Objective
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. May blessings and peace be upon the prophet and his purified Ahlul Bayt.

I am dedicating this research primarily to my wife and my two daughters, and secondary to whoever is interested in researching the major differences between the Sunnis and Twelver Shia'a, hoping to know the Truth and preach the correct Islam.

Of course I am a human being, and therefore, I am fallible. So you may find many mistakes, but the fundamentals are what really count. Please feel free to report to me any mistakes you find.

I became fully aware of the differences between the Sunnis and Twelver Shia'a when I got married. Despite our differences, we (my wife and I) are both Muslims. We believe in Allah and His Oneness, in His servant Muhammad being His Messenger and the seal of prophethood, in the Quran being complete, spotless and the Word of Allah, in all His prophets and Messengers, in His Angels, in the Day of Resurrection and Judgement and in Heaven and Hell.

Yes, we are from different schools of thought, and that is unfortunately the reality of any religion. But we do not hate each other or accuse one another. I am SICKENED by those who promote hatred against those do not share their religious views, and even promote their killing after making them Kafir. I am particularly talking about those who claim to be Sunni and kill the Shia'a Muslims in Iraq and Pakistan, or those who oppress the Shia'a of Saudi Arabia. Of course, I also condemn the Shia'a who entertain similar attitude towards the Sunnis.

Ignorance is what makes us intolerant, radical and hostile towards one another. You can claim to be a Muslim, but your acts are certainly not that of one. Did the prophet kill the disbelievers, the Jews and Christians because they did not believe in him? Of course not.

This website site would probably have never existed if it were not for that marriage. Our deeply-rooted belief system is initially based on what we inherited from our parents, and them from their parents, and so on. The Quran explains it better:

Quran 43:23
And thus, We did not send before you any warner in a town, but those who led easy lives in it said: Surely we found our fathers on a course, and surely we are followers of their footsteps.
وَكَذَلِكَ مَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّذِيرٍ إِلَّا قَالَ مُتْرَفُوهَا إِنَّا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءنَا عَلَى أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَى آثَارِهِم مُّقْتَدُونَ

Then we added to that what we learned from the media, friends, academy and the few (if any) books we read. For the majority of us, this is the extent of our knowledge. We never verified what we learned and were fed, but we just accepted them. Unfortunately, we've been more conditioned to listen and accept rather than listen, verify and criticize. Many of us never questioned their inherited belief. We just accepted them and happily moved on. We hardly considered the possibility that the Islam that reached us could have been a modified version of the original.

Our religious differences (between my myself and my wife) encompassed a range of topics such as the acts of worhip, the issue of caliphate, the true virtues and status of Ahlul Bayt and the companions. We differed on the way we prayed, the way we performed rituals such as Wudu', al-adhan and al-iqamat. We even differed on the proper time to break the fast. The legitimacy of the Taraweeh prayers and Muta'a were other issues. All of these unresolved differences, which existed for 1400 years, became a burden on all of us, in all its senses and the source of emotional and stressful discussions.

The logic is that at the time of the prophet, there was one Islam. There was one way of performing the Wudu', of reciting the Adhan or Iqamat, one way of performing the mandatory prayers and they either prayed or did not pray al-Taraweeh. If everything had gone well, then we would have been performing all the rituals in their original forms. But we are not, and that worried me a lot, but also does not worry others. So what happened to Islam??? In fact, the prophet foretold the division of Islam into many sects, each claiming to be following the true way of the prophet (division of Islam into several sects):

The holy prophet said: "Out of the seventy-one sects of the followers of Musa, only one will enter paradise. The followers of Isa also divided their religion into seventy two sects, out of which only one will enter paradise. Likewise there will be seventy three sects among my followers, out of which only one will enter paradise."
افترقت اليهود على احدى وسبعين فرقة فواحدة في الجنة وسبعون في النار وافترقت النصارى على اثنتين وسبعين فرقة فاحدى وسبعون في النار وواحدة في الجنة والذي نفس محمد بيده لتفترقن أمتي على ثلاث وسبعين فرقة فواحدة في الجنة واثنتان وسبعون في النار.

This Hadith is accepted by all 5 schools of thoughts (Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi'i, Hanbali and Ahlul Bayt). So tell me, which of today's sect is on the right path? It can definitely not be all of them since the hadith is very clear that only one is on the right path and will enter paradise. In other words, which of today's sect is following or is the closest to the way of the prophet? Are you convinced that your Islam is the Islam of the prophet? If you are, then where does this leave the other Muslims who differ from you? Each sect has a jurisprudence, based on hadith they consider authentic. Each sect provides an interpretation of the Quran, again based on hadith they consider authentic or based on personal opinion. The Sunnah of the prophet was one pure source, free of contradictions and mistakes. Since we all claim to be following the Sunnah of the prophet, why are we differing, even on the most basic practices???

By the way, the Quran condemns sectarianism:

Quran 6:159
Surely they who divided their religion into parts and became sects, you have no concern with them; their affair is only with Allah, then He will inform them of what they did.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُواْ دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُواْ شِيَعًا لَّسْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُمْ إِلَى اللّهِ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَفْعَلُونَ

In fact, the prophet warned his companions that the Ummah will end up following the ways of the Jews and the Christians:

Narrated Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri: The Prophet said, "You will follow the ways of those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit (i.e., inch by inch) so much so that even if they entered a hole of a mastigure, you would follow them." We said, "O Allah's Apostle! (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?" He said, "Whom else?"
‏حدثنا ‏ ‏محمد بن عبد العزيز ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏أبو عمر الصنعاني ‏ ‏من ‏ ‏اليمن ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏زيد بن أسلم ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏عطاء بن يسار ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبي سعيد الخدري ‏ ‏عن النبي ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏قال ‏ ‏لتتبعن سنن من كان قبلكم شبرا شبرا وذراعا بذراع حتى لو دخلوا جحر ضب تبعتموهم قلنا يا رسول الله ‏ ‏اليهود ‏ ‏والنصارى ‏ ‏قال فمن

So just like we are convinced that the Christians are not following the way of prophet Jesus, we must convince ourselves that we may not be following the path of prophet Muhammad even though our Holy Book has been intact by the will of Allah.

Today, no Muslim doubts the authenticity of the Quran. Yes, the Shia'a of Ahlul Bayt also believe in the completeness of the Quran. I find the need to mention this point here because the Wahabis falsely accuse the Shia'a of not believing in the completeness of the Quran. These are false, baseless and hatred-based accusations.

Today, we also all differ about the interpretation of the Quran. Therefore, what changed is the Sunnah of the prophet, because it is the Sunnah that makes clear the verses of the Quran. So the Sunnah of the prophet did not reach us intact. It got lost on the way. It got tempered with and corrupted. This is also a fact recognized by all schools of thoughts.

So now we know that Islam got divided into many sects and one of them is on the right path. Therefore, the Islam we are following may not be the one of the prophet. We also know that the reason for these divisions is because we did not receive the authentic Sunnah of the prophet.

At the time of the prophet, all differences were refered to the prophet for resolution:

Quran 4:59
O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً

Yes, the prophet knew well that the Ummah would end up following the way of the Jews and the Christians, and that we will split into 73 sects. In fact, he knew much more. He knew that a group of his companions would turn apostates, they would kill one another for the wordly things and they would introduce innovations to Islam. Of course, a group of the companions will remain on the straight path. Having been informed of all of this, the prophet must have told his followers how to avoid falling into this unavoidable path. So who did the prophet command us to follow, after him, so we don't stray off?

In fact he did leave us a very important guideline, which is Hadith al-Thaqalayn (accepted by Sunnis and Shia'a):

The messenger of Allah said: "I am leaving for you two precious and weighty Symbols that if you adhere to BOTH of them you shall not go astray after me. They are, the Book of Allah, and my progeny, that is my Ahlul-Bayt. The Merciful has informed me that These two shall not separate from each other till they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise)."
اني تارك فيكم ما إن تمسكتم به لن تضلوا بعدي؛ أحدهما أعظم من الآخر؛ كتاب الله حبل ممدود من السماء الى الأرض وعترتي أهل بيتي ولن يتفرقا حتى يردا على الحوض فانظروا كيف تخلفوني فيهما

So the prophet has told his Ummah that as long as the Muslims adhere to the Quran and Ahlul Bayt, they will be safe from straying off. In other words, as long as they listen to and follow the way of Ahlul Bayt, they will not deviate. This means the way of Ahlul Bayt is the way of the prophet, and therefore is the path to our salvation. But since the Ummah has strayed, it means that many of the companions did not follow this important guideline of the prophet. Why? What and who caused this deviation?

Having said that, it becomes the obligation of every Muslim to ascertain that he is truly following the Islam of the prophet through Ahlul Bayt, and not the islam of anyone else. Now, I AM NOT saying you need to follow the path of the Shia'a, and specifically the Twelver Shia'a, since their belief and Fiqh is based on that of Ahlul Bayt. You have to remember that Sunni and Shia'a hadith sources are infested with fabrications. Fabricated narrations have been falsely attributed to the prophet as well as to Ahlul Bayt. Therefore, each one of the schools will have errors in their belief system due to these fabrications. All I am saying is that irrespective of your denomination (Shia, Sunni, Sufi, etc), the way of Ahlul Bayt is the way of the prophet, and this is how this Ummah can be reunited. This is not my invention or doctrine. This is Hadith al-Thaqalayn. A Muslim follows the Sunnah of the prophet by following and adhering to Ahlul Bayt, and only them. If Ahlul Bayt used to wipe their feet during al-Wudu', then this is how the Wudu' must be perform. Accept the Truth rather than rejecting it under the pretext of being a Shia'a practice.

The Wahabis accuse the Shia'a of many things, including the killing of Imam Hussein. Let me ask you this: Those companions who fought Imam Ali in al-Jamal, Nahrawan and Siffin, are they true believers?? Do they really represent Islam?? No they dont. Today, do the Shia'a accuse the Sunnis of attacking the house of Fatima, of threatening Ahlul Bayt, of fighting against them?? No they don't, and if some do, then they should not be doing so. Do the Shia'a accuse the Sunnis of insulting Imam Ali for 80 years on the pulpit of every mosque that was under the control of the Umayyads? No they don't. They only accuse the people who perpetrated these despicable and horrible acts. We do not bear the mistakes and sins of our forefathers. We are innocent from their actions, unless we support their actions.

So even if those 18000 people who promised to support Imam Hussein in the rectification of the Ummah, then turned their swords against him, claimed to be the Shia'a of Ahlul Bayt, what does it have to do with the current Shia'a?? Do not the current Shia'a curse every one who betrayed and fought against Ahlull Bayt?? Is it wise for the Wahabis to make such accusations? Certainly, they have their own agenda! Besides, these people could not have been the true Shia'a of Ahlul Bayt. They may have been the Shia'a of Ali politically, but not religiously. It is one thing to claim to be a follower and another thing to act upon it. So claiming to be a Shia'a, a Sunni, or a Muslim for that matter really means nothing. Nowadays, we all claim to be Muslims but our deeds and behaviour do not support such claims. Being a Muslim has become just a label, unfortunately. Islam is about Faith and Deeds, not one without the other. So it is the person who errs who should be blamed and not the belief system he claims to be following. I am pretty sure no one likes it when Islam is accused to promote terrorism, rather then pointing the accusation to the perpetrators!

The least I expect from this research is to make you ask yourself the following question: Is the Islam I know and follow today the same as the one the prophet preached?

This research was an emotional roller-coaster. You will understand what I mean once you dig into it. Therefore, I must warn you that in some of the papers, you will feel my intense anger and frustration, and you will probably not like what I have written in some cases. But the point of all of this is to get to the truth. Truth is what counts.

May blessings and peace be upon the prophet and his purified Ahlul Bayt.