Shia Islam
Shī‘a terms

Shia Islam (Arabic: شيعة‎, Shīʿah) is the second largest denomination of Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī (شيعة علي), meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".[1][2][3][4][5]

Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is based on the teachings of the Islamic holy book, the Qurʻān and the message of the final prophet of Islam,[6] Muhammad.[7] In contrast to other schools of thought, the Shia believe that only the Almighty has the right to choose a representative to safeguard Islam, Qurʻān and Shariah (based upon verses in the Qurʻan which stipulate this according to the Shia).[8][9][10] the Shia believe that these Quranic verses make it clear that only God chooses a viceregent on Earth, therefore no one else has a choice in the matter. This means that God's representatives like Prophets and Imāms cannot be elected by common Muslims, which is why the Shia disown the election and selection of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman ibn Affan by the people, to represent Islam and the Qurʻān. Thus the Shia do not consider Ali to be the fourth Caliph, rather the first Imam. The Shia believe that there are numerous narrations where the prophet selected Ali as his successor.[11][12][13]

the Shia believe that Muhammad's family, the Ahl al-Bayt ("the People of the House"), and certain individuals among his descendants, who are known as infallible Imāms, have special spiritual and political authority over the community and they acquired this authority since God gave it to them just the same way God chose Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, Dawud, 'Isa and other prophets,[6][14] Imams such as the offspring of Abraham[15] and from amongst the Children of Israel[16] as well as kings, such as King Saul.[17] Twelver Muslims further believe that Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, was the first of The Twelve Imams and was the rightful successor to Muhammad and thus reject the legitimacy of the first three caliphs.[18][19] The Grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad, Hasan ibn Ali and Hussein ibn Ali are agreed upon by all Muslims to be the "leaders of all youths in Paradise."[20][21][22] the Shia also believe that these sons of Imam Ali were the true leaders and caliphs of the Muslims.[23][24]

the Shia regard Ali as the second most important figure after Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad suggested on various occasions during his lifetime that Ali should be the leader of Muslims after his demise. According to this view, Ali as the successor of Muhammad not only ruled over the community in justice, but also interpreted the Shariah Law and its esoteric meaning. Hence he was regarded as being free from error and sin (infallible), and appointed by God by divine decree (nass) to be the first Imam.[25] Ali is known as "perfect man" (al-insan al-kamil) similar to Muhammad according to Shia viewpoint.[26] As a result, the Shia favor ahadith attributed to Muhammad and Imāms and credited to the Prophet's family and close associates, in contrast to Sunni traditions where the Sunnah is largely narrated by the Muhammad's companions, whom Sunnis hold to all be trustworthy.[27][28][29] Thus the Qurʻān and Hadith interpretation and differences in Hadith narrators are the main distinction of the Shia.[30]


Exterior view of Imām ‘Alī Mosque

The word Shia (Classical Arabic: شيعة shīʻah /ˈʃiːʕa/) means follower[31] and is the short form of the historic phrase shīʻatu ʻAlī (شيعة علي /ˈʃiːʕatu ˈʕaliː/), meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".[1][3][4][5] The term has widely appeared in Hadith and is repeated four times in the Qur'an;[2] for example verse 37:83 mentions Abraham as a Shia (follower) of Noah (See [10]). Shi'ite, Shiite, Shi'a, and Shiism are alternative terms.


The position of Ali is supported by numerous Hadith, including Hadith of the pond of Khumm, Hadith of the two weighty things, Hadith of the pen and paper, Hadith of the invitation of the close families, and Hadith of the Twelve Successors. In particular, the Hadith of the Cloak is often quoted to illustrate Muhammad's feeling towards Ali and his family by both Sunni and Shia scholars. Therefore, the Shi'a believe that the Family of the Prophet's hadiths are predominant over the others sources.

Although there were several Shia branches through history, nowadays Shi'a Islam is divided into three main branches.[32] The largest Shia sect in the early 21st century is the Ithnā ʿAshariyyah (which constitute approximately 85% of all Shi’i Muslims worldwide),[33] commonly referred to in English as the Twelvers, while smaller branches include the Ismaili (10% of all Shia) and Zaidi (3.5% of all Shia), who dispute the Twelver lineage of Imams and beliefs.[34] Twelvers constitute the majority of the population in Iran(90%),[35] Azerbaijan(75%),[1] Bahrain(70%),[36] Lebanon(65% of Muslims) and Iraq(65%). Zaidiyyah constitute a considerable portion of Yemen(45%). Other countries with a significant proportion of Shia are Syria(15%), Kuwait(35%), Pakistan(20%), India(23% of Muslims), Afghanistan(21%), Saudi Arabia(18%), Turkey(20%), United Arab Emirates(16%), Qatar(15%), Albania(25%). The Shia Islamic faith is vast and inclusive of many different groups.[1] Shia theological beliefs, and religious practise such as prayers slightly differ from the Sunnis. While all Muslims pray 5 times daily, Shi'as have the option of always combining Dhuhr with Asr and Maghrib with Isha, as there are 3 distinct times mentioned in the Qur'an. The Sunnis tend to combine only under certain circumstances.[37][38] Shi'a Islam embodies a completely independent system of religious interpretation and political authority in the Muslim world.[39][40] The Shi'a identity emerged during the lifetime of Muhammad,[41] and Shia theology was formulated in the 2nd century AH, or after Hijra (8th century CE).[42] The first Shi'a governments and societies were established by the end of the 3rd century AH/9th century CE. The 4th century AH /10th century CE has been referred by Louis Massignon 'the Shiite Ismaili century in the history of Islam'.[43]

Whereas Sunnis believe the Mahdi will appear sometime in the future, Twelver Shi’i Muslims believe the Mahdi was already on earth, is currently the "hidden imam" who works through mujtahids to interpret Qur'an; and will return at the end of time.[44]


Succession of Ali

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The Investiture of Ali at Ghadir Khumm (MS Arab 161, fol. 162r, AD 1309/8 Ilkhanid manuscript illustration)

Shī'ah Muslims believe that just as a prophet is appointed by God alone, only God has the prerogative to appoint the successor to his prophet. They believe that God chose 'Alī to be the successor, infallible and divinely chosen. Thus they say that Muhammad, before his death, appointed Ali as his successor.

Ali was Muhammad's first cousin and closest living male relative, as well as his son-in-law, having married his daughter Fatimah.[1][45][46] 'Ali would eventually become the fourth Muslim caliph.[47]

Shi'a Muslims believe that after the last pilgrimage, Muhammad ordered the gathering of Muslims at the pond of Khumm and it was there that Muhammad nominated Ali to be his successor.The Hadith of the pond of Khumm (Arabic: غدير خم‎) refers to the saying (i.e. Hadith) about a historical event of appointment, crucial to Islamic history. This event took place on 18th of Dhu al-Hijjah of 10 AH in the Islamic calendar (March 10, 632 AD) at a place called Ghadir Khumm, which is located near the city of al-Juhfah, Saudi Arabia.[48] Shi'a Muslims believe it to be an appointment of Ali by Muhammad as his successor, while Sunni Muslims believe it to be a simple defense of Ali in the face of unjust criticism.[45]

Shi'a Muslims further believe the wordings of sermon delivered by Muhammad was as follows;

"Oh people! Reflect on the Quran and comprehend its verses. Look into its clear verses and do not follow its ambiguous parts, for by God, none shall be able to explain to you its warnings and its mysteries, nor shall anyone clarify its interpretation, other than the one that I have grasped his hand, brought up beside myself, [and lifted his arm,] the one about whom I inform you that whomever I am his master (Mawla), this Ali is his master (Mawla); and he is Ali Ibn Abi Talib, my brother, the executor of my will (Wasiyyi), whose appointment as your guardian and leader has been sent down to me from God, the mighty and the majestic."[49]

When Muhammad died, 'Ali and Muhammad's closest relatives made the funeral arrangements. While they were preparing his body, Abu Bakr, 'Umar, and Abu 'Ubayda met with the leaders of Medina and elected Abu Bakr as khalifa ("caliph"). 'Ali and his family were dismayed, but accepted the appointment for the sake of unity in the early Muslim community.[45]

It was not until the murder of the third khalifa, 'Uthman, that the Muslims in Medina invited 'Ali to become the fourth khalifa.[45]

While 'Ali was caliph, his capital was in Kufah, in current day Iraq.[50]

'Ali's rule over the early Muslim community was often contested, to the extent that wars were waged against him. As a result, he had to struggle to maintain his power against the groups who broke away after giving him allegiance, or those who wished to take his position. After Ali's murder in 661 CE, his main rival Mu'awiya claimed the caliphate.[51] While the rebels who accused 'Uthman of nepotism affirmed 'Ali's khilafa, they later turned against him and fought him.[45]

'Ali ruled from 656 CE to 661 CE,[45] when he was assassinated.[52] while prostrating (sujud) in prayer. Shī'as add "و عليٌ وليُّ الله" "and Ali is the wali (chosen one) of God" (wa-'Aliyun waliyu l-Lāh), to the adhan and shahada but this is not obligatory.[53] Ali is regarded as the foremost authority on the Tafsir and hadith.[54]


Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq, where Ali is buried.

The Shia regard Hussain as an Imam (which is considered as a divine spiritual leader appointed by God) and a martyr. He is believed to be the third of the Imams from the Ahl al-Bayt which are supposed to succeed Muhammad and that he set out on his path in order to save the religion of Islam and the Islamic nation from annihilation at the hands of Yazid. He is notable for being the only imam following Ali which all Shia branches agree on.[55]

Imamate of the Ahl al-Bayt

A fictional representation of the Sword of Ali, the Zulfiqar, 2 swords were captured from the temple of Pagan polytheist God Manat during the Raid of Sa'd ibn Zaid al-Ashhali. Muhammad gave them to Ali, saying that one of them was Al-Dhulfiqar, which became the famous sword of Ali and a symbol of the Shia Islam[56]

Most of the early Shia as well as Zaydis differed only marginally from mainstream Sunnis in their views on political leadership, but it is possible in this sect to see a refinement of Shīa doctrine. Early Sunnis traditionally held that the political leader must come from the tribe of Muhammad—namely, the Quraysh. The Zaydīs narrowed the political claims of the Ali's supporters, claiming that not just any descendant of 'Alī would be eligible to lead the Muslim community (ummah) but only those males directly descended from Muḥammad through the union of 'Alī and Fāṭimah. But during the Abbasid revolts, other Shīa, who came to be known as imāmiyyah (followers of the Imams), followed the theological school of Ja'far al-Sadiq. They asserted a more exalted religious role for Imams and insisted that, at any given time, whether in power or not, a single male descendant of 'Alī and Fāṭimah was the divinely appointed Imam and the sole authority, in his time, on all matters of faith and law. To those Shīʿites, love of the imams and of their persecuted cause became as important as belief in God's oneness and the mission of Muhammad.[33]

Later most of Shia, including Twelver and Ismaili, became Imami. Imamis Shia believe that Imams are the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad.[33] Imams are human individual who not only rule over the community with justice, but also are able to keep and interpret the Divine Law and its esoteric meaning. Muhammad and Imams' words and deeds are a guide and model for the community to follow; as a result, they must be free from error and sin, and must be chosen by divine decree, or nass, through Muhammad.[57][58]

According to this view, there is always an Imam of the Age, who is the divinely appointed authority on all matters of faith and law in the Muslim community. 'Alī was the first Imam of this line, the rightful successor to Muhammad, followed by male descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah Zahra.[33]

Kalema at Qiblah of the Imam Mustansir Mosque in Cairo, Egypt with phrase "Ali-un-Waliullah"

This difference between following either the Ahl al-Bayt (Muhammad's family and descendants) or the Caliph Abu Bakr has shaped Shia and non-Shia views on some of the Qur'an, the Hadith (narrations from Muhammad) and other areas of Islam. For instance, the collection of Hadith venerated by Shia Muslims is centered on narrations by members of the Ahl al-Bayt and their supporters, while some Hadith by narrators not belonging to or supporting the Ahl al-Bayt are not included (those of Abu Huraira, for example). According to Sunnis, Ali was the fourth successor to Abu Bakr while the Shia maintain that Ali was the first divinely sanctioned "Imam," or successor of Muhammad. The seminal event in Shia history is the martyrdom in 680 CE at the Battle of Karbala of Ali's son Hussein, who led a non-allegiance movement against the defiant caliph (71 of Hussein's followers were killed as well). Hussein came to symbolize resistance to tyranny.

It is believed in Twelver and Ismaili Shī'ah Islam that 'aql, divine wisdom, was the source of the souls of the prophets and imams and gave them esoteric knowledge called ḥikmah and that their sufferings were a means of divine grace to their devotees.[33][59][60] Although the imam was not the recipient of a divine revelation, he had a close relationship with God, through which God guides him, and the Imam in turn guides the people. Imamate, or belief in the divine guide is a fundamental belief in the Twelver and Ismaili Shī'ī branches and is based on the concept that God would not leave humanity without access to divine guidance.[61]

In Shia Islam, there is a third phrase of the Kalema, 'Ali-un-waliullah,' which depicts the importance of the Imamate.[62]

- The fundamental first phrase "La- ilaha-ill-al-lah" is the foundation stone of Islam, the belief that "there is no god but God". This is the confession of "Tauhid".

- The second phrase, "Mohammad-ur –rasul-al-lah," says "Mohammad is God's "Rasul", "Nabi", the Messenger, Apostle". This is the acceptance of the "Nabuwat," or prophethood, of Mohammad.

- According to Shia Islam, Mohammad declared Ali bin Abu Talib as his successor and said that "for whoever I am a 'Moula' of them, Ali is his 'Moula'". Hence, they say the Kalema required further confession of the third phrase "Ali-un- wali-ul-lah," meaning "Ali is his (Mohammad's) "Wali", its care taker, stressing the need that for continuation of faith there is a requirement of Wali, the Imams which are the real care-takers of Islam.

The Kalema-tut-shahadat includes three Islamic teachings, "Tauhid", "Nabuwat" and "Imamate". In this belief, the Nabi, Mohammad and the Imams are so linked together that these cannot be viewed separately. One leads to the other and finally to God, "God", the Almighty.

In one of the Qiblah of Imam Mustansir of the Fatemi era, the masjid of Qahira (Mosque of Ahmed-ibn-tulun), was engraved his name and the phrase "kalema‐tut‐sahadat" (see image), giving specific importance to the third phrase Ali –un‐ wali ‐ ul –lah' hence to the Imamate.


Ismah is the concept of infallibility or "divinely bestowed freedom from error and sin" in Islam.[63] Muslims believe that Muhammad and other prophets in Islam possessed 'iṣmah. Twelver and Ismaili Shī'ah Muslims also attribute the quality to Imāms as well as to Fatima Zahra, daughter of Muhammad, in contrast to the Zaidi, who do not attribute 'ismah to the Imāms.

According to Shī'ah theologians, infallibility is considered a rational necessary precondition for spiritual and religious guidance. They argue that since God has commanded absolute obedience from these figures they must only order that which is right. The state of infallibility is based on the Shī'ah interpretation of the verse of purification.[Quran 33:33][64] Thus they are, the most pure ones, the only immaculate ones preserved from, and immune to, all uncleanness.[65] It does not mean that supernatural powers prevent them from committing a sin, but it is due to the fact that they have an absolute belief in God so that they find themselves in the presence of God.[66] They also have a complete knowledge of God's will. They are in possession of all knowledge brought by the angels to the prophets (nabi) and the messengers (Rasul). Their knowledge encompasses the totality of all times. They thus act without fault in religious matters.[67]


Tawassul (Arabic: توسل‎) is an Islamic religious practice in which a Muslim seeks nearness to God. A rough translation would be: "To draw near to what one seeks after and to approach that which one desires." The exact definition and method of tawassul is a matter of some dispute within the Muslim community.

Muslims who practice tawassul point to the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, as the origin of the practice. Many Muslims believe it is a commandment upon them to "draw near" to God.[68] Amongst Sufi and Barelwi Muslims within Sunni Islam, as well as Twelver Shi'a Muslims, it refers to the act of supplicating to God through a prophet, imam or Sufi saint, whether dead or alive.[69]

The Occultation

The Occultation in Shi'a Islam refers to a belief that the messianic figure, the Mahdi, is an Imam who has disappeared and will one day return alongside Jesus Christ and fill the world with justice. Some Shi'a, such as the Zaidi and Nizari Ismaili, do not believe in the idea of the Occultation. The groups which do believe in it differ upon which lineage of the Imamate is valid, and therefore which individual has gone into occultation. They believe there are many signs that will indicate the time of his return.


Family Tree of 6 Islamic Nabi and Shia Islam

Adam - 1
Nuh (Noah) - 2
Ibrahim (Abraham) - 3
Ismail (Ishmael)
Ishaq (Isaac)
Yaqub (Jacob)
Abdul Muttalib
Isa (Jesus) - 5
Musa (Moses) - 4
Abdullah (died 570 AD)
Abu Talib (died 620 AD)
Muhammad (died 632 AD) - 6
Fatima (died 11 AH)
Ali (died 661 AD)
Hassan (died 669AD)
Hussein (died 680AD)
Shia Islam

Origin of the Shia

According to Encyclopædia Britannica and others,[70] the Shia are believed to have started as a political party and developed into a religious movement, influencing Sunnis and produced a number of important sects.

Early in the history of Islam, the Shīʿites were a political faction (Arabic shīʿat ʿAlī, "party of ʿAlī") that supported the power of ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (the fourth caliph [khalīfah, successor of Muhammad]) and, later, of his descendants.[33]

Hossein Nasr disagrees with this as he writes:

Shi'ism was not brought into existence only by the question of the political succession to Muhammad as so many Western works claim (although this question was of course of great importance). The problem of political succession may be said to be the element that crystallized the Shi'ites into a distinct group, and political suppression in later periods, especially the martyrdom of Imam Husayn-upon whom be peace-only accentuated this tendency of the Shi'ites to see themselves as a separate community within the Islamic world. The principal cause of the coming into being of Shi'ism, however, lies in the fact that this possibility existed within the Islamic revelation itself and so had to be realized. Inasmuch as there were exoteric [Zaheri] and esoteric [Bateni] interpretations from the very beginning, from which developed the schools (madhhab) of the Sharia and Sufism in the Sunni world, there also had to be an interpretation of Islam, which would combine these elements in a single whole. This possibility was realized in Shi'ism, for which the Imam is the person in whom these two aspects of traditional authority are united and in whom the religious life is marked by a sense of tragedy and martyrdom... Hence the question which arose was not so much who should be the successor of Muhammad as what the function and qualifications of such a person would be.[71]


Disagreement broke out over who would succeed Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community. While the Sunnis followed the companions of Muhammad, the Shia followed Ali. This dispute eventually led to the First Fitna, which was the first major civil war within the Islamic Caliphate. The Fitna began as a series of revolts fought against the first Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, caused by the assassination of his political predecessor, Uthman Ibn Affan. It lasted for the entirety of Ali's reign, and its end is marked by Muawiyah's assumption of the caliphate (founding the Umayyad dynasty), and the subsequent recorded peace treaty between him and Hassan ibn Ali.

The Second Fitna was when the first Umayyad Caliph Muawiya I was succeeded upon his death in 680 by his son, Yazid I. Yazid's first opposition came from supporters of Husayn ibn Ali, who was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the son of the former Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, who had been assassinated. Husayn and many of his closest supporters were killed by Yazid's troops at the Battle of Karbala. This battle is often cited as the definitive break between the Shi'a and Sunni sects of Islam, and until this day it has been commemorated each year by Shi'a Muslims on the Day of Ashura.

Fatamid rule (909–1171)

Extent of Shia rule under Fatimids

One of the earliest nations where the rulers were Shia (Ismaili) Muslims was the Fatamid Caliphate which controlled much of North Africa, the Levant, parts of Arabia and Mecca and Medina.

Būyid rule

Extent of Shia rule under Buyids

The founders of the Būyid confederation were 'Alī ibn Būyah and his two younger brothers, al-Hassan and Aḥmad.

Safavid rule (1501–1736)

Extent of Shia rule under Safavid dynasty

A major turning point in Shia history was the Safavid dynasty in Persia.

  • The ending of the relative mutual tolerance between Sunnis and Shiis that existed from the time of the Mongol conquests onwards and the resurgence of antagonism between the two groups.
  • The beginning of the emergence of an independent body of ulama capable of taking a political stand different from the policies of the state.
  • The growth in importance of Iranian centers of religious learning and change from Twelver Shiism being a predominantly Arab phenomenon.[72]
  • The growth of the Akhbari School which preached that only the Qur'an, aḥadīth in deriving verdicts, rejected the use of reasoning.

With the fall of the Safavids, the state in Persia – including the state system of courts with government-appointed judges (qadis) – became much weaker, This gave the Sharia courts of mujtahids an opportunity to fill in the slack and enabled "the ulama to assert their judicial authority." The Usuli School also increased in strength at this time.[73]

Akhbaris versus Usūlīs

After Muhammad, Ali is credited as the first young male to accept Islam

The Akhbari movement "crystalized" as a "separate movement" with the writings of Muhammad Amin al-Astarabadi (died 1627 AD) It rejected the use of reasoning in deriving verdicts, and believed only the Qur'an, aḥadīth, (prophetic sayings and recorded opinions of the Imāms) and consensus should be used as sources to derive verdicts (fatwas). Unlike Usūlīs, Akhbārīs did and do not follow marja's who practice ijtihad.[74]

It achieved its greatest influence in the late Safavid and early post-Safavid era when it dominated Twelver Shi'a Islam.[75] However, shortly thereafter Muhammad Baqir Behbahani (died 1792), along with other Usuli mujtahids, crushed the Akhbari movement.[76] and it remains now in the Shia Muslim world only as a small minority. One result of the resolution of this conflict was the rise in importance of the concept of ijtihad and the position of the mujtahid (as opposed to other ulema) in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It was from this time that the division of the Shia world into mujtahid (those who could follow their own independent judgment) and muqallid (those who had to follow the rulings of a mujtahid) took place. According to author Moojan Momen, "up to the middle of the 19th century there were very few mujtahids (three or four) anywhere at any one time," but "several hundred existed by the end of the 19th century."[77]


"One of the most powerful and influential Shi'i ulama of all time" also preached during this era. Working during the Safavid era, Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, worked diligently to rid Twelver Shi'ism of the influence of Sufiism (which had been closely linked to Shi'ism) and philosophy, and propagate strict adherence to obedience of Islamic law (sharia).[78] Majlisi promoted specifically Shi'i rituals such as mourning for Imam Husayn ibn Ali and visitation (ziyarat) of the tombs of the Imams and Imamzadas; and stressed "the concept of the Imams as mediators and intercessors for man with God."[79]



The Shia majority countries are Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain; all are coloured in red.
Distribution of Sunni and Shia branches of Islam

It is variously estimated that 10–20%[80][81][82][83] of the world's Muslims are Shi'a, while the remaining larger percentage follow Sunni Islam.

"...Shias are about 10-to-15 percent of the entire Muslim world. We don't have accurate statistics because in much of the Middle East it is not convenient to have them, for ruling regimes in particular. But the estimates are that they are about 10-to-15 percent of the Muslim world, which puts them somewhere between 165-to-190 million people....The overwhelming majority of that population lives between Pakistan and Lebanon. Iran always had been a Shia country, the largest one, with about 60 million population. Pakistan is the second-largest Shia country in the world, with about 30 million population. And, potentially, there are as many Shias in India as there are in Iraq.[84][85]
Vali NasrOctober 18, 2006

They may number up to 200 million as of 2009.[81] The Shia majority countries are Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain.[86] They also constitute 36.3% of entire local population and 38.6% of local Muslim population of Middle East.[87]

Shi'a Muslims constitute over 35% of the population in Lebanon,[88] over 45% of the population in Yemen,[89] 20-40% of the population in Kuwait[81][90], over 20% in Turkey,[81][91] 10–20% of the population in Pakistan,[81] and 10-19% of Afghanistan's population.[92][93]

Saudi Arabia hosts a number of distinct Shia communities, including the Twelver Baharna in the Eastern Province, the Nakhawila of Medina, and the Ismaili Sulaymani and Zaidiyyah of Najran. Estimations put the Shiite number of citizen at 2-4 million accounting for roughly 15% of the local population.[94]

Significant Shi'a communities exist on the coastal regions of West Sumatra and Aceh in Indonesia (see Tabuik). The Shi'a presence is negligible elsewhere in Southeast Asia, where Muslims are predominantly Shafi'i Sunnis.

A significant Shi'a minority is present in Nigeria, centered around the state of Kano (see Shia in Nigeria). East Africa holds several populations of Ismaili Shia, primarily descendants of immigrants from South Asia during the colonial period, such as the Khoja.

According to Shi'a Muslims, one of the lingering problems in estimating Shi'a population is that unless Shi'a form a significant minority in a Muslim country, the entire population is often listed as Sunni. The reverse, however, has not held true, which may contribute to imprecise estimates of the size of each sect. For example, the 1926 rise of the House of Saud in Arabia brought official discrimination against Shi'a.[95]

List of nations with Shia population

Figures indicated in the first three columns below are based on the October 2009 demographic study by the Pew Research Center report, Mapping the Global Muslim Population.[81][82]

Nations with over 100,000 Shi'a[81][82]
Country Shi'a population[81][82] Percent of Muslim population that is Shi'a[81][82] Percent of global Shi'a population[81][82] Minimum estimate/claim Maximum estimate/claim
Iran &6600066,000,000 – 70,000,000 90–95 37–40
Pakistan &1700017,000,000 – 26,000,000 10–15 10–15 43,250,000[96] – 57,666,666[97][98]
India &1600016,000,000 – 24,000,000 10–15 &099–14 40,000,000[99] – 50,000,000.[100]
Indonesia &50005,000,000 – 6,000,000 2,77 &033 <7,000,000
Iraq &1900019,000,000 – 22,000,000 65–70 11–12
Turkey &070007,000,000 – 11,000,000 10–15 &044–6
Yemen &080008,000,000 – 10,000,000 35–40 &055
Azerbaijan &050005,000,000 – 7,000,000 65–75 &033–4 85% of total population[101]
Afghanistan &030003,000,000 – 4,000,000 10–15 &01<2 15–19% of total population[92]
Syria &030003,000,000 – 4,000,000 15–20 &01<2
Saudi Arabia &020002,000,000 – 4,000,000 10–15 &011–2
Nigeria &03999<4,000,000 &04<5 &01<2 5-10 million[102]
Lebanon &010001,000,000 – 1,600,000[103] 30-35[104][105][106] &00<1 Estimated, no official census.[107]
Tanzania &01999<2,000,000 &09<10 &00<1
Oman &00100700,000 – 900,000 &055–10 &00<1 948,750[108]
Kuwait &00500500,000 – 700,000 30–35 &00<1 35–40% of total population[90]
Germany &00400400,000 – 600,000 10–15 &00<1
Bahrain &00400400,000 – 500,000 60–70 &00<1
Tajikistan &00400400,000 &077 &00<1
United Arab Emirates &00300300,000 – 400,000 10 &00<1
United States &00200200,000 – 400,000 10–15 &00<1
United Kingdom &00100100,000 – 300,000 10–15 &00<1
Bulgaria &00100100,000 10–15 &00<1
Qatar &00100100,000 10 &00<1


The dispute over the right successor to Muhammad resulted in the formation of two main sects, the Sunni and the Shia. The Sunni, or "followers of the way," followed the caliphate and maintained the premise that any devout Muslim could potentially become the successor to Muhammad if accepted by his peers. The Shia, however, maintain that only the person selected by God and announced by the Prophet could become his successor, thus Ali became the religious authority for the Shia people. Militarily established and holding control over the Umayyad government, many Sunni rulers perceived the Shia as a threat – both to their political and religious authority.[109]

The Sunni rulers under the Umayyads sought to marginalize the Shia minority and later the Abbasids turned on their Shia allies and further imprisoned, persecuted, and killed them. The persecution of the Shia throughout history by Sunni co-religionists has often been characterized by brutal and genocidal acts. Comprising only about 10–15% of the entire Muslim population, to this day, the Shia remain a marginalized community in many Sunni Arab dominant countries without the rights to practice their religion and organize.[110]

At various times Shi'a groups have faced persecution.[111][112][113][114][115][116] In 1514 the Ottoman sultan Selim I ordered the massacre of 40,000 Anatolian Shi’is.[117] According to Jalāl Āl Aḥmad, "Sultan Selim I carried things so far that he announced that the killing of one Shiite had as much otherworldly reward as killing 70 Christians."[118] In 1801 the Al Saud-Wahhabi armies attacked and sacked Karbala, the Shia shrine in eastern Iraq that commemorates the death of Husayn.[119]

In March 2011, the Malaysian government declared the Shia a 'deviant' sect and banned them from promoting their faith to other Muslims, but left them free to practise it themselves.[120]


Shi'a Muslims in Bahrain hitting their chests during the time of Muharram in remembrance of the hardships Imam Hussein went through.

Both Sunni and Shia, celebrate the following annual holidays:

  • Eid ul-Fitr which marks the end of fasting during the month of Ramadan.
  • Eid ul-Adha, which marks the end of the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca

The following days are some of the most important holidays observed by Shia Muslims:

  • Eid al-Ghadeer which is the anniversary of the Ghadir Khum, the occasion when Muhammad announced Ali's Imamate before a multitude of Muslims.[121] Eid al-Ghadeer is held on the 18th of Dhil-Hijjah.
  • The Remembrance of Muharram and Ashurah for Shia commemorates Imam Husain's martyrdom. Imam Husayn was grandson of Muhammad, who was killed by Yazid ibn Muawiyah, Ashurah is a day of deep mourning which occurs on the 10th of Muharram.
  • Arba'een commemorates the suffering of the women and children of Imam Husain's household. After Husayn was killed, they were marched over the desert, from Karbala (central Iraq) to Shaam (Damascus, Syria). Many children (some of whom were direct descendants of Muhammad) died of thirst and exposure along the route. Arba'een occurs on the 20th of Safar, 40 days after Ashurah.
  • Mawlid, Muhammad's birth date. Unlike Sunnis who celebrate 12th of Rabi al-Awwal as Muhammad's birthday, Shia Muslims celebrate the 17th of the month, which also coincides with the birth date of the sixth imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq.[122] After the 1979 Iranian revolution, the week of 12th to 17th was called Shia-Sunni Unity Week.[123]
  • Fatimah's birthday on 20th of Jumada al-Thani. It's also considered as the "Women and Mothers' day".
  • Ali's birthday on 13th of Rajab. It's also considered as the "Men and Fathers' day".
  • Mid-Sha'ban is the birth date of the 12th and final Imam of Twelvers, Muhammad al-Mahdi. It is celebrated by Shi'a Muslims on the 15th of Shaban.
  • Laylat al-Qadr, anniversary of the night of Qur'an's revelation.
  • Al-Mubahila celebrates a meeting between the household of Muhammad and a Christian deputation from Najran. Al-Mubahila is held on the 24th of Dhil-Hijjah.

Holy Sites

Imām Husayn Mosque in Karbalā. Two tall minarets of Al-'Abbās Mosque are also seen in the picture.

Both Shia and Sunni Muslims share a certain veneration and religious obligations towards certain shrines and holy sites, such as Mecca (Masjid al-Haram), Medina (Al-Masjid al-Nabawi) and Jerusalem (Al-Aqsa Mosque). In addition, there are several cities and sites which are highly revered by Shia Muslims. The most significant of these sites are Imam Husayn Shrine and Al Abbas Mosque in Karbala, Imam Ali Mosque and Wadi-us-Salaam cemetery in Najaf, Baqi' cemetery in Medina, Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Kadhimiya Mosque in Kadhimiya, Askari Mosque in Samarra, Sahla Mosque and Kufa Mosque in Kufa and several other sites in the cities of Qom, Susa and Damascus.

Most of the holy Islamic sites in today Saudia have been destroyed by Wahhabis and the Saudi Royal Family, the most notable being the shrines and tombs in the Baqi' cemetery in 1925.[124] In 2006, a bombing resulted in the destruction of the shrine of Askari Mosque.[125]


A tree depicting the branching of Shi'a Islam

The Shia faith throughout its history split over the issue of Imamate. The largest branch are the Twelvers, to which over 85% of Shia belong. The only other surviving branches are the Zaidi and Ismaili. All three groups follow a different line of Imamate.

Twelver Shia believe in the lineage of the Twelve Imams. The Twelver Shia faith is predominantly found in Iran (est. 90%), Azerbaijan (est. 65%), Bahrain (est. 70%), Iraq (est. 60%), Lebanon (est. 24%),[126] Kuwait (est. 33%), Turkey (est. 15%), Albania (est. 10%), Pakistan (est. 10–15%) and Afghanistan (est. 15%).[127][128] The Zaidi Shi'a are predominantly found in Yemen (est. 40%).

The Zaidi dispute the succession of the fifth Twelver Imam, Muhammad al-Baqir, because he did not stage a revolution against the corrupt government, unlike Zaid ibn Ali. They do not believe in a direct lineage, but rather that any descendant of Hasan ibn Ali or Husayn ibn Ali who stages a revolution against a corrupt government is an Imam. The Zaidi are mainly found in Yemen.

The Ismaili dispute the succession of the seventh Imam, Musa al-Kadhim, believing his older brother Isma'il ibn Jafar actually succeeded their father Ja'far al-Sadiq. Ismailis believe that Ja'far al-Ṣādiq thought his son, Ismā'īl ibn Ja'far "al-Mubārak", would be heir to the Imamate. However, Ismā'īl predeceased his father. Some of the Shia claimed Ismā'īl had not died, but rather gone into occultation, but the proto-Ismā'īlī group accepted his death and therefore that his eldest son, Muḥammad ibn Ismā'īl, was now Imām. Muḥammad remained in contact with this "Mubārakiyyah" group, most of whom resided in Kūfah.[129] Ismailis are dominant group in Badakhshan. They form small communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, India, Yemen, China and Saudi Arabia[130] and have several subbranches.


Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim Part of a series on Shī‘ah Islam

The Fourteen Infallibles

Muhammad · Fatimah · and
The Twelve Imams:
Ali · Hasan · Husayn
al-Sajjad · al-Baqir · al-Sadiq
al-Kadhim · al-Rida · al-Taqi
al-Naqi · al-Askari · al-Mahdi


Fourteen Infallibles
Occultation (Minor · Major)
Akhbar · Usul · Ijtihad
Taqleed · 'Aql · Irfan


Judgement Day · Justice
Prophethood · Imamate


Prayer · Fasting · Pilgrimage
Charity · Taxes · Jihad
Command Justice · Forbid Evil
Love the family of Muhammad
Dissociate from their Enemies

Holy cities

Mecca · Medina
Najaf · Karbala · Mashhad
Samarra · Kadhimayn


Usuli · Akhbari · Shaykhi
Nimatullahi · Safaviya
Qizilbash · Alevism · Alawism
Bektashi · Tabarie


Marja · Hawza  · Ayatollah · Allamah
Hojatoleslam · Mujtahid
List of marjas · List of Ayatollahs

Hadith collections

Peak of Eloquence · The Psalms of Islam · Book of Fundamentals · The Book in Scholar's Lieu · Civilization of Laws · The Certainty · Book of Sulaym ibn Qays · Oceans of Light · Wasael ush-Shia · Reality of Certainty · Keys of Paradise

Related topics


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Twelver Shia or the Ithnā'ashariyyah' is the largest branch of Shia Islam, and the term Shia Muslim usually refers to Twelver Shia Muslims only. The term Twelver is derived from the doctrine of believing in twelve divinely ordained leaders, known as The Twelve Imams. Twelver Shia are also known as Imami or Ja'fari, originated from the 6th Imam name, Ja'far Sadiq, who elaborated the twelver jurisprudence.[131]


Twelvers doctorine is based on five principles.[132] These five priciples known as Usul ad-Din are as follow:[133][134]

  1. Monotheism, God is one and unique.
  2. Justice, the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, fairness, and equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics.
  3. Last Judgment, God's final assessment of humanity.
  4. Prophethood, the institution by which God sends emissaries, or prophets, to guide mankind.
  5. Leadership, A divine institution which succeeded the institution of Prophethood. Its appointees (Imams) are divinely appointed.

The Twelve Imams

The Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad for the Twelvers.[33] According to the theology of Twelvers, the successor of Muhammad is an infallible human individual who not only rules over the community with justice, but also is able to keep and interpret the Divine Law and its esoteric meaning. Muhammad and imams' words and deeds are a guide and model for the community to follow; as a result, they must be free from error and sin, and must be chosen by divine decree, or nass, through Muhammad.[58][135] Each Imam was the son of the previous Imam, with the exception of Husayn ibn Ali, who was the brother of Hasan ibn Ali.[33] The twelfth and final Imam is Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is believed by the Twelvers to be currently alive, and in occultation.[61]

List of Twelve Imams

1st Ali 600 - 661 'Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib , also known as Amīru al-Mu'minīn
2nd Hasan 625 – 669 Ḥasan ibn 'Alī , also known as Al-Hasan al-Mujtaba
3rd Husain 626 – 680 Ḥusayn ibn 'Alī , also known as Al-Husayn ash-Shaheed
4th Zayn al-Abidin 658 – 713 'Alī ibn Ḥusayn , also known as Ali Zayn al-'Abideen
5th Muḥammad Baqir 676 – 743 Muḥammad ibn 'Alī , also known as Muhammad al-Bāqir
6th Ja'far Sadiq 703 – 765 Ja'far ibn Muḥammad , also known as Ja'far aṣ-Ṣādiq
7th Musa Kadhim 745 – 799 Mūsá ibn Ja'far , also known as Mūsá al-Kāżim
8th Ali Rida 765 – 818 'Alī ibn Mūsá , also known as Ali ar-Riża
9th Muhammad Taqi 810 – 835 Muḥammad ibn 'Alī , also known as Muḥammad al-Jawad and Muḥammad at-Taqi
10th Ali Hadi 827 – 868 'Alī ibn Muḥammad , also known as Alī al-Ḥādī and ""Alī an-Naqī
11th Hasan Askari 846 – 874 Ḥasan ibn 'Alī , also known as Hasan al Askari
12th Muhammad Mahdi 869 – In occultation Muhammad ibn Ḥasan , also known as al-Hujjat ibn al-Ḥasan, Imām al-Mahdī, Imām al-Aṣr, etc.


The Twelver jurisprudence is called Ja'fari jurisprudence. In this jurisprudence Sunnah is considered to be the oral traditions of Muhammad and their implementation and interpretation by the twleve Imams. There are three schools of Ja'fari jurispudence: Usuli, Akhbari, and Shaykhi. The Usuli school is by far the largest of the three. Twelver groups that do not follow Ja'fari jurisprudence include the Alawi, Alevi, Bektashi, and Ahl-e Haqq.

In Ja'fari jurisprudence, there are ten ancillary pillars, known as Furu' ad-Din, which are as follow:[136]

  1. Prayer
  2. Fasting
  3. Pilgrimage
  4. Alms giving
  5. Struggle
  6. Directing others towards good
  7. Directing others away from evil
  8. Alms giving "(One Fifth) (20% tax on yearly earnings after deduction of house-hold and commercial expenses.)
  9. Love those who are in God's path
  10. Disassociation with those who oppose God

According to Twelvers, defining and interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence is the responsibility of Muhammad and the twelve Imams. As the 12th Imam is in occultation, it's the duty of clerics to refer to the Islamic literature such as Qur'an and Hadith and identify legal decisions within the confines of Islamic law to provide means to deal with current issues from an Islamic perspective. In other words, Twelvers clerics provide Guardianship of the Islamic Jurisprudent, which was defined by Muhammad and his twelve successors. This process is known as Ijtihad and the clerics are known as Marja', meaning reference. The labels Allamah and Ayatollah are in use for Twelvers clerics.


The Ismā'īlī is a branch of Islam is the second largest part of the Shī'ah community after the Twelvers. They get their name from their acceptance of Ismā'īl ibn Ja'far as the divinely appointed spiritual successor (Imām) to Ja'far aṣ-Ṣādiq, wherein they differ from the Twelvers, who accept Mūsà al-Kāzim, younger brother of Ismā'īl, as the true Imām.

After the death or Occultation of Imām Muḥammad ibn Ismā'īl in the 8th century, the teachings of Ismailism further transformed into the belief system as it is known today, with an explicit concentration on the deeper, esoteric meaning (bāṭin) of the faith. With the eventual development of Twelverism into the more literalistic (zahir) oriented Akhbari and later Uṣūlī schools of thought, Shī'ism developed in two separate directions: the metaphorical Ismā'īlī group focusing on the mystical path and nature of God and the divine manifestation in the personage of the "Imam of the Time" as the "Face of God", while the more literalistic Twelver group focusing on divine law (sharī'ah) and the deeds and sayings (sunnah) of Muḥammad and his successors (the Ahlu l-Bayt), who as A'immah were guides and a light to God.[137]

Though there are several sub-groupings within the Ismā'īlīs, the term in today's vernacular generally refers to the Nizārī community who are followers of the Aga Khan and the largest group among the Ismā'īliyyah. Another famous community which falls under the Isma'il's are the Dawoodi Bohra's whose religious leader in Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, while there are many other the branches have extremely differing exterior practices, much of the spiritual theology has remained the same since the days of the faith's early Imāms. In recent centuries Ismā'īlīs have largely been an Indo-Iranian community,[138] but they are found in India, Pakistan, Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia,[139] Yemen, China,[140] Jordan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, East Africa and South Africa, and have in recent years emigrated to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America.[141]

Ismā'īlī Imāms

After the death of Ismā'īlī ibn Ja'far, many Ismā'īlī believed the line of Imāmate ended and that one day the messianic Mahdi, whom they believed to be Muḥammad ibn Ismā'īl, would return and establish an age of justice. One group included the violent Qarmatians, who had a stronghold in Bahrain. In contrast, some Ismā'īlīs believed the Imāmate did continue, and that the Imāms were in hiding and still communicated and taught their followers through a network of du'āt "Missionaries".

In 909, 'Ubaydallāh al-Mahdi bil-Lāh, a claimant to the Ismā'īlī Imāmate, established the Fatimid Empire. During this period, three lineages of Imāms formed. The first branch, known today as the Druze, occurred with the Imām al-Hākim bi-Amrallāh. Born in 386 AH (985), he ascended as ruler at the age of eleven and was feared for his eccentricity and believed insanity. The typical religiously tolerant Fatimid Empire saw much persecution under his reign. When in 411 AH (1021) his mule returned without him, soaked in blood, a religious group that was even forming in his lifetime broke off from mainstream Ismā'īlism and did not acknowledge his successor. Later to be known as the Druze, they believe al-Hākim to be the incarnation of God and the prophecized Mahdi, who would one day return and bring justice to the world.[142] The faith further split from Ismā'īlism as it developed very unusual doctrines which often classes it separately from both Ismā'īliyyah and Islam. The second split occurred following the death of Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah in 487 AH (1094). His rule was the longest of any Caliph in any Islamic empires. Upon his passing away his sons, the older Nizār and the younger al-Musta'lī fought for political and spiritual control of the dynasty. Nizār was defeated and jailed, but according to Nizāri tradition, his son to escaped to Alamut where the Iranian Ismā'īlī had accepted his claim.[143] From here on, the Nizari Ismaili community has continued with a present, living Imam. The Musta'lī line split again between the Taiyabi(Dawoodi Bohra is main exist) and the Ḥāfizī, the former claiming that the 21st Imām Tayyib (son of al-Amīr) and the Imāms following him went into a period of anonymity (Dawr-e-Satr) and appointed a Dā'ī al-Muṭlaq to guide the community, in a similar manner as the Ismā'īlī had lived after the death of Muḥammad ibn Ismā'īl. The latter(Hafizi) claimed that the ruling Fatimid Caliph was the Imām, and they died out with the fall of the Fatimid Empire.


Ismā'īlīs have categorized their practices which are known as seven pillars. They are as follow:

  • Walayah (Guardianship)
  • Shia Shahadah (Shia's Profession of Faith adding references to Ali to differ from Islam's standard Shahadah as testified by the majority of Muslims)[53]
  • Salah (Prayer)
  • Zakah (Charity)
  • Sawm (Fasting)
  • Hajj (Pilgrimage)
  • Jihad (Struggle)

Contemporary leadership

For Nizārīs, there has been less of a scholarly institution because of the existence of a present Imām. The Imām of the Age defines the jurisprudence, and may differ with Imāms previous to him because of different times and circumstances. For Nizari Ismailis the Imam is His Highness Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV. The Nizari line of Imams has continued to this day as an unending line.

Divine leadership has continued in the Bohra branch through the institution of the "Unrestricted Missionary" Dai. According to Bohra tradition, before the last Imām, Ṭayyib Abi l-Qāṣim, went into seclusion, his father, the 20th Imām Mansur al-Amir Bi-Ahkamillah had instructed Queen Al-Hurra Al-Malika in Yemen to appoint a vicegerent after the seclusion – the Unrestricted Missionary, who as the Imām's vicegerent has full authority to govern the community in all matters both spiritual and temporal while the lineage of Musta'ali-Tayyibi Imams remain in seclusion (Dawr-e-Satr). The three branches of the Musta'lī, the Alavi Bohra, Sulaimani Bohra and Dawoodi Bohra, differ on who the current Unrestricted Missionary is.


Zaidiyya, Zaidism or Zaydi is a Shī'a school named after the Imām Zayd ibn ʻAlī. Followers of the Zaidi fiqh are called Zaidis (or occasionally Fivers). However, there is also a group called Zaidi Wasītīs who are Twelvers (see below). Zaidis constitute roughly 40–45% of Yemen.[144]


The Zaydis, Twelvers and Ismailis recognize the same first four Imams, however, the Zaidis recognise Zayd ibn Ali as the fifth. After the time of Zayd ibn Ali, the Zaidis recognized that any descendant of Hasan ibn ʻAlī or Husayn ibn ʻAlī could be Imam after fulfilling certain conditions.[145] Other well known Zaidi Imams in history were Yahya ibn Zayd, Muhammad al-Nafs az-Zakiyah and Ibrahim ibn Abdullah. In matters of Islamic jurisprudence, the Zaydis follow Zayd ibn Ali's teachings which are documented in his book Majmu'l Fiqh (in Arabic: مجموع الفِقه). Imam Yahya al-Rassi, founder of Zaydi state in Yemen, instituted elements of jurisprudential tradition of Sunni Muslim jurist Abu Hanifa, and as a result, Zaydi jurisprudence today continues to somewhat parallel that of the Hanafis.[citation needed]

The Zaidi doctrine of imamah does not presuppose the infallibility of the Imam, nor that the Imams receive divine guidance. Zaidis also do not believe that the Imamate must pass from father to son, but believe it can be held by any Sayyid descended from either Hasan ibn Ali or Husayn ibn Ali (as was the case after the death of Hasan ibn Ali). Historically, Zaidis held that Zayd was the rightful successor of the 4th Imam as he led a rebellion against the Umayyads in protest of their tyranny and corruption. Muhammad al-Baqir did not engage in political action and the followers of Zayd believed that a true Imām must fight against corrupt rulers.[citation needed]


The Idrisids (Arabic: الأدارسة‎) were Arab[146] Zaydi Shia[147][148][149][150][151][152] dynasty in the western Maghreb ruling from 788 to 985 C.E., named after its first sultan, Idriss I.

A Zaydi state was established in Daylaman and Tabaristan (northern Iran) in 864 C.E. by the Alavids;[153] it lasted until the death of its leader at the hand of the Samanids in 928 C.E. Roughly forty years later the state was revived in Gilan (north-western Iran) and survived under Hasanid leaders until 1126 C.E. After which from the 12th-13th centuries, the Zaydis of Daylaman, Gilan and Tabaristan then acknowledge the Zaydi Imams of Yemen or rival Zaydi Imams within Iran.[154]

The Buyids were initially Zaidi[155] as well as the Ukhaidhirite rulers of al-Yamama in the 9th and 10th centuries.[156] The leader of the Zaydi community took the title of Caliph. As such, the ruler of Yemen was known as the Caliph, al-Hadi Yahya bin al-Hussain bin al-Qasim ar-Rassi Rassids (a descendant of Imam Hasan the son of Ali) who, at Sa'da, in 893-7 CE, founded the Zaydi Imamate and this system continued until the middle of the 20th century, when the revolution of 1962 CE that deposed the Zaydi Imam. The founding Zaidism of Yemen was of the Jarudiyya group, however with increasing interaction with Hanafi and Shafi'i rites of Sunni Islam, there was a shift from the Jarudiyya group to the Sulaimaniyya, Tabiriyya, Butriyya or Salihiyya groups.[157] Zaidis form the second dominant religious group in Yemen. Currently, they constitute about 40–45% of the population in Yemen. Ja'faris and Isma'ilis are 2–5%.[158] In Saudi Arabia, it is estimated that there are over 1 million Zaydis (primarily in the western provinces).[citation needed]

Currently the most prominent Zaydi movement is Houthis' movement known by the name of Shabab Al Mu'mineen (Believing Youth) who have been the subject of an ongoing campaign against them by the Yemeni Government in which the army has lost 743 men and thousands of innocent civilians have been killed or displaced by government forces causing a grave humanitarian crisis in north Yemen. Shia Population of the Middle East[159]

See also


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  9. ^ Quran, Chapter: Sad, Verse 26, ”O David! We did indeed make thee a vicegerent on earth”
  10. ^ Quran, Chapter: Al-Qasas, Verse 69, “Thy Lord does create and choose as He pleases: no choice have they (in the matter)”
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  17. ^ Quran, Chapter Al Baqarah, Verses 246 - 251, "And their prophet said to them: Surely God has raised Talut (Saul) to be a king over you. They said: How can he hold kingship over us while we have a greater right to kingship than he, and he has not been granted an abundance of wealth? He said: Surely God has chosen him in preference to you, and He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique, and God grants His kingdom to whom He pleases, and God is Ample-giving, Knowing.
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  • Martin, Richard C.. Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Muslim world; vol.1. MacMillan. ISBN 0-02-865604-0. 
  • Corbin, Henry (1993 (original French 1964)). History of Islamic Philosophy, Translated by Liadain Sherrard, Philip Sherrard. London; Kegan Paul International in association with Islamic Publications for The Institute of Ismaili Studies. ISBN 0710304161. 
  • Dakake, Maria Massi (2008). The Charismatic Community: Shi'ite Identity in Early Islam. SUNY Press. ISBN 0791470334. 
  • Holt, P. M.; Bernard Lewis (1977a). Cambridge History of Islam, Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521291364. 
  • Lapidus, Ira (2002). A History of Islamic Societies (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521779333. 
  • Momen, Moojan (1985). An Introduction to Shi'i Islam: The History and Doctrines of Twelve. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300035314. 
  • Sachedina, Abdulaziz Abdulhussein (1988). The Just Ruler (al-sultān Al-ʻādil) in Shīʻite Islam: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0195119150. 
  • Tabatabaei, Sayyid Mohammad Hosayn; Seyyed Hossein Nasr (translator) (1979). Shi'ite Islam. Suny press. ISBN 0-87395-272-3. 

Further reading

  • Peter J. Chelkowski (ed.), Eternal Performance: Taziyah and Other Shiite Rituals (Salt lake City (UT), Seagull Books, 2010) (Seagull Books - Enactments).
  • Corbin, Henry (1993). History of Islamic Philosophy, translated by Liadain Sherrard and Philip Sherrard. Kegan Paul International in association with Islamic Publications for The Institute of Ismaili Studies. ISBN 0710304161. 
  • Halm, Heinz (2004). Shi'ism. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748618880. 
  • Halm, Heinz (2007). The Shi'ites: A Short History. Markus Wiener Pub. ISBN 1558764372. 
  • Lalani, Arzina R. (2000). Early Shi'i Thought: The Teachings of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1860644341. 
  • Momen, Moojan (1985). An Introduction to Shi'i Islam: The History and Doctrines of Twelver Shi'ism. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300034997. 
  • Shirazi, Sultanu'l-Wa'izin. Peshawar Nights, A Transcript of a Dialogue between Shia and Sunni scholars. Ansariyan Publications. ISBN 978-9644383205. 
  • Nasr, Seyyed Hossein; Hamid Dabashi (1989). Expectation of the Millennium: Shiʻism in History. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-88706-843-X. 
  • Rogerson, Barnaby (2007). The Heirs of Muhammad: Islam's First Century and the Origins of the Sunni Shia split. Overlook Press. ISBN 1585678961. 
  • Wollaston, Arthur N. (2005). The Sunnis and Shias. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1425479162. 
  • Moosa, Matti (1988). Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0815624115. 

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