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Sunni Islam Origins, Sunni Islam History, Sunni Islam Beliefs

RELIGION LIBRARY

Sunni Islam

overview

The followers of Sunni Islam, one of the two major branches of the tradition (the other is Shi'a), make up approximately 80 percent of the Muslim population in the world. The Sunni are the majority in most Islamic countries outside of Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Bahrain. Sunna—translated variously as the "trodden path," "the way," "example," or "habitual practice"—refers to the example or path of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers. The Sunni and Shi'a both trace their differences to the 7th century C.E., when disagreements over the successor to the Prophet Muhammad arose. The Sunni maintain that the Muslim community was to select the Prophet's successor (caliph) to lead, whereas the Shi'a believe the Prophet chose his son-in-law, Ali, to be his successor. Although Sunnis and Shi'as agree on many theological and practical matters, the Sunni are typically seen as putting more emphasis on the power of God and his determination of human fate, and are often understood to be more inclusive in their definition of what it means to be a Muslim. The Sunni tradition has placed great emphasis on the role of religion in public and political life, with great weight placed on the Shariah (Islamic law) as the standard for a broad range of social issues—marriage, divorce, inheritance, commerce, and so on.

Quick Facts

Formed 632 Adherents 940,000,000 Deity Allah Sacred Text Qur'an, Sunnah Origin Middle East Headquarters None Origins Back to Religion Library Get Patheos Newsletters Get the latest from Patheos by signing up for our newsletters. Try our 3 most popular, or select from our huge collection of unique and thought-provoking newsletters. From time to time you will also receive Special Offers from our partners that help us make this content free for you. You can opt out of these offers at any time. see our full list of newsletters editors picks View all columns
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