Shi'a Islam (Template:Lang-ar or follower. English has traditionally used Shiite or Shi'ite) is the second largest Islamic denomination.
Shi'a is short for Shi'áte Ali (Template:Lang-ar), a follower of Ali ibn Abu Talib who was the prophet Muhammad's cousin, his son-in-law, and the father of Prophet Muhammad's only descendants. He was the male head of the Ahlul Bayt, Prophet Muhammad's household, after Prophet Muhammad died. Shi'a Muslims believe that Ali should have followed Prophet Muhammad as the direct successor and leader of the Muslims. Sunni Muslims believe that Abu Bakr, the first caliph to hold power after Prophet Muhammad, held his office legitimately. This difference of opinion regarding an event in 632 EV may seem like a minor matter to some, but this schism shaped two Muslim traditions which differ sharply in many of their beliefs and practices.
- Wikipedia. (2005). Shi'a Islam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shi%27a). Retrieved on July 14. 2005.