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Sunni • Shi'a
Shi'a Islam, also Shi'ite Islam, or Shi'ism (Arabic:شيعة, Persian:شیعه translit: Shī‘ah) is a denomination of the Islamic faith. It is short for Shī'at 'Ali (Arabic: شيعةعلي , or "the party of 'Ali"). Shi'a Muslims adhere to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the religious guidance of his family whom they refer to as the Ahl al-Bayt. Thus, Shi'as consider the first three ruling Sunni caliphs a historic occurrence and not something attached to faith. The singular/adjective form is Shī'ī (شيعي.) and refers to a follower of the Household of Muhammad and of Ali ibn Abi Talib (Imam Ali) in particular.
Shi'a Islam, like Sunni Islam, has at times been divided into many branches, however only three of these currently have a significant number of followers. The best known and the one with most adherents is Twelvers (اثنا عشرية Ithnāˤashariyya), while the others are Ismaili and Zaidiyyah. Alawites and Druzes consider themselves Shi'as, although this is sometimes disputed by mainstream Shi'as<ref name="alawite">Syria’s Alawis and Shi‘ism</ref>. The Sufi orders among the Shi'as are Alevis, Bektashis, Qizilbashis, Noorbakshis, Kubrawiyas, Hamadanis, Tijānīs, Fatimids etc. Turkey's 20% population is Alevi while Lebanon and Syria have huge presence of Druze and Alawites.
"Shi'a" is the short form of the historic phrase Shi'at ‘Ali شيعة علي, meaning "the followers of Ali" or "the faction of Ali". Both Shi'a and Sunni sources trace the term to the years preceding the death of Muhammad, see Shi'a etymology.
Shi'a Muslims believe that specific persons from Muhammad's family (the Imams) were the best source of knowledge about the Qur'an and Islam, the most trusted carriers and protectors of Muhammad's Sunnah (traditions), and the most worthy of emulation.
In particular, Shi'a Muslims recognize the succession of Ali (Muhammad's cousin, son-in-law, the first young man to accept Islam — second only to Muhammad's wife Khadija —and the male head of the Ahl al-Bayt or "people of the [Prophet's] house") as opposed to that of the caliphate recognized by Sunni Muslims. Shi'a Muslims believe that Ali was appointed successor by Muhammad's direct order on many occasions, and that he is therefore the rightful leader of the Muslim faith.
This difference between following either the Ahl al-Bayt (Muhammad's family) or the Caliph Abu Bakr has shaped Shi'a and non-Shi'a views on some of the Qur'an, the Hadith (narrations from the prophet) and other areas of Islam. For instance, the collection of Hadith venerated by Shi'a Muslims is centered around narrations by members of the Ahl al-Bayt, while some Hadith by narrators not belonging to the Ahl al-Bayt are not included (those of Abu Huraira, for example).
Regardless of the dispute about the Caliphate, the Shi'a recognize the authority of the Shi'a Imam (also called Khalifa Ilahi) as a religious authority.
According to most sources, including the US Library of Congress, present estimates indicate that approximately 85% of the world's Muslims are Sunni and approximately 15% are Shi'a. Today there are an estimated 130 and 190 million Shi'a Muslims<ref>http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=R120</ref> (including Twelvers, Ismailis, Zaydis) throughout the world, about three quarters of whom reside in Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and India. <ref name="85-15"> http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/40241_islamsects.shtml Independent News source mentioning Sunni-Shia demographic statistics]</ref><ref name="shia">Sunni-Shia demographic statistics</ref>
A large portion of the world's Shi'a live in the Middle East. They constitute a majority in Azerbaijan, Iraq, and especially Iran, where 90% of the population is Shi'a, giving it the highest population of Shi'a Muslims of any country in the world. In Bahrain and Lebanon Shi'a form a plurality, and they remain as significant minorities in Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Turkey and Yemen. Among the smaller Persian Gulf states, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates also have significant Shi'a minorities, as does the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
About 20% of India's Muslim population is Shi'a, and significant Shi'a communities exist on the coastal regions of West Sumatra and Aceh in Indonesia (see Tabuik). Shi'a presence is negligible elsewhere in Southeast Asia, where Muslims are predominantly Shafi'i Sunnis.
One of the lingering problems, according to the Shi'a, in estimating the Shi'a population is that unless the Shi'a form a significant minority in a Muslim country, the entire population is often listed as Sunni. The reverse, however, has not held true, which may contribute to imprecise estimates of the size of each sect. For example, the 1926 rise of the House of Saud in Arabia brought official discrimination against Shi'a <ref name="saudi">Discrimination towards Shi'a in Saudi Arabia</ref>. The Shi'a-majority areas of Al-Ahsa, Qatif and Hofuf on the Persian Gulf, and western Arabia provinces of Jazan, Asir and Hijaz, that had large Shi'a minorities, have officially been completely stripped of their religious identities. Shi'a claim that they endure much bigotry and other indignities from Walmens authorities daily and that Shi'a pilgrims from other countries are often singled out for harassment (see Status of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia).
|Sunni Five Pillars of Islam|
|Sunni Six articles of belief|
Principles of the Religion
Practices of the Religion
Salat - Prayer
|Shia Ismaili 7 pillars|
 Main doctrines
The Shi'a believe in the five pillars of Islam, as do Sunnis, but categorize them differently. Shi'a beliefs include the following:
Theology of Shi'a (Usūl al-Dīn)
- Tawhīd (Oneness): The Oneness of God
- Adalah (Justice): The Justice of God
- Nubuwwah (Prophethood): God has appointed perfect and infallible prophets and messengers to teach mankind the religion (that is, a perfect system of how to live in "peace"(("submission to God")).)
- Imamah (Leadership): God has appointed specific leaders to lead and guide mankind — a prophet appoints a custodian of the religion before his demise.
- Qiyamah (The Day of Judgment): God will raise mankind for Judgment
Branches of Religion (Furū al-Dīn)
- Salat—called "Namaaz" in Persian (Prayer) – performing the five daily prayers
- Sawm—called "Roozeh" in Persian (Fast) – fasting during the holy month of Ramadhan
- Hajj (Pilgrimage) – performing the pilgrimage to Mecca.
- Zakat (Poor-rate) – paying the poor-tax
- Khums (One-fifth of savings) – paying tax
- Jihad (Struggle) – struggling to please God. The greater, or internal Jihad is the struggle against the evil within one's soul in every aspect of life. The lesser, or external, Jihad is the struggle against the evil of one's environment in every aspect of life. This is not to be mistaken with the common modern misconception that this means "Holy War". Writing the truth (jihad bil qalam) and speaking truth in front of an opressor are also forms of Jihad.
- Amr-Bil-Ma'rūf – commanding what is good
- Nahi-Anil-Munkar – forbidding what is evil
- Tawalla – loving the Ahlul Bayt and their followers
- Tabarra – dissociating oneself from the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt
 Additional doctrines
Shi'a have many other doctrines that are shared with other Muslims, like wearing of the Hijab. However, some are seen as more predominantly used by Shi'as, like Dissimulation (Arabic: Taqiyya), which is the dissimulation of one’s religious beliefs when one fears for one's life and the lives of one's family members.
- See also: Shi'a view of the Qur'an
There are seemingly widespread misconceptions about Shi'a doctrines, regarding how and why the Shi'a uphold them.
It is often said that the Shi'a worship or deify Imam Ali, however this refers to a group who actually lived in Ali's time who saw him as an incarnation of God, Ali upon learning this had them killed, they are known as the Ghulat and have no association with The Shi'a. The term Shi'a literally means The Party. Early on, the Shi'a were referred to as Shi'at Ali, or The Party of Ali. As the majority of Muslims at the time of Muhammed's death favoured Abu Bakr as the Caliph, a large portion of the population supported Ali, the prophet's son-in-law and cousin. Therefore, the Shi'a do not recognize Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman as the first three caliphs (Ali was recognized as the fourth caliph 656 AD).
Shi'a Islam was seen by some as a political-religious sect that recognizes the leadership of Ali and his descendants. Theologically, Sunni Islam and Shi'a Islam do not differ, however many schools of thought that developed later on did become differentiated. Shi'a Islam claims it follows the words of Muhammed as given to him through divine guidance from God in the Qur'an.
However, the Alawites known as Nusairi, claiming to be a sect of Shi'a Islam, hold Ali as an incarnation of God.<ref>"The ages of the world are seven in number, each of these having its own manifestation of deity. But the manifestation of the 7th age is not a Mandi who is yet to come, but the historical person `Ali ibn abu Talib. This is stated in the crudest form in Sura 1 i of the Majmu`: " I testify that there is no God but `Ali ibn abu Talib." `Ali is also called the Ma`na (" Idea"; cf. the Logos of the New Testament), hence the Nosairis are also called the Ma`nawiyya." Nosairis - From the 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica</ref> Shi'a Islam denounces such beliefs as blasphemous and against the grain of Islam (absolute, total and inarguable belief and existance of one God). Shi'a do not view Ali as a Prophet as many accuse them of doing. He is seen only as the proper protector of the Islamic nation after the death of the prophet Muhammed.
While Shi'a and Sunni Muslims accept the same sacred text, the Qur'an, some groups mainly wahabbis or salafis claim that the Shi'a dispute the current version, i.e. they add two additional surahs known as al-Nurayn and al-Wilaya.<ref>The Shi'i Qur'an: an Examination of Western Scholarship by Jonah Winters</ref> Nonetheless, Shi'a claim that they are falsely accused of this, as they believe, like Sunnis, that the Qur'an has never been changed.<ref></ref> <ref></ref> Shi'as use the Qur'an which is conformable with recitation of `Asim of Kufa transmitted by Hafs.Is the Qur’an Corrupted?Shi’ites’ View
- Most Shi'a are Twelvers and they recognize twelve imams.
- Ali ibn Abu Talib (600–661), also known as Ali, Amir al-Mo'mineen (commander of the faithful), also know as Shah-e Mardan Ali (King of men)
- Hasan ibn Ali (625–669), also known as Hasan al Mujtaba
- Husayn ibn Ali (626–680), also known as Husayn al Shaheed, also known as Sah Hüseyin
- Ali ibn Husayn (658–713), also known as Ali Zainul Abideen
- Muhammad ibn Ali (676–743), also known as Muhammad al Baqir
- Jafar ibn Muhammad (703–765), also known as Jafar as Sadiq
- Musa ibn Jafar (745–799), also known as Musa al Kazim
- Ali ibn Musa (765–818), also known as Ali ar Ridha
- Muhammad ibn Ali (810–835), also known as Muhammad al Jawad (Muhammad at Taqi), also known as Taki
- Ali ibn Muhamad (827–868), also known as Ali al-Hadi, also known as Naki'
- Hasan ibn Ali (846–874), also known as Hasan al Askari
- Muhammad ibn Hasan (868—), also known as Muhammad al Mahdi
- There are few groups of Ismaili Shi'a, which include Nizari Ismailis, Dawoodi Bohras, Alavi Bohras, and the Seveners. Nizaris are small in numbers, though they are the biggest non-Twelver Shi'a group. They accept Jafar as Sadiq's eldest son Ismail as the next Imam. Seveners do not recognize any further of the Twelvers' Imams beyond Jafar. The only major non-Twelver and non-Ismaili group are Zaidis.
 Status of a Shi'a Imam
Shi'a Islam holds that the Imamate is one of the fundamentals of Islam (A part of the Usul-Ad-din) and that one should follow the Imams of Ahlul Bayt, in order to correctly follow the Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah. The Shi'a believe that the Imams of Ahlul Bayt are infallible based on one of the verses of Quran:
|And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless. [33:33]|
) Sunni sources In Sahih Muslim, Chapter of virtues of companions, section of the virtues of Ali, 1980 Edition Pub. In Saudi Arabia, Arabic version, v4, p1874, Tradition #37
Narrated Yazid Ibn Hayyan:
We went to Zaid Ibn Arqam and said to him: You have found goodness (for you had the honor) to live in the company of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) and offered prayer behind him, and the rest of the Hadith is the same (as 3 traditions before) but the Prophet said: "Behold, for I am leaving amongst you two weighty things, one of them is the Book of Allah...", and in this (Hadith) these words are also found: We said: "Who are his Ahlul-Bayt (that the Prophet was referring to)? Are they his wives?" Thereupon Zaid said: "No, by Allah! A woman lives with a man (as his wife) for a while; he then divorces her and she goes back to her parents and her people. The Ahlul-Bayt of the Prophet are his lineage and his descendants (those who come from his blood) for whom the acceptance of charity (Sadaqah) is prohibited
The Ahlul Bayt are the perfect example for mankind, and like the prophets, they should be emulated in acts and deeds. The Shi'a believe that the Imams of Ahlul Bayt carry the divinely appointed responsibility of protecting Islam and enacting the example of the pure Sunnah of Muhammad. The Imams of Ahlul Bayt have guided Muslims throughout history, in many cases under the most horrible circumstances and under the most severe forms of discrimination due to the cruel policies of the reigning governments of the time. They are seen as incorruptible and infallible role models for Muslims that have shown the way of goodness and prosperity in this world and the next in the best way until their martyrdom or occultation.
The Ja'ffari Shi'a consider Sunnah to be the oral traditions of Muhammad and their implimenation and interpretation by the Imams who were all scholars and descendants of the Prophet Muhammed through his Daughter Fatima and her Husband- the first Imam-Ali.
 Role of religious scholars
Shi'a Muslims believe that the study of Islamic literature is a continual process, and is necessary for identifying all of God's laws. Sunni Muslims also believe that they can interpret the Qur'an and hadith with the same authority as their predecessors - that the door to ijtihad was never closed. However, the opinion of the 1st and 2nd Century (7th and 8th century Gregorian calendar) scholars Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki and Shaafii are given greater weight.
 Differences of Shi'a and Sunni traditions
Because Islamic law is based partly on the hadith, Shi'a rejection of some Sunni hadith and Sunni rejection of some Shi'a hadith means that the versions of the law differ somewhat. For example, while both Shi'a and Sunni pray five daily prayers, some of the prayer times differ. Also another issue of difference between the sects is that Nikah Mut‘ah or "temporary marriage" which is not forbidden for the Shi'a because it was permitted in the [Qur'an] and was practiced during the Prophet's time but then later this practice was abrogated by the second sunni caliph, umar. Many Shi'a discourage the practice of Mut'ah, but maintain that it is permissible.
The Shi'a have a rich collection of prayers believed to be traced back to the Shi'a Imams (Ali and his descendants through Muhammad's daughter). These prayers are held in a high esteem among the Shi'a. These prayers (dua) include:
 Religious calendar
All Muslims, Sunni or Shi'a, celebrate the following annual holidays:
- Eid ul-Fitr (عيد الفطر), which marks the end of fasting during the month of Ramadan and falls on the first day of Shawwal.
- Eid ul-Adha, which marks the end of the Hajj or pilgrimage to Makkah, starts on the 10th day of Dhul Hijja.
The following holidays are observed by Shi'a only, unless otherwise noted:
- The Festival of Muharram and Ashurah (عاشوراء) for Shi'a commemorates Imam Husayn bin Ali's martyrdom. Imam Husayn was grandson of prophet Mohammad, who was martyred by Yazid ibn Muawiyah Sunnis 6th Khalif. Ashurah is a day of deep mourning which occurs on the 10th of Muharram. Sunnis also celebrate Ashurah, but give it a different meaning (see Ashurah).
- Arba'een commemorates the suffering of the women and children of Imam Husayn's household. After Husayn was killed, they were marched over the desert, from Karbala (central Iraq) to Shaam (Damascus, Syria). Many children died of thirst and exposure along the route. Arba'een occurs on the 20th of Safar, 40 days after Ashurah.
- Milad al-Nabi, Muhammad's birth date, is celebrated by the Shi'a on the 17th of Rabbi al-Awwal, which coincides with the birth date of the sixth imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq.
- Mid of Shaban is the birth date of the 12th and final imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi. It is celebrated by Twelvers on the 15th of Shaban. Many Shi'a fast on this day to show gratitude.
- Eid al-Ghadeer celebrates Ghadir Khum, the occasion when Muhammad announced Ali's imamate before a multitude of Muslims. Eid al-Ghadeer is held on the 18th of Dhil-Hijjah.
- Al-Mubahila celebrates a meeting between the household of Muhammad and a Christian deputation from Najran. Al-Mubahila is held on the 24th of Dhil-Hijjah.
 History of Shi'a-Sunni relations
The Shi'a believe that the split between the Shi'a and Sunni began with Muhammad's death, when some number of Muslims supported the successorship of Ali and the rest accepted Abu Bakr, then Umar and Uthman. They believe that the successorship was given to Ali at Ghadir Khum (a hadith accepted by both Sunni and Shi’a scholars), and that the testimony that can be traced back to reliable sources is to be trusted, while traditions that cannot be fully verified are suspect.
Shi'a and Sunni historians record that many Shi'a have been persecuted, intimidated, and killed, through what Shi'a consider a coup d'état against Ali's caliphate.  Many prominent Sunni scholars are known to have openly considered the Shi'a as "kufar" (disbelievers). Imam Ash-Shafi'i, one of the most prominent early scholars of his time said in regards to the Shi'a "I have not seen among the heretics a people more famous for falsehood than the Raafidite Shi’ites."<ref>Ibn Taymeeyah, Minhaaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah, 1/39</ref> Such statements stem mainly from differences in beliefs regarding Ali, Umar, and other companions, and in the Shi'a's use of various concepts, such as Muta.
The renowned al-Azhar university of theology in Egypt, originally founded by the Shi'a during the reign of the Fatimid caliphate in 988<ref>History of the Middle East Database</ref> , considers Shi'a philosophy to be an indivisible part of the body of Islamic jurisprudence. <ref>What Early and contemporary Scholars Say About Shi'a Sect?</ref> Today, both Sunni and Shi'a students graduate from the Al-Azhar university which also teaches regarding both doctrines and uses certain Shi'a material in its courses. (See List of Shi'a books). On July 6, 1959, Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot -the head of the al-Azhar Theological school- announced the al-Azhar Shia Fatwa
1) Islam does not require a Muslim to follow a particular Madh'hab (school of thought). Rather, we say: every Muslim has the right to follow one of the schools of thought which has been correctly narrated and its verdicts have been compiled in its books. And, everyone who is following such Madhahib [schools of thought] can transfer to another school, and there shall be no crime on him for doing so. 2) The Ja'fari school of thought, which is also known as "al-Shia al- Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" (i.e., The Twelver Imami Shi'ites) is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought. Muslims must know this, and ought to refrain from unjust prejudice to any particular school of thought, since the religion of Allah and His Divine Law (Shari'ah) was never restricted to a particular school of thought. Their jurists (Mujtahidoon) are accepted by Almighty Allah, and it is permissible to the "non-Mujtahid" to follow them and to accord with their teaching whether in worship (Ibadaat) or transactions (Mu'amilaat)<ref>al-Sha'ab newspaper (Egypt), issue of July 7, 1959</ref><ref>al-Kifah newspaper (Lebanon), issue of July 8, 1959</ref>.
On the other hand, similar fatwas have not been issued by many prominent Sunni scholars or univerisities. A number of contemporary Sunni scholars such as Shaykh Dr Khaalid ibn ‘Ali al-Mushayqih (who released a fatwa regarding praying with the Shi'a) maintain that Shi'a are not considered as Muslims, unless they deny certain beliefs found in a number of Shi'a hadith books like al-kafi that are accepted by the majority of twelver Shi'a:
The Shi'a and Sunnis differ in their view of Aisha (one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad). The Shi'a have a dim view of her character whereas the Sunnis consider her an exemplary woman. The differences stem primarily from her (percieved) dishonourable behaviour with the Prophet and her taking a position opposed to the fourth Caliph Ali when he was the ruler. For more details, please refer Sunni and Shia views of Aisha.
 Major centers of Shi'a scholarship
- India: Lucknow, Hyderabad
- Iran: Isfahan, Mashad, Qom, Ray,Shiraz, Tabriz,Tehran
- Iraq: Al-Mada'in, Hillah, Karbala, Kufa, Najaf, Samarra
- Lebanon: Jabal Amil Hawzah, Saida, Sur
- Saudi Arabia: Qatif, Al-Hasa, Najran
- Syria: Damascus, Halab
 Notable Shia Muslims
- Bilal ibn Ribah
- Abu Dharr Ghaffari
- Ammar bin Yasir
- Miqdad ibn Aswad
- Salman Farsi
- Muhammed bin Abubakar
- Abdullah bin Abbas
- Malik bin Ashtar
- Muhammad Ya'qub Kulainy
- Shaikh Saduq
- Sheikh al-Mufid
- Sayyed Murtada
- Abu Ja'far al-Tusi
- Nasir al-Din Tusi
- Baqir Majlisi
- Qazi Noor Ullah Shoostri
 Contemporary Scholars
- Waheed Khorasani
- Ali Khamenei
- Fazel Lankarani
- Taqi Bahjat
- Naser Makarem Shirazi
- Ruhollah Khomeini (late)
- Morteza Motahhari (late)
- Allameh Tabatabaei (late)
- Ali Sistani
- Bashir Hussain Najafi
- Muhammed Saeed Al-Hakeem
- Sayed Muhsin al-Hakim (late)
- Abul-Qassim Khoei (late)
- Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (late)
 See also
- Shi'a clergy
- Sunni Islam
- List of Marjas
- List of Ayatollahs
- Succession to Muhammad
- Misconceptions about the Shi'a
- Historical Shi'a-Sunni relations
- List of Shi'a books
- List of Shia Muslims
- Shi'a population
- Shi'a Halfmoon
 External links
- SHIACODE -The Shia Islamic Guide
- List of Shi'a websites
- Alshiatalk Worldwide Discussion Forum
- Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission
- Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project
- Al-Shia Website (al-shia.com)
- Shia Search Website
- AlMujtaba Islamic Network
- Bay Area Shiite-Muslims Association
- Institute for Interreligious Dialogue, Tehran
- Imam Ali commemorative website
- Contemporary issues, philosophical issues, and tafsir from a shia perspective
- Marafi Hussainiah - Online Library - Kuwait
- Who are the Shia? by Paul Sullivan, History News Network
- Momin-A Message for Shitte!, Karachiar:شيعة
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