Discovering More .... Dubai
Mohammed (PBUH) died in 632 without naming a successor. Rather than choose Ali, his cousin, a council of his followers named his friend and father-in-law, Abu Bakr as his successor or caliph to be the spiritual and political leader of the umma or Muslim community. Another companion, Umar, succeeded Abu Bakr, though Umar was murdered in 644 and was then succeeded by a third companion called Uthman. Uthman was executed in 656, and finally Mohammed’s cousin Ali became the fourth caliph. In 661, Ali was murdered by a splinter group of Muslims. This fracturing following succession had a very significant impact on the future of Islam and lead to the development of two Islamic groups.
Sunnis – They account of about 90% of the Muslim population. The name Sunni originated from Sunna, or tradition of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Sunnis believe in the authority of the first four caliphs, and to a lesser degree of subsequent caliphs
Shiites – Only about 10% of the world’s Muslims are Shiite. This group doesn’t recognise the legitimacy of the first three caliphs, but rather believes Ali is the legitimate Heir to the Prophet. As a result, Shiites reject Sunni doctrine and follow the teachings of a number of spiritual leaders, called imams, descending from Ali. Shiites live primarily in Iran and Iraq, with smaller groups in Lebanon, Pakistan and India.