An Overview of Islam Prepared by: Soldiers…Names Withheld….
Agenda • The Roots of Islam • The Prophet Muhammad • Islam 101 • The Five Pillars • Jihad • Islam After Muhammad • The Sunnis • The Shiites • Sufis • Fringe Groups and Radicals
Roots of Islam • Islamic civilization has a clear point of origin, beginning in the 7th century with Prophet Muhammad. • Islam has since spread to other continents, however, it was born on the Arabian Peninsula. • The religion of Islam shares similarities with Judaism and Christianity, due to their influence on Prophet Muhammad.
The Prophet Muhammad • Muhammad was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 570 to a Quraish family. • Very spiritual man who received revelations from angels while meditating and realized that God chose him as a messenger to preach God’s word. • Muhammad’s popularity was seen as threatening to people in power in Mecca, so he took his followers on a journey to Medina in 622, the same year the Islamic Calendar begins. • 7 years later in 629, he returned to Mecca with his followers and conquered it. From then on, he was generally accepted as the true Prophet of God. • Prophet Muhammad was a community and spiritual leader whose death in 632, sparked an Islamic movement that has had a world influence. • Islam is one of the largest religions in the world and is considered by many to be the fastest growing religion in the world today.
Islam 101 • All Muslims believe in one God – “ Allah.” Islam (Arabic): “Surrender/submit to the will of God.” • Muslim (Arabic): “One who surrenders to God”. • The Koran is the holy scripture of Islam. • Mecca is Islam’s most sacred city, located in what is presently western Saudi Arabia. • The Ka’aba is the most sacred shrine of Islam, it’s located in Mecca, shaped like a cube, and is made of stone with one of its corners covered in sacred black stone. • According to Islamic tradition, the sacred black stone kissed by pilgrims was given to Abraham by the Angel Gabriel.
The Five Pillars of Islam • These are the basics of Islamic life and all Muslims try to carry them out: • PILLAR 1: Declaring faith to Allah, the one and only God, and Muhammad is his final Prophet. • PILLAR 2: Formal prayer , preferably within a mosque 5 times daily. • PILLAR 3: Giving a set proportion of one’s wealth to charity each year. • PILLAR 4: Fasting in daylight during the month of Ramadan. • PILLAR 5: Going on a pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime, if able.
Pillar 1 (Shahadah) • Shahadah means to sincerely recite the Muslim profession of faith out loud, and to understand what it means. • The Shahadah is said like this (translated from Arabic): “There is no God like Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.” • Shahadah also requires that Muslims obey all commitments of Islam in their life.
Pillar 2 (Salat) • Performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times per day. • Salat al fajr: Dawn, before sunrise. • Salat al zuhr: midday, as the sun passes its highest point. • Salat al asr: late part of the afternoon. • Salat al maghrib: just after sunset. • Salat al isha: between sunset and midnight. • This timetable of prayer call sets the rhythm of the day for Muslims.
Pillar 3 (Zakat) • Zakat is the paying of an alms or charity tax to benefit the poor and the needy. • Systematic giving of 2.5% of one’s wealth per year. • The purposes of Zakat, apart from benefiting the needy, relate to obeying God and learning self-discipline. • Payment of the Zakat at the 2.5% rate only applies to cash, gold, silver and commercial items. Other rates exist for mining, farm produce and animals.
Pillar 4 (Sawm) • Sawm is the act of fasting during the month of Ramadan. • Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar. • During the 29/30 days of Ramadan, Muslims must give up the following during daylight hours: food, drink, smoking and sexual activity. • During Ramadan, many Muslims will eat a big meal called suhur just before dawn.
Pillar 5 (Hajj) • The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims strive to complete once in their lifetime. • During the Hajj, a Muslim abandons their ordinary life and for the period of the pilgrimage, they devote themselves completely to Allah. • To go on the Hajj a person must obey the following rules: they must be a Muslim, be able to understand the spiritual importance of what they are doing, be physically fit, be able to afford the journey, and be able to provide for their family while they are away. • The pilgrimage itself takes place in the month of Dhul-Hijja and when pilgrims arrive, they carry out sacred acts to set themselves apart from ordinary life (such as running around the Ka’aba seven times and chanting “here I am at your service, Oh God, here I am”, and kissing the sacred black stone).
Jihad • Jihad means “struggle.” • For most Muslims, Jihad comprises of an inner struggle – the ability to lead a good life and take care of one’s home and family and an outer struggle – the spreading of peace and Islam to one’s neighbors. The inner struggle precedes the outer struggle. • Jihad allows one to defend himself, his family and his religion if attacked, but it does not call for acts of aggression. • Jihad is rooted in the Koran. • Jihad is one of the most misconstrued aspects of Islam. To Muslims it is nearly a “sixth” pillar of the Faith. To many non-Muslims, it is viewed as a term for Holy War against non-Muslims. Many fringe groups and radicals have exploited the notion of Jihad in order to justify acts of violence against non-Muslims and even Muslims that don’t ascribe to a certain system of beliefs.
Jihad: Different Perspectives • Jihad to most Muslims means to strive for a better life and, if necessary, to fight to defend one’s life, land, and religion. • Jihad is not a holy war or a war to impose Islamic faith on others. • An excerpt from the Koran: “Fight in the way of God against those that fight against you, but do not commit aggression…Slay them wheresoever ye find them, and expel them from whence they expelled you, for sedition is more grievous than slaying…Fight against them until sedition is no more and allegiance is rendered to God alone; but if they make an end, then no aggression save against to evildoers.” • The context above refers primarily to Muhammad’s Meccan opponents, however the last two passages draw a distinction between warfare against the pagans on one hand and the Jews and Christians on the other.
Islam after Muhammad • When Muhammad died in 632, Islamic Arabs had no clear concept of political succession. • Muhammad’s closest followers, his father-in-law Abu Bakr, and a zealous early convert named Umar took the reigns. • Abu Bakr took the name Caliph, meaning “deputy of the Prophet.” • Immediately after being named Caliph, Abu Bakr subdued various Arab tribes that didn’t accept him as Muhammad’s successor. • Abu Bakr died in 634, and Umar succeeded him as the next Caliph took over directing invasions of neighboring empires. • By 651, the Persian empire was taken over, and in 711 almost all of Spain was overtaken by Islam.
The Sunnis • The Sunnis believe that Abu Bakr and the Caliphs were the rightful heirs to Muhammad as the main authority in Islam. • Sunni Muslims believe that Islamic leadership is vested in the consensus (“ijma”) of the community – the chosen, rather than being based on the lineage of the Prophet. • The name Sunni comes from the word sunna, which is thought to mean “middle of the road.” • Sunnis are a minority religious population in Iraq, however, they comprise the majority of the world’s Muslim population.
The Caliphs • The first four Caliphs are known as the Rashidun or “rightly guided” Caliphs. They were: • Abu Bakr – supposedly chosen by Muhammad’s companions to • be the Prophet’s successor. • Umar ibn Al Khattab • Uthman ibn ‘Affan • Ali ibn Ali Talib
The Caliphs • Caliph Ali ibn Ali Talib was succeeded by Mu’awiya ibn Abi Sufyan I, the First of the Umayyad Caliphs. The Ummayyad Caliphate extended from 661-750. • The Umayyad Caliphate was succeeded by the Abbasid Caliphate. The Abbasids ruled from 750-1258. • The extent of the Caliph’s rule, varied from time-to-time, however, it extended over much of the modern Middle East. The Abbasids were based in Baghdad.
Sunni Sects: Different “Schools” • There are four recognized schools by the Sunnis. The term for a school in this context is “madhab” and the schools collectively are referred to as the “madhabbib.” • The Hanafi School was founded by Abu Hanifa in the 8th Century in Iraq. • The Maliki School was founded by Malik ibn Anas in the 8th Century in Medina. • The Shafi School was founded by Muhammad ibn Idris Al Shafi, a disciple of Malik ibn Anas, in the 9th Century. • The Hanbali School was founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Da’ud Al Zahiri in the 9th Century in Baghdad.
Sunni Sects: Some Key Terms • The various sects are distinguishable by their interpretation of the Law. • The Law is founded upon both the scripture – the Koran and an understanding of the scripture. • The Hadith – the written records of the Prophet Muhammad’s pronouncements is an integral part of Koranic interpretation. The Hadith may also refer to the written records of the pronouncements of other scholars of Islamic Law. • The Koran and the Hadith do not change. • The Sunna – the understanding of the Law, at any given point in time – changes. • The key interpretation of the Koran and the Hadith comes from the Sharia. • Most Muslims hold Sharia to mean Islamic law. The Sharia, however, is comprised of people – it is a council of “judges.”
Sunni Sects: The Malikis • Malik ibn Anas lived from 716-795. He spent most of his life in Medina. His book al-Muttawa’ is considered to be the first book of Islamic law. He combined a collection of legal decisions with the Prophet’s pronouncements. • Caliph Harun Al-Rashid asked Malik to teach his sons. In response to the Caliph’s request, Malik said, “Knowledge does not travel but is traveled to.” • The Malikis “consider the public good” (istislah) in their interpretation of the law. • The Muslims of West Africa, Northwest Africa, southern Egypt, Sudan, Kuwait and Bahrain are predominantly Malikites.
Sunni Sects: The Shafis • The Shafiites base their understanding of the law in the “four roots of law” (usul al-fiqh). The usul al-fiqh is comprised of the Koran, the Hadith, the ijma (consensus of “qualified” scholars of Islam) and qiyas (analogy). • This school, however, rejects both the Hanafi and Maliki schools. • The Muslims of lower Egypt, southern Arabia, East Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Caucasus are predominantly Shafiites.
Sunni Sects: The Hanbalis • Dr. Ahmad ibn Hanbal lived from 780-855. He is credited (along with Dr. Da’ud Al Zahiri) with founding the most conservative school of Sunni Islam. • The Hanbalites place the Koran above all else in their interpretation of the law. Additionally, both reason and analogy (qiyas) were limited by Hanbal in his teachings. • The succession of Hanbalites has played a critical role in history. Ibn Tamiyya is a well-known Hanbalite scholar who lived from 122-1328. Ibn Tamiyya was in Cairo, when the Baghdad Caliphate was overran by the Mongols. At that time, he declared “takfir” – calling the Mongol rulers unlawful rulers, because while they converted to Islam, the Mongols did not uphold sharia. • In later times, both the Wahhabis and Salafis would use the concept of takfir, in order to justify their violence to establish a state based on the sharia, even in Islamic nations.
Sunni Sub-Sects: Hanbali Roots • Dr. Ahmad ibn Hanbal lived from 780-855. He is credited (along with Dr. Da’ud Al Zahiri) with founding the Hanbalite School, the most conservative school of Sunni Islam. • The Hanbalites place the Koran above all else in their interpretation of the law. Additionally, both reason and analogy (qiyas) were limited by Hanbal in his teachings. • The succession of Hanbalites has played a critical role in history. Ibn Tamiyya is a well-known Hanbalite scholar who lived from 122-1328. Ibn Tamiyya was in Cairo, when the Baghdad Caliphate was overran by the Mongols. At that time, he declared “takfir” – calling the Mongol rulers unlawful rulers, because while they converted to Islam, the Mongols did not uphold sharia. • In later times, both the Wahhabis and Salafis would use the concept of takfir, in order to justify their violence to establish a state based on the sharia, even in Islamic nations.
Sunni Sub-Sects: Ibn Tamiyya Ibn Tamiyya was a medieval Islamic theologian born in1262. He was willing to criticize fellow Muslims and went so far as to declare permissible war against Muslim rulers that did not uphold Sharia (Holy/Islamic Law). He also asserted Takfir (the declaration of an Islamic ruler as an infidel – for not upholding Sharia). Ibn Tamiyya lived in Cairo at the time the Mongols overran the Baghdad Caliphate. Ibn Tamiyya asserted Takfir against the Mongols, because even though the Mongols converted Islam, they incorporated aspects of Mongol law into the government – violating Sharia. Ibn Tamiyya’s writings would be influential in later time to inspire radical groups to engage in violence against all people not adhering to the Sharia.
Sunni Sub-Sects: The Wahhabis • Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab lived in the 18th Century in the Arabian Peninsula. • He fought alongside Muhammad Ibn Saud against the Ottoman Empire and the Hashemites. • Wahhab and Saud spread the Wahhabi version of Islam throughout the Arabian Peninsula. • Wahhabism is a strict from Islamic rooted in the Hanbali School. • Wahhabism maintains that the state and religion are indistinguishable and inseparable. Sharia is the law of the land. • Wahhabism is described as having a symbiotic relationship with the Saudi Royal Family and it is believed that Saudi funding has facilitated the exportation of Wahhabism to other nations. • Wahhabis call themselves Muwahiddum (Unitarians (meaning that they believe in one, indivisible deity)) and view the term “Wahhabi” as derogatory.
Sunni Sub-Sects: The Salafis • Salafi means “early Muslim.” • The Salafis are Sunni Muslims that base their practice of Islam on the teachings of Ibn Tamiyya. • Salafism emerged as a moderate sect that tried to balance Islam with western influences. In the 20th Century, however, Salafism developed into a purist movement urging Muslims to shun the modern world and return to the austerity of the Prophet Muhammad’s times. • For the most part, Salafists view modern states as incompatible with true Islam and advocate militancy to reject secular governments. Additionally, they try to expel all aspects of Western presence.
The Shiites • Shiites believe that Imam Ali and the Imams that followed him were the rightful heirs as the predominant authority in Islam. This belief is rooted in the fact that Ali was a blood-relative of the Prophet and that the Prophet’s descendents were the rightful heirs to Islam. • Many Shiites believe that the 12th Imam Al Mahdi is in hiding and they await his return and re-appearance. • Shiites are the majority religious population in Iraq. • There are more than 165 million Shia Muslims in the world.
The Imams • Ali ibn Abu Talib Al Murthadha was the first Imam. He was a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. Ali’s father was responsible for protecting the Prophet and supposedly raised Muhammad like a son. Ali’s father was also the Sheik of the Banu Hashim Tribe. • The eleven Imams that followed Ali were all descendents of him. They were: • Imam Hasan Mujtaba – son of Ali. • Imam Hussein ibn Ali Al Shaheed – son of Ali. • Imam Ali Zayn Al Abidin (a.k.a. Imam Sajjad) – the only son Imam Hussein to survive. • Imam Muhammad ibn Ali Al Baqir – son of Imam Sajjad. • Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad Al Sadiq – son of Imam Muhammad ibn Ali Al Baqir. • Imam Musa ibn Ja’far Al Khadhim – son of Imam Ja’far. • Imam Ali ibn Musa Al Ridha – son of Imam Musa ibn Ja’far Al Khadhim. • Imam Muhammad ibn Ali Taqi (a.k.a Imam Jawad and Imam ibn Al Rida) – son Imam Ali ibn Musa Al Ridha. • Imam Ali ibn Muhammad Naqi (a.k.a. Imam Hadi) – son of Imam Muhammad ibn Ali Taqi. • Imam Hasan ibn Ali ‘Askari – son of Imam Ali ibn Muhammad Naqi. • Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan Al Mahdi (a.k.a. Al Mahdi) – son of Imam Hasan ibn Ali ‘Askari.
The Imams: The Return of Al Mahdi • Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan Al Mahdi was born in Samarra in A.D. 868. • Imam Al Mahdi lived under his father’s care and tutelage. • Imam Al Mahdi’s life was threatened following the martyrdom of his father. He went into “minor concealment” (ghaybat-I kubra) in A.D. 872. During this time, he appointed persons to represent both him and the people. In A.D. 939, Imam Al Mahdi went into “major concealment” (ghaybat-i-sughra) and this will continue for as long as Allah wills it. • Imam Al Mahdi is supposed to return to save his people when the world is full of sin and injustice. Several Imams prophesized about the Imam Al Mahdi and his re-appearance.
The Imams: Leaders in Conflict • The Imams were in conflict throughout their entire existence and many of them were martyrs. During the time of the Caliphate, the Imams were often in direct conflict with the Caliphs. Several were martyred by the Caliphs. • For hundreds of years, the Shiites were not only in conflict with the Caliphate, but persecuted by the Caliphate as well. • Due to this tradition, there is great friction between the Shiites and the Sunnis. To a certain degree, this history manifests itself today in contemporary Iraqi politics. • Today, the leaders of the mainstream Shiite community are the Ayatollahs.
Shia Sects • Twelvers, a.k.a. the Imami School, a.k.a. the Ja’fariya • Seveners, a.k.a. the Ismailis • Fivers, a.k.a. the Zaydis • The Ibadis, a.k.a. the Kharijites
Shia Sects: The Twelvers • The Twelvers base their beliefs in the fact that the Imamate ended with the Twelfth Imam Al Mahdi, the last Imam descended from Ali. • The writings of Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad Al Sadiq (the Sixth Imam) are the basis for this “school.” • This is the only school that is recognized officially by the Sunni Madhabbib – the Hanafites, Shafites, the Malikites and the Hanbalites. • The Shiites of Iraq, Iran and Syria are predominantly Twelvers. • The majority of the world’s Shiites are Twelvers. • The religious centers of this “school” are Qom, Iran and Najaf, Iraq.
Shia Sects: The Seveners • The Sixth Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad Al Sadiq had two sons: • Imam Musa ibn Ja’far Al Khadhim recognized by the Twelvers as the rightful heir to the Imamate. • Imam Ismai’l recognized by a minority of Shiites as the rightful heir of the Imamate. This belief is premised upon the theory that Ismail, rather than Musa ibn Ja’far Al Khadhim was designated by Imam Ja’far as the next Imam. Due to this the Seveners are also known as the Ismailis. • The Seveners have an esoteric as opposed to literal interpretation of the Koran, as part of their belief system. In part, this is why they have not been recognized as an orthodox school of Islam.
Shia Sects: The Fivers • The Fourth Imam Ali Zayn Al Abidin (a.k.a. Imam Sajjad) had two sons: • Imam Muhammad ibn Ali Al Baqir recognized by the Twelvers and the Seveners as the Fifth Imam. • Imam Zayd recognized by the Fivers as the Fifth Imam. • The Fivers believe that Imam Muhammad ibn Ali Al Baqir was too willing to deal with the Umayyad Caliphate to be recognized as the rightful heir of the Imamate. Zayd led a failed revolt against the Umayyads. Additionally, since there were two sons of Imam Ali Zayn Al Abidin, the people could elect his heir and consequently, Imam Zayd was chosen. • This group is also known as the Zaydis.
Shia Sects: The Ibadis • The Ibadis emerged in modern day Oman, taking also the name of Kharijites. • The Ibadis believed that the Imam should be the chief of the community, but also ought to be the most worthy person to be the chief. If this person was deemed as unworthy, then he could be removed. • Their Imamate lived on Oman until the end of the Ninth Century, when it was suppressed by the Abbasid Caliphate. • The Ibadis existed in secret and elected their Imamate in secret. • The Ibadis believe that the Koran was created, rather than believing that it existed eternally (this is contrary to most Muslim beliefs regarding the Koran). • It is estimated that there are approximately one to two million Ibadis living today. 75% of Oman’s population is considered to be Ibadi. • For the most part, the Ibadis are recognized as a Muslim group by other members of the Muslim community.
Shia Sub-Sects • Qarmatians – named after Hamdan Qarmati (an Ismaeli missionary). They attacked the Abbasids and also carried away the Kaaba from Mecca. The Qarmatians formed an Islamic-socialists state, but are now extinct. • The Nizaris are a group rooted in Ismaeli Shiism. The group was founded by Hassan-i Sabbah. Crusaders knew the Nizaris as hashishiyin (hashish addicts) a term which evolved into “Assassins.” • The Druze are sub-sect of the Ismailis and were founded by the enigmatic Al Hakim. The name is inspired by a Turk named Al Dharazi. An Iranian named Al Hamza, along with Al Dharazi subscribed to the belief that Al Hakim was “God incarnate.” They began missionary work in Lebanon where the Druze still have many followers. • Alawis are Twelvers that believe that Ali is nearly divine. This “extremism” from the Twelver perspective is what makes the Alawis distinct from traditional Twelvers. The Alawis exist in northern Syria and Lebanon. • The Alevis are similar to the Alawis, however, they are ethnically of Turkish descent. Alevis comprise 15-30% of Turkey’s population. • The Ahmadiyya are named after an Indian Muslim named Mirza Ghulam Ahamd who is described as a renewer of Islam seeking the second coming of Jesus, the return Imam Al Mahdi and the last avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. • The Baha’is originated in Iran in the 19th Century. The group was established by Sayyid Mirza Ali Muhammad who claimed to the forerunner of a new Bab (Gate) to God. This belief led to the group being known as Babis. One of Sayyid Mirza Ali Muhammad’s followers was Baha’Ullah for which the group is named. The movement spread to over 220 countries and presently has an estimated 7 million members.
Sufis • Historians describe the Sufis as Islamic mystics. Many of their beliefs are esoteric and based on attaining various levels of or states in their belief and practice. Only through attaining a certain level can one understand their station in life, at that point in time. • Sufis engage in ascetism, self-denial and purgation. • Sufis believe that poverty is pride. • Sufis believe in Tawakkul (absolute trust in God) a Rida (trust and acceptance – a belief in pre-destination). • Sufis love God. • Sufis believe in Baqa (abiding in God). • Sufis believe in Tawhid (unity of God – only God exists). • Sufis believe in tutelage – master-disciple relationship – in Arab lands the Master is referred to as Sheik and in Persian, Turkish and Indian areas the Master is referred to as Pir.
Sufis • There are numerous Sufi orders, including: • The Qadiriyya was founded by Abd Al-Qadir Al Jilani, a Hanbalite jurist that lived in the 12th Century. He is buried in Baghdad. Pilgrims travel to his tomb from all over. The Qadiriyya is the largest Sufi order. • The Rifa’iyya, also known as the Howling Dervishes, was founded by Ahmad ibn Al Rifa’ii in Southern Iraq. It is an off-shoot of the Qadiriyya. • The Shadhiliyya founded by Abu Al Hasan Al Shadhili from Tunisia. • The Suhrawardiyya founded by Abu Al Najib Al Suhrawardi and his nephew Abu Hafs Umar Al Suhrawardi. • The Mevlevi founded by Rumi’s son. It is centered around Rumi’s tomb in Konya, Turkey. The order is known for the “famous Sufi dance.” The Turkish Government banned the order, however, dance performances were permitted for tourists. • The Bektashiyya is named for Jahhi Bektash of Khorasan and emerged in 15th Century Turkey. • The Chistiyya was founded by Mu’inuddin Chisti and it is an Indian off-shoot of the Suhrawardiyya. • The Naqshabandiyya was founded by Baha’uddin Naqshband in Central Asia. It is described as a sober, orthodox and conservative order. • The Badawiyya was found by Ahmad Al Badawi of Morocco. His birthday is a festival celebrated by over 1.5 million people a year (in Egypt). • The Kubrawiyya was found by Najmuddin Kubra in Central Asia and has followers in Turkey and Kashmir. • The Tijaniyya is a relatively new order (founded in the 18th Century). Abu-l-Abbas Ahmad Al Tijani “on command” from Muhammad. Tijaniyya claims that is the only legitimate form of Sufism. It exists mainly in West Africa.
Fringe Groups and Radicals • There are fringe groups that ascribe to certain radical orthodoxies, but are not considered to be terrorists organizations. They are considered to be political organizations and are treated as mainstream political organizations. Two examples are: the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a.k.a. the PLO (a Palestinian political organization that used to be considered a terrorist group) and the Muslim Brotherhood. Presently, the U.S. and the U.N. recognize the PLO as a legitimate, political organization. The Muslim Brotherhood is an international, political organization founded in Egypt in the 1920s by Hassan Al Banna (a teacher). The Muslim Brotherhood is ideologically a Salafist group. • There are radical groups that ascribe to certain radical orthodoxies and are considered to be terrorist organizations. Some noteworthy groups are: Al Quaeda (a Wahhabi / Salafi, Sunni-affiliated group), Ansar Al Islam (a Kurdish and Arab, Al Quaeda-associated group that is Sunni-affiliated), Hamas (a Sunni-affiliated group that is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood) and Hizballah (a radical Shia group).
SUMMARY • Islam is the surrender or submission to Allah, the one true God. • The Prophet Muhammad had Islam revealed to him during his meditations. • The succession of Muhammad gave rise to the emergence of the two primary sects of Islam – the Sunni and the Shia. The Sunnis believe that Abu Bakr and the Caliphs were the rightful heirs of Muhammad, whereas the Shia believe that Imam Ali and the Imams were the rightful heirs of Muhammad. • Islam is one of the largest religions in the world and is considered by many to be the fastest growing of the world’s religions.