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Iwrote this for school so I thought I'd give it to you. It explains the main beliefs briefly and lists the practises.
In recent times, the term Shi’ite or Shia Muslim has been brought to light often. Yet, the majority of people know Shia Muslims only by the name and not for its true meaning. A Shia Muslim literally means supporting (Shia) submitters (Muslims). The term Muslim refers to one who submits to God entirely through a set of righteous beliefs and practises. While the term Shia, refers to the leadership bestowed to Ali ibn (son of) Abu Talib. Unfortunately, the meaning does not do complete justice to who Shia Muslims are; therefore, it is crucial people gain a proper understanding of what makes a person a Shia Muslim.
When the Prophet of Islam, Muhammed ibn (son of ) Abdullah begin his message, his main goal was to guide the polytheists to monotheism. This forms the most important belief to all Muslim, in particularly Shia Muslims, called tawheed. Tawheed is an Arabic word for the oneness, uniqueness, and independence of God. No single word in English can fully grasp the meaning of tawheed. Tawheed means that God does not have a partner, a son, a family, a mother, or any human characteristics. That is to say God does not sit nor stand, take shape or form. To Shia Muslims, God is not bound by time, space, or matter. (Yusuf Ali 112)
The next fundamental belief that defines a Shia Muslim is ‘adl or justice (of God). Simply put, Shia Muslims firmly believe that God can not do anything that is not just. This affirms that women are not punished for the sins of Eve, and a child can not be punished for the sins of the parent. Likewise, Shia Muslims consider it unjust to believe God would leave humans on the earth without a leader. This will be discussed in more detail later.
Shia Muslims also believe that God sent infallible prophets as guides for mankind. Some of these prophets are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Zachariah, David and Jesus. The belief in Muhammed ibn Abdullah as the last and final messenger is also required.
The most defining belief of Shia Muslims is the belief in imamate or leadership. Shia Muslims believe numerous times before the death of the Prophet, the Prophet declared that Ali would be his successor. The Qur’an also states this in the following verse: “Your (real) [wali] are (no less than) Allah, His Messenger, and the (fellowship of) believers,- those who establish regular prayers and regular charity, and they bow down humbly (in worship).” (Yusuf Ali 5:55) Note that the word “wali” means friend, guardian, leader, and guide. It is unanimously accepted by all Muslims that this verse is about Ali who while bowing in prayer slipped a ring off of his finger to give to a beggar. There are also other verses about imamate in the Qur’an. (33:33, 42:43, 3:103, 9:119, 4:59, among others). The belief in imamate does not end after Ali, but continues on with eleven more leaders all from Muhammed’s family. The current Shia leader is believed to be in occultation. Non-Shia Muslims, however, reject this idea and put their leadership in a series of companions of Muhammed.
Moreover, Shias believe that the twelfth imam, Imam Muhammed ibn Askari al Mahdi, will come from occultation at the end of times before the Day of Judgement. He will also appear with the prophets that never died, but were raised to the heavens such as Jesus, Elijah, Enoch, and Khidir. Imam Muhammed al Mahdi along with his helpers will instil justice on earth. Some of his helpers will have already died, but will be brought back to life to assist in the establishment of divine justice. After Imam Muhammed al Mahdi’s death, it is believed the Day of Judgement will commence.
The Day of judgement is the fifth article of belief for Shias. On this day, everyone will be held accountable for their deeds. The dead will also be raised and judged on this day.
In addition to a clear set of beliefs, Shia Muslims have a clear set of practises. Among these practises are: praying five daily prayers, fasting the month of Ramadhan, paying less then three percent of their yearly income to charity, giving twenty percent of their savings or the value of their unused property to charity, making pilgrimage to Mecca, enjoining righteousness upon people, calling people from the forbidden, struggling for self-purification and community purification, associating with the lovers of the Prophet and his family, and lastly, dissociating oneself from the enemies of the Prophet and his family.
While one may hear stories from Bahrain, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Pakistan about the growing Shia population, it is important to note that Shia Muslims come from all walks of life and economic classes. They are not outsiders to mainstream Islam, but are considered one of the five schools of Islamic thought. Consequently, society must educate itself further about this large dynamic group.
Thank you for sharing that with me, it was a very well written paper.
I did some research and that was exact to what I had found. So, my next question is what is it about Shia vs. Sunni that you like better. For me after reading so much about Shia I feel like I made a good choice in Sunni. Either way I thank you for sharing I feel like I have a really great understanding of the 2 now.
Thank you Heather(hettyhoo) for my beautiful siggy
Islam Jr. 09-20-2003 * Sumaiya-Alee 09-07-2007 *Angel Baby 01-08-2010
I did alot of research into the matter and I thought the Qur'an and the ahadith all point to Imam Ali as his successor. There isn't a single Shia belief that isn't first found in the Qur'an and the ahadith from Ahluls sunnah (bukhari, muslim, trimdhi, dawood, etc). That was one of the major things for me. The main driving forces were about Tawheed. I don't believe that god can have body parts and be seen. Either god is creator or the creation,can't be both.