One group of Muslims that strongly believes the Islamic leadership should remain within Muhammad’s family is the Shiite Muslim sect. These people are also known as Shi’a, which is short for Shi’a-t-Ali or “Party of Ali.” Shi’ites are the majority of Muslims in Iran and represent a small minority of Muslims throughout the world. Shi’ites follow divinely appointed leaders called Imams.
Historically, Islam has been divided between Sunni Muslims and Shiites. Sunni Muslims believe that the Islamic leadership should be chosen by the community, while Shiites believe that the leader must be chosen by Allah. However, there is some disagreement between these two groups about the succession of Muhammad.
According to the Prophet Muhammad, the leadership of Islam should be elected. Sunni Muslims also believed that Muhammad’s successor should be elected as leader. Hence, most Muslims are Sunni. Sunni Muslims view ayatollahs as signs of God’s presence on earth.
The succession dispute between Sunni and Shia Muslims dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. This led to a split in the Muslim community. Some believe the leadership of Islam should remain in the Prophet’s family, while others think it should remain in the hands of specific community leaders, such as Abu Bakr.
Sunni Muslims also disagreed on the organization of Islam. Some believe that each community or tribe should be led by an imam, while others believe that the Islamic leadership should be in the hands of Muhammad alone. This division continues to this day.
Despite the differences between the two sects, Islam’s founding prophet, Muhammad, had a rich life. He spent a portion of his childhood with a Bedouin family who lived in the desert. This encounter is thought to have influenced Muhammad’s conception of Islam. In his early twenties, he began to work as a merchant. He married a rich woman, Khadijah, and traveled throughout the Middle East. The couple had six children. In his later years, Muhammad began having religious visions.
The main differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims come from their differences in religious beliefs. Shia Muslims believe that the leadership of Muhammad should be passed on to someone from Muhammad’s bloodline. However, Sunni Muslims say that a leader should be chosen according to the people.
The Abbasids are one of the great dynasties of Islam. They ruled from 750 ce until 1258. The Abbasids were the descendants of Muhammad’s uncle. The Abbasids were Muslim, but they did not share Muhammad’s faith. In order to make Islam more inclusive, they included non-Arabs, including many Persians who converted to Islam.
During the Abbasid dynasty, the Islamic world changed fundamentally. The Islamic civilization expanded and regional identities were formed. The Abbasids established a bureaucracy and expanded its power and prestige. They also promoted absolutism and lived lavishly. Their ideology embraced Persian-style rulership, which lasted for several centuries.
The Abbasids distributed power more evenly throughout the Islamic empire than did the Umayyads. They were also known for integrating elements from other civilizations into Islamic culture. This allowed them to mark external influences with a distinctively Islamic imprint.
After Muhammad’s death in 610 A.D., he was followed by Abu Bakr, a cousin of Ali. Both were successful in gaining the support of the community, and ultimately became caliphs. The next three kings of the Islamic empire, Umar and Ali, eventually became caliphs. Ali then moved the capital to Iraq and was killed shortly thereafter.
The Abbasids also believed that the islamic leadership should remain in Muhammad’s family. In 756, they defeated the Umayyad caliphate and moved its capital to agriculturally rich Baghdad. The city was soon a major trade hub.
Ultimately, the Abbasids’ death forced the Muslim world to do some soul searching. Despite the fact that Islam remains the religion of all mankind, many issues are still debated today.
The first two caliphates of Islam were both elected, and each had a different leader. The first was named Ali, and the second was known as Muawiyah. After Ali died, the entire Muslim community recognized Muawiyah as the caliph. The Shia faction, however, refused to recognize Muawiyah and withdrew, causing the first great schism. Shias support the line of caliphate founded by Ali, while Sunnis adhere to the concept that the caliph must be elected. The Sunnis have long represented themselves as the orthodox branch of Islam.
The third caliph was Othman ibn Affan. He was Muhammad’s cousin and the husband of Fatima. He ruled for 30 years, and was widely considered the ideal age of Islam. Omar ruled from AD 634 to 644, and is credited with establishing several Islamic cities, including Al Basra and Kufa. He later moved the capital from Medina to Iraq, and was eventually killed.
Another group, the Shiites, believed the Islamic leadership should stay in Muhammad’s family. They call themselves Shi’a, which is short for “Shia-t-Ali” or “Party of Ali”. Although they make up the majority of the Muslim population in Iran, they are a small minority of Muslims worldwide. The Shi’a became a stronghold in the Middle East during the Safavid dynasty. The Shi’a follow divinely appointed leaders called Imams.
The early accounts of Muhammad’s life are full of supernatural events. For example, his night journey to Jerusalem and his ascent to heaven on a winged horse were ascribed to supernatural power. However, the majority of Muhammad biographies focus on his human side.
After Muhammad’s death, a small group of Muslims began arguing about how Islam should be organized. Some people believed the leader should be from Muhammad’s family, while others believed the leader should be chosen by the elite of the community. This disagreement led to the establishment of two separate groups known as the Sunni and Shi’a.
The first caliph to rule was Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s cousin and husband of Fatima. He ruled for thirty years, and was regarded by most Muslims as the perfect age for Islam. Umar succeeded him in AD 634. He is credited with founding new Islamic cities such as Al Basra, which became the capital of the Muslim world. Ali later took control of the Islamic empire, moving it to Iraq. However, he was killed shortly after his assumption of power.
Many believe that Muhammad was sent by God to establish an Islamic law system that balances the spiritual teachings and the laws. This code, called the Sharia, lays out the requirements of humanity at the most advanced stages. The Islamic tradition believes God has sent thousands of prophets since the beginning of creation.
The Prophet Muhammad was born into the most influential tribe in Mecca, the Quraish. These powerful people controlled trade along the western coast of Arabia, north to Syria and south to Yemen. They also controlled the sacred city of Mecca, which was home to two powerful polytheistic cults. One of the wealthy widows, Khadija, hired Muhammad to ensure the safe passage of her caravans northward.