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The Early Split

In the first of two programmes explaining the Sunni-Shia divide past and present, Tarek Osman tells the epic story of how Islam split after the death of the Prophet Mohammed.

In the first of two programmes explaining the Sunni-Shia divide past and present, Tarek Osman tells the epic story of how Islam split after the death of the Prophet Mohammed.

Many of the conflicts raging in the Middle East today see Sunni and Shia armed groups pitted against one another and communities, that were once a mix of both sects, torn apart.

To understand the origins of the dispute we must go back to the final hours of the Prophet Mohammed and the question of who was going to succeed him as leader of Islam after his death.

Two groups emerged claiming to be the rightful heirs of the mantle of Islam: the Prophet's immediate family who would become the Shia and his closest companions, who became the Sunni.

Tarek follows the dramatic events of the 7th century AD as Islam spread across continents and power struggles ensued. He pauses at Karbala, in Iraq, and the murder of the Prophet's grandson Husein, which saw the irrevocable split between the Shia and the Sunni.

Producer Neil McCarthy.

Available now

28 minutes