The Religious Schism of the Sunni and Shia *

[Christopher D. Drabek, Fall 2015]

This essay examines the religious schism between the two sects of Islam, the Shia and the Sunnis. The split occurred over 1,400 years ago in the year 632, when the prophet Muhammad died and had not appointed a heir to take over after he was gone. The Sunni believed that the next leader should be someone that was close to the prophet, while also being a viable and promising leader. Although the Shia believed that it should be someone that was related to the prophet Muhammad. This disagreement turned very violent and is still on going to this day. This schism that is still fostered today is one of the leading reasons contributing to the instability in the Middle East. The history of what led up to this split and also what immediately followed the prophets death is analyzed thoroughly within this text. I also discuss how these issues are affecting life today, and what this ongoing disagreement means to the people that reside within the Middle East. Despite there being several religious and cultural differences between these two branches of Islam, there are still a lot of components that both sides celebrate, such as the pilgrimage to the Mecca, fasting, the five daily prayers, the Monotheism belief, and several other practices that are united within the Muslim community. After reading this essay, you will have an in-depth knowledge and understanding as to why these two sects have been fighting for so long, and what made up of this feud.