This paper presents an in-depth and critical analysis of the history of Islam and the major differences between the Shia and Sunni sects (Esposito 97). It does this by focusing on the origin and meaning of the religion and goes ahead to look at the differences between the beliefs hold by the Shia and Sunni and how they have impacted on their relationships.
Islam is a religion that was coined from an Arabic word ‘salema’ which can be interpreted to mean ‘submission, peace or obedience.’ As a monotheistic religion, all Muslims (believers of Islamic faith) are required to submit to the Allah and worship Him as the only God. Meaning, they should submit to His will and always accept to obey His laws because it is the best thing to do by a believer as it can provide peace and fulfillment. Just like any other religion, Islam has a set of doctrines that are contained in a Quran-its main holy book. These were passed through Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).
In terms of teachings, Islam has its unique set of doctrines that all its believers are expected to practice. These fundamental teachings can be summarized into five main pillars: shahadah. sawm. salat. zakat. and hajj. Each of these stipulates requirements that each and every Muslim needs to fulfill as part of their spiritual pursuit. For instance, according to shahadah, each and every believer should not believe in the existence of any other god rather than Allah and His prophet Mohamed (PBUH). On the other hand salat requires believers to say prayers to Allah five times per day. Meanwhile, zakat advocates for the contribution of alms by each and every believer so as to help the poor people who can not afford daily bread. Nonetheless, sawm requires every Muslim believer to perform the ritualistic annual fasting during the holy month of Ramadan (Esposito 91). Last, but not least, hajj, all able Muslim believers need to pay pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life time because it is the holy city of