View Full Version : Sunni or Shiite

30th Aug 2005, 10:36
Can anyone tell me what the difference is between these two groups? Is one more extreme than the other?


30th Aug 2005, 10:40
That question is as unanswerable as the one about the Catholics and the Protestants in Ulster.

It all depends, dunnit?

30th Aug 2005, 11:15
From http://hnn.us/articles/934.html:

What Is the Difference Between Sunni and Shiite Muslims--and Why Does It Matter?
By HNN Staff
The Islam religion was founded by Mohammed in the seventh century. In 622 he founded the first Islamic state, a theocracy in Medina, a city in western Saudi Arabia located north of Mecca. There are two branches of the religion he founded.

The Sunni branch believes that the first four caliphs--Mohammed's successors--rightfully took his place as the leaders of Muslims. They recognize the heirs of the four caliphs as legitimate religious leaders. These heirs ruled continuously in the Arab world until the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following the end of the First World War.

Shiites, in contrast, believe that only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed. In 931 the Twelfth Imam disappeared. This was a seminal event in the history of Shiite Muslims. According to R. Scott Appleby, a professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, "Shiite Muslims, who are concentrated in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, [believe they] had suffered the loss of divinely guided political leadership" at the time of the Imam's disappearance. Not "until the ascendancy of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1978" did they believe that they had once again begun to live under the authority of a legitimate religious figure.

In a special 9-11 edition of the Journal of American History, Appleby explained that the Shiite outlook is far different from the Sunni's, a difference that is highly significant:

... for Sunni Muslims, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim world, the loss of the caliphate after World War I was devastating in light of the hitherto continuous historic presence of the caliph, the guardian of Islamic law and the Islamic state. Sunni fundamentalist leaders thereafter emerged in nations such as Egypt and India, where contact with Western political structures provided them with a model awkwardly to imitate ... as they struggled after 1924 to provide a viable alternative to the caliphate.
In 1928, four years after the abolishment of the caliphate, the Egyptian schoolteacher Hasan al-Banna founded the first Islamic fundamentalist movement in the Sunni world, the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun). Al-Banna was appalled by "the wave of atheism and lewdness [that] engulfed Egypt" following World War I. The victorious Europeans had "imported their half-naked women into these regions, together with their liquors, their theatres, their dance halls, their amusements, their stories, their newspapers, their novels, their whims, their silly games, and their vices." Suddenly the very heart of the Islamic world was penetrated by European "schools and scientific and cultural institutes" that "cast doubt and heresy into the souls of its sons and taught them how to demean themselves, disparage their religion and their fatherland, divest themselves of their traditions and beliefs, and to regard as sacred anything Western."14 Most distressing to al-Banna and his followers was what they saw as the rapid moral decline of the religious establishment, including the leading sheikhs, or religious scholars, at Al-Azhar, the grand mosque and center of Islamic learning in Cairo. The clerical leaders had become compromised and corrupted by their alliance with the indigenous ruling elites who had succeeded the European colonial masters.

Osama bina Laden is a Sunni Muslim. To him the end of the reign of the caliphs in the 1920s was catastrophic, as he made clear in a videotape made after 9-11. On the tape, broadcast by Al-Jazeera on October 7, 2001, he proclaimed: "What America is tasting now is only a copy of what we have tasted. ... Our Islamic nation has been tasting the same for more [than] eighty years, of humiliation and disgrace, its sons killed and their blood spilled, its sanctities desecrated."

30th Aug 2005, 11:55

Thanks for the succinct but non-informative answer.


Thanks, very informative.

30th Aug 2005, 14:01
Can I also recommend the following from the bbc website, which is excellent on religions as well as everything else it covers:


You can see from it that the Shias have more of a tradition of martyrdom, and 15 years ago the Shias were more seen as the baddies in the Western World, probably because of what was happening in Iran at the time - but the main root of the current problem seems to come from variations of Sunni, specifically the wahabis in Saudi. I'm not a Muslim and wouldn't pretend to know it all by any means, but I've always made a point of trying to have some understanding of the people I'm dealing with, and this issue has become a much more important issue since I first looked for simplistic answers.

30th Aug 2005, 14:33
It's a bit like the weather innit?

Sometimes it's sunny and sometimes it's sh1t...?!

(Ok ok, I'm going...) :O

30th Aug 2005, 15:05
So here is the question; What religion has God?

Maybe we are all just missing the whole point. It is fairly simple really. Be nice to each other.

Protestant, catholic, sunni shi'ite they are all just labels that evil men use to justify evil actions in the name of their favoured deity, who, bizarrely is the self same one....:confused:

If you believe, then we will all be judged to a higher authority when we pass over to the "other side" where ever that may be.

bear11's recommendation of the BBC website is a good one.

30th Aug 2005, 16:10
And of course, the famous anthem, "Climb upon my knee, sonny boy"

Squirrel, two things, as I recall Marxism was based on atheism and led to the odd row, and, secondly, if anyone founded an Irish atheist organisation, it would immediately split into three bitterly competing factions.:{

tony draper
30th Aug 2005, 16:35
One lot believes the world is flat and tother lot believe its even flatter than that.

30th Aug 2005, 16:56
It really doesn't matter what kind of religion, nation or footbal club... everybody has to choose a side, black or white, haggis or vegetarian, BA or Virgin.
In human society you cannot be someone unless you take a side, for whatever reason. IMHO that's where the real problem resides.
As long as there are 3 persons, 2 battle each other for supremacy and expect the third to take a side. Politics 101.


30th Aug 2005, 17:38
Squirrel, ........., as I recall Marxism was based on atheism and led to the odd row, Excellent point Taildragger. :ok:

30th Aug 2005, 20:40
...which leaves us with a question: Are there any muslims at all on this board??? (Apart from me, that is, and I'm Sunni, and just saying that Bin Laden is one as well doesn't make me very happy. There are many mass murderers that are/were Catholics, Protestants, or any other faith as well)

30th Aug 2005, 21:00

My reply was certainly succinct, but it was also informative. You asked if one or other branch of Islam was more or less 'extreme'.

That is an entirely subjective question and is neatly parallel to the Ulster situation - is Paisley more 'extreme' than Adams?

Lots of things are in the eye of the beholder and extremism is one of them.

tony draper
30th Aug 2005, 21:03
Hang about! hang about, I can't let yer get away with that Mr iskandra,we atheist have produced a few as well.
A couple of real gooduns.

30th Aug 2005, 21:40
Actually, it's Ms iskandra :}
Ah, I used to be atheist, I know all about them funny people! :p Extremist atheists, now that's a good 'un!

Maple 01
30th Aug 2005, 21:58
Uncle Adolf, Good Catholic boy
Big Joe Stalin, U/T priest

hmmm..... I wonder if Buddha has any vacancies

30th Aug 2005, 22:02
Uncle Adolf was a self-styled pagan wacko...now we can diss Pagans, too!

tony draper
30th Aug 2005, 22:08
Nah,old Adolf was a believer in nut cutlets and cold showers,though he did like pooches, so he could not have been all bad.
Bring back the old Northern Gods say I, Thor Wotan Loki and their lot, they were gods fit for Europeans, be done with this middle eastern bloody nonsense,they create nothing but a race of either milksops or fanatics,and one is as dangerous as tother.

30th Aug 2005, 22:17
Surely it's the person/s that is extreme, not the religion.

And speaking of religion, dear GOD am I sick of Northern Ireland Catholic Protestant blah blah being used as a comparision for the current terror threat, sorry the latest terror threat.

Unless someone steals a Skyvan from the city airport, then all bets are off

Secret Squire
30th Aug 2005, 22:41
In lsam in general:

Prophet Mohammed is believed to be the last prophet to spread the word of Moses.

In Islam the only woman mentioned is the Virgin Mary.

Jesus was believed to be a prophet, not the son of God. Muslims also do not believe in the crucifiction.

The difference as I understand it, in its most basic form is as follows:

Shi'ites believe that Mohammed's successor should be from his descendants.

Sunnis believe that Mohammed's successor should be elected.

As I understand it, this is the major issue with the new Iraqi constitution, in that the type of government to be formed is at odds with either one or t'other of these...

With regards to extremism, I think neither is more 'extreme' than the other, more it is the small %age in both groups that misinterpret the koran in a big way.

I could be spouting rubbish, as per usual, and I know this doesn't go into much detail... but hey, in the words of Manwell - "I know nothing"


31st Aug 2005, 01:00
That's a pretty good summary Squire, for an infidel.

iskandra you left out atheist fundamentalists. That nice mr. draper is one of them...

Peace be with you. ;)

31st Aug 2005, 04:14
.....as you point how much more DEMOCRATIC are the Sunny with their elected Mohammed successor.

That could fit with this Democracy crusade he has lauched in Iraq with the great success we allready know!

...........Then...........I recall........For the moment his best allies there are the Shiits.

We have to wait for next move......

31st Aug 2005, 04:19
For the moment his best allies there are the Shiits.Does that include the Shiites who, if we believe what All The President's Men say, are busy building a nuclear weapons facility next door? :suspect:

31st Aug 2005, 20:22
Do not worry Ms iskandra.

During the 20th century Europe was predominately white, Godfearing and Christian. They produced Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and Franco. Saloth Sar recieved his post secondary education in France. As Pol Pot, he slaughtered a million of his fellow Cambodians, which begs the question just what did his professors teach him.

2nd Sep 2005, 01:22
You miss the important point pigboat - the question isn't what they taught Saloth Sar (Pol Pot), but did he pass the exams?

Ho Chi Minh also studied in France but he learned his lessons properly. The de-colonialisation of Vietnam is done, though they still have some way to go in completing the democratic process. [Perhaps they would have fared better without outside interference?]

Returning to the subject of Islam, that old rogue Salman Rushdie just stirred the pot nicely by pointing out that the 'Islamic Leaders' such as those that Bliar and his sychophants are trying to interact with, are no more the leaders of the majority of Muslims than those who stir up racial hatred and send out the bombers. The majority of Muslims, like the majority of Christians, Jews, Hindus or even atheists don't define themselves solely by their religion (or lack of it).

2nd Sep 2005, 01:24
Vietnam isn't quite finished even now, but its well on the way.

Umm...meaning what?

2nd Sep 2005, 01:32
Edited to make what I meant a bit clearer - though I doubt if you'll like the change any more than the original.

In Changi, Aussie soldiers would often ask us why we weren't in Vietnam. Our answer was that Ho Chi Minh hadn't asked us for any help yet...