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(so͞o`nī) [Arab. Sunna,=tradition], from ahl al-sunnah wa-l-jamaa [Arab.,=the people of the custom of the Prophet and community], the largest division of Islam. Sunni Islam is the heir to the early central Islamic state, in its ackowledgement of the legitimacy of the order of succession of the first four caliphs (see caliphatecaliphate
, the rulership of Islam; caliph , the spiritual head and temporal ruler of the Islamic state. In principle, Islam is theocratic: when Muhammad died, a caliph [Arab.,=successor] was chosen to rule in his place.
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), in contrast to the Shiite rejection of the first three as usurpers. It can also be seen as the aggregate of the adherents to the four extant schools of religious law (fiqh), the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, and Hanbali schools (see shariasharia,
the religious law of Islam. As Islam makes no distinction between religion and life, Islamic law covers not only ritual but many aspects of life. The actual codification of canonic law is the result of the concurrent evolution of jurisprudence proper and the so-called
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). With no centralized clerical institution, Sunni Islam should be understood as an umbrella identity, grouping close to 90% of the world's Muslims, stretching geographically from the Indonesian islands to the African steppes, through the Indian subcontinent, central Asia, and the Arab world, and ideologically from ecstatic SufismSufism
, an umbrella term for the ascetic and mystical movements within Islam. While Sufism is said to have incorporated elements of Christian monasticism, gnosticism, and Indian mysticism, its origins are traced to forms of devotion and groups of penitents (zuhhad
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 to the puritanic literalism of the WahhabisWahhabi
or Wahabi
, reform movement in Islam, originating in Arabia; adherents of the movement usually refer to themselves as Muwahhidun [unitarians]. It was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab (c.
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 and Salafias, through scholasticism and secularism. The scholastic formulation, the most constant expression of Sunni Islam throughout its history and geographic span, proposes the relation of the human being with the Divine as essentially individual, with no intermediaries. In actual practice, however, religious scholars (ulama), together with mystic shaykhs, pious persons, and popular saints (awliya), are often recognized as enjoying a religious authority of varying degrees. The Sunni theoretical characterization of the Prophet Muhammad as a mere executor of Divine will has not precluded the intensive devotional rituals directed to his person that flourish in a diversity of forms across the Sunni world. The prime center of scholastic learning in Sunni Islam is the mosque-university of al-Azhar in Cairo.


See L. Hazleton, After the Prophet (2009).

References in periodicals archive ?
These politicians are Sunni - they are supposed to help us," he said.
The close cooperation and seeming congeniality between Beirut and Hezbollah--an organization that the United States and most of Europe deems to be a terrorist organization -- stands in stark contrast to the state's treatment of its Sunni terrorists.
Apart from the fact that Sunni Arab tribes have been in and around Mosul for over a thousand years, no one should be able to dictate who lives where.
Such gestures create a wave of contentment, enthusiasm and joy in the hearts of those who love Islam and the Islamic Revolution across the globe, regardless of being Sunni or Shia, during this blessed month of divine merciful feast.
Ex-US diplomat Ali Khedery, who worked in Baghdad in 2003-10, says: "Khanjar is one of the very few Sunni figures with vision, intellect and money who is left standing, although he is far from perfect in a country wracked by violence, sectarianism and corruption".
The decision was made after a meeting of the Sunni coalition late Monday night at the house of Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri, a Sunni, in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, the official said.
But they were able to capture large swaths of territory from the Iraqi government thanks to an alliance with a network of former Hussein regime loyalists who had deep ties to Sunni tribes in cities like Mosul and Tikrit.
trainers were dispatched to Al-Assad and Al-Taqaddum air bases in Anbar province to train thousands of Sunni tribal fighters.
officials have estimated a total of around 6,000 Sunni recruits at Taqaddum, according to Reuters.
In a statement the Sunni Fatwa Council held both Prim Ministers and Parliament Speaker legal responsibility of bypassing the legal entitlement of Sunni Council of nominate and assigning suitable personal for chairmanship of Sunni endowment according to the constitutional text of Resolution 56 of 2012.
Sunni Waqf delegation praised keenness of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on reinforcing the Sunni Waqf work to promote national economy.
Sunni suspicion of the Shiite-led government was heightened by heavy-handed security operations in Sunni areas, and the arrest of senior Sunni politicians or their employees.