Religion Essay Sample: The Similarities and Differences between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims

Published: 2022-04-21
Religion Essay Sample: The Similarities and Differences between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Muslim
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1751 words
15 min read

Before we look at the similarities and differences of the Sunni and Shiite of the Muslim as faith in Islam, it is essential to understand the genesis and the belief s in it. Islamic principles, law, and thinking, generally based upon four principles, firstly the recitation of the Qur'an, Sunnah meaning the "traditions," that the prophet Muhammad followed, ijma which refer to the "consensus," or following or community and lastly jihad meaning an "individual idea. The Qur'an reciting is perceived as the word of God and brought directly to Muhammad who was the last prophet by the angel Gabriel. It has 114 Suras (chapters), and it is the basis of Islamic teaching. The suras states at Mecca in his prophet's leadership mostly interested in the Day of Judgment and the ethical and spiritual teachings. The Suras also suggest that at Medina in the last days of the Prophet's job, mainly were social politico-moral guidelines for structuring and ordering the community. Now the Sunni and Shiite Muslims both belong to the Islamic faith (Muslim) as a whole; they have numerous similarities and many differences among them.

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But all the same, they are all Muslims and believe that prophet Mohammed was the last prophet. There many are questions surrounding these issues of who is who? What do they think? What are the differences and the cause? Who are their superiors, and so on and so forth? While there is a rise in anti-government protest, suicide, and car bombings almost every day, Sunni faithful blame their Shiite group of supporting the Iran government making this to be a political difference with the Sunni group over things like regional influence. The major conflicts that arise are the religious belief and so many others. After a brief overview of both, we will need first to know and find out more about each group.

Shiite Muslims

The Shiites are the smaller or if you like the minority group of the two sects of Islam. In early days Islamic supported the authority of Ali, who in fact related to the prophet Muhammad and also, the fourth caliph of the Muslim community. While trying to retain his authority as caliph, Ali killing leading to the disregarding the caliph rules idea. Shiite, also known as Shia group of Islam population holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated Ali ibn Abi Talib to take up the authority to rule after him. Being a member of the smaller of the two groups of Islam and is differentiated from the majority Sunnis.

Sunni Muslims

Sunnites are large in numbers, therefore, the majority population of Muslims, and were already prepared to follow the leadership of any authority provided they practiced the ways the Prophet. They view themselves as the traditional, old schools branch of Islam since their name came from traditions and practices according to the Prophet Muhammad teachings (Hussein Abdul Waheed).Being the vast majority of the world's Muslims, they are estimated to be between 85% and 90% in the Middle East, and other places they make up 90% or more of the populations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan,


The two groups' two groups believe that the Prophet Muhammad is the anchor of the religion and also that they are the only two groups that belong to the faith. Also, despite their differences and opinions on who should lead them; their leaders appear to take both spiritual and political roles. They both believe in the Holy Qur'an as the holy word of God and given to Prophet Muhammad by angel Gabriel. They also share the most basic beliefs, structure, and perceptions of their faith. And recognize their god as "Allah" as their creator and only god.

They all practice the five pillar of the Muslim faith which is:


Also referred to as the prayer-they both pray five times in a day for those who have attained the age of puberty. Prayers are supposed to be at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall. For one to perform prayers, one has to wash the body parts following the traditions of the prophet and according to the Qur'an. They believe that prayer links them to God directly and there is no order through the priests or nobody, any person who is able to recite the Qur'an can lead the congregation in prayer

The profession of faith (shahada)

This confession is the first of the five pillars of Muslims, and both the Shiite and the Sunnis have to confess their faith, especially for the new converts and newborn. For you to join the Muslim community you have to sincerely recite your confession and that is all that is required of you.

Wealth task (Zakat)

Both of the two sects believe that God (Allah) has entrusted them with their wealth, but Allah is the bearer of the wealth they have. Purification and growth symbolize the word "Zakat." They know that by setting aside a portion of their wealth for the needy in the society, they will be much rewarded by God during the days of judgment.

Fasting (swaum)

It's an obligatory concern for all Shiite and Sunnis group to fast if you are correct Muslim, mostly during the holy month of Ramadan. This practice is a yearly practice, during this times everyone is expected to participate in the first except the elderly, sick and maybe the insane. They go without food, sex relations and drinks from dawn to dusk to spend their time in private prayers.

Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj)

Sunnis and Shiite visit the Makkah annually for those who are good health and have the finances to go. It was proclaimed long time ago and is the last pillar that these two groups observe as Muslims. During Makkah encounter they need to wear special attires to bring a sense of sophistication. Here, people from all over the world visit and they participate in the Hajj by going round the Ka'bath and also, pray for forgiveness


Their conflict started when Prophet Muhammad died, the genesis of a row over the appointment of the Prophet's successor brought about the divisions between Sunnis and Shia or Shiites for that matter. The Sunnis think that Muhammad was not the rightful beneficiary and that leaders are only appointed by the Islamic community vote. They believe that Muhammad's supporters decided on Muhammad's friend by the name Abu, to take over. The Sunni belief is on the veneration of the 12 imams. According to the Shiites Allah is the only God of all the Muslims, and can choose his own leaders, meaning that all those taking over should only come from Muhammad's family alone. No one can change their belief that Ali, Muhammad's relative, was the right successor to the authority of the Islamic faith after the Prophet's demise.

The other significant difference between these Muslims groups is about the "savior" also referred to as the guided or sent one. They have a perception that he is the only authority in the Islamic ummah (community). And as the Sunnis maintain the fact that the Mahdi is to yet to be born and expectantly wait for his arrival, the Shiites believe that the guided one was already taken away and will only come back when Allah's commands.

The Areas Where They Dwell

Most Muslim faithful of the Islamic religion populations are the Sunnis group, and they have long been an oppressed people during the Ottoman supremacy at first, then later under countries like Saudi Arabia resulted in injustices suffered by Hussein and had to lead to the political dimension of this issue by the Shiite worship. For instance, under Saddam Hussein Practices like the Ashura celebrations, for example, were abolished, hence a lot of fear that they could be simultaneous uprisings. (Moore, 15). Shiite is mainly found in: Iran, Bahrain and Iraq.


Most Shiites recognize the 12 successors to the prophet as the caliph and Mahdi or savior as the final Imam, believing that he went away to be with God. They know that he will play the role of the savior when he returns.( Juan, 15).For a very long time the oppression of the Shiite group, first under the Ottoman leadership, later by countries like Saudi Arabia. Brought about the idea of the social injustices suffered by Hussein and have provoked a political lead to Shiite people.

The Leaders of This Faith

Shiites believe in their 12 legitimate successors to Muhammad as the only caliph and that the final Imam, who is known as the Mahdi, "the guided one", was taken up by God. They know that he will come back to earth one day to play the role of savior. He lives in a secret place and finally will be the savior .This point is different from the majority Sunnis who have not had Caliph for many years now since the end of the Ottam in 1924. Many have claimed authority to lead the faithful including political leaders and others after the end of Ottoman, leaders like

Sharif and Hussein bin Ali. No leader has been approved by everyone, even globally, although several religious and political leaders have since claimed authority within their jurisdictions.

Where they are Concentrated

The vast majority of the world's Muslims are Sunnis estimates suggest the population is about 90% in the Middle East, the communities of Egypt is also 90% or more. They are also the majority in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Shia Muslims significantly dominates the populations and communities in Afghanistan, India, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. In conclusion, I would like first to point out that, the Shiite makes up a tenth population of the Muslims and Sunnis are the majority group of the Muslim religion. Secondly, of all the Shiites and Sunnis both are not so different but have various conflicts. They all seem too complex trying to understand their concept. But at the end of the day, they are all Muslims and they pray to one God, "Allah".

Works Cited

Amin, Hussein. "The View from Egypt." Toward a New Public Diplomacy, 2009, pp. 111-132.

Cole, Juan R. "The Ayatollahs and Democracy in Contemporary Iraq." 2006.

Moore, James. "The Sunni and Shia Schism: Religion, Islamic Politics, and Why Americans

Need to Know The Differences." The Social Studies, vol. 106, no. 5, 2015, pp. 226-235.

Perry, John O., et al. "The Dissident Voice." World Literature Today, vol. 67, no. 4, 1993, p. 902.

Pinault, David. "Essentials of Islam Common to the Shiite and Sunni Traditions." The Shiites, 1992, pp. 11-26.

Soage, Ana B. "Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: A Moderate Voice from the Muslim World?" Religion Compass, vol. 4, no. 9, 2010, pp. 563-575.

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