Glossary: Shia (also Shiite, from Shiat Ali, the Party of Ali)

A member of the smaller of the two great divisions of Islam. Shias supported the claims of Ali and his line to presumptive right to the caliphate and leadership of the Muslim community, and on this issue they divided from the Sunnis (q.v.) in the first great schism within Islam. Later schisms have produced further divisions among the Shias over the identity and number of Imams (q.v.). Shias revere Twelve Imams, the last of whom is believed to be in hiding.

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