Rebecca Masterton, Dr Rebecca Masterton graduated with a BA in Japanese Language and Literature; an MA in Comparative East Asian and African Literature and a PhD in Islamic literature of West Africa. She has been... Answered 11 months ago

There are narrations in both Sunni and Shi'i collections that say that this ummah will divide into seventy-three sects, with only one being saved, i.e. 'the jama'a'. This has been interpreted to mean 'the majority' by Sunni scholars, whereas Imam 'Ali (as) has said that 'the jama'a' are those who follow the truth, even if they are few. This means that, even among the Shi'a, not all will necessarily be among the jama'a. Imam al-Baqir (as) has said 'the fitna is inevitable'. The Qur'an talks about previous generations that attacked their prophets and became divided over their message. There are many reasons for divisions to occur, but one key reason seems to have been for the Arabs to overcome their tribal pride and accept Imam 'Ali (as) as the successor. The Jews and Christians also hid parts of their prophets' messages or changed them, because they thought that their worldly position was jeopardised by challenging aspects of these messages. People are often happy to accept the message as long as they can maintain their worldly status and comforts.