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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 ?
The post-Cold War order of the Islam-West binary that excludes Shia Islam and works mainly with Sunni Islam may change.
The seminary, founded by Maulana Abdul Haq, post Pakistan's independence propagates Deobandi, a revivalist and anti-imperialist movement of Sunni Islam formed in reaction to the Britain's colonization of India.
Fighting among rival affiliates of al-Qaeda in Syria, meanwhile, has revealed a bond between a part of this Neo-Salafi movement, the most extreme strain in Sunni Islam, and Iran's theocracy as well as the Alawite dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Nigeria's federal armed forces are battling Neo-Salafi groups, like Boko Haram and Ansaru, which are tied to the most extreme strain in Sunni Islam - al-Qaeda.
Following an introduction that sets out the major themes of the book, Halverson presents (in chapter one) a survey of the "elaborate constructions of rigorous intellectual discourses" that established the "foundational postulates of Sunni Islam," noting "what the rationalism of theology is capable of producing in contrast to Athari thought" (p.
The threat is al-Qaeda, a Neo-Salafi movement which is the most extremist strain in Sunni Islam.
Pauline Bresse, Amin Beitamouni and Ehab Gerbieh, all 23, grew up in Lebanon but were raised in the faiths of Christianity, Sunni Islam and Druze respectively.
The Muslim Brotherhood-led parliament published a copy of the draft on its website and according to a translation seen by Israel International News it states that Sunni Islam is to be the religion of the country.
What finally and fully broke the relationship was Malcolm's embracing of Sunni Islam, since Elijah Muhammad feared that his groomed successor--seventh son Wallace--was moving in the same direction, a path that would discredit the Nation of Islam as a "Muslim" group, and make Elijah's claim to being the "Messenger of Allah" false, in the eyes of the thereby expanding international and orthodox Islam.
She does not pay much attention to law, which differs little from that of Sunni Islam.
The majority of the schools of Islam both Shia and Sunni view dogs as ritually unclean, however the Maliki School, one of four schools of Sunni Islam, disagrees with this view.
Summary: CAIRO - Egypt's Al-Azhar, the world's most prominent seat of Sunni Islam, indefinitely suspended an inter-faith dialogue with the Vatican in response to Pope Benedict XVI's repeated criticism of Islam and the condition of Copts in Egypt.