The Holy Prophet has said (and his words have been accepted by all the sects of Islam):
"My followers will shortly break up! into 73 sects,
all of which shall be condemned except one."
The seekers after salvation have always made untiring efforts to enquire into the matter to discover the right course-the path to saivation. And, indeed, it is necessary for every man to take reason for his guide and try his best in this matter and never despair of attaining the truth. But this can only be possible when he has a bird's eye-view of the radical differences before him and discarding all bias and prejudices, examines the points at issue with a thoughtful mind, always praying to God to lead him tothe right path.
For this reason I propose to briefly mention here the important differences and disputes together with the arguments and reasonings of each sect, in order to facilitate the path of enquiry. The main questions are:
1. Does it lie on God to appoint a prophet's successor or is it the duty of the Ummah (body of followers) to appoint whomsoever they please as the successor to the prophet?
2. In the latter case did God or the prophet place in the hands of the Ummah any systematic code containing rules and procedure for the appointment of a caliph, or did the Umman, by their unanimous consent and before appointing a caliph, prepare a set of rules to which they adhered (subsequently), or the Ummah acted according to what they thought expedient at the time and according to the opportunity at their disposal? Had they the right to act as they did?
3. Does reason and the Divine Law demand the existence of any qualifications and conditions in an Imam and Caliph? If so, what are they?
4. Whether the Prophet of Islam appointed anyone as his Caliph and successor or not? If he did so, who it was? If not, why?
5. After the Prophet's death, who was recognised to be his Caliph and whether the qualifications necessary for a caliph existed in him or not?