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date: 12 April 2024


The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World
Christopher AnzaloneChristopher Anzalone

The Shia coalesced as a distinct movement in the centuries following the death of the prophet Muhammad in 632 and in opposition to the majority of the Muslim community, the Sunnis, over the nature of his succession. Unlike the Sunnis, the Shia believed that political and religious authority should be handed down through a predetermined line of infallible leaders (imams) through the bloodline of Muhammad's son-in-law and cousin ῾Ali (῾Ali ibn Abi Talib) and his wife, Fatima, the Prophet's daughter. Internal divisions within the Shia community over the succession to the fourth imam, ῾Ali Zayn al-᾽Abidin, and the sixth imam, Ja᾽far ibn Muhammad during the seventh and eighth centuries led to the separation of the Isma῾iliyya and Zaydiyya sects from the majority Imamiyya “Twelver” Shia (hereafter referred to as Shii).... ...

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