The 1400-year-old schism between Sunnis and Shi`is has rarely been
as toxic as it is today, feeding wars and communal strife in Syria,
Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and many other countries, with
tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalating. In this richly
layered and engrossing account, John McHugo reveals how this great
divide occurred. Charting the story of Islam from the lifetime of
the Prophet Muhammad to the present day, he describes the conflicts
that raged over the succession to the Prophet, how Sunnism and
Shi`ism evolved as different sects during the Abbasid caliphate,
and how the rivalry between the empires of the Sunni Ottomans and
Shi`i Safavids contrived to ensure that the split would continue
into modern times. Now its full, destructive force has been brought
out by the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for the soul of
the Muslim world. Definitive and insightful, A Concise History of
Sunnis and Shi`is shows that there was nothing inevitable about the
sectarian conflicts that now disfigure Islam. It is an essential
guide to understanding the genesis, development and manipulation of
the great schism that has come to define Islam and the Muslim
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