What is the basis of Shiite Islam


In Islam, due to different valuation of texts of the Koran and the Sunnah (Texts about the Prophet's way of life) different faiths emerged. The Sunnis make up about 80 to 85% of the believers who Shi'ites about 15%. An essential difference between these two groups is the question of the following of the prophet and the importance of the leader of the community.

The causes of current disagreements between Sunnis and Shiites can be traced back less to religious doctrine than to political reasons. While Sunnis and Shiites maintain contact and cooperation in Europe today, this is currently not possible in Iraq, for example. However, there is agreement that the struggle for valid statements must not lead to discrimination, marginalization or even violence. Enlightened Muslims say that questions of faith can always be argued, but neither disadvantages nor advantages can be derived from different views.


The Sunnis emphasize the importance of the Messenger Muhammad's (Sunna) way of life. They confirm the orthodoxy and legality of the first four caliphs (Arabic: successor, deputy, Islamic title) who led the community of believers after Muhammad's death. Their actions and sayings are of interest to them, but not normative. Leading functions should be taken over by freely chosen personalities regardless of their origin or affiliation.

The management of the community is not tied to any particular type of company. In addition to the caliphate, it can also be a monarchy or leadership by a parliament. This view is held by most, but not all, of the faithful. Decisions have to be made by consensus. Community affairs are a matter of mutual consultation (Quran 42:38), a feature of democratic action. In the biography of the prophet you can read that he not only listened to the advice of his followers, but in many cases also acted on it.

The Sunnis make a clear distinction between the word of God and a prophetic utterance. They ensure that the prophet remains what he said about himself: "I am a person like you, if I judge on the basis of your false statements, the one who says the untruth is responsible for it".

The Sunnis have developed various theological schools. To work out legal questions, they developed legal methods. Today there are still four recognized Sunni law schools. Usually there is a certain predominant school of law in a country, to which most people adhere.


The Shi'ites believe that only a descendant from the house of Prophet Muhammad can be the leader of the Muslim community. According to this opinion, Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law and nephew, should have been the first caliph. He is recognized by the Sunnis as the fourth caliph. Later, an imamate theory developed from this, according to which a word of the imam (leader) has the same weight as a prophetic word.

Belief in the Imam is relevant to salvation for Shi'ites. Some Shi'ite schools do not recognize those who reject it as orthodox. Each imam determines his successor. The last imam lives in what is known as secrecy. So this last imam did not die. He is "raptured" and the believers await his return. Until his return, the community will be represented by elected representatives. A proximity to Christian theologies can be seen in this idea.

The Shi'ites, too, have developed different theological schools and schools of law. They are divided into subgroups, for example Twelve Shiah, Seven Shiah, Zaidites etc. and follow the theological teachings of one or some of the imams.

In addition to these two major directions, there are other communities with their own specific theology, including the Ishmaelites. The Alevis play a special role, as some groups profess Islam while others do not. However, the Muslims among them do not recognize the binding commandments, the Five Pillars, as an obligatory practice of faith.

Islamic mysticism / Sufism

In Islam, mysticism is an important source of knowledge. The Islamic mystics, the so-called Sufis, cannot be assigned to any specific denomination. Such affiliation is of secondary importance to them. Sufism represents a differentiated method of approaching God. In addition to the rites, additional ways of worshiping God, which should lead to the experience of God, are important. This is an internalized, mystical-ascetic path on which the seeker finds God or is absorbed into divine reality.

The five pillars of Islam are not rejected, but are rather in the background. One of the most famous Sufis is Jalal ad-Din-Muhammad Rumi, called Mawlana, our master. He lived in Konya (Turkey) in the 13th century and came from Afghanistan. The spiritual exercise of the dervishes (monks living ascetic) goes back to him, among other things in their sema dance (ecstatic trance dance).

Women were also mystics who also appeared as teachers. Above all, Rabeya from Basra should be mentioned here.

The mystical direction of Islam is not unknown in Europe and is increasingly cultivated. Occasionally such groups also accepted members of other religions, for example Hinduists, into their circle. Sufi orders maintain their own convents. Some also accept women.