Abstract and Keywords
The center of Shi'a Islam is to be found in three countries where over half the population is identified with the Shi'a branch: Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain. Other countries with significant percentages of Shi'i are Lebanon, Kuwait, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. In addition, three percent of the population of Turkey is Shi'i, and around two percent of India and Saudi Arabia. Of the total world Muslim population of more than 700 million, about 10 percent, adhere to Shi'ism. The Shi'is disagreed with the Sunnis over the issue of succession, and considered Prophet Muhammad's spiritual heritage to devolve on his son-in-law, Ali, and his male descendants through the blood lineage to the prophet provided by Fatima, the prophet's daughter. The debates and dissension over the issue of succession following the prophet's death and the broader question of secular politics were crystallized into three different sects in early Islam. The Kharijis demanded a clear-cut separation of the constitutional question from the religious one. In Shi'ism, on the other hand, the two were intertwined. The Sunnis took the middle line.
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