Sunni Islam Essay

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The separation of Islam into the two major sects, Sunnism and Shiism, did not happen until much after the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) death. After his death, his loyal companion, Abu Bakr, was appointed as caliph and leader of the Muslim Ummah. There were already people who did not agree with this decision from this early on in history. Many people believed that the Prophet’s direct relative should be next in line to be appointed as leader. However, many people favored Abu Bakr, so there was no big argument. The next in line after Abu Bakr (RA)’s death in 634 was Umar (RA). And before his death, Umar (RA) urged six men to choose the next predecessor. Uthman (RA) was chosen in 644, despite many disagreements. According to some sources, even Ali (RA), the Prophet’s nephew, started to express disapproval of Uthman’s reign. Many Muslims thought he was corrupt and ineffective. Some sources say Ali (RA) and his followers formed their own party of dissent called the Shia, which was the beginning the rift between Sunnis and Shias. Muawiya, Uthman’s cousin, wanted to avenge his cousin after Uthman’s death. However, Ali (RA) wanted no bloodshed because he had his own governance located in present-day Kufa, Iraq. Eventually, Muawiya gained more supporters, while Ali (RA) lost supporters. Ali (RA) lost his support, his caliphate, and eventually his life to Kharijites, who assassinated Ali (RA). Kharijites were thought to be the first the sect of Islam, who opposed many of the caliphate’s governance. After the death of Ali (RA), Muawiya and the Umayyad caliphate wanted more power, so they signed a peace treaty with his son Hasan, who lived from 625-670. After Muawiya’s death, his son Yazid came into power. Yazid tried to force Husayn, Hasan’s brother, to give his allegiance to the mayor of Medina, but Husayn refused, an act that ignited multiple opposing movements against Yazid.

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