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Shia and Sunni differences

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    Shia and Sunni differences

    The basic disagreement between Shia and Sunni sects is on the question of authority - both religious and temporal.
    After the passing away of the Prophet (pbuh) who has the authority to interpret the Quran and Sunnah and who is responsible for implementing it?

    Sunnis believe that the interpretive authority now belongs to the scholars from the general Islamic community and the authority to implement belongs to a righteous leader from the Islamic community who has the consent of the community.
    Shias believe that the authority belongs to an Imam descended from the family of the Prophet(pbuh) starting from Ali(ra) as the first Imam.

    In practice, over the centuries, this basic disagreement has become less and less significant.

    Firstly after the disappearance (or hiding) of the 12th Imam there has been no present Imam to lead the Shia community (the only exception are small communities like the Ismaili and Bohris who have a present Imam).
    Hence, the de facto leadership has passed to scholars speaking in the name of the Imam, which is not too different from the Sunni practice.

    Secondly, the actual interpretation of Quran and Sunnah practiced by the Shia differs from the Sunni interpretations in only minor ways and is essentially the same in all major ways.

    This is why Shia and Sunni have more or less tolerated each other (even inter-married) throughout Islamic history and there have never been widespread sectarian wars of the kind experienced by Christian sects in pre-modern Europe.

    The current tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia are more a result of hegemonic nationalism than theological differences. What we see in Pakistan are spillover effects of this contest for regional hegemony from which we should do our best to stay away.

    #2
    This is a great topic and I hope and request anyone wishes to comment please do so in the most respectful manner.

    As I mentioned in batameez 's blog I never could fathom why there is so much tension b/w the two sects. Yes I do understand the basic difference but clearly the flames are ignited by only a few so-called scholars from each faction and then everyone starts spitting fire. Thats no good. It just clearly reflects irresponsibility by those involved clerics and/or perhaps some hidden agenda.

    My very early upbringing was in the neighborhood that was a mix of sunni-shias as well as other minorities like christians. The Ismaeli community wasnt that far either and further ahead was the hub of Bohra community. Never I heard any single issue among us locally. My point is, a complete harmony is totally possible. It requires a lot of patience and respect towards each other and thats really not a big thing to ask for!
    Attitude is more important than facts.
    "Life is 10% what happens to us..and 90% of how we react to it"

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      #3
      The differences have been there for about a thousand years, and will remain there for thousands of years. Discussion on those differences are best to be left with non-YouTube scholars for two reasons:

      1- When those scholars discuss something, they stay academic and respectful which is not possible when such discussions are carried out for the gallery.

      2- Those scholars do not gain any worldly benefit from those discussions, so they stay true to the spirit of scholarly debate. For example, a common person may find their own sect very restrictive to some of his desires but see some other sect having a pathway to fulfil those desires so their intentions are corrupt from the get go as they are looking for an excuse to switch.


      Also, there are those geopolitical powers who exploit such differences as described by an Indian intelligence officer here.

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        #4
        Originally posted by SID_NY View Post
        This is a great topic and I hope and request anyone wishes to comment please do so in the most respectful manner.

        As I mentioned in batameez 's blog I never could fathom why there is so much tension b/w the two sects. Yes I do understand the basic difference but clearly the flames are ignited by only a few so-called scholars from each faction and then everyone starts spitting fire. Thats no good. It just clearly reflects irresponsibility by those involved clerics and/or perhaps some hidden agenda.

        My very early upbringing was in the neighborhood that was a mix of sunni-shias as well as other minorities like christians. The Ismaeli community wasnt that far either and further ahead was the hub of Bohra community. Never I heard any single issue among us locally. My point is, a complete harmony is totally possible. It requires a lot of patience and respect towards each other and thats really not a big thing to ask for!
        There have always been extremists in all sects. Even in my younger days when people were mostly living in harmony I did occasionally hear hate speech in private and sometimes in public. It's just that they were ignored and not taken seriously.
        I specifically recall one uncle passionately speaking against shias. All the young cousins laughed at him and thought "What a weirdo". No one is gonna laugh now.

        What has happened is that these haters have received financial and political backing from domestic and foreign sources to promote their hegemonic agendas.

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