Definitions for "Shia"
Keywords:  ali, imam, sunni, caliph, muslim
alt. Shi'a, Shi'i; lit. 'Party', pl. Shias, Shi'ites - Supporters of Ali, the fourth Caliph and the 1st Imam ; Shi'ites makes up ~10% of modern Muslims, largely in Iran and southern Iraq; see Islamic History
The smaller of the two great divisions of Islam, supporting the claims of Ali to leadership of the Muslim community, in opposition to the Sunni ( q.v.) view of succession to Muslim leadership--the issue causing the central schism within Islam.
The largest Muslim sect in Lebanon. The word Shia comes from Shiat Ali, or party of Ali. Those who believed that Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, should have succeeded the Prophet have come to be known as Shias. Those who thought that the successor should have been chosen by the community came to be known as Sunnis ( q.v.). This dispute created the first great division in Islam. Most Lebanese Shias are Twelver Shias (also known as Imami Shias), believing that the twelfth imam (divinely appointed religious leader) is in hiding and will reappear. Shias live in West Beirut and its southern suburbs, southern Lebanon, and in parts of the Biqa Valley. Shias have tended to have less education and to be poorer than most other segments of society.