Throughout the history of Islam, Muslims, in spite of their differences, have had a lot of agreement, not only in many principles of Islam, but also in many of its practices. The Qur’an and the great personality of the Prophet on the one hand, and the sincere love and devotion of all Muslims towards them on the other, have unified Muslims and made out of them a real nation that has its own identity, heritage, aims, objectives and destiny. The hostility of the enemies of Islam, along with the challenges of the age, have also helped to awaken and strengthen the sense of unity and brotherhood among Muslims. The Qur’anic and prophetic call for unity and brotherhood has always been echoed by great leading Islamic personalities of different schools of Islam.

With respect to beliefs, all Muslims share the belief in God and His unity, the prophets in general and the mission of the Prophet Muhammad in particular, the Resurrection, and the just and equal treatment of everybody on the Day of Judgement. These are the most fundamental principles of Islam which are agreed upon by all Muslims. An outside view about the extent of the agreement between Shi‘a and Sunni Muslims is expressed in the following passage:

Since the Iranian Revolution everyone knows that Shi‘ites are Muslims, like the Sunnis respecting the central dogma of the oneness of God, the same sacred writing (the Koran), the same Prophet Mohammad, the same belief in the resurrection followed by the last Judgement and the same fundamental obligations, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, almsgiving, and jihād (holy war). These common points are more important than the differences: there is no longer any theoretical objection to a Shi‘ite performing his prayers with a Sunni, or vice versa although many difficulties have existed in the past and in practice still remain.1

In what follows, we will proceed by outlining principles of religion or articles of faith. Some of the characteristic beliefs of the Shi‘a will be examined thereafter.2


1 Richard, Shi‘ite Islam, p. 5 (with abbreviation).

2Richard, Shi‘ite Islam, p. 5 (with abbreviation). 2 One of the sources of the following discussions on the principles and practices of Islam is “An Introduction to Islam” by Bashir Rahim. For an online version of this article and other introductions to Islam, see

Discovering Shi’i Islam Mohammad Ali Shomali 9th Edition