Definition of Shia in English:


(also Shi'a, Shiah)

nounPlural Shias

mass noun
  • 1One of the two main branches of Islam, followed by about a tenth of Muslims, especially in Iran, that rejects the first three Sunni caliphs and regards Ali, the fourth caliph, as Muhammad's first true successor.

    as modifier ‘the Shia clerics’
    Compare with Sunni
    ‘a Shia neighbourhood’
    • ‘Sunni is the larger branch of Islam, with Shia being the smaller.’
    • ‘Today, we are still trying to make this Heath-Robinson state work, instead of dividing it into three nations: Kurdish, Sunni and Shia.’
    • ‘The tribes who dominate the town are a combination of Sunni and Shia.’
    • ‘In fact the solidarity between the Sunni and Shia goes further.’
    • ‘It is fine to boast of one's Kurdish, Berber, Sunni, or Shia loyalties, but not of pan-Arabism.’
    • ‘They are divided into two main groups, Shia and Sunni, with different interpretations of the religion.’
    • ‘His father, Ali, met a similar fate 19 years earlier, and it was this latter deed that gave rise to the great fissure in Islam between Sunni and Shia.’
    • ‘The split between Shia and Sunni arose soon after the death of Islam's founder, Mohammed, in the year 632.’
    • ‘It will be drawn from Sunni and Shia, from secular and religious backgrounds, from trade unionists and women's organisations.’
    • ‘Understanding the differences between the Sunni and Shi'a Muslims is important.’
    • ‘They are also unintentionally collaborating in the composition of future sagas of Sunni and Shia martyrdom.’
    • ‘This is a religious organisation of Shi'a followers of Islam.’
    • ‘Everyone who looks at Iraq sees a nation divided between Shia, Sunni and Kurd communities.’
    1. 1.1count noun A Muslim who adheres to the Shia branch of Islam.
      • ‘He stressed that today there was an immediate need for unity between Shias and Sunnis.’
      • ‘He said that it is common that Sunnis offer Namaz in Masjids constructed by Shias and vice versa.’
      • ‘Modernly, such a zone would be both wildly provocative to both Sunnis and central Iraqi Shia and also geopolitically tempting for Iran to get involved.’
      • ‘Leaving aside the division of Islam into two broad communities of Shia and Sunni, there are national differences which influence the thinking of individual Muslims.’
      • ‘You have Baathists, Islamists, Sunnis, Shias, sometimes you also have Kurds.’
      • ‘In 1917-20 it took the British three years to unite the Sunni and Shia against them.’
      • ‘There is distrust between Shi'a and Sunni, between secularists, conservatives and Islamists, and between tribes and clans.’
      • ‘If they don't, it may finally trigger a full-scale uprising of both Sunni and Shia.’
      • ‘I mean, as so many countries in the Middle East are, you have the Kurds in the north and the Sunni and Shia.’
      • ‘For Islam, Sunnis and Shi'as will also be considered as separate groups.’
      • ‘What is the best way to guarantee Shia and Sunni alike are included in the social-political nexus, and to ensure that the region grows economically?’
      • ‘Some are atheists, some are secular; even religious Shia did not all follow the same leader.’
      • ‘The Shi'as were ruthlessly suppressed and they retreated to Persia, joining with the local groups of Shi'a and eventually forming their own state under the Safavid Shahs.’
      • ‘For the Kurds the effective veto is seen as a protection against any attempt by Shias to impose Sharia law.’
      • ‘The Shias to whom the Masjid belonged would have happily given up their claim to the Masjid but our secularists would have none of that.’
      • ‘Lebanon has been divided in so many ways: between left and right, between Shia and Sunni, Christian and Druse.’
      • ‘To my surprise, a large number of people have shown up to vote: men and women, Muslims and Christians, Sunnis and Shias.’
      • ‘Relations between Shias and Sunnis have been strained for much of Muslim history.’
      • ‘Would Kurd sit in moral judgment on Sunni, Shia on Kurd, exiles on those who stayed and suffered?’
      • ‘They were at pains to point out the integration of Sunni and Shia, whether by marriage or by tribe.’


Early 17th century: from Arabic šī‘a ‘party (of Ali)’.