The Psychologies in Religion: Working with the Religious Client

By E. Thomas Dowd; Stevan Lars Nielsen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
Psychology and
Shia Muslims

Amina Mahmood

The previous chapter provided the reader with an introduction to Islam, its history, the commonalities among Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and the beliefs and practices of Muslims. It also presented a brief overview of the split within the Muslim community into two major groups (Sunni and Shia).The Sunnis constitute the majority of the Muslim population, whereas the Shia comprise approximately 15% to 18% of the world's Muslim population (currently estimated to be 1.2 billion). Although the Sunni and Shia factions of Islam share many commonalities, significant ideological differences distinguish these two groups from one another. To gain a clearer understanding of the psychological assumptions and world view of Shia Muslims, it is important to have a basic understanding of Islam, as well as an awareness of the history of the schism that led to the development of Shiism.

This chapter provides the reader with a detailed account of the factors leading to the emergence of Shiism as a separate sect within Islam. To avoid repetition, only those beliefs and practices that are unique to Shia Muslims or differ significantly from the practice of Sunni Muslims are discussed. The reader is encouraged to gain familiarity with the basics of Islam that are common to both Shia and Sunni Muslims by referring to the previous chapter. It is hoped that the historical account of the development of Shiism will assist the reader in reaching a better understanding of the psychology of Shia Muslims, including epistemological tools, views

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