These issues of succession were the reason of the division of the Muslims into Shi’a and Sunni’s. Shi’a Muslims believed that the prophet has chosen his cousin and son in law ‘Ali, to be the successor and to rule the Umma. They believed that the leader of the Islamic nation should be from within the Prophet’s bloodline, either one that is appointed by the Prophet, or an Imam appointed by God. Yet, the majority of the Muslims, Sunni Muslims, argued against that. They believed that Mohammed did not appoint anyone, before his death, to be his successor. They agreed that the successor should be elected from the ones that are capable of that job, and thus, chose Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was the closest friend, companion and advisor of the prophet, as well as one of the very early converts into Islam, and he, therefore, became the first rightly guided caliph of the Islamic community and successor of the Prophet Mohammed. Hatred started to pile up between these two Muslim groups until it led to death of major figures such as Ali, Uthman and many others. Mohammed’s death had caused many tribal rebellions. This tribal independence threatened the unity of the new Islamic Umma. Abu Bakr suggested the unity of the Islamic community was not based on the tribes. Instead it was based on the faith and politics, and this is what preserved the unity of the community.
During the reign of the third rightly guided Caliph, Uthman, the threat of rebellion was still present in the community. Uthman was a caliph for 12 years and it was said that his first 6 years were ruled correctly but the last 6 years, corruption was introduced. Uthman would give his relatives the higher jobs and therefore many people were against him. After the death of Uthman. This was then followed by the first civil war during the reign of the fourth caliph, ‘Ali. The first civil war was between Ali, who represented the Shi’a and Muawiyah, who represented the Sunnis. The first civil war resulted in