Shi"ite (?), Shi"ah (?), n. [Ar. shi'aia follower of the sect of Ali, fr. shi'at, shi'ah, a multitude following one another in pursuit of the same object, the sect of Ali, fr. sha'a to follow.]
A member of that branch of the Mohammedans to which the Persians belong. They reject the first three caliphs, and consider Ali as being the first and only rightful successor of Mohammed. They do not acknowledge the Sunna, or body of traditions respecting Mohammed, as any part of the law, and on these accounts are treated as heretics by the Sunnites, or orthodox Mohammedans.
© Webster 1913.