In a world of many religions, but more of every religion has branches. For example, in Islam there are two large fields: the Sunnis and the Shiites, who have both theological, and political differences, which in our time has developed into full-scale war. However, now many researchers of this conflict understand that it is more political. Themselves as Muslims, perhaps already forgot about it, continuing to live your life, however, turned out to be not so simple.

The arena went the rulers of the country, which turned out to be, it is advantageous to recall an ancient feud between these two trends, because some Islamic States proved to be a valuable of their resources. In addition, there was also political interest of the ruling elites of the East.

So we in the article, let us consider the historical background of the formation of the differences of Sunnis and Shiites, as well as to what all happened in the world today. It is important to think about the background a sudden outbreak of strife between Muslims, why it happened, why it happened? All this and we try to cover in this article.

Differences Sunnis and Shiites

Prophet Muhammad is the founder of Islam

As you know, before the advent of Muhammad in the East were polytheism. After received from Archangel Jebrail divine messages, the Prophet began to preach monotheism. His way was quite difficult, because people to a new religion reacted with disbelief. The first followers of Muhammad were his wife Khadija, Ali and nephew of two of the Freedman Zayd and Abu Bakr.

Further treatment of the Arabs has been difficult. The first public preaching of Mohammed made in the year 610 in Mecca. According to historical research, it contained elements of Judaism and Christianity. However, her advantage was that she could read a rhyme that greatly facilitates its perception for the audience, for the most part illiterate.

By the way, is written in his words the Holy Book – the Koran – contains Bible stories that are carefully revised from the point of view of the Eastern tradition. Thus, Islam and Christianity have common ground, albeit somewhat dogmatic regard. However, the main point – monotheism – is present in both.

After the migration of Muhammad to Medina, he gradually added new aspects to their religion, which soon led to the separation of Islam from Judaism and Christianity. Drawback in the development of Islam was the fact that after the Prophet's death, the struggle for power. All this led to the fact that the followers divided into two camps – Sunni and Shia. This situation persists to the present time, only the political divisions resulted in a more theological (though small).

And then in the article we more specifically consider what difference Sunni from Shiite, and within these currents.

The emergence of two major branches of Islam – Sunnis and Shiites

As you can see, the prophet Muhammad had indeed a great impact on the formation of Islam in the form in which we know it now. However, after his death some of his teachings changed. The most important was the fact that on his place there were four applicants, and each believed that his candidacy is the most correct. However, the greatest conflict occurred due to the fact that some Muslims felt that a follower of the Prophet should be his blood relative. Such was the son-in-law and cousin marriage of Muhammad Ali. It hence the first differences of the Sunnis and Shiites.

As can be seen, initially, this division does not apply to the theological aspects. To be made by the current Shia (the word itself translates from Arabic as “an adherent, a follower of Ali”) was the denial of the Declaration by the Caliph father-in-law of Mohammed Abu. They believed that it would be correct if they will be a blood relative Ali. However, this did not happen.

This split led to the fact that in 661, Ali was murdered. His two sons – Hasan and Hussein – also suffered the same fate. Muslims Shiites took the death of Hussein with the greatest tragedy. This moment is remembered by Arabs every year (both Shiites and Sunnis, only for the latter, it's not so tragic). Followers is Ali arrange a proper funeral procession also use chains and swords for self-inflicted wounds.

For Sunnism

So now tell us all about the course of Sunnism. Today it is the largest branch of Islam. It should be noted that Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis, the difference of which was originally insignificant, have now some differences in the interpretation of the Quran – the Holy Book in Islam. This flow is typical of a literal understanding of it. They are guided by the Sunnah. This is a special set of rules and traditions, which are based on the real life of the Prophet Muhammad. All this is recorded by his followers and associates.

The most important thing in this course is strict adherence to the prescriptions written by the Prophet. Some of these areas have even taken extreme forms. For example, in Afghanistan the Taliban men were required to wear sized beard, and the right clothes. Everything had to be exactly as described in the Sunnah.

In addition, the power in this current does not depend on whether elected by the descendant of Muhammad. Simply choose or appoint. Imam for Sunnis is a spiritual entity, which, moreover, runs the mosque.

It should be noted that in Sunni Islam there are four recognized schools:

  • malikit;
  • shafi'i;
  • hanafi;
  • Hanbali
  • scheritsa (today, this school is completely gone).

A Muslim has the right to choose any of the above and follow it. Each of them has its founder, as well as its followers. Below it will be considered in which states they are most popular.

The course of Shiism

As mentioned above, Shi'ism was the result of a political split in Islam, when some followers of the Prophet Muhammad did not want to obey the Caliph is selected, and not his blood relative. The result is that after a while there were quite significant differences in this direction, which finally separated the two branches of Islam.

For the Shia it is permissible to interpret the provisions of the Prophet. However, it must be a human right. At the time of the Shiites for it was called “non-Muslims” and “infidels” (and still happens). These are the main differences of Sunni and Shiites.

The second biggest difference is that equal is a Prophet and his nephew Ali. Consequently, power is transferred only blood relatives of Muhammad.

Shiite Muslims is taught in the Sunnah, only the part that refers to Muhammad and his family (in contrast to the opposite course, which studies the entire text). Also important treatise Akhbar, which means the message of the Prophet.

For the followers of Imam Ali is a descendant of the Prophet and spiritual leader. There is also the belief that someday the Messiah will appear, who will appear as the hidden Imam. It even has a special legend, which tells that was the twelfth Imam Muhammad that a young lad has gone missing under unexplained circumstances. And since then it nobody saw. However, the Islamic Shia consider him alive. They believe he is among the people and someday will come to them and lead.

What is the similarity of currents?

However, even given all of the above, it can be noted that currents are basically the same. For example, the prayer of Sunnis and Shiites can be accomplished together, in some mosques, it is practiced much. Both these areas of Muslims read and study the Sunnah (contrary to popular belief, that the Shiites do not do). Only the followers of Ali is followed by that part of it, which is recorded from family members of Muhammad.

In addition, all feuds are forgotten at the time of the Hajj. They make together, however the Shiites, in addition to journeys to Mecca and Medina, still unable to choose a place of pilgrimage in Karbala or Najaf. It was there, according to tradition, are the graves of Ali and his son Hussein.

Spread Sunni in the world

Sunni Muslims are considered the most common in Islam. According to official data, for the entire number of believers they account for about eighty percent (or somewhere around one and a half billion people).

Now, consider which countries and regions popular four main schools of Sunnism. For example, the Maliki school is widespread in North Africa, Kuwait, Bahrain. The Shafi'i trend is popular in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and there are large groups in Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan. Hanafi for distributed in Middle and Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Egypt, Syria and other Hanbali trend is popular in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, numerous communities exist in the UAE, Oman and some other Gulf States.

Thus, Sunni Muslims have a significant distribution in Asia. There are also various communities in other countries around the world.

The countries that are supporting the Shia

Those who are followers of Ali, considered to be a relatively small Sunni in the world they are not more than ten percent. However, in some cases they occupy the whole country. The Shiites, who live, for example, in Iran, in numbers is almost all its territory.

In addition, followers of Ali are more than half the population of Iraq, as well as a large portion of those who profess Islam in Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain. Smaller their number is observed in other countries of the East. For example, typing the number of the Chechens-the Shiites, with the support of the authorities (of course, this event finds its dissatisfied). Many advocates of “pure religion” – Sunni – I think provocative actions are when literature and the teachings of Shi'ism is freely available, which leads to an increase in the number of believers.

Thus, it can be said that the Shiites are a fairly serious political force, especially in recent times, when the internal confrontation between the two currents has evolved into a military form.

Muslims in Russia

Russia is also home to a lot of people who profess Islam. This confession is the second largest in the state. Still, half the country is in Asia, where the religion is one of the main. Sunnis in Russia are considered the most numerous branch of Islam. The Shiites are much smaller and they are mostly in the North Caucasus. Also, many among the followers of Ali Azerbaijanis, who moved to Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed. You can still see the Shiites in Dagestan among the tats and Lezgins.

To date, there are no pronounced conflicts between different areas among Muslims (although this is sufficient in the world).

Military actions between currents

The war of Sunnis and Shiites for a long time restrained. Yes, there were numerous clashes, but it never resulted in a large massacre of civilians, with a large number of victims. For a long time, these two currents coexisted peacefully with each other. A new surge of intolerance began in 1979, when Islamic revolution in Iran.

Since the war the different denominations of Islam occupied many countries, where the inhabitants are Muslims. For example, in Syria, the confrontation has lasted for a long time. It began as a struggle between the current government and the opposition, and escalated into a bloody conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. As in Syria, more Muslims first, and government second, then very soon it began to make a big difference. In addition, the ruling elite of the state support of Iran, the Shia which are the majority.

It should also be said about Pakistan, where recently religious hatred directed at almost all other religions. Radical forces in the country to taste not only Pakistani Shias but also Christians and other religions represented in this country. Indeed, it was created for all Muslims (including minorities, who lived at that time in the territory).

It should be noted and the ongoing conflict in Iraq. In 2013 alone, the state has lost more than six million civilians. It is believed that this is the highest figure over the past five years. More should be said about the war in Yemen, where a significant part of the population – the Shiites.

As you can see, the conflict is a very large number of territories and countries. However, is it really so simple? It really is the natural course of events? Perhaps this is beneficial to someone? After all, war always is someone's interests, and not always public. Often the conflict is needed when pop up materialistic desires of those in power. Because so far all the war in the East has not been resolved, clashes with radical groups, the country has a large number of weapons, which is still widely used.

Politics and Islam

As can be seen from the above material, the difference between Sunni from a Shiite small. However, this has allowed Islam to split into two opposing currents, which in the past few decades have had bloody conflicts in some areas of the globe. That started a long time ago, is still ongoing, and no end in sight.

It should be noted that in the war of Sunnis and Shiites, an important role is played by the fact that on the territory of the Islamic countries was discovered considerable oil reserves. Of course, this could not be of interest to the ruling elite of some other States. Today, many politicians claim that the whole conflict was built under the program of the West, particularly the United States. This state had an interest in these areas, not only a resource, but obvious enrichment at the expense of the supply of arms both one and the other side of the conflict. In addition, there is a tacit support of radical organizations (weapons and Finance) on each site of the conflict, which naturally leads to an increase of chaos and violence.

So, if you want to understand the intricacies of the conflict in the East, we should look much deeper. To see that quite a lot of interested in that the war continued. As the saying goes, seek those who need it. For example, in the conflict in Yemen is very clearly evident role of the rulers in the region who want to win the leadership in the territories between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And it is not a war between Sunnis and Shiites, but a banal struggle for power and resources.


So now we see what are the differences between Sunnis and Shiites. Of course, all this is largely in the minds of believers, it's not so important to the full observance of the entire set of rules is much more important than what happens on the inside. With the Lord's name on his lips was created a lawlessness in the world, and the history of the big proof. It is easy to ignite enmity between the opposing currents, much harder to lead them to peace and tolerance.

In conclusion, we should recall the words of the Prophet Muhammad that he said before his death. Namely, in order not to become lost, do not behead their co-religionists. Also, the Prophet commanded to bring this to all of those who were not beside him. Perhaps, it was the most important Covenant which is very necessary to remember and observe right now, when the strife engulfed our world. When the so-called “Arab spring” flooded the Eastern world, when bloody conflicts't want to stay and die, more and more ordinary people. Politicians look at this situation with increasing alarm, as this war cannot be won.