Top 10 Bollywood Actors Of All Time

Top 10 Bollywood Actors Of All Time – Indian Cinema hasn’t confined itself to India, but has gone globally and its actors have gained worldwide popularity. The popularity of Indian Cinema is increasing day by day and this is the reason, Bollywood actors are becoming the favourites of international mass.

Here is a list of top 10 Bollywood actors of all time with their photographs.

1. Dilip kumar

Dilip Kumar, The Tragedy King of Indian Cinema was born on 11 December 1942 in Peshawar. He marked his entry into Bollywood film industry with ‘Jwar Bhata’. Hindi author Bhagwati Charan Varma gave him the screen name Dilip Kumar. Satyajit Ray described him as “The Ultimate Method Actor”. Amitabh Bachchan described him as the greatest actor ever. 

The 90 year old Muhammad Yousuf Khan, better known as Dilip Kumar is the first actor to receive a Filmfare Best Actor Award (1954). The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan Award (1991) and the Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1994) for his contribution towards Indian Cinema. 

2. Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor, also known as ‘The Showman’ of Indian Cinema was born on 14th of December 1924 in Peshawar, Pakistan. He’s first film was Inquilab (1935). At the age of 24, he established his own studio named R.K. Films. He won nine Filmfare Awards in India. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan (1971) and the Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1987) for his contribution to Indian Cinema. Film historians describes him as the “Charlie Chaplin of Indian Cinema” for he often portrayed a tramp like figure, who despite adversity, was still cheerful and honest. He breathed his last on 2nd June, 1988. 

3. Rajesh Khanna

Rajesh Khanna, also known as Kaka was born on 29th of December 1942 in Amritsar. He earned the titles ‘First Superstar’ and the ‘Original Superstar’ of Indian Cinema following 15 consecutive solo hit films in the 1970s, a record that remains unbroken. He made his debut with Aakhri Khat (`1966) and rose to prominence with his performances in films like Raaz, Ittefaq and Aradhana. After being critically ill, the veteran actor passed away on 18th July, 2012. 

4. Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan, the son of noted Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan was born on 11th of October, 1942 in Allahabad. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors in the history of Indian Cinema. He gained popularity in 1970 as the ‘Angry Young Man’ of Bollywood. The 70 year old Amitabh is not only an actor but also a playback singer, a film producer and a television presenter. Apart from winning numerous major awards in his career, including three National Film Awards as Best Actor, The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri (1984) and the Padma Bhushan (2001). 

5. Dev Anand

Dev Anand originally named as Dharam Dev Pishorimal Anand was born on 26th of September, 1923 in the Shakargarh tehsil of the Gurdaspur district in Punjab (British India). He was not only an actor, but also a writer, director and producer. Regarded as one of the most influential actors in the history of Indian Cinema, Dev Anand was the co-founder of the Navketan Films in 1949, with his elder brother Chetan Anand. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan (2001) and The Dada Saheb Phalke Award (2002) for his contribution to Indian Cinema. At the age of 88, he passed away on 3rd December, 2011. 

6. Dharmendra

Dharmendra was born on 8th of December, 1935 in a Punjabi Jat Sikh family. He is regarded as one of the most influential actors in the history of Indian Cinema. He is referred to as the ‘He-Man’ of Hindi Cinema. The living legend is also referred to as the ‘Action King’ of Bollywood. In 2012, The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan for his contribution towards Indian Cinema. His original name is Dharam Singh Deol. 

7. Rishi Kapoor 

Rishi Kapoor, the second son of Raj Kapoor was born on 4th of September, 1952 in South Mumbai. He first debuted in his father’s film Mera Naam Joker, for which he got the National Award for Best Child Artist. His first lead role opposite Dimple Kapadia in Bobby was a hit. He is married to actress Neetu Singh and the couple has 2 children named Ranbir Kapoor and Riddhima Kapoor Sahani. 

8. Shah Rukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan, popularly known as ‘Badshah of Bollywood’ was born on 2nd of November, 1965 in New Delhi. He started his acting career with television serial Fauji. His first film was Dil Aashna Hai, but due to production delays, his second film Deewana released first and he won the Filmfare Best Male Debut Award. In the year 2005, The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri for his contribution towards Indian Cinema. The 47 year old Shahrukh is also known as ‘The King of Romance’. 

9. Aamir Khan

Aamir Khan was born on 14th of March, 1965 in Mumbai. Popularly known as Mr. Perfectionist, Aamir has not only established himself as an actor, but also as a director, producer and writer. He made his debut into Hindi Cinema as a child actor in his Uncle Nasir Hussain’s film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). He won the National Film Award as a Special Jury Award for his film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. 

The 48 year old actor made his directorial debut with Taare Zameen Par, for which he received the Filmfare Award for Best Director. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri (2003) and the Padma Bhushan (2010) for his contribution towards Indian Cinema. 

10. Salman Khan

Salman Khan, the eldest son of actor and screenwriter Salim Khan was born on 27th of December, 1965. He is not only an actor, but also a television presenter, producer and philanthropist. Salman made his acting debut with Biwi Ho To Aisi. He got the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut for his second film Maine Pyar Kiya. His recent films Wanted, Ready, Dabangg, Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg 2 were superhits.

This article originally appeared in : Top Ten Bollywood Actors Of All Time – Photographs | | Posted on the 31 August 2013 | by Cinesilver

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What others said about The Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher dies: What others said about The Iron Lady - Here is a selection of the thoughts of Margaret Thatcher's political peers throughout her time in the spotlight.

As Britain's first and only female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher was a politician known on a global scale.

She left an impression on world leaders, colleagues, and political opponents throughout her career.

Her is a selection of the thoughts of her political peers throughout her time in the spotlight.

What others said about Margaret Thatcher:
  • "This woman is headstrong, obstinate and dangerously self-opinionated" - Personnel officer at ICI when rejecting her for a job in 1948.
  • "Mrs Thatcher is doing for monetarism what the Boston Strangler did for door-to-door salesmen" - ex-Labour Chancellor Denis Healey, 1977.
  • "She is trying to wear the trousers of Winston Churchill" - Leonid Brezhnev, 1979.
  • "Attila the Hen" - Former Liberal MP Sir Clement Freud, 1979.
  • "She is clearly the best man among them" - Barbara Castle referring, in her diaries, to the Tory front bench.
  • "Politicians are either warriors or healers. Margaret Thatcher is a healer" - Patrick Cosgrave in his biography of Thatcher.
  • "She has been beastly to the Bank of England, has demanded that the BBC 'set its house in order' and tends to believe the worst of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She cannot see an institution without hitting it with her handbag" - Tory MP Julian Critchley, 1982.
  • "She has no imagination, and that means no compassion" - ex-Labour leader Michael Foot, 1982.
  • - "She approaches the problem of our country with all the one-dimensional subtlety of a comic strip" - Denis Healey, 1979.
  • "She sounded like the book of Revelations read out over a railway station public address system by a headmistress of a certain age wearing calico knickers" - TV presenter Clive James describing Thatcher on television, 1979.
  • "Plunder Woman" - Union leader Harry Unwin at TUC, 1980.
  • "She is the Enid Blyton of economics. Nothing must be allowed to spoil her simple plots" - Liberal Democrat peer Lord Holme, 1980.
  • "For the past few months she has been charging about like some bargain-basement Boadicea" - Denis Healey, 1982.
  • "I am thoroughly in favour of Mrs Thatcher's visit to the Falklands. I find a bit of hesitation, though, about her coming back" - Lawyer, playwright John Mortimer, 1983.
  • "She is the best man in England" - Ronald Reagan, 1983.
This article originally appeared in : Margaret Thatcher dies: What others said about The Iron Lady | Yahoo! News – Mon, Apr 8, 2013

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The best iPhone picture ever? Frequent flyer takes stunning Chicago skyline cloud shot

The best iPhone picture ever? Frequent flyer takes stunning Chicago skyline cloud shot - An amateur photographer captured one of the best iPhone shots ever taken when he managed to snap a sunset skyline from a plane window.

Plane enthusiast and amateur photographer Mark Hersch was on a Chicago-bound flight when he photographed the city silhouetted against Lake Michigan.

The late-afternoon image, taken as the plane made a final approach for the city, shows the low sun casting a golden glow on the water, which is visible beneath cloud cover.

Sunset stunner: Mark's amazing iPhone pic taken from a plane. (Rex)

The skyscrapers of the ‘Windy City’ cast long shadows into the water, while those who look closely will spot another passenger jet near the centre of the picture.

Mark said he was flying to Chicago from a business trip when he took the change to get the amazing picture on his iPhone.

He said: ‘I looked down and through a narrow break in the clouds, I saw the shadow of the Chicago skyline projecting onto the lake. Oddly enough, I am a very frequent flyer and almost always sit in an aisle set, but on this flight there were only window seats available.

'I grabbed my iPhone and snapped off a single shot, hoping I captured the scene. When I got home I opened the photo on my computer. Not only was I amazed at the shot, but I noticed I also captured another plane on a parallel approach - which you can see if you look closely at the clouds above the skyline in the centre of the image.

'My only regret is that the image is not as sharp as I would like; it's merely an iPhone capture, after all. Ironically, I am a very avid amateur photography enthusiast, with some pretty expensive pro equipment.’

This article originally appeared in : The best iPhone picture ever? Frequent flyer takes stunning Chicago skyline cloud shot | Yahoo News – Mon, Mar 3, 2014

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How Studios Plan to Avoid a World Cup Smackdown

How Studios Plan to Avoid a World Cup SmackdownIn entertainment, there are few things bigger than Hollywood's summer blockbusters. The FIFA World Cup, held every four years, sits atop that list. The monthlong soccer championship is one of the globe's most-watched televised events: In 2010, more than 3.2 billion people -- nearly half of the world's population -- tuned into the World Cup, hosted by South Africa. And nearly 1 billion viewers watched the final match between Spain and the Netherlands, marking the second-most-watched televised event in history after the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (in many markets, soccer is far bigger than the Olympics).

As such, the World Cup wreaks havoc on movie­going in much of Europe and Latin America -- with Spain (which won in 2010), Germany, Holland, Brazil and Argentina among the most soccer-crazed. Playing the goalkeeper, studios try to deflect damage by adjusting their release calendars, even though it results in a pre- and post-Cup crush.

This year is no different as Hollywood prepares for the 2014 tournament, which gets underway June 12 in Brazil and concludes July 13. Numerous films will be impacted, chief among them Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction. Paramount opens the fourth film in the $3 billion franchise in North America on June 27, smack in the middle of the matches.

As a result of the World Cup, there will be a pileup of big event titles in late July and early August, when Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending and Guardians of the Galaxy will have little breathing room.

There's also a bit of a gathering before the start of the tournament. Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow, which opens June 6 in North America, is rolling out earlier overseas in order to provide some cushion. In many major markets, including the U.K. and Germany, Edge of Tomorrow will hence open opposite Maleficent.

"Hollywood has been dealing with the World Cup for many years now and seems to have adapted fairly well. The problem is, it does cause a glut of product subsequent to the games," says Paramount international president Anthony Marcoly. "With a film like Transformers: Age of Extinction and most summer blockbusters, the core audience is identical to that of the World Cup. It is far too risky to compete with the World Cup and generate the huge box-office returns needed."

Transformers will open day-and-date in much of Asia and Russia, both regions where the risk of piracy makes it too dangerous to wait. But with the commencement of the World Cup, box-office revenue can plummet as much as 70 percent in some European countries.

In 2006, The Karate Kid successfully navigated the tourney by holding back in several territories, including Spain, where it went on to earn a healthy $11.7 million post-soccer. All told, the Sony film grossed $182.5 million internationally and $176.6 million domestically.

There are opportunities -- female-skewing films and family fare can do fine in this corridor. When Andrew Cripps, now president of Imax's European operations, moved to the U.K. in 1998 for United Pictures International -- the now-defunct joint venture of Paramount and Universal -- he saw Gwyneth Paltrow's Sliding Doors "clean up" opposite the Cup.

This year, Fox hopes to enjoy the same sort of success with The Fault in Our Stars, a romantic drama based on John Green's best-selling novel. The movie, starring Shailene Woodley, begins rolling out June 6 across the globe.

"Don't get me wrong, there are some markets where a lot of women watch the World Cup, but Green has a rabid following," says Craig Dehmel, senior vp international at Fox.

Fox also will open DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon 2 throughout the world at the end of June (it launches stateside June 13). Says Dehmel: "We decided to take the World Cup head on." 

This article originally appeared in : Summer Box Office: How Studios Plan to Avoid a World Cup | By Pamela McClintock March 4, 2014 12:00 AM

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Misteri Ular Naga Kalimantan Yang Mampu Memangsa Seorang Anak Dalam Sekali Telan

Beberapa tahun yang lalu sekelompok penduduk asli Kalimantan pergi dari kampung halaman mereka menuju hutan belantara. Melarikan diri dari penjajah Belanda. Namun, di tempat yang baru, ancaman lain menanti...

Satu demi satu anak-anak menghilang. Delapan bocah dalam 8 hari raib tanpa jejak. Penduduk dicengkeram rasa takut, siapa gerangan yang melakukannya. Arwah penunggu hutan, atau jangan-jangan macan lapar? 

Setelah berembuk, mereka memutuskan memasang perangkap. Seorang anak terpaksa dijadikan tumbal, demi menghentikan kematian yang lain. 

Dari tempat persembunyian, dengan perasaan berdebar gelisah, warga desa menjadi saksi sebuah peristiwa mengerikan: riak air sungai, dan kemunculan makhluk besar tanpa tangan dan kaki dari dalam air, yang langsung memangsa si bocah sekali telan. 

Sebagian penduduk menyebut, makhluk itu adalah ular raksasa. Lainnya menjulukinya naga. 

Setelah itu, penduduk desa membuntuti ular ke sarangnya. Ada 3 ekor di sana, 2 dewasa dengan diameter badan serupa drum minyak, dan 1 lainnya masih kecil seukuran batang kelapa. 

Penduduk desa yang marah menyerang hewan-hewan itu, memotong 2 ular dewasa, dan membiarkan yang muda tetap hidup -- dengan kesepakatan, mulai saat itu baik ular maupun manusia tak akan membunuh satu sama lain. 

Kemudian, orang-orang itu kembali ke desa terpencil mereka. Melanjutkan hidup. Tapi mereka yakin, naga-naga itu masih ada di sekitar mereka. 

Penulis sains, Nadia Drake kali pertama mendengar legenda tersebut dari Pak Rusni, tetua kampung Dayak Tumbang Tujang pada Juli 2014 lalu.

Penasaran, ia ingin mencari tahu apakah ada ular di Kalimantan yang bisa tumbuh sebesar monster dan bisa membunuh seorang anak dengan cepat. Ia menemukan beberapa 'tersangka'. 

Sebagai gambaran, hutan tropis di Kalimantan sudah berusia 140 juta tahun. Salah satu yang tertua di dunia. Terlebih lagi, selama Zaman Es akhir, Kalimantan pernah menjadi satu daratan dengan benua Asia dan pulau-pulau lain di Indonesia. Sejumlah spesies berpindah ke sana, membuat Borneo kaya dengan organisme hidup. 

Ketika Zaman Es berakhir, Kalimantan menjadi pulau terpisah, segala makhluk di dalamnya bebas berevolusi dalam kondisi relatif terisolasi. Termasuk ular, ada sekitar 150 spesies di sana. Bahkan lebih.

"Sepertinya setiap family ular ada di Kalimantan," kata Sara Ruane dari American Museum of Natural History di New York, seperti kutip dari BBC Earth, Jumat (14/11/2014). "Dan tak bisa disangkal, pasti ada spesies yang belum ditemukan." 

Ada yang hidup di bawah tanah, lainnya melata di lantai hutan. Sebagian memilih tinggal di pohon, terbang dari satu dahan ke dahan yang lain. Mereka bisa ditemukan di dalam air atau dalam gua. Hewan melata itu juga menghuni bangunan manusia di langit-langit atau di bawah kolong rumah. Kalimantan dijuluki "Land of the Man-Eating Snakes" -- tanah di mana ular memakan manusia.

Wujud Asli Penampakan Naga?

Sejak kali pertama ada, 100 hingga 150 tahun lalu, ular dengan cepat berevolusi. Salah satunya dengan menciptakan cara efektif untuk membunuh hewan lain: menggunakan bisa atau racun. 

"Kebanyakan ular punya bisa, bahkan yang dianggap paling tak berbahaya sekalipun," kata Robert Stuebing, ahli herpetologi. 

Bisa ular mengandung serangkaian protein yang bekerja bersamaan untuk melumpuhkan lawan. Racun ular kobra raja (king cobra) mengandung 100 jenis. 

Spesies ular yang jadi tersangka pertama adalah ular kepala merah (Bungarus flaviceps). Bisanya mampu melumpuhkan sistem syaraf mangsanya. Membuat korbannya tak bisa bergerak, bahkan bernafas. 

"Antiracun tak akan mempan, kecuali kau cepat-cepat mengobatinya," kata Nicholas Casewell dari Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine di Inggris. Pada 2001, di Myanmar, ular tersebut mengigit ahli herpetologi Joseph Slowinski di tangan. Karena tak ditangani dengan cepat, ia tewas sehari kemudian. 

Namun, ular itu tak sesuai dengan gambaran naga. Meski bisa mencapai panjang 2 meter, namun tubuhnya kurus. Apalagi, ia kerap tidur di siang hari. 

Tersangka kedua adalah Calliophis bivirgatus atau ular pantai biru-biru dalam Bahasa Melayu. Itu pun tak mirip naga. 

Mereka biasanya bergerak di antara dedaunan rontok dan makanan utamanya adalah ular lain yang lebih kecil. Itu berarti, taring mereka terlalu kecil untuk menembus kulit manusia. 

Yang paling cocok dari segi ukuran adalah ular kobra raja atau king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). Ukurannya bisa mencapai 5 meter dan menjadi ular berbisa terpanjang. Mereka juga bisa menegakkan bagian depannya. "Anda bisa bertatap mata dengan dia," kata kepala ekspedisi, Peter Houlihan dari Barito River Initiative for Nature Conservation and Communities. 

Namun, bahkan kobra raja tak punya ciri naga. Sebab, meski bahaya, mereka jarang mengigit. "Mereka tidak agresif, dibandingkan sejumlah ular lain," kata Ron Lilley, yang menawarkan jasa pencarian ular di Bali. "Mereka punya racun atau bisa dalam jumlah lumayan, tapi tak suka menggigit manusia. 

Pun dengan Sumatran pit viper (Trimeresurus sumatranus), yang hidup di antara pepohonan. Sama sekali tak seperti naga yang ada dalam legenda masyarakat Dayak. "Ular tersebut lebih cenderung predator yang menanti mangsanya alih-alih memburu mereka." 

Jika tak ada ular yang terkait dengan naga, mungkin itu adalah ular phyton Kalimantan -- yang termasuk ular terbesar di dunia. Alih-alih menghujamkan bisa, mereka biasanya mencekik mangsanya sampai mati. 

Python reticulatus, misalnya, adalah ular terpanjang di dunia, bisa mencapai 10 meter. Namun menyempitnya hutan dan faktor manusia membuatnya tak ditemukan dalam waktu lama. 

Python memang tidak harus sepanjang bus untuk makan sesuatu berukuran besar seperti manusia. Ular seperti python Afrika memangsa babi atau rusa, serangan terhadap manusia juga bisa terjadi. 

Namun, ada masalah dengan gagasan bahwa ular Borneo adalah naga dalam legenda. Sebab, mereka tak makan setiap hari, hanya setiap bulan atau 6 minggu sekali. Menelan 8 anak dalam 8 hari bukan cara makan mereka. 

Ada kemungkinan bahwa naga dalam cerita didasarkan pada beberapa ular sekaligus: keterampilan berburu raja kobra , racun mematikan ular kepala merah, dan ukuran mengesankan seekor python. Tak bisa dipastikan. 

Saat ini, daerah di mana naga diyakini muncul disebut Teluk Naga. Seorang penduduk desa, Suri mengatakan, mereka masih menyimpan peralatan yang konon diyakini mematikan 2 naga dewasa. Namun, ia mengatakan pulau di mana naga tinggal terbelah dua oleh sungai.

Pak Rusni dan warga lainnya mengaku masih melihat naga di dekat air. Makhluk itu berwarna hitam dan mengkilap, ukurannya besar, mirip diameter drum minyak. Namun penampakan mereka tak bertahan lama, muncul dan menghilang sesuka hati.

Menurut Rusni, mereka telah bertransformasi dari fisik menjadi makhluk mistis. Apakah warga masih merasa takut? "Tentu saja," jawab dia. "Namun mereka tak pernah mengganggu kami, dan kami tak pernah mencoba untuk mengusik mereka." (Tnt)

This article originally appeared in : Misteri Ular Pemakan Manusia di Hutan Kalimantan | | By Elin Yunita Kristanti | Nov 14, 2014 at 13:51 WIB

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Ternyata Rokok Zaman Sekarang Lebih Berbahaya?

Catatan sejarah menunjukkan, rokok sudah ditemukan sejak abad ke-16. Kebiasaan merokok lalu menyebar ke seluruh dunia. Akan tetapi, penelitian menunjukkan bahwa rokok pada era modern ini lebih berbahaya dibanding rokok pada masa 50 tahun lalu.

Kampanye terbaru Tobacco-Free Kidsmenyebarkan infografis yang menunjukkan perubahan komposisi dan desain rokok dalam lima dekade terakhir. 

Setidaknya ada 9 alasan mengapa rokok kini lebih menyebabkan kecanduan, lebih berbahaya, dan lebih menarik bagi anak dan remaja. 

- Bronkodilator

Perusahaan rokok kini menambahkan bronkodilator, zat yang sebenarnya bekerja memperlebar luas permukaan bronkus pada paru. Akibatnya zat kimia dalam rokok lebih mudah masuk ke paru.

- Tambahan nikotin

Perusahaan rokok mengontrol jumlah nikotin yang terkandung dalam rokok sehingga efek kecanduannya meningkat.

- Perasa

Penambahan zat perasa seperti liquorice dan cokelat akan membuat rokok lebih menarik untuk dicoba, terutama bagi anak dan remaja.

- Nitrosamine

Beberapa jenis rokok dibuat dari tembakau yang dicampur sehingga mengandung nitrosamine lebih tinggi. Zat ini ternyata juga bisa memicu kanker.

- Amonia

Penambahan amonia akan meningkatkan kecepatan nikotin mencapai otak.

- Mentol

Rasa mentol akan membuat tenggorokan lebih dingin, sekaligus mengurangi iritasi sehingga merokok pun lebih terasa enak.

- Filter

Lubang ventilasi pada filter rokok membuat perokok bisa menghirup lebih dalam. Akan tetapi, efeknya, zat-zat karsinogen lebih dalam masuk ke paru.

- Gula dan asetildehide

Tambahan gula membuat tembakau lebih mudah diisap. Selain itu, zat asetildehide akan meningkatkan efek adiksi nikotin.

- Asam levulinic

Penambahan asam organik ini akan mengurangi efek keras nikotin sehingga merokok pun tak terlalu membuat iritasi.

Kandungan zat-zat ini membuat rokok kini lebih berisiko kanker dan penyakit paru obstruktif kronik dibandingkan pada era tahun 1964. 

"Sudah jelas produsen rokok sengaja membuat agar rokok lebih menarik dan meningkatkan efek kecanduan," tulis laporan tersebut. 

This article originally appeared in :

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Where Sunnis and Shiites Differ, Why Can't They Get Along?

Where Sunnis and Shiites Differ, Why Can't They Get Along? - The majority of the world’s billion-odd Muslims are Sunnis. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of all Muslims follow the Shiite branch (pronounced Shi‘ite, Shi‘a or Shia). Beyond that, it gets slightly complicated: Who lives where, and why the differences and conflicts between them? The answer is less daunting than it seems.

Sunnis form the overwhelming majority in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Shiites form the majority only in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan, but they constitute sizable minorities in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen.

At heart, Sunnis and Shiites are like Catholics and Protestants in the commonality of some fundamental beliefs. But their differences, especially in nations where the Sunni-Shiite split is exacerbated by each other's proximity (as in Iraq and Lebanon), run so deep that intolerance and violence shadow the two groups, making coexistence difficult. 

Islam's Origins

In 610 A.D., Muhammad ibn Abdallah was a successful 40-year-old Arab businessman and tradesman. Every year he retired to a cave near Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia, to pray and fast. Beginning that year on his cave retreats, he had overpowering revelation of the word of God, what would later come to be known as the Quran (which means recitation). By 610, Muhammad was preaching the Quran and directing his earliest followers to build a community, or ummah, where the practical and the compassionate (rather than the theological) was to predominate. 

The year 622 marks the founding of Islam as a religion: It was the year of the hijrah, or migration, by Muhammad and his followers. They founded the first truly Islamic ummah in Medina.

By the time of Muhammad's death in 632, Islam had conquered the Arabian peninsula roughly up to what today would be Saudi Arabia's borders with Jordan and Iraq. Within a century, Islam would spread to western India, the Caucasus, Turkey, North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. Its furthest advance was to the heart of present-day France, where the armies of Charles Martel stopped the conquerors in 732 in the Battles of Tours and Poitiers. 

The Prophet Muhammad's Succession

At Muhammad's death in 632, Abu Bakr, a close companion of the Prophet, became his successor, or caliph. Most Muslims agreed that the most able and pious of the Prophet's followers should be his caliphs. Their followers would come to be known as the orthodox branch of Islam, or Sunnis. 

A few Muslims disagreed, arguing for a line of succession based on bloodlines. To those dissenters, the succession should have immediately gone to Ali, the fourth caliph -- who took the helm after some of his followers assassinated Caliph Uthman, his predecessor. Followers of Ali would eventually form Shiite Islam. 

What Sunnis and Shiites Believe

The Quran, the Prophet's hadith, or sayings, and the sunna, or customs, are central to the belief system of both Sunnis and Shiites. So are the five pillars of Islam: The recitation of the creed ("There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his Prophet"); the salat, or the recitation of prayers five times a day; zakat, or the obligatory giving of alms to the poor according to one's means; fasting from sunup to sunset during the month of Ramadan; and the hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca at least once in a Muslim's lifetime, means permitting. 

Sunnis and Shiites also believe in Islamic law. But its application varies. 

Where Sunnis and Shiites Differ

Sunnis accept that the first four Caliphs, including Ali, were the rightful followers of Muhammad. However--rather like Protestantism in Christianity--they don't grant the kind of divinely inspired status to their clerics that Shiites do with their imams. Shiites believe imams are descendants of the Prophet. 

Islam has no codified laws per se. It has various schools of law. While Sunni doctrine is more rigidly aligned in accordance with those various schools, its hierarchical structure is looser and often falls under state, rather than clerical, control. The opposite is true in Shiitism: The doctrine is somewhat more open to interpretation but the clerical hierarchy is more defined and, as in Iran, the ultimate authority is the imam, not the state. 

Both Sunnis and Shiites break down into various sects that range from puritanical (as with Sunni Wahhabism, prevalent in Saudi Arabia) to somewhat mysterious (as with the Druze of Lebanon, Syria and Israel, who form an offshoot of Shiitism). 

Why Can't They Get Along?

That's a loaded, condescending question best answered by raising a mirror to the more familiar: Why couldn't Catholics and Protestants get along for hundreds of years (and in straggling cases still aren't getting along?). The answer must take account of doctrinal and historical differences, however irrational those differences might seem to the objective, uninvolved eye.

The answer must also take account of the inexplicable: Religious differences are, ultimately, as impossible to settle as metaphysical questions. Peaceful societies depend on what mechanisms or institutions they have developed for channeling those differences into non-violent conflict. The Muslim scholar Reza Aslan, in "No God But God," argues that those very mechanisms are lacking in some Islamic societies such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Sunni-Shiite divide is pronounced. But the battle going on within Islam today is defined, in part, by the struggle for those institutions.
This article originally appeared in : The Difference Between Sunnis and Shiites | | By Pierre Tristam 

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