Shia Islam

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Group.png Shia Islam  
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Shia pilgrims in Mashhad, "Iran's spiritual capital"
Most notably the dominant denomination in Iran.

Shia Islam or Shi'ism is one of the two main branches of Islam. It holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor and the Imam (spiritual and political leader) after him,[1] but was prevented from succeeding Muhammad as the leader of all Muslims as a result of a conspiracy. This view primarily contrasts with that of Sunni Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad did not appoint a successor before his death.[2]

Although there are many Shia subsects, modern Shia Islam has been divided into two main groupings: Twelvers and Ismailis, with Twelver Shia being the largest and most influential group among Shia.

Shiites are concentrated in Iran, Iraq,Azerbaijan, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia, with minorities sprinkled other places

Shia Islam is the second largest branch of Islam: as of the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, Shia Muslims constituted only 10% of all Muslims.[3] Twelver Shia is the largest branch of Shia Islam, with 2012 estimates saying that 85% of Shias were Twelvers.[4]

Throughout history, the persecution of Shias by their Sunni co-religionists has often been characterized by brutal and genocidal acts; the most recent case of religious persecution involved the genocidal massacre, ethnic cleansing and forced conversion of Shias by ISIL in Syria and Iraq (2014-2017). Comprising around 10% of the entire world's Muslim population, to this day, the Shia remain a marginalized community in many Sunni dominated countries and in those countries, they do not have the right to freely practice their religion or establish themselves as an organized denomination.[5]


According to Shia Muslims, one of the lingering problems in estimating Shia population is that unless Shia form a significant minority in a Muslim country, the entire population is often listed as Sunni. The reverse, however, has not held true, which may contribute to imprecise estimates of the size of each sect. For example, the 1926 rise of the House of Saud in Arabia brought official discrimination against Shia.[6] Shiites are estimated to be 21% of the Muslim population in South Asia, although the total number is difficult to estimate due to that reason.

It is estimated that 15%[7][8] of the world's Muslims are Shia. They may number up to 200 million as of 2009.

Shias form a majority of the population in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq,[9] as well as a plurality in Lebanon. Shias constitute 36.3% of the entire population (and 38.6% of the Muslim population) of the Middle East.

Shia Muslims constitute 27-35% of the population in Lebanon, and as per some estimates from 35%[10] to over 35–40% of the population in Yemen,[11] 30%–35% of the citizen population in Kuwait (no figures exist for the non-citizen population),[12] over 20% in Turkey,[13] 5–20% of the population in Pakistan,[14]< and 10–19% of Afghanistan's population.[15]

Saudi Arabia hosts a number of distinct Shia communities, including the Twelver Baharna in the Eastern Province and Nakhawila of Medina, and the Ismaili Sulaymani and Zaidiyyah of Najran. Estimations put the number of Shiite citizens at 2–4 million, accounting for roughly 15% of the local population.[16]

Significant Shia communities exist in the coastal regions of West Sumatra and Aceh in Indonesia.[17] The Shia presence is negligible elsewhere in Southeast Asia, where Muslims are predominantly Shafi'i Sunnis.

A significant Shia minority is present in Nigeria, made up of modern-era converts to a Shia movement centered around Kano and Sokoto states.[18] Several African countries like Kenya, South Africa, Somalia, etc. hold small minority populations of various Shia denominations, primarily descendants of immigrants from South Asia during the colonial period, such as the Khoja.


The Occultation is a belief in some forms of Shia Islam that a messianic figure, a hidden imam known as the Mahdi, will one day return and fill the world with justice. According to the Twelver Shia, the main goal of Mahdi will be to establish an Islamic state and to apply Islamic laws that were revealed to Muhammad. The Quran does not have the verses on Imamate, which is the basic doctrine of Shia Islam.[19]

Some Shia, such as the Zaidi and Nizari Ismaili, do not believe in the idea of the Occultation. The groups which do believe in it differ as to which lineage of the Imamate is valid, and therefore which individual has gone into occultation. They believe there are many signs that will indicate the time of his return.

Twelver Shia Muslims believe that the Mahdi (the twelfth imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi) is already on Earth, is in occultation and will return at the end of time. Fatimid/ Bohra/ Dawoodi Bohra believe the same but for their 21st Tayyib, whereas Sunnis believe the future Mahdi has not yet arrived on Earth.[20]


Adherents on Wikispooks

Edoardo Agnelli9 June 195415 November 2000Heir to the huge Agnelli fortune who was "found dead under a bridge" after converting to Islam.
Ahmed Chalabi30 October 19443 November 2015"A crafty, avuncular Iraqi exile beloved by Washington's neoconservatives" who attended the 2006 Bilderberg a month after quitting as Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq.
Aga Khan III2 November 187711 July 1957Very rich religious leader working for British colonial interests.
Aga Khan IV13 December 1936Ultra-rich leader of religious sect with own secluded pleasure island.
Hassan Nasrallah31 August 1960Leader of Hezbollah
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi6 October 191927 July 1980
Sean Stone29 December 1984
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  5. Nasr, Vali (2006). The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future. W.W. Norton & Company Inc. pp. 52-53.
  19. Nasr, Sayyed Hossein. "Expectation of the Millennium : Shiìsm in History,", State University of New York Press, 1989, p. 19, ISBN 978-0-88706-843-0