Shiism is a very complex religion and society. Shiism is not a sect/ branch within Islam, but rather an independent religion that incorporates some Islamic concepts.
There are about 150 million Shia out of the 1.4 billion Muslims.
The Shia are based in Iran and constitute about 60 percent of the population of Iraq, mostly in the south upwards to Baghdad. Many live in Syria, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon (The well known guerilla organization Hizbollah).
They are known for their anti-Arabness and even their belief is not defined by law but emphasises rituals, passion and drama.
The Shia are called Shia from the term Shi'at Ali (the partisans of Ali, the cousin of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed). They broke from the Sunni essentially from the time of the first Caliph, Abu Bakr. The Shia thought Ali should have been the first caliph.
Other tipping points for the Shia include the murders of Ali's sons Hassan and Hussein. Hussein and Ali were killed in Kerbala. Hussein's tomb is found in Karbala (Iraq), Aliís in Najaf. Their tombs are important places of pilgrimage for Shia ; there happends the bloody rites during wich people whip themselves untill they bleed we all seen on TV when they mourn Hussein's death. The self-flagellation represents for Shia their sense of guilt for having allowed Hussein to be murdered.
They revere their Imams (religious leaders) and look upon the first 12 Imams as being near prophetic status while Sunni Muslims' relationship with God is direct and is not mediated by anything like a priest or rabbi or imam. Shiia believe Imams receive divine revelations, similar to prophets (even nowerdays !!!). The Shia believe their Imams have extra-ordinary abilities and attributes. The Imams have full knowledge of the past, present and the future. Before being sent to Earth, the Shia Imams used to be made of light.
Some Shia believe Ali is God; while others reject this. However, many of the Shia even though they don't believe Imam Ali is God, yet they assign to Imam Ali some of God's functions and attributes. For example, they say that Imam Ali is the one who determine who will go to Hell and who will go to Paradise. This is one of the most serious blasphemies of the Shia because this constitutes associating partners with God which is the most serious sin in Islam.
The Khomeini, who was the top religious figure of Twelver Shiism in Iran and around the World, said in his book Al-Hukumah Al-Islamiyyah: " Our Imams occupy a rank unattainable by either an angel or a major Prophet....before the creation of the universe, the greatest Prophet SAWS, and the Imams - peace be upon them - were in the form of light which Allah made orbit." ŗ Such beliefs have no basis in Islam and contradict Islam. The Quran makes it clear that Prophet was an ordinary human being. Khomeini is suggesting that Prophet Mohammad and the Imams existed before the creation of the universe and were in the form of light.
He also said : "...because we cannot imagine the Imams being forgetful or negligent, and we believe that they perceive all things which could benefit Muslims..." and "The Imam's teachings are like the Qur'an...they must be implemented and followed."
One example of the blasphemies of the Shia is the following Shia narration: "Whoever visits the tomb of Al-Hussain, peace be upon him, acknowledging his status, it is as if he has visited Allah."
Shiism lures and deceives its followers by operating under the name of Islam and incorporating some Islamic doctrines while adding new doctrines totally unrelated and contradictory to Islam as taught by the Quran and preached by Prophet Mohammad.
The Shia consider the Imams to be completely infallible, do not make even the slightest error. Hence following these Imams, according to Shia's creed, is obligatory on all true Shia Muslims until the Day of Judgment. In fact, reverence for these Imams is so great amongst the Shia that the Imams are believed to be on a level above even the Prophets or the highest ranking angels; A level wherein even the particles of the universe are subservient to them.
Below are some of the lies that the Shia tell about their 12 Imams, as some of you might have already known that the Shia's beliefs differ significantly in many aspects from Islam :
1. "All the Imams are infallible just like the prophets. The Shia derive their religion from their immaculate (infallible) Imams" (Usool al Kafi, p. 22)
2. "By listening to the voice of a person, the Imams can tell if the person was destined to go to hell or to heaven; they would thus answer his questions accordingly" (Usool al Kafi, p.185)
3. "The Imams possess all the knowledge granted to angels, prophets and messengers" (Al-Kulaini, Al-Kaafi, p.255.)
4. "The Imams know when they will die, and they do not die except by their own choice" (Ibid, p: 258)
5. "The Imams have knowledge of whatever occurred in the past and whatever will happen in the future, and nothing is concealed from them" (Ibid, p. 260.)
6. "The Imams have knowledge of all the revealed books, regardless of the languages in which they were revealed" (Ibid, p. 227)
7. "No one compiled the Qur'an completely except the Imams, and they encompass all of its knowledge' (Ibid, p. 228)
8. "Signs of the prophets are possessed by the Imams" (Ibid, p. 231)
9. "When the Imams' time comes, they will rule in accordance with the laws of prophet David and his dynasty. These Imams will not need to ask for presentation of evidence before passing their judgments" (Ibid,p. 397)
10. "There is not a single truth possessed by people, save that which originated with the Imams. Everything which did not originate from the Imams is false" (Ibid, p.277)