The other sect, the Sunnis, believed that any worthy human being could lead the faithful, regardless of ancestry, and favored Abu Bakr, who was converted to Islam and was married into Muhammad’s family (Murphy, 2009). The word "Sunni" is developed from the Arab word for "followers" and is a short form for "disciples of the prophet."
The Shiites ultimately lost in the violent battle for mastery that lasted several years, a truth now reflected in their minority status within total population of Islam. But while the civil war now going on between Shiite and Sunni in Iraq is now and then displayed as an extension of this age-old religious conflict, today’s war is about something a tad different. While religious disparities are real and remain significant, the split over Sunni and Shiite in Iraq is about group identity as much as it is about disagreements over proper worship. In Iraq, several Shiites and Sunnis who are not particularly deeply religious are participating in the bloodshed, fighting for forward group interests.
Now a days Sunni and Shiite group identifiers have become more significant in several aspects that are not primarily Anyhow there are some important religious differences. Shiite profound respect for the holy family, that is, the descendants of Muhammad, has contributed to a much more centralized and hierarchical clergy than in the Sunni world.
All religious Shiites for namesake follow the advice of an ayatollah on how to observe the rules of Islam, or sharia, in the latest scenario. For several Iraq people, this role is completed by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Sunni Islam is much less centralized. In this aspect, the disparities between Sunni and Shiite Islam are almost like the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and several Protestant churches. Although a high percentage of population in Iran and Iraq, Shiites consists of only 15 % of the world’s Muslim population. Their history of failure and frequent submission has also formed a cult of death and martyrdom inside Shiism.
The important Shiite holidays celebrate the gracious failures and martyrdoms of Imam Hussein and Imam Ali , Ali’s son, as marked by the leading Shiite holiday of Ashura, which remembers the massacre of Hussein and his disciples exterior to the Iraqi city of Karbala by a Sunni caliph in 680( Islam-5,2006).
In Iraq and Iran, the holiday is notable by big processions of men performing their own passion play, many of whom whip themselves with chains according to the drum beats. Such expressions of righteousness are viewed with utmost dislike by hard-core Sunnis like the clergy in Saudi Arabia, who view the fear of Hussein and other members of the prophet’s family as a misdemeanor of monotheism. This perspective has often led terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda to attack Shiites as unorthodox. The reality that Shiites have been persecuted for a very long period first under the Ottoman Empire, and later under states like Saudi Arabia & Iraq has led to a firm resemblance with the unjust acts suffered by Hussein, and have given a political perspective to Shiite religious services. For example Ashura celebrations, were banned by Saddam Hussein, who feared they could give rise to spontaneous rebellions (Grose,2008 ).