Shia Islam

Shia Islam or Shi'ism is the second largest branch 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] most notably at the event of Ghadir Khumm, but was prevented from succeeding Muhammad as the leader of the Muslims as a result of the choice made by some of Muhammad's other companions at Saqifah. This view primarily contrasts with that of Sunni Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad did not appoint a successor before his death and consider Abu Bakr, who was appointed caliph by a group of senior Muslims at Saqifah, to be the first rightful caliph after Muhammad.[2] Adherents of Shia Islam are called Shia Muslims or simply Shia.[3]

Shia Islam is based on a hadith concerning Muhammad's pronouncement at Ghadir Khumm.[4][5] Shia consider Ali to have been divinely appointed as the successor to Muhammad, and as the first Imam. The Shia also extend this Imamah to Muhammad's family, the Ahl al-Bayt ("the people/family of the House"),[6] and some individuals among his descendants, known as Imams, whom they believe possess special spiritual and political authority over the community, infallibility and other divinely ordained traits.[7] 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.[8][9][10]

Shia Islam is the second largest branch of Islam: as of 2009, Shia Muslims constituted 10–15% of all Muslims.[11] Twelver Shia is the largest branch of Shia Islam,[12] with 2012 estimates saying that 85% of Shias were Twelvers.[13]