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Emergence of Shiaism

This website was created to provide a platform for spreading the truth about the group of people referred to as “Shi’i or Shiite” or the “Shia” community of believers within the religion of Islam. There are three (3) main “Shi’i” groups. For the remainder of this article, this group will be acknowledged as the “Twelver Shia” (the “Twelvers”). “The Twelvers” Arabic: اثنا عشرية‎, romanized: Athnā‘ashariyyah or Ithnā‘ashariyyah).

A Small Note on Other Shi'i Muslim Groups:

Ismailis are the second largest Shia group. They believe that Ismail, the eldest son of the sixth Imam, Jafar al-Sadiq عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ, did not die but went into hiding. They also hold the belief that he had a son, Muhammad, who also went into hiding or died. From then on the Ismaili community fragmented, becoming their own sect, under Shia belief. 

The Nizari Ismailis are the largest remaining of the Ismaili groups, and follow a living Imam, the Agha Khan.

The smallest of the three groups are the Zaydi Shia. They have their origins in those who gave allegiance to Zayd, son of the fourth Imam and half-brother of the fifth Imam. The Zaydis believe that any meritorious member of the Prophet’s household is eligible to be the Imam.

However, all of these groups still share a common belief. This is that after the death of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in 632 AD, his cousin and son-in-law Ali عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ, inherited Muhammad’s spiritual and political authority over the Muslim community.

All of these groups, in general, reject the succession of the first three of Muhammad’s ﷺ successors until Ali عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ himself became the fourth caliph (656-61). After Ali’s عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ assassination, the Shia believe that the succession lay with his male descendants, via his son al-Husayn عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ. Each of these men are referred to as Imams. 

However, as stated above, this article and website is focused on the Twelvers.

The Twelvers, in particular, believe that the spiritual-political leadership of the community is passed down through Ali’s عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ male descendants, via Imam al-Husayn عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ, until the twelfth Imam, Imam Mehdi عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ. This last Imam was born in 870, and went into occultation soon after his father’s death in 874, for his safety’s sake. As the Rightly Guided One, his return will inaugurate the process associated with the last days; as part of that process Jesus will also return.