Shi'a Islam, also Shiite Islam or Shi`ism is a way of life, and is the second largest denomination of the religion of Islam. Shi'a Muslims adhere to the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his Ahlul Bayt (family). Thus, Shi'as reject the rule of the initial three Sunni Caliphs as Sunnis reject the Imamate of the Shi'a Imams. Shi'i refers to a follower of the Ahlul Bayt and of Ali ibn Abi Talib (Imam Ali) in particular.
Shi'a Muslims believe that Muhammad's family (the Imams) were the best source of knowledge about the Qur'an, Islam, and Emulation (the best-qualified teachers of Islam after Muhammad), and the most trusted carriers and protectors of Muhammad's Sunnah (traditions).
In particular, Shi'a Muslims recognize the succession of Ali (Muhammad's cousin, son-in-law, and the male head of the Ahl al-Bayt or "people of the Prophet's house") as opposed to that of the caliphate recognized by Sunni Muslims. Shi`a Muslims believe that Ali was appointed successor by Muhammad's direct order on many occasions, and that he is therefore the rightful leader of the Muslim faith pursuant to the Prophet's wishes.
This difference between following the Ahl al-Bayt (Muhammad's family) and Abu Bakr has shaped Shi`ah and Sunni views on some of the Qur'an, the Hadith, personalities in Islamic history, and other areas by extension. For instance, the collection of Hadith venerated by Shi'a Muslims is centered around narrations by members of the Ahl al-Bayt, while some Hadith by narrators not belonging to the Ahl al-Bayt are not included (those of Abu Huraira, for example).
Shi'a believe in the same doctrines as the Sunni's five pillars of Islam but categorize them differently. Shi'a beliefs include the following:
Roots of Religion
* Tawheed(Oneness): The Oneness of God
* Adalah (Justice): The Justice of God
* Nubuwwah (Prophethood): God has appointed perfect and infallible prophets and messengers to teach mankind the religion (that is, a perfect system of how to live in "peace"(("submission to God")).)
* Imamah (Leadership): God has appointed specific leaders to lead and guide mankind — a prophet appoints a custodian of the religion before his demise.
* Qiyamah (The Day of Judgment): God will raise mankind for Judgment
Branches of Religion
* Shahadah (Declaration) – the declaration that there is none worthy of worship except God (Allah) and that Muhammad is His messenger.
* Salat—called "Namaaz" in Persian (Prayer) – performing the five daily prayers
* Sawm (Fast) – fasting during the holy month of Ramadhan
* Hajj (Pilgrimage) – performing the pilgrimage to Mecca
* Zakat (Poor-rate) – paying the poor-tax
* Khums (One-fifth) – paying tax
* Jihad (Struggle) – struggling to please God. The greater, or internal Jihad is the struggle against the evil within one's soul in every aspect of life. The lesser, or external, Jihad is the struggle against the evil of one's environment in every aspect of life.
* Amr-Bil-Ma'roof – emphasizing what is good
* Nahi-Anil-Munkar – forbidding what is evil
* Tawalla – loving the Ahlul Bayt and their followers
* Tabarra – dissociating oneself from the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt
for more information, one can visit websites such as www.al-islam.org