Sunni

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Sunni

(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.

Bibliography

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 institution is the leading theological centre of Sunni Islam and oversees the teaching of hundreds of thousands of pupils across the world each year.
On Sunday, Sunni Islam's most respected seat of learning, Cairo's al-Azhar University, said it condemned the "terrorist attack".
CAIRO - Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning, expressed outrage Wednesday at the Islamic State group for burning to death a captive Jordanian pilot, saying its militants deserve to be killed or crucified.
The Nusra Front follows the same puritanical interpretation of Sunni Islam adopted by the Islamic State group that has also destroyed shrines in areas of eastern and northern Syria that it controls.
In recent weeks, Monis claimed to have converted from Shia Islam to the radical brand of Sunni Islam preached by Islamic State.
"The Islam presented in the schoolbooks is that of orthodox Sunni Islam, and there is no mention of the Islamic minorities living in Syria or of Shia Islam as a whole, or even of the different schools of thought within Sunni Islam.
She met with Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb, head of Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's top institution, and other religious figures who participated in the event.
Wahiyib came to prominence in an Isis video where he tested three Syrian lorry drivers on Sunni Islam. When they could not show they were not enemy Shia, they were shot dead.
Salafism is a puritanical version of Sunni Islam which preaches a return to what they see as the true origins of Islam, modeled strictly on the actions of the religion's founder Muhammed.
Legally, Saudi Arabia enforces Wahhabism, a particularly strict interpretation of Sunni Islam. Although private religious observance is technically permitted, members of other Islamic sects and minority religions often find themselves the victims of persecution by the country's religious police.
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.