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"Knowledge from the region, for the region"

Sunni and Shia Islam: Historical Context to Modern Conflict

After the death of the Prophet Mohammad in 632 CE, the Muslim community diverged over how to select the next leader of the Islamic community they had formed on the Arabian Peninsula. One group supported succession by Ali, the Prophet Mohammad’s closest male family member. Many of these believers would become modern day Shia Muslims. Others supported the Muslim congregation’s ability to elect their next leader from the Prophet’s devout inner circle, of which Ali was a member. They would become Sunni Muslims who comprise 80 percent of Islam’s 1.6 billion followers today.

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