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koranThe Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has brought the ages-old Sunni-Shia conflict to the fore again.

Here are basic talking points that will help you!

Who are the Sunnis and who are the Shia?

A: Both are branches of Islam and the adherents of both are Muslims, all bound by the same Quran, the same five pillars of Islam – belief in one God, daily prayer, fasting, charity, and hajj, or pilgrimage. Where they mainly differ is on the question of who should have succeeded the Prophet Muhammad, who founded Islam in 620.

What is at the root of their conflict?

A: Basically, Sunnis and Shiites differ on who should have succeeded Muhammad after his death in 632. Sunnis supported the succession of Abu Bakr, the prophet’s friend; Shiite Muslims felt the rightful successor was the prophet’s son-in-law and cousin, Ali bin Abu Talib.

 

The Associated Press Stylebook  explains the battle as follows:

“The schism between Sunni and Shiite stems from the early days of Islam and arguments over Muhammad’s successors as caliph, the spiritual and temporal leader of Muslims during that period. The Shiites wanted the caliphate to descend through Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law. Ali eventually became the fourth caliph, but he was murdered; Ali’s son al-Hussein was massacred with his fighters at Karbala, in what is now Iraq. Shiites consider the later caliphs to be usurpers. The Sunnis no longer have a caliph.”

This  is actually all worth knowing as Pew Research predict a huge increase in the faith.

Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades – an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

While the global Muslim population is expected to grow at a faster rate than the non-Muslim population, the Muslim population nevertheless is expected to grow at a slower pace in the next two decades than it did in the previous two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the global Muslim population increased at an average annual rate of 2.2%, compared with the projected rate of 1.5% for the period from 2010 to 2030.

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