Currently, we have a tag (16th most popular on the site), but it's not very clear what this tag is for, or why we would need it. The tag wiki simply explains what the Shi'a and the Sunni are, but it doesn't explain anything about the use-case of such a tag.

We already have tags for and , for those questions pertaining to those two predominant sects of Islam. From perusing the existing questions, the tag appears to be used mainly for Sunnis asking for a Shi'a perspective, or vice-versa (which often carries the necessary or anyway)

To me, this feels like little more than a meta-tag, which just adds noise to the tagging system. As described in Jeff's blog post The Death of Meta Tags:

How can you tell you’re using a meta-tag? It’s easier than you might think.

  1. If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag. Every tag you use should be able to work, more or less, as the only tag on a question. Meta-tags, like [beginner], [subjective], and [best-practices], are useless by themselves — they tell you nothing at all about the content of the question.
  2. If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it’s probably a meta-tag. In a cruel, ironic twist, the meaning of the tag [subjective] itself … is actually subjective. Ditto for [best-practices] and [beginner]. Best practices to whom? Beginner by what criteria? These tags are impossible to define by anything remotely resembling an objective metric. In comparison, the the meaning of tags like [java], [c#], and [javascript] are crystal clear to all but the nuttiest of nutbags.

In light of the above, doesn't really describe the content of the question, and I have difficulty imagining anyone needing to filter or search by for any constructive manner.

So the question lies: Do we even need this tag? If so, what should we be using it for?


4 Answers 4


I personally use it for (and see other people using it for) asking about differences between Sunni vs. Shi'a Islam. Usually, the precursor is "I know Shi'a Islam has X, what about Sunni Islam?" or vice-versa.

Such questions could, and arguably, should, be retagged as Sunni or Shia (respectively). That brings more clarity.


Let's get rid of it. I.e., let's replace questions tagged with the two tags and . (And, ideally, replace the tag with : Is the tag shiism suitable for referring to Shia Islam?)

Every question that pertains to also pertains to both Shiism and Sunnism, and therefore should also be tagged and .

We don't need to convey that the question is about "differences" in tags; this will be explained in a properly formatted question title. Some examples:

This way has all the questions pertaining to Sunni Islam. And searching for [sunni] [shia] gives questions pertaining to both Sunni and Shia.

I also don't like the possibility of the word order being misinterpreted as favouritism. And I don't like the word "conflict" in the tag wiki:

Questions pertaining to the conflict between Sh'ites and Sunni, and explicit differences of opinion between the two.

(This was mentioned back in 2012 by Manishearth.)

To highlight the confusion:

These questions have five tags, so will have to be resolved separately: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7.


I see it in this manner:

A person is programming in php and the code that is supposed to iterate over apples is somehow iterating over oranges. So the person asks the question and tags it .

Which isn't right. Tags should granular and atomic ideas/phenomenon. Bringing them together is defeating its purpose.

Now there could be one utility of having this around, i.e. what ashes999 mentioned. Questions which involves explanation on differences in some particular practices among Shiites and Sunnis etc, when tagged with would make them much easier to find. But that doesn't justify its presence because it's like allowing to easily find php iterator related questions. One could use the tag in that case.

Multiple tags search using braces[] is can be used for that. E.g.:

[islamic-rules] [salat]

  • 1
    I agree with ashes999. It is essentially used for asking about the differences between two main branches of Islam. I don't think your analogy does justice to the tag.
    – Kaveh
    Dec 27, 2013 at 1:14
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    I'm possibly saving a mess of 72C2 combination tags (72 sects) where 72 would be enough. It could also get to 72C3. No repeated descriptions required. Just the difference tag would be enough. May 13, 2014 at 16:55
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    @BleedingFingers please please please don't apply the rules of stackoverflow here and please don't this IslamSE with it. Please. Here things work a bit differently... Feb 21, 2015 at 18:14
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    @Wiser might you want to suggest how it works differently as a separate/new meta post or an answer to existing one? Feb 22, 2015 at 9:59
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    this is first answer I'm down voting after I got the privilege, and I won't provide the reason because even you guys don't... @BleedingFingers Feb 22, 2015 at 10:52

It is useful for when some user needs to know the view of both side in order to compare them.

Also it is useful about the topics which are controversial among Shia and Sunni scholars and there is disagreement in Shia and Sunni about them.

Many of users are not aware that Shia and Sunni have disagreement about a topic and this tag can be useful for knowing such topics.

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