What’s the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims? An article reprinted from the mental_floss book, What’s the Difference?
Like Christianity, Islam is home to a spectrum of sects espousing different beliefs and practices. And just as Christianity can be divided into two large groups – Catholic and Protestant – from which other subsects have emerged, so too with Islam: Shia and Sunni.
Unlike Christianity, whose major split wouldn’t occur for nearly sixteen centuries, Islam split almost immediately after the death of its founder, the Prophet Muhammad (circa 570 – 632 CE). The rift stems from a disagreement among Muslims over who was the rightful successor to Muhammad.