Shi’a Islam is almost as old as Islam itself and has always had a minority
population in Muslim populated areas of the world. According to Shi’a beliefs the prophet
Muhammad had named his cousin Ali as his successor at his time of death.
Ali had supposedly been the first to accept Muhammad’s revelations after the
prophet’s wife, Khadija had.
When Muhammad died it was not Ali who was named caliph,
but Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr had accompanied Muhammad in the hijra in Medina. His reign as
caliph was short-lived, he died after only two years as an imam.
After Abu Bakr’s death Umar was name caliph.
He was also a companion of the
prophet. After his death a council was formed to choose the next caliph. The council
elected Uthman of the Umayad clan. Ali, who was on the council disagreed with the
decision but didn’t voice a challenge to him.
Followers of both men clashed and for the first time in the history in Islam a
division in the Islamic community had been formed. Tensions between both sides caused
the murder of Uthman by Ali’s party in Medina. Ali then assumed the position as caliph
and imam. Ali was not generally recognized as the caliph outsid