Comparison Between the Sunnis and Shiites

Better Essays
A Comparison Between the Sunnis and Shiites

Have you ever wondered about other religions that are out there and why they are out there? I have and that is why I chose to write my paper on the Sunnis and Shiites. Read on to learn more about a brief history and then I will break each of them into separate religions.

In books written on Islam the word "hadith" usually refers to the sayings or "traditions" which have been given from the Prophet. Muslims hold these to be the most important source of Islamic teachings after the Qur’an. A lot of books have been written in English about what the hadith means in Islam and a number of important translations have been made. Almost all the studies have been limited to the point of view of Sunni Islam and based on Sunni sources and collections. Practically no one has ever paid any attention to the different nature of the hadith literature in Shiism and the different sources from which the hadiths are recieved.

The main difference to be made between Shiite and Sunni hadiths is that in Shiism the traditions are not limited to those of the Prophet, but include those of the Imams as well. I will explain more of the distinctions later on. The difference between the two religions is still hard to distinguish even with easy to understand books like the Encyclopedia of World Faiths. There, the author of the article is aware that there is some difference between Shiism and Sunnism on the question of which hadiths are included, but he thinks that it lies in the fact that the Shiite collections accept "only traditions traced through 'Ali's family." But this is incorrect, since a lot of traditions are also gotten through other sources. What the author fails to mention is that the hadith literature as understood by Shiites is not limited to the sayings of the Prophet, but includes those of the Imams as well.

The most famous and reliable collections of Shiite hadiths are four books. These books relate to the Six Correct Collections in Sunni Islam. These are al-Kafi fi 'ilm al-din (The Sufficient in the Knowledge of Religion) by Thiqat al-Islam Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni (d. 329/940), Man la yahduruhu al-faqih (For him not in the Presence of Jurisprudent) of Shaykh al-Saduq Muhammad ibn Babuyah al-Qummi (d. 381/991), Tahdhib al-ahkam (Rectification of the Statutes) by Shaykh al-Ta'ifah Muhammad al-Tusi (d. 460/ 1068) a...

... middle of paper ...

...egarding the holding of spiritual and political authority remained strong even after the end of the Caliphate itself in the 13th century.

The Sunnites’ strongest belief has an emphasis on the views and customs of the majority of the community, as distinguished from the views of other groups. The Sunnites compromised by allowing the other groups to bring their beliefs and customs that had nothing to do with the Qur’an.

The Sunnites recognize the six "authentic" books of the Hadith, which contain the spoken tradition attributed to Muhammad. In the 20th century the Sunnites constituted the majority of Muslims in all nations except Iran, Iraq, and perhaps Yemen. They numbered about 900 million in the late 20th century and made up nine-tenths of all the followers of Islam.

In conclusion I would like to comment on a couple of things. First of all the Shiism makes up 10 percent and Sunnism makes up the other 90 percent of the Muslim religion. Second of all the Shiites and Sunnis both are closely related, but have many differences. The two religions are both very complicated and difficult to understand. I hope after reading this paper you have learned a little more about both.
Get Access