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Publisher's Summary

"Our followers are of three kinds, one who follows us but depends on others, one who is like a glass involved in his own reflections, but the best are those who are like gold, the more they suffer the more they shine." - Muhammad al-Baqir
Different branches of the same religion are the exception more than the rule, and they have had a profound impact upon history. The schism between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches influenced relationships between nations across Europe, and religious intolerance based on different Christian faiths led to persecution and outright violence across the continent for centuries. The Protestant Reformation split Christianity further, and the results culminated in the incredibly destructive 30 Years' War in the 17th century.
Today, the most important religious split is between the Sunnis and the Shias (Shiites) within Islam. Unlike divisions in other faiths - between Conservative and Orthodox Jews or Catholic and Protestant Christians - the split between the Sunnis and Shia has existed almost as long as the faith itself, and it quickly emerged out of tensions created by the political crisis after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. In a sense, what are now two different forms of Islam essentially started as political factions within the unified body of Muslim believers.
Over the past few centuries, Christians have mostly been able to live alongside their co-religionists, but the split between the Sunnis and Shias is still so pronounced that many adherents of each branch view each other with disdain if not as outright apostates or non-believers.
©2014 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jan on 07-16-15

Excellent preface to making sense of intl news.

As always, today's international news is based on historical struggles, and Islamic conflicts are at the forefront right now. For those of us who have only minimal knowledge of the historical politics of Islam, this compact body of research is truly enlightening. There is no religiosity here, but simply a detailing of the conflicts which began with the death of Mohammed and resurfaced time and again within the Arab world.
Excellent choice of narrator as his tone, diction, and delivery are fully appropriate to the material.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Steven Mark on 06-25-15


Highly informative. Very well narrated. I have only started my journey into studying the religion of Islam and I found this work to be very helpful.
One slight observation ( and I am willing to admit if I am wrong in this regard ) is that the authors seem to be more sympathetic to the Shia position as opposed to the Sunnis. Nevertheless I highly recommended this book to anyone interested in this subject.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Bassam on 12-22-16

Great introduction to Islam's political climate

Would you listen to The History of the Sunni and Shia Split again? Why?

Excerpts of it perhaps for future reminders

Any additional comments?

Overall a very good introduction to Islam's political climate, the information is fairly accurate even if it's pretty vague. I mainly bought it to recall the main outline and it did just that.

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