The Shiite Muslims are one of the divisions that exist within the religion of Islam. There are fewer followers of this division than in the Sunni division. The basic difference between the two developed over a dispute about who should be the leader after the death of Mohammed in the 7 th century. The Shiites believed that the Prophet’s son-in-law Ali, should succeed him, but the larger Sunni group elected Abu Bakr, a close friend of Mohammed. The Shiite Muslims believe that Mohammed was the Prophet, but claim that the Qu’ran explicitly showed that Ali was to succeed Mohammed. The term “Shiite” or “Shia” means partisans of Ali.
The largest sect of Shiite Muslims are called the Twelvers. They believe that Muhammad al-Muntazar al-Mahdi, the twelfth imman in line from the Prophets family, was hidden in a cave below a mosque in Samarra when he was a young boy. He disappeared and the Shiite Muslims still await his return.
The Shiite Muslims differ from the Sunni in their interpretation of the Hadith. The Shiite prefer to use the Hadith as narrated by Ali and Fatima and their associates. They do not approve of honouring scholars who lived centuries ago, but believe that only living scholars should be followed.
In all other ways, the Shiite Muslims follow the basic beliefs of Islam. Their holy book is the Qu’ran that they believe was dictated to Mohammed by God through the Angel Gabriel. They are told in the Qu’ran to read three other holy books – the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), the Zabur (the psalms of David) and the Injeel (the Gospel of Christ).
Islam has seven fundamental beliefs that all Shiite Muslims must accept as part of their religion:
Shiite Muslims believe in Satan. They also believe that Ishmael was the son that Abraham was willing to sacrifice on an altar for God. He used an animal instead and this is why Muslims use goats when they offer sacrifices to Allah. They believe that their land was given to them by God and this is why they feel they have a God given right to the land.
There are five ways by which Muslims believe they will be saved:
Muslims pray at a mosque every Friday and during the time of prayer they face Mecca. Both men and women pray together, but the men are at the front and the women as at the back.
There are two main Islamic festivals:
Other Holy days:
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