Friday, January 27, 2006

Later developments

These are all universally agreed upon points within the Islamic community however a historical split did occur which was based on the principle of succession or who should lead the Muslims in religious and governmental affairs upon the death of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Ahl al Sunnat wa al Jumma’t (Or Sunnis) assert that the holy prophet left behind no clear designation while the Shi’a (partisans) believe that the prophet’s son in law and first cousin Ali Ibn Abi Talib was designated as the prophet’s Successor (khalif). The Shi’a believe that not only did the prophet designate Ali ibn Abi Talib but that he also stated 12 of the descendants which were direct descendents of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatima bint Muhammad (the Prophet’s daughter) would also rule over the Muslims one after the other. These descendants are known as the ahl al bayt or people of the house.

With this divergence came some small variations in practices but nothing which would lead one to the conclusion that the other group is apostate. However some elements with in Islam specifically groups like the Wahabis (Salafis) make it a point especially on various websites to denounce Shi’a as being apostates because of their rejection of the Sunni caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman as rightful leaders.


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