Religion and Faith

By: Zach, Jeff, CJ, and Josh

Differences Between Sunni and Shiite

Just like Christianity is divided into 2 major sects, so is Islam: The Sunni and the Shia. The split came from an argument directly associated with the death of Muhammad about who his successor would be. The Sunni believe in Abu Bakr who was a direct link to Muhammad and his practices and took over a few times when he was very ill. The Shia believe in Ali ibn Abi Talib who was Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law. They believe in the order of the 4 caliphs. Each leader falls in a different order to each group. Both believe in the Koran but have different hadiths (oral traditions) so their laws end up being different. Both also occupy a majority of the middle east, with the Shias controlling much of Iraq and Iran. Even with the differences, most of the fighting has been caused directly or indirectly by Saddam Hussein, a nominal Sunni.
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How is Islam Integrated into Afghan Culture?

Afghanistan had a fragile cultural identity based on respect of Islam (along with political independence and historical continuity), until it was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979. After the invasion, the national identity crumbled, and Afghanistan’s attempt at unity was fragmented.

Islam is integral to Afghan culture, and it affects the everyday lives of the people:

  • influences the way people dress

  • Limits what can be eaten

  • The law is based on the Qur’an

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Why Can't the Sunni and Shiite Religions Get Along?

It’s obvious that the issue has evolved just as the world and the religion have evolved. The split is now about more than the original differences. The successor of Muhammad is no longer the most important issue to Muslims. This issue was just the catalyst that separated the two groups originally. After this separation, the two sects grew further and further apart, and the split is not as simple as it once was. Sunni parents teach their children that Sunnis are superior and Shia are inferior, and those children grow up to teach their children the same. It’s a sort of inherited intolerance that has been passed down since the two sects separated.

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The Basic Tenets of Islam

The main belief for Islam is that there is one , unique, incomparable God. They believe that there was a chain of prophets with Adam as the first and ending with Muhammad. There are also 5 pillars of Islam, in which every Muslim are supposed to perform. Islam also has a declaration of faith called the shahada which is said a few time a day. Prayer is supposed to be done 5 times a day facing Mecca. All Muslims are supposed to give charity, fast for a month during Ramadan, and go on a pilgrimage to Mecca called hajj.

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