If you want to know about the reasons behind this conflict, you have to go back to 1,400 years. It all started immediately after the death of Prophet Mohammad. The Prophet passed away without appointing a successor and this situation led to the split over the future of the Muslim community. There were questions about choosing the next leader and some people argued that a leader must be chosen on a democratic consensus while some others raised their voice for the blood relations of the Prophet Mohammad.
A brief overview of the history
A group of people argued that Abu Bakr, one of Prophets close friends and advisers was the best person to become the caliph. Another group came up with the argument that prophet’s cousin and son-in-law Hazrat Ali was the most suitable person to take up the title of caliph. Abu Bakr became the caliph after prophet’s death and Ali became the 4th caliph after two previous caliphs were assassinated. The group of people who are supporting the appointment of Abu Bakr is known as Sunnis and the Shias believe that Ali was the first rightful caliph.
The basic difference
This division has lasted more than thousand years and quite naturally, both parties went forward with their own schools of thought, doctrines, culture and ideas. You can find moderate as well extremist followers in both categories. The basic difference is that Sunnis are primarily focused on the God’s power in the physical world and the Shias are preoccupied more with the afterlife rewards. For Shias, celebration of martyrdom is of great importance.
Around 85% of the Muslim population is Sunnis and they are spread across all around the globe including the Middle East and North Africa and Indonesia as well. You can find Shias in countries like Iran, Bahrain, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. These groups fight with each other for dominance and the strained relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a perfect example of this divide.