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['Aalim Network QR] Shia/Sunni Difference


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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\
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Salaamun Alaykum,

This question on Shia/Sunni differences was kindly provided by Br. Hamid 
Mavani.

Wasalaam,

Mustafa Rawji

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QUESTION:

Salamun Alakium.

        One of my friends in school asked me what the differences between
the Shia and Sunni school of thoughts are. I could not reply him, but told
him that I will try to do my very best in order to obtain some information.
        I would very much appreciate it if you could help me.
        Your help would be very much appreciated.


                                 Bismihi Ta'ala

Salaamun alaykum,

ANSWER:  

The major difference between the Sunnis and the Shi'a has to
do with the issue of succession after the Prophet (S).  That is to
say, who had the prerogative to lead the Muslim community in temporal
and religious affairs after the demise of the Prophet.  Our view is
that the Prophet (S) explicitly appointed (nass-ul-jali) Imam Ali (a.s.)
as his successor in accordance with the divine instruction.  We envision
the Imam as someone who is endowed with grace and benevolence (lutf),
who can guide the community in all spheres without commiting any mistake
or error because he is infallible (ma'soom)[Shaykhs Mufid and Saduq were
of the opinion that the Imams are prone to committing small errors]. The
doctrine of Imamate is at the heart of the issue which divides the
Sunnis and the Shi'a.  Of course, there are many other differences
between these two main branches of Muslims but they are derived from
the basic disagreement on the question of succession to the Prophet (S).
In contrast, the Sunnis view the seat of the caliph as a political
function that can be entrusted to a competent and trustworthy
individual without any explicit appointment from the Prophet (S).

To underline this salient feature, many works were composed in the
classical and medieval times on the doctrine of Imamate.  See the
works of Hisham b. Hakam, Nu'man, Saduq, Mufid, Tusi, etc.  The latest
extensive work on Imamate is by Allamah Amini titled "Al-Ghadir."  It
is a monumental work and very much worth reading.  Also, a good portion
of "Al-Kaafi" is devoted to the issue of Imamate [Kitab-ul-Hujjah].

wa bi-l-laahi-t-tawfiq,

Hamid Mavani       November 29, 1995



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