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Rome Reports

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How is the Muslim world organized?

Muhammad's succession provoked a conflict that still exists today in the Muslim world: the clash between Islam's two main branches, the Shiites and Sunnis. 

The Shiites thought that Muhammad's successor should be the prophet's son-in-law, while the Sunnis advocated that the Muslim's leader should be chosen by the majority of the community. In addition to this, there are also doctrinal differences.

Shiites are the minority, representing only 13 percent of the world's Muslims, while the rest are Sunnis. 

This minority resides in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and, above all, Iran. This country is very important to Shiite Islam, because it is its spiritual and financial core.

Among the radical groups linked to Shi'ism is Hezbollah. It was founded in Lebanon in 1982, aiming to expel Israel from the western part of the country.

Amidst the Shiites there are also other sub-classes, such as the Imamis, Alawites, Ismailis, Druze, or the Zaidis.

As per the Sunnis, the most well-known group is the Salafitas. Over 85 percent of Muslims are Sunnis. They are most present in countries like Egypt, Turkey, Qatar and Indonesia. However, the Sunni State with the greatest political and economic weight is Saudi Arabia.

Though radical Sunni groups are a minority, they are also more famous. They include Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Taliban and the Islamic State.