Untangling history’s greatest controversies

Every month, host Zach Cornwell takes a hard look at the historical conflicts that raise difficult questions, stoke controversy, and send our moral compasses spinning.

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Prophet's Dilemma: The Sunni Shia Split Part 3

Civil war has torn the Caliphate apart. In 656 AD, Aisha marches with an army at her back. Ali, newly crowned as Caliph, has no choice but to oppose her. Muawiya sees an opportunity to grab power and start a dynasty of his own. Hussein begins his inevitable path towards Karbala…and martyrdom.

THE CAST:

Aisha – The Prophet’s widow. “Mother of the Faithful”. Brave, jealous, and calculating.

Muawiya – Governor of Syria “Son of the Liver Eater”. Master politician, ruthless and cunning.

Ali – The Prophet’s son-in-law. “Lion of God”. The Fourth Caliph.

Hussein – Grandson of the Prophet. Murdered at Karbala. Martyr of the Shi’a faith.

Abu Bakr – Aisha’s father; The Prophet’s oldest friend. The First Caliph.

Umar – Hothead, bruiser, warlord; The Second Caliph.

Uthman – “He of the Two Lights”; The Third Caliph.

Muhammed – The Prophet. A merchant-turned-messenger from God.

Fatima – Wife of Ali. Daughter of Muhammed. Mother to Hussein.

SOURCES:

Humphreys, Steven. Mu’awiya ibn abi Sufyan: The Savior of the Caliphate. 2006.

Madelung, Wilferd. The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. 1996.

Kennedy, Hugh. The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In. 2007.

Shah-Kazemi, Reza. Imam ‘Ali: From Concise History to Timeless Mystery. 2019.

Hazleton, Lesley. The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammed. 2013.

Hazleton, Lesley. After The Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shi’a-Sunni Split in Islam. 2009.

Louer, Laurence. Sunnis and Shi’a: A Political History. 2020.

Hoyland, Robert G. In God’s Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire. 2014.

Betts, Robert Brenton. The Sunni-Shi’a Divide. 2013.

Charles Rivers Editors. The History of the Sunni and Shia Split: Understanding the Divisions Within Islam.2014.

Armstrong, Karen Keishin. Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time. 2007.

Cole, Juan. Muhammed: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires. 2018.

Safi, Omid. Memories of Muhammed. 2009.

Holland, Tom. The Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire. 2012.

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