In the article, it is stated that Vali Nasr, who is a professor at the American Naval Postgraduate School, published a book under the title "The Shia Revival," in which he analyzes one of the significant phenomena in Islamic history; namely, the Sunn-Shia split…
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According to Nasr, Islam, like most other world religions, is comprised of more than one religious sect. Disregarding other small fractions of Islamic groups, Islam is primarily divided into two main sects, who are the Sunni and the Sharia. The root of this distinction among those two Islamic sects dates back to the early years of Islam, particularly after the death of Prophet Mohamed. Moslems at that time differed about the man who should be the successor of the prophet. Early Moslems were divided, as one group believed that succession should be inside the Prophets family, seeing Ali, the prophet's cousin to be the one who should succeed the prophet. The other group believed that the Prophet did not leave any instructions about succession, and so, this should be left to the discretion of the Umma. However, it should not be understood that the only difference among the Shia and Sunni Moslems has to do with politics. Rather, there are other significant religious differences that are as important as the political differences. Nasr, in his book, declares that some recent works of Orientalists have, in fact, tried to reduce the distinction between Sunnism and Shiism to a sheer political one. Although this view is to a certain extent true, such perspective leaves aside the more important religious and theological considerations involved. Thus, Nasr argues that Sunnism and Shiism should not be looked upon as completely different and opposite Islamic sects, nor as different due to political reasons only, but as two interpretations of the Islamic theology and teachings.
Regarding the theological differences between Sunnism and Shiism, they have basic differences in their beliefs, appearances and rituals. They even differ in the basic requirement of Islam, which is the word of witness. The Sharia adds a sentence to the word of witness: "Ali is the Walli of Allah" to refer to the sanctity of Ali for the Shia sect of Islam. Historically, the name "Shania" means "party of Ali", because the Sharia maintains that Ali Ben Abu Taleb was the rightful heir to the office of the caliph and not Abu Bakr.
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... Press, 2004.
Esposito, John L. Islam: The Straight Path. Oxford University Press, 1998.
Farivar, Masood. "A Faith Divided" Islam: Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition). New York:
Aug 22, 2006. p. D.6.
Nasr, Vali. The ShiaRevival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future. W. W.
Schimmel, Annemarie. Islam: An Introduction. State University of New York Press, 1992.
"The history of Shia Muslims. Why the aggravation" The Economist. Mar 4, 2004,
Retrieved on November 28, 2006, from http://www.economist.com/research/
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