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What are the Differences Between the Sunni and Shia Sects of Islam?

S. Mithra
S. Mithra

The actual differences between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam will probably not seem as dramatic as many non-Muslims presume. There are notable variations in the ways they view their religious leaders and attach meaning to the history of Muhammad's family, however. Cultural and political differences make up the most divisive issues separating the two groups today.

Origins of the Sunni - Shia Split

Time of day plays an important part in determining the timing of prayer for Sunni and Shia Muslims.
Time of day plays an important part in determining the timing of prayer for Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The split between these two significant sects of Islam can be traced back to the time soon after Muhammad's death in the year 632, and centered on who would succeed the Prophet and become the first Caliph, or leader. A friend and advisor of Muhammad, Abu Bakr, was eventually selected to fulfill this role. Those who accept this decision call themselves Sunni. This group makes up the more traditional, or orthodox, form of the religion.

Sunnis and Shias read the Q'uran.
Sunnis and Shias read the Q'uran.

Some refused to follow Abu Bakr, however, and believed that another man, Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali, was Muhammad's true choice to be first the Caliph. The term, "Shia," is a sort of abbreviated version of the Arabic Shiat Ali, which means, "followers of Ali." The Shiites regarded him as the first in a series of Imams, or high clerics, who were direct descendants of Muhammad and acted as messengers of God. There were 12 Imams before the bloodline died out in the 800s. Each now has sub-sects devoted to his worship within Shia Islam.


The Sunni and Shia sects recognize different texts as part of the haddith.
The Sunni and Shia sects recognize different texts as part of the haddith.

The majority of practicing Muslims today are Sunni; Shiites, by comparison, comprise between 10% and 20% of the world's Muslims. While this makes them the second largest Islamic sect, in certain countries, such as Iran and Iraq, Shiites are the majority. Other denominations also exist — including the Sufis, Ahmadis, and others — but make up much smaller portions of the total Islamic population.

Differences in Religious Leadership

In Iran and Iraq, Shiites are the majority Islamic sect.
In Iran and Iraq, Shiites are the majority Islamic sect.

One of the major contrasts between the Sunni and Shia sects involves religious leadership. Shiites believe that God directly selects their Imams. These high clerics wield significant political authority that often extends across national borders. Sunni Muslims, on the other hand, do not attach any special power to the clergy, and their religious leaders tend not to concern themselves as much with expansive political roles. Instead, they tend to take on more of a localized teaching role.

Differences in Modern Day Practices

Shiites are the majority Islamic sect in Iran.
Shiites are the majority Islamic sect in Iran.

Sunni and Shiite Muslims are summoned to prayer each day by different calls, and practice certain rituals in different ways. Worship practices also differ in terms of the scriptures, or hadith, that are acceptable to them. While Shiites generally only recognize hadith that are attributed to Muhammad's immediate family or to followers of Ali, Sunni Muslims take a broader view, and consider all hadith to be valid.

Shiites place a greater emphasis on the torment of martyrdom suffered by the Imams, and voluntarily submit themselves to physical pain in order to sympathize with them. They also frequently combine the five daily prayers into three or four, especially if they work long hours, and do not consider this to indicate a lesser amount of devotion. Sunnis typically disagree with both practices, and place a higher priority on strict adherence to orthodox practices. Another area of contention is that Shiites accept and permit men to establish temporary marriages, known as mutah. Though Sunnis historically accepted these as well, they abolished the practice long ago.

Cultural and Political Divisions

The modern geo-political situation has amplified the differences between the two sects, and in turn has increased tensions between them. As Islam spread to countries around the world, some individual Muslim nations have tended to embrace one denomination over the other. This means that the denomination often becomes a part of the national identity and culture of the country, sometimes resulting in the oppression of the other sect, as well as both internal and external political tensions.


While conflict hotspots often tend to stand out in the world media, however, they do not inherently represent the state of Islam as a whole. Both sects emphasize the Five Pillars of Islam, read the same Q'uran (Koran), and consider each other to be Muslims. Mosques are by definition, non-denominational, and though individual mosques may be more associated with members of a particular denomination, members of any sect are normally free to pray in any mosque.

Discussion Comments


It's dangerous for final part of this article to assert at the end that both Sunni and Shia consider each other to be Muslims.

Takfiri Wahabbis (al Qaeda, Taleban, Islamic State, al Shahbab, Boko Haram) assert that all Shia must be exterminated.


The truth is simple. Go read the Quran,

(5:55) wilyat of Imam Ali (as)

(5:12) Twelve imams (as)

(33:33) The infallibility of the Ahlul bayt (as)

And in more then 300 ayas in Quran it is mentioned about Ahlul Bayt (as).

And ghadeer ul khum (The Day were imam Ali was chosen by Prophet saws) is in many narrations of the sunni books, Twelve imams are also in all sahih sunni traditions.

In history, there was never ever a chosen one (prophet,messenger) chosen by the people themselves.


For anyone seeking advice: I have deeply studied Shia (or more correctly: Shia-e-Ali, Group of Ali) and Sunni perspectives. The period of my study spans over 11 years. In fact, I have enough material to write volumes of books on the subject. But for those seeking advice, Shias and Sunnis should never intermarry (although they can). There is a huge difference in beliefs between Shias and Sunnis and it will definitely cause major issues in life and for any children.

There is a lot of fabrication involved in the Shia concept of what happened at Prophet Muhammad’s funeral. The Shia-e-Ali concept of Imamat is also very contradictory. I discovered that every major concept and principle of Islam (like Prophethood, prayer, justice, fasting, hajj, zakat and jihad) has been clearly elaborated on in the Quran in several instances. It is not the Quran's style to refer anything indirectly or vaguely. The Quran even clearly speaks on small things. But the Quran does not speak about the concept of Imamat, that there will be Imams after the Prophet chosen by Allah and that you must obey them. Shia scholars go to a lot of effort to justify themselves through the Quran, but it’s not convincing at all. It just doesn't fit with the style and flow of how everything else is.

I also discovered that Shias claim to be a group of Ali, but they actually don't follow the Caliph Ali, who was also a companion of the Prophet. I also discovered that Mutah (temporary marriage) was banned by the Prophet of Islam for good. As I said, I could write volumes, but everything is already there. I advise everyone seeking the truth to dig deep and study both Shia and Sunni sacred beliefs and sources. It will take you time but you will find the truth.

Lastly, when I discovered that the Prophet Muhammad has us told to follow the majority, I accepted Islam and became a Muslim. Shias now call me Sunni.


The whole purpose of this post is to make conflict. Please brothers and sisters do not fall victim to this post. We sunnis and shias represent Islam, the truth, a single unified message in this world of full of lies and bigots.


This is an answer to my sister, anon257237 - Post 39. You are obviously a very young girl who has made a mistake. You have to remember God is very forgiving and kind. You repeat the word, Ar-rahman ir-Rahim, when you conduct your daily prayer (hopefully). You are not a bad person. Ask for God's forgiveness and do not repeat the sin. Do not harm your child and seek help. If there is anything I can do for you please let me know. God be with you and your child.


I am Sunni by birth, but I like the way Shia loves Hussain, and I love wahabi and how they are more curious. I love Sunni and how they love the prophet Mohammad. I hope everyone just takes good points from Sunni, Shia and Wahabi. Please forget the differences as it will lead to destruction. The prophet Mohammad said all Muslims are brothers, so just believe this. Sunni, Shia and Wahabi all are good.


I must say I am Shia and am married to a Sunni boy and we have had peace for 10 years, with no forcing to change either of us, but now my older son is at a good age to understand little differences we have in praying and fasting. He asked us about it, and my husband couldn't reply and I as a mother, told my child that the difference is your father follows the Prophet and his friends, i.e., Sahaba and I, his mother, follows the Prophet and his family, i.e., AhlulBayt, to which my 7 year old said daddy, you're wrong. We should all follow the Prophet and his family.


Shias, or at least their learned ones who know what they are doing, are not Muslims. You may not include some ignorant/unaware masses in that simply because of their ignorance. If you really want to know who is on the right path, study the teachings of the sunnah and that of the Shia and see for yourself. The two are like night and day.

And for all you who want to marry a Shi'i, remember to read the above. A Muslim is not allowed to marry a non Muslim, except for a man marrying a woman from the people of the book (Christians and Jews). Polytheists or mushrikiin are included, and not allowed.

And for the record, no one considers Ahmadis Muslim.


Brother, the truth with regards to the sahaba is quite clear. I have one question to anyone who wants to find the truth: Did the Prophet appoint a successor while he was alive? If so, who did he appoint? And, if he didn't appoint

a successor, why did Abu Bakr assume the position of successor?

It is very clear in all the "Sahih" how Omar and Abu bakr, after the death of the prophet, were not interested in the burial of the prophet, but rather in how they could plan their coup d etat. While Imam Ali was busy with the burial and washing of the prophets body, the other two were at saqifa taking the khalifa, which was just about to be usurped by the Aws and Khazraj, two tribes of the Ansar.


My parents were both from different sects, my father being Shia and my mother being Sunni. They've had five children as Allah willed, and their sects have never been an issue. I've grown up Shia and eventually my mother converted to Shiism, upon her own research; my father never forced it upon her. It's up to the individual couple themselves to work things out between and Allah willing, they should work. By marrying someone 'different' to you, you should be prepared to make compromises. It's only sensible.


The worst thing is not a shia or sunni. It is the individual person. People these days sin, hide themselves and blame others. It's a common habit. Have fun spying. It only gets worse and worse.


I am a shiite girl and I have had sexual intercourse with a Sunni boy.

I used to love him and I thought I would marry him, but we had an argument and we broke up. Now I'm pregnant with his baby, and I don't know whether I should keep the baby or not, or even whether to tell anyone. I really need some help.

I regret everything and I know God hates me right now and if I die I will go straight to hell.

What do I do? I'm a really bad person! Also shall I carry on beating myself while pregnant?


How can a Sunni and a Shia get married? I mean what kind of ceremony is valid. Can somebody describe the Nikah ceremony please? Thank you.


Can a Sunni marry a Shi'i am a Sunni muslim, and my sister's husband is aSia. Based on my information from great scholars, a Sunni can marry a shia as long as that shia person is not a Rafizi. This is a group of shias that they believe and says openly that Abu Baker, Omar and Osman and virtually all Sahaba (R) became Murtads, or non-believers, and all of them abused Ali (R).

They (Rafizi or Rawafiz)as they are called also, say very, very bad things about our Mother Ayesha, the Aisha, the beloved wife of our beloved Prophet (S), the Ayesha that Allah has declared her chastity in Quran in Surat Noor. Now, if a person thinks that Abu Baker, Omar and other Sahaba became Murtads, non-believer and are not people of paradise, which Rawafiz do, such a person is rejecting word of Allah who says in Surat Fatiha, I am pleased with those who did Bai'a with you under the tree. This is a translation of the Aya in my not so good english. Check it for yourself.

And Allah declares in other Eyes too that He is pleased with Sahaba, and Abu Baker, Omar, Osman are among them. so such a person is not a muslim anymore. And I read some posts that says Imams are chosen by Allah, but this claim is pure fabrication and has no Quranic or Hadith basis. And I know that some Shia Mullah recite the Quran and translate it wrong to people.

Rawafiz also deny that Prophet (S) had four daughters. Shias say he had one daughter, Fatima (R) while the Quran says, in a surah regarding hijab. "O Mohammad tell your wives and daughters and Nesta (wife/daughter) of believers to..." the word daughter in this area is plural and yet they deny it. I have a lot of information about their system of belief that is beyond the scope of this writing to explain.

So to make it short, if a shia believes that the sahaba became non believers, remember this is not just a difference of opinion about who was supposed to become leader after Prophet (S), tjem such person is not a muslim and a Muslim girl should not marry him. This is what I have heard from scholars. Thanks.


I am a muslim my family is muslim.

I believe that shia islam is the right path. There is no god except allah and the prophet is the last messenger and imam ali is a khalifa declared by god and announced by prophet.

As per my knowledge, all the ahle baith are shias. The Prophet, bibi fatima, imam ali-imam hasan, imam hussain and all other prophets also were shias. There was no sunnis in this world.

After the death of the prophet, people fought for leadership and the three laanathees were captured the khilafat by hazrat ali. Those are Umar, Abubakar and Usman. These are the three lea nantes who made islam to divide in two groups.


There's too many ignorant statements here from people who lack knowledge on Islam and Shia. A sunni and shia can marry each other since they both believe in one God, the same Quran, the same prophet.

The only difference is that after the Prophet the sunnis believe that a handful of people can choose their own leaders, but the shia believe only Allah can choose leaders, caliphs/imams after the Prophet.

Just for the forum's information, all sunni scholars over history have said that the shia imams were the most knowledgeable people of their time, e.g., both Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Malik said they have never seen anyone more knowledgeable than Imam Jafar Sadiq.


The bloodline of the imams never died out; they have descendants all over the world. The Imamamate didn't end because of an extinction of the bloodlines; there were simply no new Imams appointed by God after the twelve that had been foretold by the Prophet (pbuh).

Did you know that the world "Imam" appears twelve times in the Koran? The Imams are believed to be infallible by the Shia in terms of character. They are divinely guided, however they are still human. They are not worshiped as gods. For further information on the Imams, look up their sayings and read about their lives. They're like a line of ultimate zen masters. When you examine the history and the ways that they lived their lives, you will see portraits of what it truly means to be human.

The Shia believe that the Quran has within its folds complete knowledge, and it is the truth. They also believe that a Muslim should live their life with the Prophet Muhammed as their example and role model. The problem is that, after the death of the prophet, there was a power struggle and many of his sayings and stories about him were destroyed (this is in both Sunni and Shia books). It was even strictly forbidden by the new caliphs to talk about the prophet's sayings and stories attributed to him. Much later, the sayings of the prophet were compiled and often manufactured by the Sunni-run state. (Of course manufacturing of sayings, or "hadiths" goes on on both sides). Therefore, there is a lot of uncertainty concerning what the prophet really said about certain things (although, again, the Quran is the seat of knowledge). This is where the Imams come in.

It is said that (essentially) the "Quran is the word of God, and that the Imams are the gateway." The Imams, who are, of course, the family of the prophet, were in the business of spreading only truth to the masses in an effort to maintain balance and light in the religion of Islam that had been hijacked by these caliphs. In this way, the Quran would be interpreted correctly and the art of living as an good and honest member of society would become clear.

The Shia also believe that the caliphate was stolen from the Imams after the prophet's death by several of his companions. Specifically, the caliphate was stolen from Imam Ali, a man who is praised by many figures throughout history and in modern times across religious and cultural boundaries, including non-Muslim figures such as Nelson Mandela, Thomas Carlyle (Scottish historian) and John Carlos (Bolivian writer). If you are doing research to determine for yourself the correct path of Islam, look deeply at both sides of the coin, and watch out for fallacies in the reasoning of both sides. There is a lot of name-calling and a lot of misinformed lying. But study the texts and don't settle until you know for sure. Good luck on your journey.


I am a sunni girl and I love a shia boy (jaffari). He is a very nice guy and it doesn't matter to him that I'm a sunni, because he says the great thing is that we are both muslims,and believe in Allah and the Quran. I want to confirm that this is marriage and is allowed in islam? Please help me to resolve this problem, as we have been in a relationship for the last three years.


First off I would like to congratulate you on falling for someone especially someone who is just a muslim as yourself.

Secondly, I would like to also inform you that this shia or shias in general where everyone looks at them from an evil eye are just as muslim as every one of you are. They are followers of Allah. They believe in one god Allah and follow the Quran. We do not believe that the ten saparas were eaten by a goat. We do have difference in prayer yet again pray to the same God.

Secondly, originally we all started from one sect and only because of the fight for power and land were divided. Everyone look at your history before you point fingers. Moharram is done for sympathy of our prophet Mohammed which I believe is the prophet for all muslims. Secondly we additionally do add prophet P.B. H and his followers.

I give a standing ovation for those muslims who are so in love with islam to feel the pain that our prophet and his followers felt. It's better than people saying jihad is a holy war and bombing around. So in my opinion, I believe just watching and guessing about these things won't do you or anyone any good. Ask Shias around you before you start saying false accusations. Learn the shia rules and learn whether you are right in accusing shias negatively.

Secondly, If i were you I would go to an Imam Bargah and sit and see whether you will be comfortable in that nature. If you are OK with what he does with his religious belief, read about it and see if you are open to agreeing with him or at least a bit with him.

We cannot decide for you. This is all in your hands, but it is pointless to take advice here from people who may not have as much knowledge as you need to form an opinion, so I would do my personal research on Shia Islam and talk to him and allow him to explain his knowledge. May Allah give you two many blessings.


i have a question: i am a muslim sunni girl and i am in love with a muslim shia. Can i get married to him according to islam?


avoid religion and you avoid conflict.


i have a question for scholars of din. i am a girl and belong to sunni family. the person i love and want to marry to belongs to a shia family and is a deep observer and follower of shia. In Islam, should I get married to that person where there is a great threat that after marriage i or my children may be forced to follow the same sect?


i am sunni but i have many friends who are shia.

shia has their own different kalimah. they believe that they were 40 paras of quran (naudhobilla) and goat ate 10 paras of it.

in muharram they hurt themselves, wear black clothes and woman don't do any makeup, don't make new clothes, don't wear anything which makes then look beautiful. as muslims, we all go to masjid, but she goes to a place which is called imam bargah.

this shows a lot of differences between shia and sunni.


I married a shia boy because i loved him and we got married. but after that my life has turned hell because i am against what they do, like the knifing and beating their chests. we fight all the time about me being sunni and him being shia. it's very difficult to adjust with someone with a totally different madhab.

at first i didn't know much but now that i found out everything it's hard and especially if you have a child involved, because i have a son and i want him to be sunni but my husband wants him to be shia like him and do what they do, but i won't allow my child to knife himself or beat his chest.

Be careful, and think about it hard before you decide to marry a shia if you're a sunni.


I would just like to clear the fact that Imams are not the same as Saints. Shia do not worship Imams; they seek their guidance and respect them.


It is simple: It is forbidden in Islam to worship "saints". The Shia regard their "12 Imams" as saints, and worship them as saints.

Conclusion: Shias are not Muslims.

No further proof or discussion need. Cheers.


We are brothers. There are no major differences between us.


i think we all should unite into one just big religion and not have all of these different sects of Islam.


I am married to a Sunni girl and there have never been any issues. It's the practically the same and differences are close to none. This should never be an issue


i also have the same question that should a sunni girl marry to shia? i have visited a couple of websites about this issue. according to some scholars they stated that the differences between sunni and shia sufis are useless, until and unless they have the beliefs that God is one and Prophet Mohammad is the last prophet of Allah, and on the other site, the scholar stated that it's invalid to mary a sunni girl to shia.

There is some information on the web which is against sufism, but at the same time the info about sufism seems to be like that this is the only religion or sect which is true. Why this is so? Why is there loads of confusion between both the sects? I guess this issue will be unresolved until the day of judgment, because if we go through about both the sects, it's really difficult to differentiate between them.

i have found shia people very informative about Islam. In fact, sunnis are not as aware as Shias are. Shias state every fact with logical information.

It is really difficult to differentiate between sunni and shia.

i have studied the middle east and my teacher discussed about iran and iraq. They used to say that these differences are just a propaganda but political parties. It's just a sect and shias are syed are like sunnis. Differences can't make them not muslims. In fact, my teacher is sunni and he an the expert on the middle east.

how one can choose that what sect is right what sect is wrong? Every sect has their own beliefs. Both sects thank Allah for whatever Allah has given to them. Allah is so merciful, so how can He punish those people who give thanks to Him for every thing He has given or believe Him that Allah is the only God?


We Muslims should and have to unite to fight against falsehood and become a ummah and it also states in the holy quran the true world of Allah that the muslims of the world should unite and not be divided.


I'm a sunni boy and i love a shia girl. we have been in a very good relationship since we met and now when when we chose to marry each other, her parents don't accept me as only for one reason that I'm sunni, even though i meet every requirement for marriage.

I just want to know why is this separation of sect between shia and sunni considered to be a problem when both of them are muslims. why are people of both groups considering each other as a people of another religion even though both are prophet muhammad P.B.U.H ummah


For article 13, at the end you said "why can't you believe?" why can't we believe what?


Dear Brothers and Sisters, I like to welcome all of you with Islamic greetings Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu. I would like to address this issue in light of the quran. The question was can a Sunni Boy marry a shia girl?

Since most of the people who doesn't do studies on quran and Islam most of them doesn't know what is the concept of Islam.

The main belief of true Muslim should be "Laa Ilaaha Illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah" There is no other God But Allah and Muhammad SAW (PBUH) is the messenger of Allah. People who reject this are not considered as Muslims whether they are Shia or Sunni.

Question: Do the Shia accept Prophet Muhammad SAW (PBUH) as the messenger of Allah? Find the answer by yourselves so you will find what quran says about those who are non believers.

OK, Let's come to the question Brother. Yes of course you can marry a Shia girl but she should accept the kalima which I mentioned earlier: "There is no other God but Allah and Prophet Muhammad SAW (PBUH) is his messenger. Hope I answered your question.

Apart from that I would like to ask our Shia brothers and and sisters a simple question: if Hazrat Ali RA (PBUH) is a follower and main sahaba of beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW (PBUH) why can't you believe?

Walaikum Salaam Warahmatullahi Wabara Kaauhuhu.


i am a suni boy and i love a shia girl more than my life. Tell me, was Hazrat Alia shia or a suni? Muhammad [S.A.W] a shia or a suni? then why this man made difference? It is separating hearts. can't we be as one unit? should love be sacrificed for these differences? Mohsin, Kasmir, India.


can a shia girl marry a suni boy?


The line of Imams did not "die out" as this article states. Shi'as believe that the 12th Imam is still alive and will arrive at the Day of Judgment.

As for the sunni/shi'a marriage question, I'd suggest not to do it because I have firsthand experience of what it is like to grow up in a divided household. The decision is ultimately yours, though.


Sunnism is more so an exoteric religion. Shiaism is more esoteric. Sunnis worship and copycat Mohammed's physical ways such as when and how he prayed, though the Q'uran doesn't recognize it as law. Shias follow spiritual guidance given by imams succeeding Mohammed and recognize. Both use the Q'uran as a foundation for princples. Faith extracted from the Q'uran is called Islam. However, interpretation of its meanings are debated and thus, further ingrains the division. Both Sunnis and Shias however are traitors to the faith of Islam because Islam means 'peace' and there was no intention for division. There is no way to create division and have peace at the same time. The very separation supports non-unity. To be One with all means respecting and allowing another's faith to be as it is (as long as physical harm is not part of it). There should be no titles such as 'Sunni' or 'Shia'. Even within those religions, most individuals subscribe only partly to its obligatory perceptions of Islam. For example, if every Sunni was surveyed as to their beliefs, no two Sunnis would respond the same in every category altogether. Divisions even in general still invalidate for this reason. The bottom line is that Sunnis and Shias, unless are peaceful in every way, shape and form, are not Islamic. This is a truth most will not accept. Religion anyhow was created only as a test by God. Your reaction or response to religion reveals who you are and how close you are to him. Attaching yourself to religion is a mistake in the first place. Religion isn't the word of God. It's the hearsay of God. Always remember that. If you want to reach God truly, love his people equally. Only self-contribution to others is holy.


Shiites adhere to the teachings of the 12 Imams. This is because the Imams are seen as the chosen ones. But its not due to their belonging of a particular family, i.e. Muhammad(P.B.U.H.F)'s family, that Shias believe the Imams have been given Imamate.

It is because of their virtue, their "Taqwa", that God selected them to be the leaders of believers.

Yet those who opposed Muhammad and disliked his family, when Ali demanded caliphate from them, they argued that Ali wanted to declare Imamate, after Muhammad's prophethood, to be in the Banu Hashim, Muhammad's tribe. So according to them, the immamate and prophethood must be in different tribes, which is illogical, as its for God to chose his Caliphs on earth, which is evident from verse of Quran, that God made Adam His caliph in the earth, so He would make all the caliphs, and it can't be decided according to tribe or family. They might all be from one family, or from different families. In the case of 12 Imams, God chose them from one family, to test the unbelievers, who were exposed immediately after Muhammad's passing away.

The decline of Sunni caliphate eventually, its corruption and consumption, until its ultimate abolishment after WWI, is proof of the weakness of the system by which anyone, regardless of capability or virtue, could be made into a caliph, even if he goes against the will of God.


If a girl is shia syed and a boy is sunni, but not syed and their beliefs are same, is their marriage allowed in Islam??


Shia runs on imamate, "ruling of the imams chosen by God", whereas Sunni runs on caliphate, "ruling of a caliph, a voted leader, chosen by people".

Shiites believe that their imams are infallible, because they are from the chosen family of Mohammad. So in order to be a leader, you must be of Mohammad's descent. A tenure for life.

Sunnis believe that only Mohammad was infallible, because he was not allowed to go wrong by God, which is evident in many verses and even surahs in Koran where God calls out on Mohammad directly for his mistakes (i.e. the surah 80, Abasa "He Frowned", and the chapter 93, Ad-Dhuha, etc.), and none after him was, is and will ever be infallible, because God will not inspire anyone else after Mohammad in that manner anymore. So everyone is the same, from whichever family they may be descending from.

So according to Sunni, whoever the public believes is up to doing the job, is the leader. A tenure for as long as you serve people right. The moment you fail, you are replaced with someone who can keep the flag of justice up.


I have a question. I'm writing an essay on the differences between Shia and Sunni. Could someone please explain more differences?

-Thank You

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