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Shi’a Islam is the second largest branch of the tradition, with up to 200 million followers who comprise around 15% of all Muslims worldwide, including approximately 90% of the Iranian population. Shi’ism differs from Sunni Islam in holding that rightful religious and political leadership of the Muslim community belongs to Muhammad’s family and descendants, who are properly able to interpret Sharia (Islamic law) and decipher the Qur’an’s esoteric teachings. The origins of Shi'ism go back to the years after Muhammad’s death in 633 CE when his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, was initially passed over for leadership of the community. Ali eventually became Caliph but was assassinated in 661 CE and much of his family--including his son, Husayn--was killed during the power struggle that ensued. For all Shi’ites Ali was the first imam - the divinely chosen and infallible leader of the Muslim community - most Shi'ites (known as Twelvers) believe he was followed by another eleven imams. The last of these imams, Muhammad al-Mahdi, is believed to be in a state of hiding - known as the Occultation - until his triumphant return at the end of time.