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Sunni and Shia Muslims

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The origin of Jihad dates back to the words and actions of Muhammad and the Quran. The first forms of military Jihad occurred after the fleeing of the Prophet. He was followed by his small group to Medina from Mecca. Muhammad and his followers had all the reason to fight the pagan Meccans. One of the main reasons was because the Muslims had to defend themselves against the attack of the Meccans. Another reason for the Muslim people to fight the pagan Meccans was the fact they had been persecuted and oppressed by the pagans. The Muslims that were unable to flee from Mecca were still oppressed due to their faith. The Quran is referring to being kicked out of your home, and subjected to poverty when it says, "And to those who have been turned out of their homes." The Quraysh opposed the Prophet's mission to spread Islam by means of political persecution. They forced people out of their homes and plotted a plan to kill Saw. Muhammad made clear rules of engagement to his army. If they have the right to use force against the Quaryshy, then they don't have the right to kill women and kids like they were able to do in pre-Islamic wars. They also were not able to take any prisoners, and there could be no quarter given. He stated that Islam is a religion of law, and the law should be followed. For the most part, Muhammad had fair means of war, and wanted to accomplish something very big. He did this all while trying to protect the lives of innocent women and children.

Both Sunni and Shia Muslims share the most fundamental Islamic beliefs and articles of faith. The differences between these two main sub-groups within Islam initially stemmed not from spiritual differences, but political ones. The political differences have grown over the centuries and spiritual differences also became apparent.

The division between the Shia and Sunni people dates back to the death of the Prophet, Muhammad. The problems surfaced when they had different outlooks to who would become the new leader. Sunni Muslims agree with the position taken by many of the Prophet's companions, that the new leader should be elected from among those capable of the job. This is what was done, and the Prophet Muhammad's close friend and advisor, Abu Bakr, became the first Caliph of the Islamic nation. The word "Sunni" in Arabic comes from a word meaning "one who follows the traditions of the Prophet."

The Shia Muslims believe that following the Prophet Muhammad's death, leadership should have passed directly to his cousin/son-in-law, Ali. Throughout history, Shia Muslims have not recognized the authority of elected Muslim leaders, choosing instead to follow a line of Imams which they believe have been appointed by the Prophet Muhammad or God Himself. The word "Shia" in Arabic means a group or supportive party of people. The commonly-known term is shortened from the historical "Shia-t-Ali,"



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