Unity and Diversity in Islam: The Sunni Shia DividePresentation Transcript
Unity and Diversity The Sunni / Shi’a Divide
Unity in Islam
The Sunni / Shi’a split
“ There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”
“ There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” The shahada
Say, ‘He is God the One, God the eternal. He fathered no one nor was he fathered. No one is comparable to him’ - The Qur’an, Sura 112
= the Muslim community (Watton / Karen Armstrong) = the ‘family’ of Islam (Maqsood) = community, nation (Sarwar)
“ From that unity (tawhid) all other unities flow, including the unity of the whole human population as a single umma under God” - from What Muslims Believe John Bowker, 1995
The Pre Islamic Era: “Jahilyya”
No political organisation (except Yemen)
no law or legal structure
fear of vendetta
Allah = a creator god
‘ The Daughters of Allah’
al-Dahr = Time
“ The old system, with its diffuse network of gods, involved multiple areas of divine sovereignity, with competing claims to sacrifice and cult worship” - D. Pinault, The Shiites , 1992
Muhammad died in 632CE, leaving a thorny problem
What was the problem he left?
How were the four people on your cards involved?
What do you know about them?
= cousin of
The Twelve Imams
Distinctive characteristics of Shi’a Islam
Imam has God-related and God-derived authority. Characterised by ismah (sinlessness and infallibility)
Taqiyah elevated to a guiding principle for the Shi'a: when a government is too powerful to be resisted, a Shiite may have silent resitance in his heart while outwardly supporting it.
Theme of martyrdom (stemming from murder of ‘Ali and Husayn)
Discussion questions: How can diversity in Islam be reconciled with the concept of a single umma? Is the division of religion into sects inevitable? If so, is the aim of religious unity ever a realistic one?