During the formative period of Islam, in the first centuries after
Muhammad's death, different ideas and beliefs abounded. It was
during this period of roughly three centuries that two particular
intellectual traditions emerged, Sunnism and Shi'ism. Sunni Muslims
endorsed the historical caliphate, while Shi'i Muslims, supporters
of 'Ali, cousin of the Prophet and the fourth caliph, articulated
their own distinctive doctrines. The Sunni-Shi'i schism is... more...