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Summary

"Our followers are of three kinds, one who follows us but depends on others, one who is like a glass involved in his own reflections, but the best are those who are like gold, the more they suffer the more they shine." - Muhammad al-Baqir

Different branches of the same religion are the exception more than the rule, and they have had a profound impact upon history. The schism between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches influenced relationships between nations across Europe, and religious intolerance based on different Christian faiths led to persecution and outright violence across the continent for centuries. The Protestant Reformation split Christianity further, and the results culminated in the incredibly destructive 30 Years' War in the 17th century.

Today, the most important religious split is between the Sunnis and the Shias (Shiites) within Islam. Unlike divisions in other faiths - between Conservative and Orthodox Jews or Catholic and Protestant Christians - the split between the Sunnis and Shia has existed almost as long as the faith itself, and it quickly emerged out of tensions created by the political crisis after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. In a sense, what are now two different forms of Islam essentially started as political factions within the unified body of Muslim believers.

Over the past few centuries, Christians have mostly been able to live alongside their co-religionists, but the split between the Sunnis and Shias is still so pronounced that many adherents of each branch view each other with disdain if not as outright apostates or non-believers.

©2014 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors

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  • Overall
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  • Jan
  • 16-07-15

Excellent preface to making sense of intl news.

As always, today's international news is based on historical struggles, and Islamic conflicts are at the forefront right now. For those of us who have only minimal knowledge of the historical politics of Islam, this compact body of research is truly enlightening. There is no religiosity here, but simply a detailing of the conflicts which began with the death of Mohammed and resurfaced time and again within the Arab world.
Excellent choice of narrator as his tone, diction, and delivery are fully appropriate to the material.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven Mark
  • 25-06-15

Excellent

Highly informative. Very well narrated. I have only started my journey into studying the religion of Islam and I found this work to be very helpful.
One slight observation ( and I am willing to admit if I am wrong in this regard ) is that the authors seem to be more sympathetic to the Shia position as opposed to the Sunnis. Nevertheless I highly recommended this book to anyone interested in this subject.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Amil
  • 07-04-17

Very Informative

As a practicing Sunni Muslim who has always tried to wrap his head around the Sunni-Shia split, I found this book to be very informative. It helped me really understand how certain events unfolded and just what their effects were.

I would like to say to those readers who are not Muslim, to keep in mind 2 things:

1. The history of the split is not really argued over. It's the results and the religious conclusions that become the problem. For example, Sunnis don't really argue that Ali (ra) was correct and Muawiya (ra) was incorrect, but we would not take from this that Muawiya (ra) was some sort of apostate and evil. They were two great men who were both loved by the God and His Messenger (pbuh) who had a disagreement (albeit a serious one!). For Sunnis, vilifying either man is going too far. This is one example, and there are many others (e.g. Yazid was a tyrant) that also make this point.

2. The book does not (and I don't expect it to) touch upon the bond and love that all the sahabah had for each other. They did not want to fight each other and I think for me that's the biggest tragedy of the split: that the main actors involved would never have wanted it to happen. They had a serious disagreement and though they loved each other they felt they had a duty to fight for what they thought was right. That's basically the Sunni viewpoint as I understand it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • SAMA
  • 19-08-15

Fairly informative

It seems to get things right when it comes to the major facts, and provides both perspectives of the split fairly well. It does a good job for what it is.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Rev. David B. Smith
  • 11-07-15

Short but highly informative.

This is an except short book. It doesn't waste any words, but packs a lot of information info a short space. This book fills many gaps that are glossed over in other commentaries on the history of Islam.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Gerardo
  • 23-02-16

Accurate but short and too factual

This is a short book. It feels like history class, where someone is reading a lot of facts. What happened when, then what in which year, etc. There is little story, context, or useful information to give you a better understanding of Islam today other than it was very rocky after the death of Muhammad and the power struggles that resulted form it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mythri
  • 09-12-17

Good, short, basic primer on the subject.

Lays out a very basic outline of the conflict. Does a nice job of starting with the prophet and ending close to today's time.

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  • J. O. Gamauf
  • 26-04-17

Educational for these times

I learned a lot from this book but the narrative was so fast I need to listen several more times. Read much too fast!

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  • RW
  • 30-01-17

Concise and well worth the price.

A concise and satisfying review of the great Islamic divide. Informative and easy to listen to.

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  • Robert Wach
  • 26-11-16

learning is key <br />

we must learn of the teachings before we can make a positive assumption on which way to defeat a frame of mind that destroys civilization