Shiism (or Shi'ism) is one of the two main branches of Islam, the other being Sunnism.
It brings together around 10 to 15% of Muslims. The first Shia community lives in Iran, where it constitutes 90% of the country's population, and about 40% of the world's Shia population. The rest of the Shia Muslims are mainly distributed in Iraq, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Bahrain, Lebanon and Afghanistan.
The word "Shiism" derives from the term shi'a (Arabic word) which originally referred to a group of supporters. The term "Shiites" means "followers, followers, followers". The Koran quotes that part of the virtuous servants were the schi'a, this word being translated in French by “partisans” or “disciples”.
"Peace over Noah in the worlds ... Yes, and his followers (translated into Arabic as 'schi'a') was Abraham, sure"
- Quran 37: 79-83
“Now, entering a city an hour of inattention to its inhabitants, [Moses] found there two men fighting, this one of his disciples [schi'a], this one of his adversaries. Then the man of his supporters [schi'a] called him for help against the man of his adversaries ”
- Quran 28:15
So, officially, the word "Shiite" is a word used in the Qur'an for famous prophets as well as for those who follow them.
At the beginning of Islamic history, the term "Shiite" was used in its original or literal sense to refer to followers of different people.
The term gradually acquired the secondary meaning of followers of Ali, those who believe in his imamate. In his Al-Firaq al-Shî`ah, Hasan ibn Musa al-Nawbakhti, a Shiite scholar, writes:
“The Shiites are Ali's supporters. They are called “the Shiites of Ali” after the life of the Prophet and are known as the followers of Ali and believe in his Imamate. The Prophet said to 'Ali (A): “I swear by him who controls my life that this man (Ali) and his Shiites will be saved on the Day of Resurrection. ""
- Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthur, (Cairo) vol. 6, p. 379
The term "Shiites" is an adjective used by Muslims who follow the Imam-Guides of the family of the Prophet (ahl al-bayt). They do not use it for sectarian reasons or to create divisions among Muslims. They use it because the Koran uses it and because Muhammad and early Muslims used it too.
Cheikh Moufid, one of the first Shiite scholars, defines Shiites as those who follow Ali and see him as the immediate successor of the Prophet Muhammad. Explaining why the Shiites are also called "Imàmîyah", he says:
"This is a title for those who believe in the necessity of the Imamate and its continuity at all ages, and that each Imam must be explicitly designated, and must also be impeccable and perfect. "
Muhammad al-Shahrastani, in his Al-Milal wa al-Nihal, a source on different groups in Islam, writes:
“The Shiites are those who follow Ali in particular and who believe in his Imamate and Caliphate according to the explicit directives and wishes of the Prophet Muhammad. "
This is a very precise definition, since the Shiites themselves believe that the reason for following Ali is motivated by the demand of the Prophet.
Thus, we can say that the Shiites are those who have the following beliefs about the succession of Muhammad:
The succession of Mahomet is a divine designation;
As Muhammad was chosen by God, his successor or imam must also be chosen by God and then inspired by Muhammad;
Muhammad's immediate successor is Ali;
The successor must be infallible. According to Allameh Tabatabaei Shiism was born during the Prophet's very lifetime. According to Allameh, this term first referred to Ali's supporters. The advent, then the e