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Islamic Sects.

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Introduction

Islamic Sects Until the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam during the years between 622-632, tribal jealousies and divisions between clan and clan had prevented the growth of the Arabs into a nation. (1). Through Islam and its intentions of being a religion of humanity, universal brotherhood, and a faith that was shaped by the belief in the oneness of God which would therefore bring about the oneness of its people these were changed. Arabs finally attained a type of uniformity. Their beliefs took on a more cohesive shape, and through these they gained more power than they had ever had. (2). Following the death of the Prophet in 632, these were however lost and torn to pieces by angry passions and the lust for power. (3). Internecine, strife and discord, again came to dominate and served to generate divisions and frustration which later became causal factors generating in schisms and even beliefs which contradict the soul foundations of Islam. The results of these saw the division of the great Islamic Umma, (community) into two major branches, the Sunnites and the Shiites, and numerous offshoots, some of which are today seen to be more similar to Christianity or Judaism than to Islam. The Prophet Muhammad who later was to change the face of the Arab world was born at around the year 570, in Mecca. (4). At about the year 610, he received the first of a series of revelations that convinced him that he had been chosen as God�s messenger and thus, began to preach the message entrusted to him, that there is but one God, to whom all humankind must commit themselves. (5) At Medina Muhammad won acceptance as religious and military leader, (6) and within a few years he had established control of the surrounding region. (7) In 630, Muhammad finally conquered Mecca, and thus led his community into the rapid establishment of one of the most powerful empires. ...read more.

Middle

Muhammad responded by saying, 'Surely the believers have become successful through you�. (51) Similar beliefs are held by a number of other extremist Shiite sects. The Alyaiyya amongst others for example, not only believe that Ali is God, but also maintain that he sent Muhammad to proclaim his divine message to mankind but that Muhammad instead claimed the prophethood for himself. (52) The Shabak, another such group, place the blame on the Angel Gabriel whom they claim to be the 'betrayer of the faithful one� because they believe that rather than delivering God�s message to Ali as commanded, he delivered it to Muhammad instead. (53) Not entirely dissimilar are the Shiites of Iran who also came to the belief of that although Ali is not God, he is not far from being one. (54) According to Sunnites and even some Shiites such groups are nothing less that heretics especially as the beliefs adopted by them violate the essential essence of Islamic Scripture that is ascribed within the very first of the five pillars of Islam, the profession of faith, which is considered to be what distinguishes a Muslim from a non Muslim. (55) Furthermore, following the violent death of Ali in the year 661, (56) which was also followed by the mysterious death of his son Hasan and the Horrific death of his son Husain extremist Shiite beliefs were further exalted and the divisions and differences between the whole of the Shiite creed and the Sunnites grew, especially as the Shiites lay the blame for the deaths of their imams on the Sunnites. "The social mythos of Shi�ism suggests that the blame for the deaths of their imams must be placed at the door of the (Sunni) majority caliphs", (57) who are alleged to have deliberately set out to systematically eradicate Ali and his descendants. (58) The results of these led to the previous feeling of frustration, grief, and disappointment by Shiites to elevate into unrestrained violent passion and raging furiousness, and from that ...read more.

Conclusion

(109) Furthermore, Muslims themselves also do not give these aspects too much thought. It is for instance often asserted by observers that Muslim workers and peasants place no great importance on religion and feel that class is more significant as an analytical idea. (110) Also, throughout the Islamic world tolerance of other�s differences seems to be widely practiced, and the fact that each of these groups are somewhat situated within separate regions of each of the countries they occupy gives little reason for close contact to occur between the each of them. In order to realise the differences between themselves Sunnites and Shiites have only physical appearance to look to. Yet through these no indication of difference may be given. In Summary, through the evidence compiled it is clear that while the Sunni communities elaborated their several beliefs, Shiites developed their own. Nevertheless most Shiite sects like the Sunnites first and foremost share the same respect for the central dogma of the oneness of "God. 'There is but one God�. The same sacred writing, the Koran, the same Prophet Muhammad, the same belief in the resurrection followed by the last judgement and the same fundamental obligations, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and almsgiving, with exception to the addition regarding that of the imamate. This addition which is what constitutes and what also led to the greatest distinctions between the Sunnites and the Shiites owes it�s origin to disagreements which occurred in regards to the imamate following the death of the Prophet. Coupled with the feelings of frustration following their repeated rejection, the Shiites were led to also develop differing practices and differing beliefs especially in regards to Ali and as to the function and role of their imams. These also paved the way for extremist beliefs and therefore schisms amongst their creed which concluded in the development of differing Shiite sects whose beliefs not only eventuated in differing to that of Sunnites but also to that of Shiites themselves. ...read more.

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