Almost a month ago I asked communities of various faiths what their beliefs mean to them. Unfortunately I've only had two groups respond, Shia Muslims and Christians (which probably means I need to ask better questions).
I asked in the Shia Muslims forum what being Shia meant to them. Here is what some of them had to say:
(Tabish) Being a Shiah means to be a true and good muslim and NOT to be turn away from the righteous path of Islam and to reject the fabrications attached with the name of Islam after the demise of Prophet Muhammad [...] And to hate and condemn the wrong and wrong doers.
(Abbas) Shiasm is not about disagreement on historical events, its about belief in the complete teachings of Muhammad (saw) and his Ahl-e-bayt (as).
(Syed Ali on page two) Shia, as you know, literally means "follower." [...] The Shia Imamiyya group believes in the Ever-Existing Almighty Allah. He is One, in the sense of the absolute oneness of His essential existence. He is One, with none comparable to Him.
Islam has several similarities to the Christian and Jewish faiths, such as the oneness of God, belief in a literal heaven and hell, and that God uses prophets to communicate towards humanity.
But just like the other faiths, it also has its "sects" or denominations. Although in many places Sunni and Shia live together without incident, many people may hear of clashes or arguments between the two groups. Tabish gives an explanation as to why this is:
[B]asic differences arise between Shias and Sunnis because Sunnis believe in some prophetic sayings which are considered fabricated and concocted by the Shias, and Sunnis do not believe [...] those sayings [because they] condradict with those which are loved by the Sunnis.
[...] some respected and beloved personalities of sunnis are considered among some of the worst wrong doers and chief corruptors of Islam by the Shias.
Although I was unable to secure a spot for the Sunni's I'll try to reach them for a comment lest they spam my scrapbook in retaliation with angry words (hey, it happens).
It is interesting to explore the many faiths of Orkut, and hopefully understanding the mutual faiths will produce dialogue and useful discussion instead of the violence that often fills our world.