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We believe that a true and comprehensive understanding of Islam would not be possible without careful recognition of the Prophetic Tradition and the Prophet's Household. And Allah is the Source of Strength.

The Shia/Sunni Differences

Lately, all we hear about is how different Muslim sects are and how one is better to deal with than another. So-called experts, who are not Muslims, would tell us how different we are. Others would label one sect as extreme, barbaric, and fanatic when a political disagreement surfaces. We do have some differences. However, our path to salvation stems from common basic tenants.

All Muslims believe that Allah is one and that the unity of God is the most cherished belief in Islam. They also believe that Mohammed (SAW) is his last prophet, the Qur'an is His last book for mankind, and that the final resurrection of all human beings will occur on the Day of Judgment.

The above beliefs are what make us Muslims. There are, however, disagreements between the two schools of Islam and they are in two areas:

The second issue has root in the first one. The Shi'a bound themselves to refer to Ahlul-Bayt for deriving the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). They do this in conformity with the order of the Prophet reported in the authentic Sunni and Shi'a collections of traditions beside what the Qur'an attests to their perfect purity. The Shi'a say that Imam must be appointed by God; that appointment may be known through the declaration of the Prophet or the preceding Imam. The Sunni scholars say that Imam (or Caliph) can be elected or nominated by the preceding Caliph, selected by a committee, or may attempt to gain the power through a military coup (as seen in the case of Muawiyah).

The Shi'a scholars say that a divinely appointed Imam is sinless and Allah does not grant such a position to the sinful. The Sunni scholars say that the Imam can be sinful as he is appointed by other than Allah. The majority of the scholars from the schools of Hanbali, Shafi'I, and Maliki discourage people to rise against that Caliph. They think that they should be preserved although they disagree with the evil actions.

Why is the choosing of the Imam important? It is important because the Imam is responsible for deriving the Islamic rule where there is no clear Qur'anic statement or Hadith. One may conclude that if the Islamic rule is in question, the differences between the Sunni and Shi'a must be huge. In reality, this is not true, because unlike other religions, we have one book that has provided us with CLEAR rulings on most issues

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