Difference Between Shia and Ismaili

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    Shia vs Ismaili

    Shia and Ismaili are two sects of the muslim community. Shias are the second largest denomination of Muslims in the world. Ismaili is only a part of the Shia community.

    Ismaili is a minority sect when compared to the Shias as they are only part of the larger sect.

    The shias are the followers of Shia Islam and are often called as Shiites. Shia has been derived from Shiatu Ali, a historical word meaning followers of Ali. Shias believe that Ah al-Bayt, which is Prophet Muhammad’s family, and some of his descendents known as imams possess special spiritual as well as political authority over the community. The Shia sect considers Muhammad’s cousin and son- in- law ,Ali, as the first imam. They believe Ali to be the rightful successor of Muhammad. The Shias also reject the authority of the first three caliphs.

    Another thing that has to be noted when talking of the Shias is that the sect emerged even before the lifetime of Muhammad. It is known that the theology of Shia was devised during the second century. By the end of the third century, Shia governments were established.

    Isma’ili forms the second largest sect in the Shia community. The largest sects are the Twelvers. The sect got the name of Ismaili after the spiritual leader Ismail ibn Jafar. The Ismaili considers Ismail ibn Jafar as a divinely appointed spiritual leader and successor. The Ismaili follows the descendents of Imam. One can come across several Ismaili sub groups. However, they are generally referred to as the Nizari community. The Nizari community is composed of the followers of Aga Khan, which is the largest group in the Ismailis. Dawoodi Bohra’s are also another well known Ismaili community.

    Summary

    1. Shias are the second largest denomination of Muslims in the world.

    2. Ismaili is only a part of the Shia community.

    3. Shia has been derived from Shiatu Ali, a historical word meaning followers of Ali. The sect got the name of Ismaili after the spiritual leader Ismail ibn Jafar.

    4. The Shia sect considers Muhammad’s cousin and son- in- law Ali as the first imam. They believe Ali to be the rightful successor of Muhammad. They reject the authority of the first three caliphs.

    5. The Ismaili considers Ismail ibn Jafar as a divinely appointed spiritual leader and successor. The Ismaili follows the descendents of Imam.

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