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Shi'a, Sunni and Sufism

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The split between the Sunni and Shi'a groups began when there was a disagreement over who should succeed Muhammad after he died. Sufi Islam is the mystical expression of Islam and could be compared to the monastic movement in Christianity.


Historical Development

Part 2

III. The Four "Rightly Guided Caliphs" (part 2)

A. Muhammad’s Successor

B. Survey of Four “Rightly Guided” Caliphs and the Caliphate


C. Shi’a and Sunni Compared and Contrasted, Sufism

1. Shi'a (Ali’s party)

a. Believe that the Caliph should be a descendent of Ali.

b. Doctrine of Imamism, which looks to certain divinely appointed leaders who arise in the direct succession of Muhammad.

c. Emergence of a Mahdi figure in times of distress to restore the faithful and protect the Prophetic message.

d. Emphasis on human freedom.

e. Found in vast majority in Iran and Southern Iraq.

f. Added to the Shahadah: "There is no God, but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God, and Ali is the friend of God."

2. Sunni (Normative party)

a. Believe that the Caliph should be chosen in a rational way by the Council, regardless of his blood descent.

b. Believe the "Imam" is simply the leader of the Islamic assembly on Fridays (preacher).

c. Reject any notion of a final mahdi.

d. Emphasize Divine sovereignty - predestination.

e. Easily the majority world-wide, with 5 times the adherents of Shi`a.

f. Reject any changes or additions to the Shahadah.

3. Sufism

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