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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 ?
Syria and Iraq share a 605-kilometer border, and Sunni-majority provinces along the frontier were strongholds of resistance against United States forces and the Shiite-led Iraqi governments that have followed the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Sunnite dictator Saddam Hussein.
Al-Zamakhshari also uses verse 2:256 as a platform for a statement of free will, in which he follows other Mu'tazilite commentators and goes against the Sunnite tradition, as Patricia Crone documents in a forthcoming study of the different streams of interpretation of this verse.
Cette rivalite confessionnelle etait jusque-la limitee a la province de Sda (nord), fief du mouvement rebelle Ansarullah, accuse par ses detracteurs d'etre instrumentalise par l'Iran, et oE des affrontements episodiques l'opposent aux partisans sunnites du parti islamiste Al-Islah.
Des combats entre l'armee libanaise et les partisans d'un cheikh radical sunnite a Saida dans le sud du Liban ont fait douze morts dans les rangs des militaires, dans un contexte de tensions croissantes dans le pays liees au conflit en Syrie voisine.
We stress that no clash exists between Sunnites and Shiites, for we are children of a one religion and one Prophet; however, the actual problem lies in the presence of extremists who reflect danger against Islam, as a whole," said Hajj Hasan.
beaucoup moins que] Il ne s'agit pas d'etablir une nouvelle strategie dans la guerre contre les extremistes de Daech, mais de mieux comprendre les defis poses par eux, d'examiner les moyens militaires et diplomatiques de lutte contre ce groupe, d'etudier la signification des allegeances de certains groupes en Libye, en Egypte, en Afghanistan et d'etudier les efforts du gouvernement irakien, majoritairement chiite, pour s'allier des sunnites [beaucoup plus grand que], indique a la presse, le porte-parole du Pentagone, le contre-amiral John Kirby.
Ces attaques n'ont pas ete revendiquees, mais les insurges sunnites visent regulierement la communaute chiite.
Achieving intra-Islamic unity between Shias and Sunnites is a religious-patriotic obligation, he retorted.
La capitale yemenite est livree, depuis l'ete dernier, a des tensions communautaires entre fondamentalistes sunnites et rebelles chiites zaidites.
Trois hommes et une femme ont ete tues en moins de 24 heures a Tripoli, importante ville du nord du Liban, lors de la reprise d'affrontements entre sunnites et alaouites.
Geagea also saw that Christians had no room in the Sunnite-Shiite conflict, saying, "The conflict is not between Sunnites and Shiites.
Sunnites, chiites et chretiens, tous unis pour lever le voile sur l'imposture du Daech.