The Historical Development of Islam
Since Muhammad died without any sons since they had died before him he asked Abu Baker to be the principal leader of prayer; making him the first caliph. When Abu Baker then died two years later Umar became the second caliph, and then followed Uthman. The fourth caliph was Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali.
Expansion and Consolidation
Islam arose at a time that was congenial to the growth of a new political and religious power. The Byzantine Empire, ruling from Constantinople, had fought repeatedly with the Persian Empire, and both were weakened by the effort. The weakness between both Byzantine Empire and Persian Empire allowed the expansion of Islam into their territories. Islamic armies took Syria in 635 CE and Persia in 636 CE. Then they started to move westward and took control, over Egypt around 640 CE. Islam also ended up spreading across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean from Arabia to eastern Africa. Islamic forces tried to spread over Western Europe, but were unsuccessful since they were stopped in southern France by the Christian forces of Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, in 732 CE at the battle of Tours. Islamic rulers remained in Spain for around eight years. This was a time where Muslims, Jews, and Christians were living together in harmony. From 661 to 750 CE Islam was controlled by the Umayyad dynasty; this is where they learned architecture to cuisine. Control of Islam then shifted to Bahad in 750 CE under the Abbasid dynasty.
The Shiite and Sunni Division within Islam
Shiite derive their name from the word shia which means “faction.” This is the group who followed Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of Muhammad. Some early Muslims think that Ali was the first caliph that Muhammad had assigned, but for political and religious intrigues he had not been first caliph. Once Ali died believers thought the next caliph was his son Hassan. Yet Hassan was poisoned; the second son Hussein became fought for Umayyah control but was killed and beheaded. Hussein’s death allowed Umayyad dynasty to maintain control for hundred years, but it also created strong opposition which became the Shiite movement. Shiite Islam believes that the legitimate succession was hereditary, descending from the immediate family of Muhammad. There are several division within the Shiite Islam that is how they differ on how many Imams there were and on the exact line of succession. Most Shiites believe there are 12 Imams, but others (Ismailis) are called the Seveners because they disagree with the Twelvers about the identity of the seventh Imam. There are some who disagree with the fifth Imam and they are called the Zaydis.
Sunni Islam the other great division of Islam takes its name from the word sunna. The name refers to the entire body of traditional teachings that are based on the life and teaching of Muhammad. Sunnis accepted the legitimacy of the orthodox caliph. The Sunni Islam does not have clear divisions that we see in the Shiite Islam. Sunni Islam has created interpretations of Islam that run the spectrum of ultraconservative to liberals. One division that is frequently spoken of today is Wahhabi sect they are known to be a conservative movement. The founder was Muhammad Ibn Abdal- Wahhab who was born in Medina. The movement began in Arabia in the 18th century. The second reform movement began in India in 1867. The Deobandi movement is named after the town of Deoband. They believe in veneration given solely to God, rejection of devotion to saints, and strong differences between male and female social roles. These are just some of the known general interpretations of Sunni Islam.
Molloy, Michael. "Chapter 10." Experiencing the World's Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2013. 427-35. Print.