Article Title: Sharing Some More Information on Major Religions of the World: Islam - Are the Differences Between Muslim Shiites & Sunnis Major?
Submitted by: Craig Lock
Category (key words): Islam, religion, faith, beliefs, Shiites, Sunnis, spiritual unity
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(Personal growth, self help, writing, internet marketing, spiritual, 'spiritual writings' (how 'airey-fairey'), words of inspiration and money management, how boring now, craig
"We share what we know, so that we all may grow."


Are the Differences Between Shiites & Sunnis Major or Trivial?

"Slowly and gradually, out of a rich experience of the world, one builds a faith."


Craig is studying the teachings of different religions, as he researches and writes his latest novel 'A New Dawn', set in the Middle East: To attempt to find 'common ground'/principles between different religions and cultures. And as he learns from his research, is sharing these notes in an attempt to 'enlighten' (himself and perhaps others) about different religious faiths.

In 'A New Dawn' he attempts to find 'common ground'/principles between different religions and cultures and to try to make some difference in building bridges in an ever more dangerous, tubulent and uncertain world. A passionate story of inspiration: hope, faith, peace and especially love for the world.

Submitter's Note:
I have taken what I feel to be the main points from

And as I learn myself about other faiths, I am sharing what I've learnt about this "intriguing" subject of different religions. My aim in sharing this article is to try to contribute in some small way to a better understanding in the West of the Islamic world. So hope this piece may be of interest to you too.

Are the Differences Between Shiites & Sunnis Major or Trivial?

There are a number of differences in the Shi`ah (Shiite) and the Sunni Juristic opinions. However, not all these differences can be termed as the "basic differences" in these two major sects of Islam. The basic difference in the two sects is that of the Shiite faith of the system of "Imamah". The Shiite faith of "Imamah" implies that after the Prophet (pbuh), there shall be no other prophet, but the only true leader of the Muslims, at any given time, is an "Imam" who, like the prophets of God, is directly appointed by God. The appointment of the first "Imam" was made by God through the last Prophet (pbuh), while every subsequent "Imam" is appointed through the "Imam", who precedes him. Another qualification of the "Imam", according to the Shiite belief is that he shall belong to the family of the last Prophet (pbuh). The Shiite belief holds that the "Imams", like the prophets of God, are "ma`soom" (sinless, innocent) and, therefore, should be obeyed in all matters and under all circumstances. The "Imams", according to the Shiite faith, are thus not just the political leaders of the Muslims but also their religious leaders and clergy. The Sunni school, on the other hand, does not ascribe to any such belief.

This may, at first sight, seem to be a trivial difference between the two schools. However, a close analysis reveals that it amounts to a difference in the basic sources of religion and religious knowledge information and directives for the two schools. The Sunni school, because of its lack of belief in the institution of "Imamah" holds the last Prophet of God and the book revealed on him as the two primary sources of Islam, while the Shiite school, because of the importance and position it gives to the "Imams" holds them to be an autonomous source of their religion. Anything that an "Imam" says, anything that he does and anything that he narrates is "religion" for the Shiite school. Differing with an "Imam" in any matter is of about the same consequence as differing with a prophet. Not submitting to the directions of an "Imam" is as grave a sin as refusing to submit to the directions of a prophet of God.

As can be seen from the above explanation, the difference between the Shiite and the Sunni schools are not trivial. On the contrary, these differences are "very" basic. Nevertheless, the thing to do is not to condemn each other; or call each other "Kaafir" (infidel) or non-Muslim"; or air the fire of hatred and promote each other's killings, but to try and convince the other person as well as one's own self to accept whatever is right in the light of the Qur'an and the true teachings of the Prophet (pbuh), to promote empathy for each other's points of view and to try and stress the common points in each other's beliefs.

It should be interesting to note here that although these two sects have co-existed for centuries, yet the extent and gravity of sectarian violence has never been felt more than during the present times. The basic reason for this change in the situation is that a number of prominent scholars and knowledgeable personalities of both these sects have changed the roles that they played in the past. In the past, the differences of both the sects were a matter of intellectual debate between the scholars of these sects. The gravity of these differences was also fully known, but the scholars never promoted violence against each other. The situation has tremendously changed during the past few decades. The scholars of these sects now sit on their respective pulpits and use these differences as flames to burn the emotions and feelings of their addressees against the people of the other sects. They promote the killings of the followers of other sects by labeling these followers with various derogatory terms. They call such killings a part of Jihaad and they promise their followers the everlasting bliss of jannah (paradise) if they take part in such killings.

...Yes, I do agree that the difference in the Shiite and the Sunni sects are quite basic and not trivial, but I think there is still no need to fire each other's emotions to such great extents, even on differences that are so grave.

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This information may or may not be of interest to you...

Those of us who long for (and are passionate about) the ideals of moderation and religious tolerance will continue to hope for a better understanding of complex issues between people of different cultures and faiths through reasoned and 'informed' dialogue in a spirit of mutual tolerance and respect.

We can ALL nurture the real values common to ALL humanity: those highest ideals of tolerance, righteousness, justice, mercy and respect for all of life must surely triumph.

"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others."
- John F. Kennedy


Let each one of us in our own 'little ways' attempt to build bridges rather than barriers, openness rather than walls. Let us look at distant horizons together in a spirit of openness, acceptance of our differences, helpfulness, co-operation, mutual tolerance, respect, trust, peace and especially in a spirit of love, the most powerful force in existence. Let our leaders and each ONE of us look at the future with a vision - to see things not as they are, but what they could one day become.

What divides us as fellow citizens on planet earth is not nearly as powerful as the force, the divine spirit that UNITES us: The Spirit of God, the Ultimate Source that let's us accept and even celebrate our differences ...
and let's the Love of humanity within EACH one of us to conquer anything at all.

God's greatest gift to us is allowing us to find, then choose to follow our own truths.

Craig Lock (Eagle Productions Books)

" People fight and die for religion but they seldom LIVE for religion”.
- Jahrulal Nehru, former Prime Minister of India"

"The greatest good we can do for others is reveal the rich treasure inside themselves; so shine your own bright light on an often darkened world... with the highest level of humanity ...and have great fun along the journey of life."

"There is neither east nor west, tribe nor ethnicity, male or female, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist. Christian nor Jew. There is only a God-filled humanity."

"Let each one of us build bridges rather than barriers, openness rather than walls. Let us look at distant horizons together in a spirit of acceptance, helpfulness, co-operation and peace. Let our leaders look at the future with a vision - to see things not as they are, but what they could one day become."

"When people's hearts are filled with love, the world is full of hope"
"Let us build bridges rather than barriers, openness rather than walls. Rather than borders, let us look at distant horizons the common spirit of the value and dignity of a shared personhood - our common humanity as citizens of planet earth."

- craig

"Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tide and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire."
- Teilhard De Chardin

"God's greatest gift to us is allowing us to find, then choose to follow our own truths."

Together, one mind, one heart, one life at a time, let's plant the seeds, the hope of a better and brighter future.

THESE THOUGHTS MAY BE FREELY PUBLISHED, electronically or in print

Peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
- author unknown

"God is leading us to the light. What we learn in the darkness, we are to share in the eternal light

May the Grace of our loving Creator care for and watch over you all... always

Author's Bio: 

About the submitter:
In his various writings Craig strives in some small way to break down and economic, social, cultural and religious barriers. Craig believes that whilst we should celebrate our differences, what we share in the form of our common humanity is way more important than what divides us.

Craig is currently writing true stories of life in the Middle East. And as he writes, is posting extracts on his new blog
at and

The various books that craig "felt inspired to write" are available at: (ebooks) and

Together, one mind, one heart, one life at a time, let's plant the seeds, the hope of a better and brighter future.