Monday, 29 January 2018

REASONS FOR GERMAN DEFEAT IN WORLD WAR 2

Nazi Germany had one of the strongest military forces of the world at the start of World War 2 while the emotions of German people were high for supremacy of German race and also to take revenge for the defeat of World War 1. In just 2 years, Germany was in control of the whole of Europe except Britain and Soviet Union. But the tides were turned later and the war ended with decisive German defeat. The important reasons behind German defeat are listed below:
  • ·         The most important reason for German defeat in World War 2 was the failed German invasion of Soviet Union. German invasion (Operation Barbarossa) only proved partially successful as the Russian defended their important cities of Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad despite sustaining heavy casualties. Later, the Soviet counteroffensive not only uprooted Germans from all their Russian occupied areas but also exhausted them to initiate any major offensive.
  • ·        Battle of Britain was another important factor behind German defeat. In Western Europe, Britain was the only Allied country resisting against Germans. The German effort to demoralize and later capture Britain remained unsuccessful. The resistance of Britain proved significant for later liberation of German captured areas in Western Europe and Africa as the liberation forces of Free France, Poland, Norway, Czechoslovakia and other countries used Britain as their base.
  • ·        Italy proved a weak ally of Germany. The performance of Italian forces in Balkan campaign and Africa remained very poor and German forces had to assist Italy during these campaigns on large scale. If Italy could perform better militarily then Germany would have more men for other fronts especially Eastern front (against Soviet Union). Italian defeat against Greece forced Germany to intervene which delayed the planned German invasion on Soviet Union that later proved disastrous due to severe Russian cold weather.
  • ·        Russia's severe cold weather was the main factor for German defeat on Eastern Front. Many German military personnel died in Russia due to cold weather while Russians initial successes against Germans also came in winters.
  • ·        In the star of World War 2, Soviet Union and Japan signed a truce on their border. Due to this truce, Russians had enough reserve men in Siberia and Far East and these fresh troops played a major role in the Soviet counteroffensive against Germany. Otherwise a successful counteroffensive would not be possible for Soviets as they had lost most of their troops on west during German offensive.
  • ·        After Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbour in 1941, USA entered the war in favor of Allied Powers. American entry in the war was also a major cause for German defeat as the Allies got large numbers of fresh and experienced troops with modern weapons in Europe and Pacific that proved decisive for the war. 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

REASONS FOR GERMAN DEFEAT IN WORLD WAR 1

World War 1 was the first major campaign of 20th Century and it also proved to be the prelude of the most destructive war, the World War 2. The war was fought between the coalitions of Central Powers and Allied Powers while Germany was leading the Central Powers and it was one of the most powerful Empires of that time. German Empire was eager to start that war despite efforts by other major powers to find a peaceful solution of the crisis after assassination of Austro-Hungarian Empire’s heir Franz Ferdinand. The reason for impatience of Germany was its massive land and naval power and Germany wanted to increase its empire by using its forces. But after initial gains, Germany and Central Powers started to lose the war and the initiative was completely lost till 1917. The main reasons for German defeat in WW1 are given below.

Weaknesses of Central Powers

Apart from Germany, the other main members of Central Powers were quite weak. At that time, Ottoman Empire was known as the ill man of Europe. Ottomans defended their main Anatolian area during Gallipoli Campaign but they lost all their areas in North Africa and Middle East to the Allies. Ottomans effort to capture Caucasus from Russia also failed miserably. In the end, Turkey was only able to take back its main area of Anatolia after Turkish War of Independence.

 WW1 started from Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia. It was thought was Serbia will be captured within days but Austro-Hungary could only captured Serbia after more than a year and it was also when Bulgaria entered the war in favor of Central Powers. Austro-Hungarian Empire also proved a week ally of Germany.

War on two Fronts

Due to involvement of Russian Empire, Germany had to fight the war on western and eastern side. Though, Russian Empire was weak at that time but Germany had to put thousands of its troops against Russia because of unsuccessful campaigns of ottomans and Austro-Hungary against Russia. Russia opted to withdraw from war in 1917 after Russian Revolution but the entry of USA in favor of Allied powers ended any benefit of Russian withdrawal for Germany.

Unsuccessful U-Boat Campaign

Before the start of WW1, Germany tried to make a strong naval force that could beat the British Empire in case of any conflict. But Britain had the strongest navy which it used for German blockade. In retaliation, Germany used its U-boats (submarines) to attack the ships and boats of Britain and Allied powers. U-boats were used against both military and merchant ships. After initial successes, Britain managed to overpower these U-boats through better security measures. In later stages of the war, German U-boats indiscriminately sunk ships of nutral countries also that was a major cause of US entry in WW1 in favor of Allied Powers.

Most Countries sided with Allies

Central Powers could not convince most of the world countries to join their alliance and most of the countries from Europe, Asia and Americas joined Allied Powers. An important reason for many countries joining allies was to take spoils of war as there were more chances that allies would win the war. A prominent example was Italy that signed a pact with Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire but joined the war in favor of Allies. Due to large number of opponents, the situation remained difficult for the Central Powers during the whole course of the war.

Entering of US in the war

United States remained neutral during main course of the war but it joined the Allied powers in 1917 after losing few of its ships due to indiscriminate targeting of ships by German U-Boats. US joining the war also very crucial because Russian Empire had withdrawn from the war due to its internal conflict and the Allied powers were in severe need of a powerful country in order to prevent the Central powers to take any advantage of Russian withdrawal from the war.

Internal Conflicts

Due to blockade of Germany by Allied forces, the situation was becoming difficult in Germany for common people that ended with the end of monarchy and formation of Weimer Republic. The new republic was not interested in continuation of war.

Apart from that, the Central Powers could not remain united at the ending moments of war. Austro-Hungary started negotiations with the Allied powers without consultation from Germany. These internal conflicts also made the situation worse for Germany and Central Powers and they had to accept harsh conditions from Allies.

Modern Weapons of Allied Powers

Tanks were invented during WW1 by Allied forces while the allied powers had more sophisticated jet fighters than Germany. These modern weapons also played important role to end the war in favor of Allied Powers.

Trench Warfare


Germany soon reached the frontiers of France after capturing Luxemburg and Belgium. In order to protect France from German invasion, the Allies started Trench Warfare. Despite efforts from Germany (even using chemical weapons), it could not cross the trenches to enter France and the trench warfare ended just before the end of WW1. 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

REASONS FOR RISE OF ISIS

Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) is designated as terrorist organization by U.N. and many countries in the world and there is no country and organization which is openly assisting this organization. But despite every difficulty and military operations by world powers and regional countries of Middle East, ISIL managed to take control of large area of Iraq and Syria. There are few important reasons behind the rise of ISIL.

·         American policies in Middle East should be regarded as the main reason for birth and rise of ISIL. After US invasion of Iraq in 2003 over false allegations of WMD (weapons of mass destruction), ISIL’s parent organization JTJ (Jamaat al Tawhid wal Jihad), under the leadership of al-Zarqawi, started guerrilla warfare against US and became popular among regional Sunni Muslims due to their stiff resistance against US which helped them to increase their strength as large number of fighters join the group. On the other hand, U.S. remained inactive in Syria over the brutal killing of Syrian people by Syrian Army while America even stopped its invasion of Syria when Syria use chemical weapons against civilian while previously U.S. President had called it a red-line. Due to American policy, the Syrian war prolonged for years which helped ISIL to increase its influence and captured areas in Syria and Iraq.

·         Sectarianism in Middle East is another main reason for rise of ISIL. From the start of guerilla warfare in Iraq, JTJ was conducting sectarian attacks on Iraqi Shias which resulted in the killing of thousands of people in Baghdad and other areas while they also targeted the holy places of Shia Muslims on several occasions. America successfully curb the militant activities of AQI with the formation of Awakening Councils (Sahwa) in Sunni Arab areas of Iraq in 2007 but the situation reversed in 2012 by the sectarian policies of Shia-dominated Iranian backed Iraqi regime of Nouri al-Maliki which forced the Arab Sunnis to remade an alliance with Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and the group was able to re-conquered the Sunni areas that they lost earlier.

·         Policies of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was another important reason for reemergence of ISIS. Al-Baghdadi replaced the deceased religious leadership of ISIS with a more militarily expert leadership. He introduced many officers of former Iraqi Baath party in the military leadership of ISIL. Apart from that, other veterans of war also joined ISIL leadership. A prominent example is Abu Omar al-Shishani, a former member of Georgian Armed forces. These experienced members played a key role in the victories of ISIL in 2013 and beyond.


·         Role of Sunni Arab countries is also regarded as an important factor behind the rise of ISIS. Many fighters in ISIS belong to countries like Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries while several wealthy people in these Arab countries are also helping ISIS financially. Critics of Arab countries say that either these countries are helping ISIS or turning a blind eye over recruitment and financial assistance of ISIS from their countries due to sectarian reason.  

REASONS FOR THE FALL OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

Ottoman Empire was the last greatest Muslim Empire that lasted from the end of 13th Century to the start of 20th Century. Starting from Northwest Anatolia, the Ottoman Empire was in control of large parts of western Asia, central Europe and North Africa at its peak. But during the 17th Century (especially after Battle of Vienna in 1683), the Ottoman Empire started to lose its political influence by losing its European areas one by one. During World War 1, the Empire sided with Germany in order to regain its lost areas. But the war ended with complete destruction of Ottoman Empire and the empire was replaced by Republic of Turkey which holds the area of Anatolia only. Following are the main reasons for the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Reasons for the Fall of the Ottoman Empire

Incapable Rulers

The first ten Sultans of Ottoman Empire (from Osman I to Suleiman I) are ranked as the best rulers of the empire but the later rulers proved to be incompetent ones who could not retained the supremacy and influence of Ottoman Empire. Though, the political decline started later in the 17th Century during the reign of 19th Sultan Ahmed II but the responsibility for this decline started far earlier when Ottomans started to lose battles against opponents and they were no longer feared due to incompetency and incapability of the later Ottoman rulers while the situation worsened miserably with the passage of time. 

Role of Janissaries (Yeniceri)

Janissary was a special infantry unit formed by third Ottoman ruler Murad I in 1383. These were specially trained unit that played important role in the initial successes of Ottoman Empire. But with passage of time, this unit became indiscipline and the later incapable rulers failed to control them fully. They opposed any effort of modernization in military and even assassinate few Sultans and Viziers for their purpose. Sultan Murad II abolished this elite unit by force in 1826. This indiscipline attitude of janissaries was an important reason for the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Role of Suleiman the Magnificent

Suleiman the Magnificent is regarded as one of the best and the last great sultans of Ottoman Empire but he committed such mistakes that proved harmful for the empire later. He was under the influence of his favorite wife Hurem Sultan which was pioneer for harmful women’s role in state affairs. Suleiman started personal selection of public servants which was later misused by the new emperors. Suleiman initiated the custom to hear the proceedings of ‘deewan’ from window instead of personal participation and his successors completely ignored the ‘deewan’.

Assassination of Sultan’s Brothers

The cruel custom of assassination of brothers of the new Sultan was started by Bayazed Yaldrim and it later became part of law in the era of Muhammad II. The purpose of this custom was to eliminate any potential rival of Sultan for political stability. But this cruel law also deprived the empire from many capable rulers and played a part in the downfall of the Ottoman Empire.

The Cage System

The cage system was also initiated by Suleiman the Magnificent. Under this system, princes were kept in cages instead of palace and there was no system of necessary training for these princes. It was an important reason for emergence of incapable rulers after Suleiman which brought the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. 

Incapable Ministers

The initial ministers of Ottoman Empire were very wise and capable who played important role in the expansion of empire. But later ministers were chosen on the basis of political influence instead of their wisdom and ability. This combination of incapable rulers and ministers played vital role in the demise of the Ottoman Empire.

Emergence of the Russian Empire

17th Century was the time of declining of Ottoman Empire and emergence of Russian Empire. Russian Empire became the direct rival of Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire used the slogans and emotions of (Slav) nationalism and (Christian) religion to stage war against Ottomans. After initial losses, Russians almost remained superior against Ottomans and they brought the quick demise of Ottoman Empire.

Opposition to Reforms

During declining of the empire, many Sultans tried to reverse the situation through reforms. But their efforts were failed not only by Janissaries but also by common people who considered these reforms against Islam. As a result, Ottoman Empire could not reach the level of emerging European powers that brought the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. 

Young Turks

Young Turks’ movement was a reformist movement in Turkey but the movement was based on Turkish nationalism. This nationalistic movement also influenced other nationalistic movements in the empire. The most important one was Arab Revolt that emerged due to weakening of Muslim brotherhood that was replaced by Turkish nationalism.

Arab Revolt

The feelings of Arab nationalism were present in Arab areas of Ottoman Empire at the start of 20th Centuries. These sentiments were used by British during World War 1 and they assured their support to Sherifite of Makkah for the establishment of a United Arab State. For this purpose, the Arab Revolt initiated in 1916 against the Ottomans which played important role in the separation of Arab areas of Ottoman Empire and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. This revolt was very important as it deprived the Ottoman Sultans for using the title of Caliphate.

Declining Military Power

During the decline of Ottoman Empire, the military power was also declining as they were far behind the technological advancements of European powers. The reforming movement was too slow and too late and this decline in military power proved to be an important reason for the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Religious Scholars

Ulema (religious scholars) had an important role in the government affairs and their decree is considered important for important issues. But several times these scholars used their influence wrongly that proved harmful for the empire. Ulema’s gave their decree in favor of assassination of Salim IV by Janissaries, assassination of new Sultan’s brothers and alcohol drinking of Salim III. During Turkish War of Independence, ulema were divided among their support for Mustafa Kamal Ataturk.

Economic Condition

During their decline, Ottomans lost vast important areas which put bad effects on economic conditions. The problem was accelerated due to continuous warfare. The declining economic situation also played important role in the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Role of Minorities


Majority of population of Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and few other Ottoman held areas were Christians. When Russia, Austria and other countries used their Christian religious sentiments, they started rebellions in these areas. Several minorities also took effect from nationalistic ideologies of the era which proved decisive for Ottoman failure to retain control over many areas of their empire.

REASONS FOR THE FALL OF THE UMAYYAD DYNASTY

Umayyad Caliphate was the second Muslim Caliphate that emerged after Rashidun Caliphate but the Caliphate is commonly known as Umayyad Dynasty as it was centered on the Umayyad clan of Quraysh tribe of Makkah. At its peak, the Umayyad Dynasty was ruling Middle East, North African, Iberian Peninsula, Persia and Central Asia due to which the dynasty is known as the largest Muslim dynasty and one of the largest empires of human history. Umayyad Caliphate also kept the unity of Islamic Caliphate as more than one Muslim dynasties appeared soon after the fall of Umayyad Dynasty.

But despite great political and military achievements, Umayyad Dynasty could only lasted for around 90 years and it was replaced by the Abbasid Caliphate in 750 AD (Later, Umayyad ruled Iberian Peninsula from 756 to 1031 AD).

Reasons for the Fall of Umayyad Dynasty

It is quite surprising that such a huge and politically powerful umpire could only last for 90 years. There are several reasons behind the fall of Umayyad Dynasty. The most important ones are mentioned below.

Battle of Karbala

First Umayyad caliph Muawiya bin Abi Sufiyan (RA) appointed his son Yazid bin Muawiya as the new ruler of caliphate. This appointment was rejected by prominent sahaba as many people viewed it as against the principles of Islam. Grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Hussain bin Ali (RA), was among those people who opposed this decision. Yazid tried to take oath of allegiance from him which ended in Hussain’s martyrdom in the Battle of Karbala. Due to assassination of Prophet’s grandson at the hands of an Umayyad ruler, majority of Muslims disliked the rule of Umayyads while the Shia and Abbasid used it as propaganda against Umayyads which proved to be an important reason for the fall of Umayyad dynasty.

Shia and Kharijite

Shiites have the view that only Prophet’s family has the right to rule over Muslims while Kharijites had an anarchist ideology who fought against every ruler. Both of these groups had different ideologies but their enmity of Umayyad’s was similar. They both fought against almost every Umayyad ruler whenever they got the chance and they never let the Umayyads to rule peacefully. Shia also supported the Abbasid movement that brought the downfall of Umayyad Caliphate.  

Tribal differences

Different Arab tribes had hostility against each other that was suppressed by Islamic ideology. But the effect of Islamic unity weakened with passage of time and the tribal differences emerged again during Umayyad dynasty. A famous tribal rivalry was between the southern tribes of Yemen and northern tribes of Egypt. Later Umayyad rulers also supported various tribes for their own benefit that escalated these tribal differences that created differences between tribes and bloodshed in the country.

The tribes of Syria and Iraq were under the influence of Byzantines and Persians respectively. Their differences also played important role in the fall of Umayyad Dynasty.  

Form of Government

In Rashidun Caliphate, any capable Muslim can became a ruler through Shura (consensus among Muslims) but it was not the case during Umayyad dynasty that was established on monarchial form of government where only son, brother or close relative of a caliph of Umayyad clan could be the new ruler. Not only that it was against the wishes of most of the Muslims but this system also paved the way for several incompetent rulers in the later part of Umayyad Dynasty that brought the downfall of Umayyad Dynasty.

Bad treatment of faithful Generals

As stated above, large areas of Asia, Europe and Africa were conquered during Umayyad Dynasty and there were several Muslim Generals who played important role in these conquests. But few among them were treated badly by Umayyad rulers due to differences. Umayyad ruler Sulayman bin Abdul Malik punished Musa bin Nusayr (African governor), Muhammid bin Qasim (conqueror of Sindh and Multan) and Qutayba bin Muslim (conqueror of Transoxiana) as they favored the succession of Walid’s son in place of Sulayman.

Another ruler Yazid bin Abdul Malik exterminated the faithful Yemenite tribes who played important role in strengthening the rule of Umayyads. These acts discouraged faithful generals and political figures of Umayyads that paved the way for their destruction.  

Battles against Khazars

Umayyad battles against Khazars in Caucasus also played an important role in the fall of the empire. The Umayyads were later able to conquered most of the area under Khazar rule but only at the cost of heavy casualties. Due to stiff resistance from Khazars, large part of Umayyad army was placed in Caucasus which proved disastrous as the revolt of Abbasids could not be subjugate due to presence of most part of army away from the capital. If Umayyads didn’t have to send large forces to Caucasus then it was quite possible for them to defeat the Abbasids.

Arab-non Arab conflict

Umayyad Dynasty was mainly an Arab dynasty supported by Arab tribes. The Umayyads tried to flourish Arabian culture and language also in non-Arab areas of the caliphate. In order to increase the revenue, even the newly converted Muslims of non-Arab areas (commonly known as mawali) were taxed heavily. Such steps created unlikeness of Umayyad caliphate in the non-Arab parts of Caliphate. These newly converted Muslims also took greater effect of Hussain’s martyrdom at the hands of Umayyad. Shia and Kharijites took advantage and spread their ideologies in Persia and Maghrib (North Africa) respectively. Abbasids were also mainly supported by non-Arabs (especially Persians) during their successful revolt against the Umayyads.

Abbasid Movement

In the later stage of Umayyad dynasty, Abbasids (a clan of Hashemite Arabs) started their movement secretly against the Umayyads. The movement was well received in the parts of former Persian Empire (especially Khurasan) where many people dislike Umayyad rule. Abbasids took sympathies of these areas by using their close relation to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Initially, the movement was secret but the Abbasids started armed rebellion in 747 when Umayyads were facing internal conflicts. Abbasids started gaining areas from time to time and the whole Umayyad Caliphate came to an end in 750 with the decisive Battle of Zab and Abbasids replaced the Umayyads as the new rulers of Islamic Empire.   



REASONS FOR FALL OF THE ABBASID CALIPHATE

Abbasid Caliphate was the third Muslim caliphate after Rashidun Caliphate and Umayyad Caliphate while it was also the second Muslim dynasty after Umayyad Dynasty as the rulers during this dynasty belonged only to the Abbasid family. The Abbasids took the throne in 750 AD after the fall of the Umayyad Dynasty while they ruled almost the whole Muslim world for more than 500 years till 1258 AD. In 1258, Mongols occupied Baghdad and killed the last Abbasid caliph Mustasim which ended the Abbasid Caliphate.

Though, Abbasids remained caliphs for over 500 years but the gradual decline of their empire started almost from the beginning. Reasons for the fall of Abbasid Caliphate are given below.

Reasons for fall of the Abbasid Caliphate

Differences with Shia

Abbasids and Shia were together during Hashemite movement which brought the end of Umayyad Caliphate. But differences between two parties started few years after the start of Abbasid Caliphate. Shia were expecting to become rulers after fall of the Umayyads but instead Abbasids themselves took the throne. It prompted Shia to organize several rebellions against Abbasids during their caliphate and weakened the caliphate due to their revolts and conspiracies. Fatimid (Ismaili Shia) controlled North Africa and Hejaz and the Buyid Dynasty controlled areas of Persia, Iraq and Oman in the 10th Century while Qaramites and Assassins (lead by Hasan bin Sabah) were also such Shia groups who created problems in various parts of Islamic world. Shia were also behind Hulagu Khan during his successful invasion of Baghdad.

Autonomous Dynasties

The Umayyads strictly kept the central rule in the whole caliphate but different areas of caliphate started to disintegrate during Abbasid Caliphate and several autonomous and near-autonomous dynasties appeared in the areas away from center during Abbasid Caliphate. The first such autonomous state was the Emirate of Cordoba where Umayyads became sovereign rulers in 756 AD. Later, several other rulers in different parts of the caliphate parted their ways from Abbasids and several dynasties formed in the later centuries. Though, most of these dynasties accepted the suzerainty of Abbasids but they remained independent in their affairs. Losing central control over large areas of empire proved to be an important reason for fall and decline of Abbasid Caliphate.

Role of Turkish Generals

People from Persia and Khurasan were the initial backers of Abbasid Dynasty. But soon differences occurred between the ruling dynasty and their supporters due to religious and political reasons. It forced the Abbasids to eliminate the influence of Persians. In contrast to Umayyad dynasty, Abbasids were not welcomed by many Arabs and they trusted the newly-converted Turks as their supporters.

Initially, Turkish forces assisted the Abbasids to regain control of several areas (especially Iraq) from other dynasties but later the Turks became king makers who destabilized the caliphate internally and they established their own autonomous states in several parts of Caliphate where rule of Abbasids was minimal. Rise of Turks on political stage also proved to be an important reason for fall of Abbasid Caliphate.

Mongol Invasion

In the start of 13th Century, Mongol tribes united under the leadership of Genghiz Khan and then started to invade and capture areas around Mongolia. Soon, they occupied China, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Mongols started their invasions against Abbasids in 1236 but most of their invasions failed against the strong military of Abbasids.


The final invasion of Mongols started in 1257 while several Christian kingdoms were also assisting Mongols. After capturing nearby areas from various factions, the Mongols reached near Baghdad in 1258. Last Abbasid caliph was too afraid to fight against the invaders and he surrendered to Mongols after a successful siege. Later, caliph Mustasim was assassinated and the Mongols plundered and destroyed the whole city of Baghdad which marked the end of Abbasid Caliphate. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

SUNNI-SHIA CONFLICT - REASONS AND HISTORY

Sunni and Shia are two main sects of Islam and the relations between these two sects almost always remained stressed and full of animosity. The major reasons behind these strained relations are opposing ideologies which comprise the faith (aqidah) and political positions of the two sides. Since early days of Caliphate to modern times, several armed conflicts have been fought between them and all the efforts to create harmony and normal relations between the two sects remained unsuccessful at large. The main reasons behind this serious conflict between Sunni and Shia sects are following.

Reasons behind Sunni Shia Conflict

·         The most important reason behind Sunni Shia conflict is the Shia belief that only persons of the Prophet’s household (ahl al-bayt) have the right to lead Muslims after the death of Holy Prophet (PBUH). Due to this belief, they regard the first three caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar and Usman) as usurpers while they also reject the caliphate of all the other Sunni Muslim rulers. In contrary, Sunni Muslims believe that Muslims can elect their political leaders through consensus. 

·         Most of the Shia sects (especially the majority Twelver Shia) believe that their imams are infallible as they are chosen by Allah and Holy Prophet (PBUH). Shia also visit the shrines of their imams and perform several rituals there. All these Shia believes and practices are totally rejected by mainstream Sunni Islam while the hardliners (especially Salafi Jihadists) termed few of Shia believes and acts as polytheism (shirk).

·         There are several other differences in Sunni and Shia belief, doctrine, rituals etc.

Major Events of Sunni Shia Conflict

·         After martyrdom of third rightly guided caliph Usman (RA), Muhammad’s cousin Ali (RA) became the fourth caliph (termed as first Imam by Shia). But Muslims from Hejaz (especially Makkah and Madinah) and Syria demanded revenge of Usman’s death from murderers who had taken oath on Ali’s hand. On this issue, Ali had to fight two battles. The first one was Battle of Camel against the people of Hejaz who were lead by Muhammad’s (PBUH) wife Ayesha (RA). But the most stiff and bloodiest battle was the Battle of Siffin that was fought against Usman’s cousin Muawiya (RA) who was leading forces from Syria (Ali’s supporters were mainly from Iraq). The battle remained inconclusive but it was the first time that the term of Shi’an Ali (supporters of Ali) was used and it later changed in to Shia.

·         After Ali’s martyrdom, his son Hassan (RA) became caliph but he passed the caliphate to Muawiya (RA) in order to end the bloodshed and unite Muslims due to which the whole era of Muawiya’s caliphate (19 years) remained peaceful. But Muawiya’s appointment of his son Yazid as his successor was not welcomed by several prominent Muslims and one among them was Ali’s younger son Hussain (RA). Hussain traveled to Kufa (Iraq) in order to gain support against Yazid but he was betrayed by the Iraqi people which resulted in the one-sided Battle of Karbala that took the lives of Hussain (RA) and 72 of his supporters. This battle is regarded as the biggest example of sacrifice by Shia Muslims while Sunni Muslims consider it as a sad incident of civil war between the Muslims. The day of Hussain’s martyrdom is still commemorated by Shia Muslims (and also by few Sunni Muslims).

·         After death of 3rd Umayyad ruler Muawiya bin Yazid, the emergence of space gave rise to several political parties and one among them was a shiite supporter Mukhtar Thaqfi. He gathered many people around him on the slogan of revenge for Hussain’s death. He captured Iraq from another political figure Abdullah bin Zubair (a prominent Sahabi who was also against Umayyad dynasty) and assassinated many people believe to be behind the martyrdom of Hussain bin Ali (RA). Later, Abdullah’s brother Mus’ab bin Zubair recaptured Iraq from Mukhtar and killed him. Mukhtar is regarded as a hero in Shia sect.

·         In 750 AD, the Umayyad Caliphate was replaced by the Abbasid Caliphate. Shia were fully supporting the Abbasid movement against Umayyads with the hope to achieve their goal of rule of ahl al-bayt. But instead, the Abbasids themselves became rulers on the basis of their close relationship with Prophet (they were from the lineage of Muhammad’s (PBUH) uncle Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib). As a result, Shia started opposing Abbasid Caliphate and the first Shia dynasty of Fatimid (belong to Shia Ismaili sect) appeared in the 8th Century (Cairo became their capital). This dynasty rejected the Abbasid Caliphate and claimed for their own caliphate.

·         Several Shia dynasties also ruled in various parts of Muslim world during Abbasid Caliphate but more dangerous were the Shia terrorist groups which never let the internal peace to prevail. Two of the most notorious Shia organizations were the Hashashins (a Ismaili Shia organization based in Iran and led by Hasan bin al-Saba) and Qaramites (an extinct Shia sect).

·         In 1501, Ismail I captured Iran and founded the Twelver Shia Safavid dynasty. He converted the mainly Sunni population of Iran to a Twelver Shia Iran (also eradicating other Shia sects) mainly through force. But when he used the same policy in Iraq, he was checked by the then Sunni Muslim and global power of the Ottoman Empire. The Battle of Chaldiran in 1514 proved to be a decisive one as Safavids lost control over Iraq and few other areas. Ottomans and Safavids also fought four major wars in 16th and 17th centuries. Apart from the third one, the Ottomans remained victorious in all the other wars and the Ottoman-Safavid conflict ended in 1639 with Treaty of Zuhab that was signed after the decisive Ottoman victory in the fourth Ottoman-Safavid war (1623-1639).


·         In 1932, the modern state of Saudi Arabia was established that is based on the ultra conservative Sunni Salafi ideology, severely opposed to Shiite doctrine. In 1979, Iran became a Shia theocracy state after replacing the secular Iranian monarchy through Iranian Revolution. Shia dominant Iran tried to export its revolution in other parts of Muslim world which escalated the proxy war between two opposing religious states. Both the countries tried to dominate the Muslim world and their efforts are quite evident from their participation in Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) and the Syrian Civil War (2011-present).