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Shia Islam – Religious Studies Essay

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2021

Rashidun Caliphate is the term used in Islam to refer to the first four leaders that came after the death of Prophet Mohammed. These are Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman Ibn Affan, and Imam Ali. They are the people responsible for the expansion of Islam territory throughout Asia and North Africa through their military and political prowess.

Shia Islam refers to a branch of Islam that believes that God is the only authority who can appoint leadership for Muslims and he did that by appointing Mohammed and later Imam Ali when Mohammed died. Shia forms the minority group of Muslim followers mainly found in Iraq and Iran, which are believed to have been the native lands for the Mohammed family and relatives.

Hadith refers to the reports written to explain the actions of Prophet Mohammed towards things done in his presence. They are applied by clerics and denominational jurist as tools to guide a detailed understanding of the Quran. The source or narrator of the Hadith ascribed led to the difference between Shia and Sunni Islam. Shia adheres to the Hadith written by Mohammed family members such as Ali who they believed was the Muslim leader appointed by Mohammed before his death.

Sunni refers to the majority denomination of Islam who believes that Mohammed died before he could appoint a leader to take over from him. They believe that Abu Bakr was the first leader elected after his death. Sunni Islam interprets Sharia law according to four different ways: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’I and Hanbali based on the teaching of the first four law schools established after Mohammed death.

There are approximately 1.3 billion Muslims in the world (New Internationalist Magazine, 2002). Eighty-five percent of whom belong to the larger Sunni sect while the Shia Islam is minority group and found mainly in Iraq and Iran. Muslims make approximately 22 percent of the world population and half of them reside in south eastern Asia. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population at 170, 310,000 followers. The US has 5.7 million, Canada has 0.5 million making the total number of Muslims in North America be 6.2 million (New Internationalist Magazine, 2002).

There is a common notion that Christians and Muslims believe in the same super natural power that has authority over humanity and leadership of the people. However, there are basic differences between the two. In Christianity, God is loving and personal with his worshiper while, in Islam, Allah is portrayed to be wrathful and non-personal in the way he relates to his worshippers. Allah makes his worshippers, and his servants spread the religion of truth to people who should willingly submit and subdue to the faith (Surah 29: 46).

In Islam, Tawheed is the belief that means there is no partner to Allah in his ‘Being’ and ‘Attributes’ (Alaharazrat, 2012). Allah is superior to all, possessing great ability to see and knowledge. This is against Christian belief in God’s existence in trinity beings in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. According to Islam, this kind of beliefs constitutes Shirk since Allah is the only authority and gives these attributes to his slaves and servants (Alaharazrat, 2012).

He reveals himself in His 99 attributes and does not compare himself to any of his creations. Christians are therefore guilty of Shrek when they refer to Jesus as the son of God since Allah is neither male nor female and, as such, cannot have sons but only appoint prophets and servants among those who submit to him (Alaharazrat, 2012).

In the myth of origin of sin, Christians believe that Adam and Eve sinned and, from that, every human is born in the natural sins but can be forgiven through submission to Jesus who intercedes for their forgiveness. In Islam, Allah forgave Adam and Eve when they repented for their sins and further appointed Adam as his assistant and the first Muslim Caliph.

Prophet Mohammed was born in 570 in the city of Mecca. The exact date is not explicitly stated, but the Islamic literature makes it clear that he was born on Monday, the month of Rabi Ul Awwal which coincides with current calendar April (Religion Facts, 2012). His full names were Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, a name given to him by his grandfather.

The name means ‘highly praised.’ Mohammad was the first Muslim prophet appointed the role by Allah who sent angel Gabriel to visit Mohammad at a cave at Mount Hira (Religion Facts, 2012). Though he was hesitant to accept this responsibility and the angel commanded that it was Allah’s appointment and must be accepted. Khadija, his wife, was the first convert while Islam grew to other parts of Mecca surrounding the cities. Imam Mohammad offered moral and religious guidance urging people to worship Allah Almighty and powerful and no other being or creation (Religion Facts, 2012).

Mohammad was of Arab origin, and as a result, Islam is associated with Arabic culture (Religion Facts, 2012). For as much as this has a rational basis, it fails to portray the universal nature of Islam. The religion has spread to majority parts of the globe, making it one of the world religions with followers from all social and cultural background.


New Internationalist Magazine. (2002). .

Araby, A. A. (n. d.). God of Christianity vs. Allah of Islam. Islam review.

Alaharazrat.net. (2012). Monotheism or Polytheism? (Tawheed or Shirk?)

Religion Facts. (2012). Life of the Prophet Mohammad.

Basar, A. (2006). It is announce that human has been created Weak in Quran. Can You Explain It? Questions on Islam.

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