What’s the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam?

  • Sunni and Shia identities (the 2 main branches of Islam) first formed around a dispute over leadership succession after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 A.D.
  • Sunni is the larger branch (estimated 85-90% of total world Muslim population) and it's adherents are referred to as "people of the tradition of Muhammad", while Shia are "followers" of Muhammad's son-in-law and cousin Ali.
  • Sunnis rely heavily on the practice of the Prophet Muhammad and his teachings, the Shia view their ayatollahs as reflections of God on earth.
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