Assalamu alaikum, I converted to Islam from Protestant Christianity and I have practiced Islam since June 2001 as Allah as willed. I have typically considered myself as being a Sunni due to the sources of my Islamic knowledge and the Muslims ho I have associated with. I have long had an issue with the conflict between Ali and Muawiyah and have been troubled how I perceive Sunni Muslims as silently accept Muawiyah and Yazid as legitimate rulers and refuse any negative talk about them or their rule.
I have read a few books that have given me an understanding on the Sunni-Shi'a split. These books are: 1) "Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes" by Tamim Ansary, 2) "After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam" by Lesley Hazleton, and 3) "Nahjul-Balagha: Path of Eloquence" by Ali ibn Abu Talib and translated by Yasin T. al-Jibouri. As a result of reading these books, I believe that Ali was the rightful successor to Muhammad (saaws) and that his right to lead the Muslim Ummah was usurped by others from the very beginning.However, I also see that rather than rebel against the first three "elected" caliphs, Ali accepted their leadership albeit reluctantly, especially at the beginning. I see that Abu Bakr and Umar reasonably adhered to Islamic principles, but that the rule under Uthman became corrupted with gross nepotism and injustice under the influence of Marwan. I see that Ali was finally chosen as the fourth Caliph but that he was unjustly opposed by Aisha, Talha, Zubayr and Muawiyah who rebelled against him and they were responsible for Muslims shedding the blood of other Muslims. From what I know of the life of Ali and his son Husayn, I see strong consistency with my understanding of the Islam practiced by Muhammad while my perception of the lives and rule of Muawiyah and his son Yazid is the very antithesis of Islam and more representative of those rich Meccan rulers who opposed Muhammad (saaws). This is the essence of my present internal struggle.
I know little about the Shi'a practice of Islam, but I see Ali as being a wealth of knowledge that is largely ignored in Sunni Islam. I am interested in learning more about the differences between Sunni and Shi'a so that I can make an informed decision as to whether I want to stay Sunni or become a Shi'a. I understand there is a difference between Sunni and Shi'a in the athan, 3 versus 5 daily salah, the mourning of Husayn's martyrdom, question of Ali's receiving secret knowledge from Muhammad as he was dying, temporary marriage, infallibility and inspiration of the 12 Imams, etc. I will appreciate open and honest discussions to help me in my decision.