Perils of Peak Practice; Answers to Correspondents
QUESTION What is the highest peak in the world that I could ascend without the need for any mountaineering equipment?
ACONCAGUA on the Chile-Argentina border, at just under 22,834ft, is the world's highest mountain outside the Himalayas.
No mountaineering equipment is necessary to climb it - just warm clothing and a good pair of boots.
There's not a single difficult step, the ascent simply requires strength and endurance.
This said, the ascent is no pushover. According to the Standard Encyclopaedia of The World's Mountains: 'Its climbing offers few technical difficulties yet the altitude, bitter cold and frequent storms make it one of the most gruelling ordeals known to climbers.' The Alpine Journal, 1966, says: 'On the ordinary route the high number of failures and fatalities is a reminder of the serious character of the peak.' We found gradual acclimatisation was required and we reached the top of the fifth day.
Tony English, Norwich.
QUESTION What is the difference between Sunni and Shiah Moslems?
'SUNNI' is short for Ahl al-Sunna wa'l-Jama'a meaning: 'The people of the (Prophet's) Sunna and the Community' and Sunni Moslems represent about 95 per cent of Moslems.
The term Shi'an Ali means the partisans of Ali ibn Abi Talib. The name Shi'ia came into being after the Caliphate of Ali (r.656-661CE).
The Sunni believe the political Head of the Moslem Community must be elected by all Moslems and may be called a Caliph.
Shi'is believe the head of the Moslem Community must be appointed from the descendant member of the family of the Prophet of Islam (Ali) and must be called Imam, meaning supreme leader. For Sunnis, the Imam is the leader of prayers. Since the death of the Prophet, the split between Sunnis and Shi'is has been mainly political. When the Prophet died, Abu Bakr was elected Caliph (leader of the Moslem community) at a place known as Saqifa Bni Saada.
But the Shi'is claimed Ali (Muhammad's nephew who is said to have inherited the Prophet's special knowledge) was appointed by the Prophet as his successor at a place known as Ghadir al-Khumm before his death.
Most Moslems who evolved into the Sunni and consider themselves the main stream of Islamic faith and practice, have never accepted this claim.
Religious rites practised by most Shi'is are much the same as the Sunnis.
Both Sunnis and Shi'is accept the same fundamentals of Islam such as the Oneness of God the Creator, Allah, the finality of the Prophet-hood of Muhammad, the final guidance of God to mankind, The Quran and belief in the life hereafter, Akharah.
Both Sunnis and Shi'is believe in the five pillars of Islam: daily prayers, fasting during Ramadan, the poor-due, Zakat, the pilgrimage visit to the Holy Land and the struggle for the cause of Islam - Jihad. …