Crash Course in Islam — Monolithic Islam
>>STEVE ST. GEORGE: I'm Steve St. George. And this is your crash course in Islam. Today we explore the myth of the monolith. When many people hear or think of Islam, what often comes to mind is a monolithic religion in which people all practice and believe the same thing. But just as Christianity and Buddhism are splintered into different groups, so is Islam. The two major groups within the faith are the Sunni and Shia, the Sunni considered by many the orthodox branch of Islam making up the majority of practitioners in the world. The Shia are concentrated in a handful of nations including Iraq and Iran. Islam split into the two factions after the death of the Prophet Mohammed. The Sunni backed a series of appointed caliphs as head of the faith. The Shia believed a series of imams descended from the prophet were the true leaders of Islam. In fact their name Shia means they supported the man considered the very first imams, Muhammad's cousin and son in law Ali. There are also the Sufi to consider, the mystical branch of the faith. Most Sufi believe you can find God within yourself. But Sufism like the rest of Islam is hardly a monolith. There are a multitude of orders and schools practicing today including several that sprang up in the West.