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MustafaMc

Difference between Sunni and Shi'a

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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.

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You don't have to label yourself. Just follow what you know is right. 

It sounds to me like you already are on the path to becoming Shia of Ali. 

My advice to you is just keep doing what you've been doing: always question everything. Never stop looking for truth. 

Inshallah some of the more knowledgeable brothers and sisters can recommend books for you. You've already read the one I would have suggested, Nahjul Balagha.

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Thank you for your reply. I actually accepted Islam in 1982 as a result of the reading parts (Jesus and Mary) of the Qur'an that I borrowed from my Iranian (Shi'a) room mate in college. I have a natural inclination toward the Shi'a as willed by Allah. I was befriended by a Shi'a from Iran during Hajj in 2010 and he invited me to share a meal with him. He later sent me some information on Shiism, but I was not ready for that at the time. I attended the Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention held in Toronto in December 2015 and I dropped by the Sunni Ahle Bayt Society booth where I picked up some of their literature. I was surprised at how few other Muslims dropped by this booth. I just returned from a trip to Egypt and had the great honor of praying thuhr in Masjid Al-Husayn and visting his mausoleum there.

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The Imam Reza shrine in Iran will send literature to anyone who asks. It is always a delight when I receive packages from them. I've gotten several, even though I was only expecting one. They've even followed me across three address changes. I sent them an email after learning about the program here on shiachat.

 

Edited by notme
Add link.

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On 9/24/2017 at 10:45 AM, MustafaMc said:

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.

I would love to discuss with you on each topic and hope that Allah SWT would do a favor upon me, if I tell you what I know. 

I just begin by the first point which you said that Imam Ali a.s reluctantly accepted Caliphate.  In our view, it was not acceptance rather silence  If you read Nehjul balagha, you would see that Imam Ali a.s says:"if I take my sword for my right, people call me an oppressor and if I keep quiet, I am called a coward, but I will do as I am told".

Imam Ali a.s was instructed by Prophet pbuhhp to be patient after him. If Ali a.s would have waged war, a great war would have ensued which had caused great blood shed and all would have been imposed upon Ali like murder of Usman was imposed.

What Ali a.s did was not to take responsibility of other's ignorance on his shoulders.

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On 9/24/2017 at 10:45 AM, MustafaMc said:

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.

I suggest you strongly get out of the binary thinking of Shia and Sunni

Early Islam esp first 2 centuries was far more pluralistic and less ideologically rigid than the 2 major sects of today 

Definitely read the seerah and if you have access to works of fred donner,  etan kohlberg , martin hinds and MJ kister  

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On 9/25/2017 at 9:30 PM, Panzerwaffe said:

I suggest you strongly get out of the binary thinking of Shia and Sunni

Early Islam esp first 2 centuries was far more pluralistic and less ideologically rigid than the 2 major sects of today 

Tragedy of the Thursday.

Saqifa

Fadak

Battle of Jamal( Camel)

Battle of Siffin

Burial of Imam Hassan(as)

Karbala

Above were after first 2 centuries? 

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4 hours ago, S.M.H.A. said:

Tragedy of the Thursday.

Saqifa

Fadak

Battle of Jamal( Camel)

Battle of Siffin

Burial of Imam Hassan(as)

Karbala

Above were after first 2 centuries? 

And they have little to do  if any with sectarian and a lot to do with tribal politics 

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20 minutes ago, Panzerwaffe said:

And they have little to do  if any with sectarian and a lot to do with tribal politics 

I'd respectfully disagree.

While tribal politics were a major factor in many conflicts, the difference in religious convictions would account for those following a particular leader/figure/claim.

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4 hours ago, Panzerwaffe said:

And they have little to do  if any with sectarian and a lot to do with tribal politics 

Quote

I suggest you strongly get out of the binary thinking of Shia and Sunni

Early Islam esp first 2 centuries was far more pluralistic and less ideologically rigid than the 2 major sects of today 

1)Sectarian

2) Tribal

3) Politics

4) Ideologically

5) Sects.

Above are few terms that you have used. It will only convolute the discussion. Geared towards an agnostic view. Because, there is a lot of leverage, that could be utilized here with terminology. Loose definitions will only serve to prolong and deflect the discussion form reaching a conclusion(s). You have left a lot of room to maneuver your self and get out of sticky situations by expanding or contracting the definition of the above terms or just simple  substitution will do the job. 

Second, Point is that, if we get stuck in the first phase, the second phase' discussion about the "ideology of the Two Sects today" and how its differs -  will have to have to be later. 

In the First Tragic Event,  The Tragedy of Thursday.

The statement made by someone, "Allah’s Book is sufficient for us.”

1) Was a Tribal/political move? to gain political and tribal advantage over the opposing tribe( i,e Al- Kisa(as)).

2)Nothing to do with belief/ideology i.e Islam ? 

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19 hours ago, S.M.H.A. said:

1)Sectarian

2) Tribal

3) Politics

4) Ideologically

5) Sects.

Above are few terms that you have used. It will only convolute the discussion. Geared towards an agnostic view. Because, there is a lot of leverage, that could be utilized here with terminology. Loose definitions will only serve to prolong and deflect the discussion form reaching a conclusion(s). You have left a lot of room to maneuver your self and get out of sticky situations by expanding or contracting the definition of the above terms or just simple  substitution will do the job. 

Second, Point is that, if we get stuck in the first phase, the second phase' discussion about the "ideology of the Two Sects today" and how its differs -  will have to have to be later. 

In the First Tragic Event,  The Tragedy of Thursday.

The statement made by someone, "Allah’s Book is sufficient for us.”

1) Was a Tribal/political move? to gain political and tribal advantage over the opposing tribe( i,e Al- Kisa(as)).

2)Nothing to do with belief/ideology i.e Islam ? 

 

maybe Umar was jealous of banu Hashim position

Maybe it was attributed by later sources who were pro ummayyad to Umar 

Maybe Umar was a hypocrite all along and wanted to see Islam fail 

Maybe Umar anxious to prevent discord amongst Muslims 

I'm ok with any the above conclusions 

The bottom line is your interpretation is only as good as your sources ( on which opinions can differ) and none other than Quran are perfect.Now you can find indirect references to any of the later ideologies back projected in the verses of quran.But the earliest Muslims 3 generations regardless of their disputes did not have sectarian identities  we recognize today.

 

 

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On 9/29/2017 at 1:02 PM, InZane said:

I'd respectfully disagree.

While tribal politics were a major factor in many conflicts, the difference in religious convictions would account for those following a particular leader/figure/claim.

Convictions were religious in many cases but not sectarian otherwise we would have seen very different kind of rhetoric from all sides in these conflicts 

 

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3:19 ''Indeed, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam. And those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them - out of jealous animosity between themselves. And whoever disbelieves in the verses of Allah , then indeed, Allah is swift in [taking] account.

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6 hours ago, Panzerwaffe said:

 

maybe Umar was jealous of banu Hashim position

Maybe it was attributed by later sources who were pro ummayyad to Umar 

Maybe Umar was a hypocrite all along and wanted to see Islam fail 

Maybe Umar anxious to prevent discord amongst Muslims 

I'm ok with any the above conclusions 

The bottom line is your interpretation is only as good as your sources ( on which opinions can differ) and none other than Quran are perfect.Now you can find indirect references to any of the later ideologies back projected in the verses of quran.But the earliest Muslims 3 generations regardless of their disputes did not have sectarian identities  we recognize today.

 

 

You keep referring to and trying to confine it to the Sectarian Identity/Defined Sects as the Madhab( school of thought within fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence)) dealing with ONLY  Furu’ al-Deen( Laws governing Islamic Acts, Prayers, Fasting, Hajj, Zakat etc..)  means the branches of religion.

Islamic Acts are governed by the Beliefs/Faith. Roots of the Religion,( Usool-e-Deen) - which includes a proper understanding of the Last and the Seal of the Prophets Muhammad( peace be upon him and his pure progeny) which in turn leads to proper understanding of Tawheed.

I will hold my comments on your comments about The Tragedy of Thursday( for now)

*****

2)What happened at Saqifa.( when the supposedly believers in the Message and the Messenger, felt the need to take care of an urgent and unresolved issue of succession)

A)Tribal issues dominated Saqifa?

B)Nothing to do with Islam or the teachings/sayings/commandments of Quran/the Prophet( Ghadir Khum)?

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On 9/24/2017 at 10:45 AM, MustafaMc said:

I will appreciate open and honest discussions to help me in my decision.

Salam. These books will show you how Sunnis differ from Shias in matters of taharah, prayer, fasting and zakat, hajj, marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. 

http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/234991340-online-english-shia-books-official-thread/?do=findComment&comment=2982447

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On 9/24/2017 at 10:45 AM, MustafaMc said:

I will appreciate open and honest discussions to help me in my decision.

In the end of the day its your choice, not anybody elses. Read Sahih Muslim Book 31, #5913-5917 and read Surah 4:59 of the Quran as this will show you the authority of Ali (as). Read Surah al-Ahzab( The Confedrates), verse 33 to help you understand the infallibility of Ahlulbayt. Read Genesis 18:20 of the Bible and Surah al-Baqarah, verse 124 of the Quran to prove the Divine authority of the 12 Imams. 

Also to believe in the importance of Imam Husayn (as), read Jeremiah 46:10 of the Bible.

Edited by Hameedeh
Lengthy quote was shortened.

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Walaikum aslaam Brother MustafaMC,

You raise some very important and quite possibly the underlining key points as to why 

On 24/09/2017 at 3:45 PM, MustafaMc said:

3 versus 5 daily salah

The Shia also practice 5 daily Salaahs. Zuhr and Asr prayers 'can be' combined which is in accordance with Islamic Law. Like wise, Maghrib and Isha can be combined. Combining prayers denotes to praying each prayer one after the other, whereby each prayer remains distinct.

On 24/09/2017 at 3:45 PM, MustafaMc said:

 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 must drop some concessions here. Amongst the Sunni brothers, there are some who have risen to the challenges by voicing their God given right in denouncing Yazid. As for his father Muaviyah, besides the battles, the one who encouraged cursing of Imam Ali (as) for decades is honoured widely amongst the Sunni brethren. He is considered emir-ul-momineen (commander of the faithful). The hypocrisy is so great, so translucent, even the followers of Ahlul Bayt (as), the Shia, find ourselves 'internally struggling' to aid our brothers from their lack of discernment. 

But it gets a little deeper! Yazid is the consequence of Muawiyah. Without saying more, Muawiyah is the consequence of who? Exposing Muawiyah opens a door of questions, querying the depravities that took form in the chain of leadership and whether such personages were credible. The vast majority of our Sunni brothers and sisters are deprived of such knowledge. Opportunities for questions to be raised are denied and on top their books of history cunningly misinformed with fallacies in defence of an unrighteous few. I do not blame ordinary Sunni MUSLIMS, nor do I challenge their fate, but in this enforced process they cannot see that it's the Ahlul Bayt who is robbed of their appointment. 

We too share your concerns brother! 

Is there anything in particular you want to discuss? These subjects are a universe of their own, we need a small planet to get some bearings. 

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i am not as knowledgeable as all of these posts have given u .. but i just have to say one thing..

the one and the foremost reason for muslims to stay on rite path is the reward which is JANNAT for momoneen.. as IMAM E HUSSAIN A.S is the leader of the men in JANNAT then how can u enter it if u dont accept HIS FATHER AMEER AL MOMINEEN ALI IBN ABI TALIB A.S WALLIULLAH AND AHLUL BAIT A.S... im not saying this... many AHADIS OF MUHAMMAD S.H.W.W have been written not only in shia books but also in sunni books.. so plz think about it

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Salaam brother @MustafaMc,

Welcome to Islam and welcome to ShiaChat. While the topics mentioned above are essential to Shia/Sunni discussions, the main difference between these sects is the core belief system. Without referencing what the Sunnis belief, below are the set of core beliefs that one needs in order to be a shia:

Tawheed - belief in the Oneness of Allah
Adl - belief in the justice of Allah above all else. While He is not doubt Rahman and Raheem, He will treat each person with justice.
Risalah - belief in the Prophets of Allah and Prophet Muhammad (saw) being the last, final and greatest Prophet (saw).
Imamah - belief that the Prophet (saw) named Ali (as) as his successor by the Will of Allah. There are 11 subsequent Imams after Imam Ali (as). 
Qiyamah - belief in the final Day of Judgement

I think any legitimate shia/sunni discussion needs to start with the list above.

There is a whole list of furuh-e-deen (practices) but that would be secondary to the discussion above.

I hope this helps inshallah

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