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Excursuss Hi'Ites And Sunnites

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Chapter Summary

After Iran, the Indian subcontinent is home to the second largest Shiʿite population. After the death of the Prophet of Islam, Muslims split into groups of Kharijites, Shiʿites, and Sunnis over the issue of legitimate succession: whether it should be the outstanding merits in the cause of Islam (sabiqa) or close kinship ties with the Prophet's family (nasab). In the cultural fabric and the Islamic sacralisation of South Asia, the Shia played an important role, particularly the Ismailis who fled the Sunnite-dominated areas to find refuge along the river Indus. Today Khojas are headed by the present Agha Khan, the fourtyninth direct descendant in a male line down from ʿAli, with followers in Pakistan, India, Iran, Yemen, and East Africa. Growing influence and popularity of Shiism on the subcontinent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and its increasing visibility provoked harsh reactions from the Sunni revivalist movements.

Keywords: East Africa; Islam; Khojas; Muslims; Shiʿites; Shia; South Asia; Sunnis

10.1163/ej.9789004168596.i-520.34
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