Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf Iraq


(also known as Shiite, Shi‘ite, Shi‘a, and Shia Islam) As one of the two major branches of Islam, Shiites make up ten to fifteen percent of the world’s Muslims (Armanios, 2004). Shi’a means “partisan”, or friend of Ali, the son in law of Muhammad (Armanios, 2004). The Shia form of Islam is practiced by a majority of the population in several countries: Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan. Shiism also has a large number of followers in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen (Armanios, 2004).

Percentages of Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the Middle East

Foundation of Shiism

Shiism was founded around first Islamic war in late 7th century. Shiism originally found from supporter of 4th caliph and supporting idea of giving the position of Caliphs for descendent of his. However, after the idea of Imam and Messiah idea, Shiism became a denomination. On 656, the Islam 3rd caliph was assassinated by young group of malcontent because of his family, Ummaya family, taking most of important positions. Those young malcontents supported Alli Ibn Abi Talib, cousin of Mohammad and also son in law, as a next proper caliph. However, daughter of first caliph Aisha and disobedient did not approve this and went to the war but they defeat them at battle of camel. Also ‎ Muawiya from Ummaya family went to war with Ali because of Assassination of 3rd caliph. Muawiya decided to make reconciliation with Ali. This reconciliation made some supporters of Ali disappointed and those who were disappointed at Ali formed Al-Khawarij, making them a first sect in Islam history. At 660, Muawiya started to call himself a caliph and he had to fight with both Al-Khawarij and Muawiya, leading to exhaustion of his supporters.Al-Khawarij, send an assassin to both Muawiya and Ali, ending up Ali being assassinated. Muawiya survived and he became only caliph and declaring his descendant a caliph and opened an Umayyad caliphate. Alli's supporters who opposed to this caliphate believed that Hasan and Husayn, kid between Alli and Muhammad's daughter Fatina, and their descendents can only be a leader. That leader is called Imam, forming Shiism and Shiites don’t approve first 3 caliphs making Alli a first caliph in Shia history.

Shiism believed Alli’s descendent is the only imam because they believe that leader needs to interpret the Qur’an, the word of gods and only people who can interpret the Qur’an correctly is only messanger of god, Muhammad and Alli’s descendents. Shia believes that Imam is infallible and from interpretation of Qur’an to Shalia, it has to be decided by Imam.. moreover, though Shia has lots of sects, most of the Shia’s teaching has messiah idea that their last Imam they believe still is not dead yet, Imam is have been hid by their god, Ghaybah, and Imam will come back as a messiah, Mahdi.
painting of Imams. Notice that far left one is not drawn
painting of Imams. Notice that far left one is not drawn

Different sects of Shiism

external image moz-screenshot.png
Imam Ali
Imam Ali

This column will explain couple of major branch in Shiism.
Due to succession of Imam, Shia was divided to man and it has to be said that there is more than 72 sects in Shiism.
Twelver or Imami Shiism is the largest branch of shiism with approximately 85% of Shiite. The twelve faith is mostly found in Iran, Bahrain, Azebaijan, Iraq, Lebanon and Kuwait. (The Shiite question in Saudi Arabia). Twelvers belief is that the Muhammad through Ali are the best source of knowledge about the Qur’an and Islam since Muhammad is the messenger of god, him and his descendents are the only one that can only understand and interpret whole idea of Qur’an. Twelvers also believe that Ali was appointed successor by Muhammad’s direct order on many occasions, and that he is therefore the rightful leader of the Muslim faith. Their name derived from twelve Imams of Shia and they recognize the religious authority to them.
According to their theology, the prophet and imams words and deeds are a guide and model for the community to follow and must be chosen by divine decree through Muhammad. In their beliefs, there is always an Imam of the Age, who is the divinely appointed authority on all matters of faith and law in the Muslim community. Ali was the first Imam of this line, and in the Twelvers' view, the rightful successor to the Prophet of Islam, followed by male descendants of Muhammad(also known as Hasnain's) through his daughter Fatimah. twelfth Imam, Al-Mahdi is believed to be disappear ed and he is hidden by the god till people and one day will return with justice and peace. However, Sunni do not believe that Al-Mahdi exists.

Sign of Twelvers
Sign of Twelvers

Ismailis are Shi'a Muslims who claim that Ismail, the eldest son of Imam Jaffar, was the rightful ruler of all Muslims. they are also known as seveners because Imam Jaffar was the seventh and, according to them, the last Imam. they emerged from disagreement of over the successor of sixth imam. they believe that eldest son and Shia Twelvers, those who accept the first Twelve Imams, believe that Jafar, the Sixth Imam, passed over his eldest son, Ismail, in favor of Ismail's brother Musa al Kazim. Ismailis, however, believe that Jafar appointed Ismail to be the Seventh Imam. Ismaili Shia doctrine closely resembled Twelver Shia Islam with regard to observance of the sharia but also included a system of philosophy and science coordinated with religion that proved the divine origin of the Imamate and the rights of the Fatimids to it. Ubaid Allah al Mahdi, the founder of the Fatimid Dynasty, came to North Africa in the early tenth century and actively promoted the Ismaili faith. The Fatimid rulers proclaimed themselves true caliphs.
Ismailis accept many Shia doctrines, such as the esoteric nature of truth and the inspiration of the Imams. Although holding their Imams to be of divine origin, as the Shia do, Ismailis have a dual Imamate. They believe the succession of visible Imams has continued to the present. There are, however, two imams, the visible and the hidden, the speaker and the silent. The identity of the hidden imam is not known to the community but it is believed he will return to lead the faithful. Ismailis generally follow the religious practice of the Shia Twelvers in prayers, fasts, and Quranic prescriptions, but in their conservatism they resemble Sunnis on some points. For example, they do not observe the tenth of Muharram in the impassioned way of the Shia.

Most of the other sect have the same belief and teaching and only difference will be what imam went to the occultation. However, Alawi sect is distinct from those of major Shia sects. since they are so distinctive, some of Muslims do not consider them as a Muslims. The Alawi sect, which integrates doctrines from other religions in particular from Christianity, arose from a split within the Ismailite sect (Alawi Islam) .Alawi only teach their teaching to few and selective Alawi's thus full teachings are not known yet. In Alawi's they are different from other sects in many ways. women are not allow to join the sects, Like Ismaili Shias, Alawis believe in a system of divine incarnation. Unlike Ismailis, Alawis regard Ali as the incarnation of the deity in the divine triad. According to Alawi belief, all persons at first were stars in the world of light but fell from the firmament through disobedience. Faithful Alawis believe they must be transformed seven times before returning to take a place among the stars, where Ali is the prince. If blameworthy, they are sometimes reborn as Christians, among whom they remain until atonement is complete. Infidels are reborn as animals(Alawi Islam)

Comparing Shiites and Sunnis

Islam was a united faith for the first two decades of its existence, until Muhammad’s death in 632 AD. At this time, a disagreement arose regarding the succession of leadership in the rapidly expanding Muslim community; should leadership be awarded based on piety and merits or should leadership be passed down through the Prophet Muhammad’s bloodline? Finally, community leaders decided that Abu Bakr, a close companion of Muhammad, would become the first Caliph (successor) (Armanios, 2004). While many Muslims accepted the choice of a new leader, others rejected this appointment, instead seeing the legitimate heir as Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law through marriage with Muhammad’s eldest daughter Fatima (Armanios, 2004). The followers of Ali, or Shi’a, would consider the rule of Abu Bakr and the following two Caliphs as illegitimate, holding the belief that the Prophet himself declared Ali to be the future leader of the Muslim community (Armanios, 2004). Although the Shi’a viewed the first three Caliphs as illegitimate, the majority of Muslims accepted and respected all of the Caliphs, including Ali, the fourth. They believed that leadership shouldn’t be passed down by bloodline but by their status in the Muslim community and their political standing. These Muslims would go on to be known as Sunni, meaning “followers of the Prophet’s customs” (Armanios, 2004). With this separation of Islam one can see that a major difference between Sunnis and Shiites would be how they choose the leaders of their religious communities.

With the difference in the founding of these two types of Islam established, we can now turn to the differences in religious practices. A difference between the two sects of Islam is that the Shiite Hadiths contain sayings of imams who are considered to be divinely inspired, which in turn, effects how Shiites interpret Islamic law, generally by granting more human reasoning to the law in comparison to Sunnis (Armanios, 2004). Another difference between Sunnis and Shiites is that Shi’a religious practices center on remembering Hussein, Ali’s son, who was martyred in battle against Sunni forces (Armanios, 2004). Shiites go through the ritual of Ashura in which the story of Hussein’s martyrdom is told to help reinforce the teachings of Shi’a Islam (Armanios, 2004). Also, some major theological differences between the two can be found in their interpretation of the Quran; for example, Sunnis believe that Allah has a bodily form, which they take from a literal interpretation of parts of the Quran. However, Shiites believe that Allah doesn’t have a body, taking a less literal approach to parts of the Quran ("Comparing The Sunni..."). Another idea that is exclusive to Shiism is the Occultation, which is the idea of al-Mahdi, a descendant of Muhammad, who disappeared from the world will return and bring justice with him ("Shi'a: The Hidden Imam").

Although there are many differences among the two major sects of Islam, there are also many shared beliefs between Sunnis and Shiites. A major similarity among all Muslims is that they accept Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah (Armanios, 2004). Additionally all Muslims believe that they have to abide by the revelations of the Prophet, through the Quran and Hadiths. Another major similarity between the two sects is that they all are expected to live by the five pillars of faith (Armanios, 2004).

Shrine cities

Within Shi’a Islam, there are certain holy cities, or “shrine cities”, which are highly regarded and carry special meaning in the hearts of Shiite Muslims. There are some shrine cities which are recognized and accepted as holy cities by both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. Some prominent Shi’a holy cities include Najaf, Karbala, Medina, Mecca, and Damascus. The two most prominent and influential cities, both historically and present day, in Shi'a thought are Najaf and Karbala.

Map of Iraq, showing the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf in relation to the capital, Baghdad
Map of Iraq, showing the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf in relation to the capital, Baghdad

Shiite Muslims gather at the Shrine of Hussein during the 10 days of Ashura in Karbala, Iraq on March 1, 2004.
Shiite Muslims gather at the Shrine of Hussein during the 10 days of Ashura in Karbala, Iraq on March 1, 2004.

A reenactment of the Battle of Karbala takes place during the city's 2007 celebration of Ashura
A reenactment of the Battle of Karbala takes place during the city's 2007 celebration of Ashura

One of the most prominent shrines in Shi’a Islam is the Imam Ali Mosque, where Ali ibn Ali Talib, the first Shi’a Imam, is buried. The Imam Ali Mosque is located in the Iraqi city of Najaf, about 160 km south of Baghdad. Najaf was founded in 791 by the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid. In addition to being one of the holiest cities in Shi’a Islam, Najaf was a strategic city for the Saddam Hussein regime, which oppressed the Shi'a minority. Many Shi'a thinkers and religious scholars faced persecution and arrest at the hands of the Hussein regime, resulting in much conflict and controversy in the city of Najaf for many years. Over time, especially in the 19th century, various institutions such as schools and libraries emerged in Najaf, making it an important area for the development of Shi’a learning. Today, Najaf is considered the center of Shi'a political activity in Iraq. The city's population is approximately 600,000 (COSI - Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology)

One of the other most significant holy sites in Shi’a Islam lies in the holy city of Karbala, between Najaf and Baghdad. The Shrine of Hussein, pictured above, sits in the center of Karbala and contains the tomb of Hussein ibn Ali, also known as the Mashad al-Husain. Hussein ibn Ali was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, son of Ali, and a prominent Imam who was killed in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. Following his death, Hussein was martyred, and the Day of Ashura emerged as a defining ritual and performance of Shi’a identity. The Battle of Karbala is regarded as one of the most salient moments in time for the development of Shi'a Islam. Karbala is the destination of spiritual inspiration and pilgrimage for believers in Islam from all over the world. Over the years, the city and its shrines have also come under attack from from a variety of actors, including in 2004 during the Ashura pilgrimage, when hundreds were killed and injured during one of the largest Ashura events in several decades. The city has achieved economic prominence through both its tendency to attract religious visitors and scholars as well as agricultural produce and government institutions. Thus, the city is an important part of Muslim society as a whole. However, Karbala carries special significance to Shiites because of the early activity and development of Shi'a thought. Today, its population is at about 500,000. (COSI - Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology)


  • Ashura: Ashura means "tenth" in Arabic. Ashura is a festival of great religious significance to Shiite Muslims which occurs on the 10th day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar and one of the holiest months according to Shi'a Islam. Shiite Muslims mourn the death of Hussein ibn Ali through a day of rememberance and public grieving. Additional rituals during Ashura include fasting on the 10th day and the prohibition of fighting, which is a practice observed during the holy months of Islam. Shiite Muslims often take pilgrimages to Karbala for Ashura and gather around the Shrine of Hussein. The Ashura is a unifying practice for Shi'a Muslims, and continues to shape the regional and cultural politics in the Middle East. With the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, a sort of Shiite cultural revival emerged in Iraq among the Shi'a minority population. This shows that the cultural and religious ties that unify Shiites across the region are increasingly stronger and bound to influence the political debates in the Middle East. (Nasr, 18)
  • Khums: One of the core practices and beliefs within Shi’a Islam is khums. Khums is an Arabic whose meaning is literally “one-fifth.” When applied to Islamic theology, it describes one-fifth of what a person achieves in wealth, and what they must pay as an Islamic tax. While not one of the five pillars of Islam, khums is similar in concept to the zakat, which is one of the five pillars of Islam for all Muslims. Both concepts essentially share salvation as the ultimate goal. The concept of khums has roots in the 8th sura of the Quran, which states the importance of knowing one's wealth and that a proportion of one's wealth "belongs" to God to deliver to orphans and the poor. (Calder, 49)
  • Succession of Ali: see: Different sects of Shiism.
  • Belief in al-mahdi: see: Different sects of Shiism. There are varying interpretations of the role of the mahdi. Shi'a Muslims believe the mahdi to be in "occultation" until a return at time decided by God. This practice is not unlike the belief in Christianity of eventual return of Christ to earth.

Shiite Religious Authority (marji’iyyat or marja’iyya)

Although the concept of Marjiyyat became popular after the occultation of the twelfth Imam, the formation of its infrastructure was by the renowned jurist Sayyid Kadim Al-Yazdi in the 18th century. He wrote a chapter of emulation (taqlid) and reasoning (ijtihad). Through Taqlid, the laymen (muqallids) are obligated to emulate the legal precepts of their mujtahids(1) (the clerics who are capable of religious reasoning).
“Shi'a believers are thus guided by a small number of Grand Ayatollahs who sit at the apex of the clerical hierarchy, the most prominent of whom is the marja-e taqlid-e motlaq (Ultimate Source of Emulation).. Grand Ayatollahs achieve their status only after decades of teaching and research and the completion of a religious treatise that demonstrates an exceptional grasp of religious law and principles.. with the notable exception of the [Iranian] revolution, the clergy has never directly assumed power”. (2)
Shiite religious authorities give a significant priority to the individual religious reasoning (ijtihad), through the use of the intellectual reasoning. This practice of ijtihad
gave more flexibility and pragmatism for Shiites to deal with the modern issues. Also, it allowed a greater diversity, in opinions and practices, to exist within the Shiite community. (3)

A brief of some prominent marji's
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi: al-Tusi published several “works on astronomy, ethics, mathematics and philosophy that marked him as one of the great intellectuals of his age.. The road to modern astronomy, scholars say, leads through the work that he and his followers performed at Maragha [his observatory] and Alamut [a city in northern Persia] in the 13th and 14th centuries”(4). Tusi and his team “provided much of the technical knowledge with which Galileo and Newton would overturn the models evolved through Ptolemaic astronomy and Aristotelian physics”(5).

Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr (1930-1980): Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr “is best known
Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr
Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr
for his Falsafatuna (Our Philosophy, 1959), Iqtisdduna (Our Economy, 1960), and al-Bank al-Larabawi fi al-lslam (The Nonusurious Bank in Islam, 1973)”. After the Iranian Revolution, he was considered as the most distinguished and influential political leader for Iraqi Shiites. He was called "the Khumayni of Iraq”(6). Note that he founded the Islamic Da'wa
party before the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Ba'thist regime in Iraq. “Sadr's boldest step against the regime was issuing a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from joining the Ba'th party or its affiliated organizations”. In order to stay on power, the Ba'thist regime decided that he had to be eliminated. He was placed under house arrest, during which the regime tried to have some concessions from him. “On 31 March 1980, the Revolutionary Command Council passed a law sentencing all past and present members of the Da'wa party or its affiliated organizations, or people working for its goals, to death. That law eliminated any possibility of sparing Sadr's life”. “The security forces came for Sadr and his sister on 5 April 1980 and detained them in the headquarters of the National Security Agency in Baghdad. Three days later, his body was brought back to his uncle Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr in Najaf for secret burial” (7).

Muhammad Mahdi al-Shirazi (1928-2002): Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi al-Shirazi “made
Muhammad Mehdi al-Shirazi
Muhammad Mehdi al-Shirazi
extensive contributions in various fields… ranging from jurisprudence, theology, politics, economics, and law to sociology and human rights, and reportedly authored more than 1200 books, among them the 150-volume encyclopedia of Islamic jurisprudence”. “He calls for freedom of expression, political plurality, debate and discussion, tolerance and forgiveness. He strongly believes in the consultative system of leadership and calls for the establishment of the leadership council of religious authorities. He also nurtures the concept of universal Islamic government encompassing all the Muslim countries”.
His family produced marji's who had stron political and intellectual influence in Iraq and Iran such as the faomus leaders Mirza Hassan Shirazi (the leader of the “tobacco” movement in Iran in 1891), Muhammad Taqi Shirazi (the leader of the 1920 revolution in Iraq against the British colonization), and his father Mehdi Shirazi (a highly respected scholar and the marji' of his time).
In 1968, he founded the Movement of Vanguards’ Missionaries (MVM) in Karbala, a Shiite shrine city in Iraq. Ba'thist regime of Iraq exiled him to Lebanon in 1971. Then, he went to Kuwait and stayed there until 1979 when he migrated to Iran after the foundation of the Islamic Republic there. (8)

Ali al-Sistani: Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani is the most respected Shiite cleric in Iraq, today. He
Ali al-Sistani
Ali al-Sistani
became so influential after Saddam’s fall. Two examples to mention to explain that. In 2003, he insisted that “the forces occupying Iraq have no right to name the members of any constitution-drafting body… such a body must be chosen democratically (preferably through direct elections) by the Iraqi people, who will also
retain the right to ratify any draft constitution in a popular referendum”. In 2005 elections, he played a very important role in directing Shiite voters, especially Shiite women. “Sistani appears to be free of any Khomeini-like ambition to become ruler, and does not seem to want to legislate the shari'a or to turn Iraq into an "Islamic republic" in the Iranian mold”. (9)

Persecutions of the Shia

Origins of Shia Persecution

0_23_101304_iraq_mass_grave3.jpgThe disputes over a proper successor to Mohammed lead to the creation two distinct branches of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. These branches were the Sunni and Shia muslims. The Sunni at this time held control of the Umayyad government, and saw the Shiites as a threat to their authority. This lead to the persecution of the Shiites by the Sunni controlled Umayyad, and later the Abbasid Caliphate. The conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims still exists today.

The Shias have an aspect of their culture called al-Taqiyya. Al-Taqiyya literally means “Concealing or disguising one'sbeliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of eminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury.” This policy was adopted as a defense to the constant persecution of the Shias throughout history. For example, if a Shia Muslim was facing harm for being a Shia he would be able to renounce his faith in word as long as he was still faithful in his heart in order to avoid harm. The Sunnis are very much opposed to al-Taqiyya. “According to the Sunnis, al-Taqiyya constitutes a lack of faith and trust in Allah (SWT) because the person who conceals his beliefs to spare himself from eminent danger is fearful of humans, when, in fact, he should be fearful of Allah (SWT) only” (Assallamu `Alaykum)

Wahhabi Movement ikhwan_4-1.jpg
The Wahhabi movement, lead by Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhabi lead to extreme amounts of Shia persecution. Wahhabi believed that innovation of Islam was justification for violent punishment. Although some may disagree, the Wahhabi consider themselves to be a sect of Sunni Islam. Because Shiism is itself an innovation of Islam, they became a direct target for the Wahhabi.

Wahhabi Attack on Karbala
In the early 1800’s the Wahhabi attempted to seize control of Arabia. The Wahhabi attacked the city Karbala in 1802. Karbala is located in present day Iraq, and is predominantly Shiite. During the attack nearly 2,000 Shiite Muslims were killed. An account made by a Wahhabi Scholar states “They killed most of the people in the markets and houses. One cannot count their spoils. They stayed there for just one morning, and left after midday, taking away all the possessions.” (Uthman ibn Bishr.). Another first hand account states “Such among us as fell alive into the hands of these cruel fanatics, were wantonly mutilated by the cutting off of their arms and legs, and left to perish in that state, some of whom, in the course of our retreat, I myself actually saw, who had no greater favour to ask than that we would put them to death.” (G. Finati.) Later, the Wahhabi were forced out by the Ottomans. They attempted to regain control of the city in 1807, but failed.
Recent Shiite Hardships55954683.jpg
Dujail Massacre: On July, 1982 Saddam Hussein made a visit to the City of Dujail in order to praise one of his conscripts. Dujail was a stronghold for the Shiite Dawa party. As Saddam’s motorcade was traveling through the city twelve gunmen who were hiding in the date orchard that was surrounding the road ambushed him. After this attack Saddam had his military forces gather up all of the suspected Dawa party members in Dujail. They detained nearly 800 men and women from this city. Many of them were tortured and nearly 150 of them were killed.
On December 30, 2006 Saddam Hussein was hung. During his trial the Dujail Massacres played an integral part in his sentencing (
When the Shiites Rise).
Diyala Massacre: On July 16, 2007 Sunni insurgents killed 29 people living in a village of the Diyala district, Iraq. Police Col. Ragheb Radhi al-Omairi said “29 members of a Shiite tribe were massacred overnight in Diyala province when dozens of suspected Sunni gunmen raided their village near Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. The dead included four women.” Among the dead 10 of the bodies were mutilated.
Anti-Shiite Massacres 1991: After the first Gulf War the United States encouraged Kurds and Shiites to rebel against Saddam Hussein’s regime. Although at first the United States provided support for the rebels this was soon taken away (Juan Cole). The loss of support lead to the massacre of many Kurdish and Shiite citizens. Although exact numbers are unknown it is estimated that at one point nearly 2,000 Shiites and Kurds were being killed a day. These massacres caused many Shiites to flee Iraq, and take refuge in places elsewhere.
Pakistani Taliban Targets the Shi'ites: On Monday, December 28, 2009 there was a bombing in Karachi Pakistan where 32 Shiites were killed. This bombing occurred during a traditional procession where the Shiites mourn the death of Imam Hussain, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Despite the beefed up security due to prior anit-shiite attacks in Pakistan the bomber was still able to make it through. This attack caused a lack of trust in the government, and many government buildings were destroyed in protest to the Anti-Shiite attacks.


Richard Chester:
Introduction and Comparing Shiites and Sunnis
Ben Gardner:
Shrine Cities and Religious Practices
Shosuke Nakamura:
Foundation and different sects.
Ahmed Alabdulhai:
Shiite Religious Authority
Sam Bishar:
Persecutions of the Shia


United States. Cong. Congressional Research Service. Islam: Sunnis and Shiites. By Febe Armanios. 108 Cong. Cong. Rept. RS21745. Print.

Foundation of Shiism
Al-Rasheed, Madawi. "# The Shia of Saudi Arabia: A Minority in Search of Cultural Authenticity." British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 25.1 (1998): 121-38. JSTOR. Web. 24 Feb. 2010. <>.
Different sects of Shiism
"Alawi Islam." Global Security Organization. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2010. Path:
Arjomand, Said A. "# The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shiism: A Sociohistorical Perspective." International Journal of Middle East Studies 28.4 (1996): 491-515. JSTOR. Web. 21 Feb. 2010. <>.
Deeb, Marius. "* Shia Movements in Lebanon: Their Formation, Ideology, Social Basis, and Links with Iran and Syria." Third World Quarterly, 10.2 (1988): 683-98. JSTOR. Web. 24 Feb. 2010. <>.
Moussavi, Ahmad K. "# The Establishment of the Position of Marja'iyyt-i Taqlid in the Twelver-Shi'i Community." Iranian studies 18.1 (1985): 35-51. JSTOR. Web. 22 Feb. 2010. <>.
The Shiite Question in Saudi Arabia. N.p., 19 Sept. 2005. Google Scholar. Web. 22 Feb. 2010. <>.

Comparing Shiites and Sunnis:
"Comparing the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam." Web. 22 Feb. 2010. <>.

"Shi'a: The Hidden Imam." Washington State University - Pullman, Washington. Web. 22 Feb. 2010. <>.

United States. Cong. Congressional Research Service. Islam: Sunnis and Shiites. By Febe Armanios. 108 Cong. Cong. Rept. RS21745. Print.

Shrine cities and religious practices (Ben Gardner)

Calder, Norman. "Khums in Imam Shi'i Jurisprudence, From the Tenth to the Sixteenth Century A.D." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. Cambridge University Press. 1982. pp. 39- 47.

Nasr, Vali. "Regional Implications of Shi'a Revival in Iraq." The Washington Quarterly. Washington D.C. 2004. pp. 7-24.

Shiite Religious Authority

1] Ibrahim, F. (2006). The Shi'is of Saudi Arabia. Berkeley: SAQI, 86.
2] Rajaee, Bahram. (2004). Deciphering iran: The political evolution of the islamic republic and u.s. foreign policy after september 11. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 24(1), 159-172. Retrieved February 20, 2010, from Project MUSE database.
3] Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi et. al. (2008). The “iranian art revolution”: Infertility, assisted reproductive technology, and third-party donation in the islamic republic of iran. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 4(2), 1-28. Retrieved February 19, 2010, from Project MUSE database.
4] OVERBYE, D. (2001, October 30). How Islam Won, and Lost, the Lead in Science. New York Times. Retrieved February 19, 2010, from LexisNexis Academic database.
5] Ballay, U. (1990, November). The Astronomical Manuscripts of Naīr al-Dīn ūsī. Arabica , 389-392. Retrieved February 20, 2010, from JSTORE database.
6] Batatu, H. (1981). Iraq's Underground Shī'a Movements: Characteristics, Causes and Prospects. Middle East Journal , 35 (4 ), 578-594. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from JSTORE database.
7] Aziz, T. M. (1993). The Role of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr in Shii Political Activism in Iraq from 1958 to 1980. International Journal of Middle East Studies , 25 (2), 207-222. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from JSTORE database.
8] Ibrahim, F. (2006). The Shi'is of Saudi Arabia. Berkeley: SAQI, 74.
9] Al-Rahim, Ahmed H. (2005). The sistani factor. Journal of Democracy 16(3), 50-53. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from Project MUSE database.
Persecutions of the Shia

Kingdom without borders: Saudi political, religious and media frontiers; Madawi Al-Rasheed
The United States and Shi'ite Religious Factions in Post-Ba'thist Iraq; Juan Cole

Foreign Aff. 62 (2006) When the Shiites Rise; Nasr, Vali
n. pag. Web. 25 Feb 2010.
n. pag. Web. 25 Feb 2010.

n. pag. Web. 25 Feb 2010.
n. pag. Web. 25 Feb 2010.,8599,1950322,00.html