Islamic theology is a discipline which studies the various belief systems in Islam. Of the World's global Muslim Population, 87-88% are Sunni Muslims and 11-12% are Shia Muslims. Approximately 90% of the overall Shi'ite population belongs to Imamiyyah.
- 1 Sunni Islam
- 2 Shia Islam
- 2.1 Ithnā'ashariyyah
- 2.1.1 Ja'fari jurisprudence
- 2.1.2 Batini jurisprudence
- 220.127.116.11 Alevi
- 18.104.22.168 ‘Alawi
- 2.2 Ismā'īlīsm
- 2.3 Zaidiyyah
- 2.1 Ithnā'ashariyyah
- 3 Kharijite Islam
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
|Schools of Law|
|Schools of theology|
Sunni Muslims are the largest denomination of Islam and are known as Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā‘h or simply as Ahl as-Sunnah. The word Sunni comes from the word sunnah, which means the teachings and actions or examples of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Therefore, the term "Sunni" refers to those who follow or maintain the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad.
The Sunnis believe that Muhammad did not specifically appoint a successor to lead the Muslim ummah (community) before his death, and after an initial period of confusion, a group of his most prominent companions gathered and elected Abu Bakr Siddique, Muhammad's close friend and a father-in-law, as the first caliph of Islam. Sunni Muslims regard the first four caliphs (Abu Bakr, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, Uthman Ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abu Talib) as "al-Khulafā’ur-Rāshidūn" or "The Rightly Guided Caliphs." Sunnis also believe that the position of caliph may be attained democratically, on gaining majority votes, but after the Rashidun, the position turned into a hereditary right and the caliphs belonged to various dynasties and more like monarchs rather than religious figures.
Schools of theology
Aqidah is an Islamic term meaning "creed" or "belief". Any religious belief system, or creed, can be considered an example of aqidah. However this term has taken a significant technical usage in Muslim history and theology, denoting those matters over which Muslims hold conviction. The term is usually translated as "theology". Such traditions are divisions orthogonal to sectarian divisions of Islam, and a Mu'tazili may for example, belong to Jafari, Zaidi or even Hanafi school of jurisprudence.
The Athari school derives its name from the Arabic word Athar, meaning "narrations." The Athari creed is to avoid delving into extensive theological speculation. They use the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and sayings of the Sahaba - seeing this as the middle path where the attributes of Allah are accepted without questioning 'how' they are. Ahmad bin Hanbal is regarded as the leader of the Athari school of creed. Athari is generally synonymous with Salafi. The central aspect of Athari theology is its definition of Tawhid, meaning literally unification or asserting the oneness of Allah.
Kalām is the Islamic philosophy of seeking theological principles through dialectic. In Arabic, the word literally means "speech/words". A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim (Muslim theologian; plural mutakallimūn). There are many schools of Kalam, the main ones being the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools in Sunni Islam.
Ash'ari is a school of early Islamic philosophy founded in the 10th century by Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari. It was instrumental in drastically changing the direction of Islam. The Asharite view was that comprehension of the unique nature and characteristics of God were beyond human capability.
A Maturidi is one who follows Abu Mansur Al Maturidi's theology, which is a close variant of the Ash'ari school. Points which differ are the nature of belief and the place of human reason. The Maturidis state that belief (iman) does not increase nor decrease but remains static; it is piety (taqwa) which increases and decreases. The Ash'aris say that belief does in fact increase and decrease. The Maturidis say that the unaided human mind is able to find out that some of the more major sins such as alcohol or murder are evil without the help of revelation. The Ash'aris say that the unaided human mind is unable to know if something is good or evil, lawful or unlawful, without divine revelation.
Murji'ah (Arabic: المرجئة) is an early Islamic school whose followers are known in English as "Murjites" or "Murji'ites" (المرجئون). During the early centuries of Islam, Muslim thought encountered a multitude of influences from various ethnic and philosophical groups that it absorbed. Murji'ah emerged as a theological school that was opposed to the Kharijites on questions related to early controversies regarding sin and definitions of what is a true Muslim.
They advocated the idea of "delayed judgement". Only God can judge who is a true Muslim and who is not, and no one else can judge another as an infidel (kafir). Therefore, all Muslims should consider all other Muslims as true and faithful believers, and look to Allah to judge everyone during the last judgment. This theology promoted tolerance of Umayyads and converts to Islam who appeared half-hearted in their obedience. The Murjite opinion would eventually dominate that of the Kharijites.
The Murjites exited the way of the Sunnis when they declared that no Muslim would enter the hellfire, no matter what his sins. This contradicts the traditional Sunni belief that some Muslims will enter the hellfire temporarily. Therefore the Murjites are classified as Ahlul Bid'ah or "People of Innovation" by Sunnis, particularly Salafis.
Mu'tazili theology originated in the 8th century in al-Basrah when Wasil ibn Ata left the teaching lessons of Hasan al-Basri after a theological dispute. He and his followers expanded on the logic and rationalism of Greek philosophy, seeking to combine them with Islamic doctrines and show that the two were inherently compatible. The Mu'tazili debated philosophical questions such as whether the Qur'an was created or eternal, whether evil was created by God, the issue of predestination versus free will, whether God's attributes in the Qur'an were to be interpreted allegorically or literally, and whether sinning believers would have eternal punishment in hell.
|Beliefs and practices|
|Current Branches of Shi'ism|
Shia Islam (شيعة Shia, sometimes Shi'a; adjective Shi'ite), is the second-largest denomination of Islam, comprising 11-12% of the total Muslim population in the world. Shia Muslims, though a minority in the Muslim world, constitute the majority of the populations in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq, as well as a plurality in Lebanon and Yemen.
In addition to believing in the authority of the Qur'an and teachings of Muhammad, Shia believe that his family, the Ahl al-Bayt (the "People of the House"), including his descendants known as Imams, have special spiritual and political rule over the community and believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, was the first of these Imams and was the rightful successor to Muhammad, and thus reject the legitimacy of the first three Rashidun caliphs.
The Shia Islamic faith is broad and includes many different groups. There are various Shia theological beliefs, schools of jurisprudence, philosophical beliefs, and spiritual movements. The Shia identity emerged soon after the martyrdom of Hussain son of Ali (the grandson of the prophet Muhammad) and Shia theology was formulated in the second century and the first Shia governments and societies were established by the end of the ninth century.
Shia Islam is divided into three branches. The largest and best known are the Twelver (اثنا عشرية iṯnāʿašariyya), named after their adherence to the Twelve Imams. They form a majority of the population in Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Iraq. Other smaller branches include the Ismaili and Zaidi, who dispute the Twelver lineage of Imams and beliefs.
The Zaidi dispute the succession of the fifth Twelver Imam, Muhammad al-Baqir, because he did not stage a revolution against the corrupt government, unlike Zaid ibn Ali. They do not believe in a normal lineage, but rather that any descendant of Hasan ibn Ali or Husayn ibn Ali who stages a revolution against a corrupt government is an imam. The Zaidi are mainly found in Yemen.
The Ismaili dispute the succession of the seventh Twelver Imam, Musa al-Kadhim, believing his older brother Isma'il ibn Jafar actually succeeded their father Ja'far al-Sadiq, and did not predecease him like Twelver Shia believe. Ismaili form small communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Syria, United Kingdom, Canada, Uganda, Portugal, Yemen, mainland China, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia and have several subbranches.
|The Twelve Imams|
Twelvers believe in twelve Imams. The twelfth Imam is believed to be in occultation, and will appear again just before the Qiyamah (Islamic view of the Last Judgment). The Shia hadiths include the sayings of the Imams. Many Muslims criticise the Shia for certain beliefs and practices, including practices such as the Mourning of Muharram (Mätam). They are the largest Shia school of thought (93%), predominant in Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain and have a significant population in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan Kuwait and the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia. The Twelver Shia are followers of either the Jaf'ari or Batiniyyah madh'habs.
Part of a series on Shia Islam
|The Fourteen Infallibles|
The Usuli form the overwhelming majority within the Twelver Shia denomination. They follow a Marja-i Taqlid on the subject of taqlid and fiqh. They are concentrated in Iran, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq, and Lebanon.
Shaykhism is an Islamic religious movement founded by Shaykh Ahmad in the early 19th century Qajar dynasty, Iran, now retaining a minority following in Iran and Iraq. It began from a combination of Sufi and Shia and Akhbari doctrines. In the mid 19th-century many Shaykhis converted to the Bábí and Bahá'í religions, which regard Shaykh Ahmad highly.
On the other hand, the followers of the Batiniyyah madh'hab consist of Alevis and Nusayris, who developed their own fiqh system and do not pursue the Ja'fari jurisprudence. Their combined population is nearly around 1% of World overall Muslim population.
Alevis are sometimes categorized as part of Twelver Shia Islam, and sometimes as its own religious tradition, as it has markedly different philosophy, customs, and rituals. They have many Tasawwufī characteristics and express belief in the Qur'an and The Twelve Imams, but reject polygamy and accept religious traditions predating Islam, like Turkish shamanism. They are significant in East-Central Turkey. They are sometimes considered a Sufi sect, and have an untraditional form of religious leadership that is not scholarship oriented like other Sunni and Shia groups. Seven to Eleven Million Alevi people including the other denominations of Twelver Shi'ites live in Anatolia.
Alevi Islamic School of Theology (Madh'hab)
In Turkey, Shia Muslim people belong to the Ja'fari jurisprudence Madhhab, which tracks back to the sixth Shia Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (also known as Imam Jafar-i Sadiq), are called as the Ja'faris, who belong to Twelver Shia. Although the Alevi Turks are being considered as a part of Twelver Shia Islam, their belief is different from the Ja'fari jurisprudence in conviction.
- "The Alevi-Turks" has a unique and perplex conviction tracing back to Kaysanites Shia and Khurramites which are considered as Ghulat Shia. According to Turkish scholar Abdülbaki Gölpinarli, the Qizilbash ("Red-Heads") of the 16th century - a religious and political movement in Azerbaijan that helped to establish the Safavid dynasty - were "spiritual descendants of the Khurramites".
- Among the members of the "Qizilbash-Tariqah" who are considered as a sub-sect of the Alevis, two figures firstly Abu Muslim Khorasani who assisted Abbasid Caliphate to beat Umayyad Caliphate, but later eliminated and murdered by Caliph Al-Mansur, and secondly Babak Khorramdin who incited a rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate and consequently was killed by Caliph al-Mu'tasim are highly respected. This belief provides strong clues about their Kaysanites Shia and Khurramites origins. In addition, the "Safaviyya Tariqah" leader Ismail I is a highly regarded individual in the belief of "Alevi-Qizilbash-Tariqah" associating them with the Imamah (Shia Twelver doctrine) conviction of the "Twelver Shi'a Islam".
- Their aqidah (theological conviction) is based upon a syncretic fiqh system called as "Batiniyya-Sufism" which incorporates some Qarmatian sentiments, originally introduced by "Abu’l-Khāttāb Muhammad ibn Abu Zaynab al-Asadī", and later developed by "Maymun al-Qāddāh" and his son "ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maymun", and "Mu'tazila" with a strong belief in The Twelve Imams.
- Not all of the members believe that the fasting in Ramadan is obligatory although some Alevi-Turks performs their fasting duties partially in Ramadan.
- Some beliefs of Shamanism still are common amongst the Qizilbash Alevi-Turkish people in villages.
- On the other hand, the members of Bektashi Order have a conviction of "Batiniyya Isma'ilism" and "Hurufism" with a strong belief in the The Twelve Imams.
- In conclusion, Qizilbash-Alevis are not a part of Ja'fari jurisprudence fiqh, even though they can be considered as members of different Tariqa of Shia Islam all looks like sub-classes of Twelver. Their conviction includes "Batiniyya-Hurufism" and "Sevener-Qarmatians-Ismailism" sentiments.
- They all may be considered as special groups not following the Ja'fari jurisprudence, like Alawites who are in the class of Ghulat Twelver Shia Islam, but a special Batiniyya belief somewhat similar to Isma'ilism in their conviction.
- In conclusion, Twelver branch of Shia Islam Muslim population of Turkey is composed of Mu'tazila aqidah of Ja'fari jurisprudence madhhab, Batiniyya-Sufism aqidah of Maymūn’al-Qāddāhī fiqh of the Alevīs, and Cillī aqidah of Maymūn ibn Abu’l-Qāsim Sulaiman ibn Ahmad ibn at-Tabarānī fiqh of the Alawites, who altogether constitutes nearly one third of the whole population of the country. (An estimate for the Turkish Alevi population varies between Seven and Eleven Million. Over 85% of the population, on the other hand, overwhelmingly constitute Maturidi aqidah of the Hanafi fiqh and Ash'ari aqidah of the Shafi'i fiqh of the Sunni followers.)
Alevi ʿaqīdah of the Presidency of Alevi-Islam Religion Services
|“||Alevilik nedir, Aleviliğin İslam anlayışı nedir, nasıl doğdu, nasıl gelişti? Bu soruların yanıtı ki, çok kişinin bildiğinin tersine, Aleviliğin doğuş yeri Anadolu değildir. Bu büyük bir cehalet örneğidir, yani Aleviliğin Anadolu da çıktığını söylemek. Anadolu'da bu işin kaynağını aramak bilgisizlikten kaynaklanıyor. Çünkü Anadolu bugün üzerinden yaşadığımız topraklarda belli bir tarihten önce bir tek Müslüman, bir tane de Türk yoktur. Orta Asya kökenli insanların göçebe kavimlerin oradaki kuraklık ve moğol istilası nedeniyle orada tutunamayıp yeni bir yurt arama kaygılarının sonucudur. Maveraünnehir dediğimiz, yani Siriderya ve Amuderya nehirleri arasındaki topraklarda yaşayan ve yaşamlarının tarım ve hayvancılıklar geçiren kavimlerin 100-150 sene süren göç macerasından sonra, yani Türklerin Anadolu'ya gelmeleri, Anadolu'da Türk köyü kurmaya başlamaları. Anadolu'ya gelen Türklerde beraberlerinde inançlarını ve İslamiyet'i getirdiler. Gelenler İslam'dı, bunların kendi anlayışlarını Anadolu'ya getirmeleri 10 - 11. asırda gerçekleyen bir olaydır. Ondan önce ismine Anadolu dediğimiz coğrafyada herhangi bir Türk ve herhangi bir Müslüman'a rastlamak mümkün değildir. Anadolu o zamanlar Hıristiyan'dır.||”|
What's Alevism, what's the understanding of Islam in Alevism? The answers to these questions, instead of the opposite of what's known by many people is that the birthplace of Alevism was never in Anatolia. This is an example of great ignorance, that is, to tell that the Alevism was emerged in Anatolia. Searching the source of Alevism in Anatolia arises from unawareness. Because there was not even one single Muslim or Turk in Anatolia before a specific date. The roots of Alevism stem from Turkestan - Central Asia. Islam was brought to Anatolia by Turks in 10th and 11th centuries by a result of migration for a period of 100 - 150 years. Before this event took place, there were no Muslim and Turks in Anatolia. Anatolia was then entirely Christian. We Turks brought Islam to Anatolia from Turkestan. - Professor İzzettin Doğan, The President
- Some of the differences that mark Alevis from Shi'a Islam are the non-observance of the five daily prayers and prostrations (they only bow twice in the presence of their spiritual leader), Ramadan, and the Hajj (they consider the pilgrimage to Mecca an external pretense, the real pilgrimage being internal in one's heart); and non-attendance of mosques.
- Some of their members (or sub-groups) claim that God takes abode in the bodies of the human-beings (ḥulūl), believe in metempsychosis (tanāsukh), and consider Islamic law to be not obligatory (ibāḥa), similar to antinomianism.
- Some of the Alevis criticizes the course of Islam as it is being practiced overwhelmingly by more than 99% of Sunni and Shia population.
- They believe that major additions had been implemented during the time of Ummayads, and easily refuse some basic principles on the grounds that they believe it contradicts with the holy book of Islam, namely the Qu'ran.
- Regular daily salat and fasting in the holy month of Ramadan are officially not accepted by some members of Alevism.
- Some of their sub-groups like Ishikists and Bektashis, who portrayed themselves as Alevis, neither comprehend the essence of the regular daily salat (prayers) and fasting in the holy month of Ramadan that is frequently accentuated at many times in Quran, nor admits that these principles constitute the ineluctable foundations of the Dīn of Islam as they had been laid down by Allah and they had been practised in an uninterruptible manner during the period of Prophet Muhammad.
- Furthermore, during the period of Ottoman Empire, Alevis were forbidden to proselytise, and Alevism regenerated itself internally by paternal descent. To prevent penetration by hostile outsiders, the Alevis insisted on strict endogamy which eventually made them into a quasi-ethnic group. Alevi taboos limited interaction with the dominant Sunni political-religious centre. Excommunication was the ultimate punishment threatening those who married outsiders, cooperated with outsiders economically, or ate with outsiders. It was also forbidden to use the state (Sunni) courts.
Kızılbaşlık (The Qizilbash doctrine)
Qizilbash and Bektashi tariqah shared common religious beliefs and practices becoming intermingled as Alevis in spite of many local variations. Isolated from both the Sunni Ottomans and the Twelver Shi`a Safavids, Qizilbash and Bektashi developed traditions, practices, and doctrines by the early 17th century which marked them as a closed autonomous religious community. As a result of the immense pressures to conform to Sunni Islam, all members of Alevism developed a tradition of opposition (ibāḥa) to all forms of external religion.
من داها نسنه بيلمه زه م / Men daha nesne bilmezem, (I don't know any other object)
اؤزوم غوربتده سالمازام / Özüm gurbette salmazam, (I can't let out my own essence to places far from my homeland)
اونلار بيردير، بير اولوبدور / Onlar birdir, bir oluştur, (They are unique, a single one, i.e. Haqq-Muhammad-Ali)
The Baktāshi ʿaqīdah
The Bektashiyyah is a Shia Sufi order founded in the 13th century by Haji Bektash Veli, a dervish who escaped Central Asia and found refuge with the Seljuks in Anatolia at the time of the Mongol invasions (1219–23). This order gained a great following in rural areas and it later developed in two branches: the Çelebi clan, who claimed to be physical descendants of Haji Bektash Veli, were called "Bel evladları" (children of the loins), and became the hereditary spiritual leaders of the rural Alevis; and the Babağan, those faithful to the path "Yol evladları" (children of the way), who dominated the official Bektashi Sufi order with its elected leadership.
Bektashism places much emphasis on the concept of Wahdat-ul-Wujood وحدة الوجود, the "Unity of Being" that was formulated by Ibn Arabi. This has often been labeled as pantheism, although it is a concept closer to panentheism. Bektashism is also heavily permeated with Shiite concepts, such as the marked veneration of Ali, The Twelve Imams, and the ritual commemoration of Ashurah marking the Battle of Karbala. The old Persian holiday of Nowruz is celebrated by Bektashis as Imam Ali's birthday.
In keeping with the central belief of Wahdat-ul-Wujood the Bektashi see reality contained in Haqq-Muhammad-Ali, a single unified entity. Bektashi do not consider this a form of trinity. There are many other practices and ceremonies that share similarity with other faiths, such as a ritual meal (muhabbet) and yearly confession of sins to a baba (magfirat-i zunub مغفرة الذنوب). Bektashis base their practices and rituals on their non-orthodox and mystical interpretation and understanding of the Qur'an and the prophetic practice (Sunnah). They have no written doctrine specific to them, thus rules and rituals may differ depending on under whose influence one has been taught. Bektashis generally revere Sufi mystics outside of their own order, such as Ibn Arabi, Al-Ghazali and Jelalludin Rumi who are close in spirit to them.
Bektaşilik (The Baktāshi doctrine)
The Bektashi Order is a Sufi order and shares much in common with other Islamic mystical movements, such as the need for an experienced spiritual guide — called a baba in Bektashi parlance — as well as the doctrine of "the four gates that must be traversed": the "Sharia" (religious law), "Tariqah" (the spiritual path), "Haqiqah" (truth), and "Marifa" (true knowledge).
Bektashis hold that the Qur'an has two levels of meaning: an outer (Zāher ظاهر) and an inner (bāṭen باطن). They hold the latter to be superior and eternal and this is reflected in their understanding of both the universe and humanity, which is a view that can also be found in Ismailism and Batiniyya.
Bektashism is also initiatic and members must traverse various levels or ranks as they progress along the spiritual path to the Reality. First level members are called aşıks عاشق. They are those who, while not having taken initiation into the order, are nevertheless drawn to it. Following initiation (called nasip) one becomes a mühip محب. After some time as a mühip, one can take further vows and become a dervish. The next level above dervish is that of baba. The baba (lit. father) is considered to be the head of a tekke and qualified to give spiritual guidance (irshad إرشاد). Above the baba is the rank of halife-baba (or dede, grandfather). Traditionally there were twelve of these, the most senior being the dedebaba (great-grandfather). The dedebaba was considered to be the highest ranking authority in the Bektashi Order. Traditionally the residence of the dedebaba was the Pir Evi (The Saint's Home) which was located in the shrine of Hajji Bektash Wali in the central Anatolian town of Hacıbektaş (Solucakarahüyük).
Alawites are also called Nusayris, Nusairis, Namiriya or Ansariyya. Their madhhab is established by Ibn Nusayr, and their aqidah is developed by Al-Khaṣībī. They follow Cillī aqidah of "Maymūn ibn Abu’l-Qāsim Sulaiman ibn Ahmad ibn at-Tabarānī fiqh" of the ‘Alawis. Slightly over one million of them live in Syria and Lebanon.
‘Alawite Islamic School of Theology (Madh'hab)
Alawites consider themselves to be Muslims, although some Sunnis dispute that they are. Alawite doctrine incorporates Gnostic, neo-Platonic, Islamic, Christian and other elements and has, therefore, been described as syncretistic. Their theology is based on a divine triad, or trinity, which is the core of Alawite belief. The triad comprises three emanations of the one God: the supreme aspect or entity called the "Essence" or the "Meaning" (both being translations of ma'na), together with two lesser emanations known as his "Name" (ism), or "Veil" (hijab), and his "Gate" (bab). These emanations have manifested themselves in different human forms over several cycles in history, the last cycle of which was as Ali (the Essence/Meaning), Muhammad (the Name) and Salman the Persian (the Gate). Alawite belief is summarised in the formula: "I turn to the Gate; I bow before the Name; I adore the Meaning". The claim that Alawites believe Ali is a deity has been contested by some scholars as a misrepresentation on the basis that Ali is, in fact, considered an "essence or form", not a human being, by which believers can "grasp God". Alawites also hold that they were originally stars or divine lights that were cast out of heaven through disobedience and must undergo repeated reincarnation (or metempsychosis) before returning to heaven. They can be reincarnated as Christians or others through sin and as animals if they become infidels.
Alawite beliefs have never been confirmed by their modern religious authorities. Alawites tend to conceal their beliefs (taqiyya) due to historical persecution. Some tenets of the faith are secret, known only to a select few; therefore, they have been described as a mystical sect. In addition to Islamic festivals, the Alawites have been reported to celebrate or honor certain Christian festivals such as the birth of Jesus and Palm Sunday. Their most-important feast is Eid al-Ghadeer.
The ‘Alawite ʿaqīdah
Alawites have always described themselves as being Twelver Shi'ite Muslims and have been recognized as such by the prominent Lebanese Shi'ite cleric Musa al-Sadr. The Sunni Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini issued a fatwa recognising them as part of the Muslim community in the interest of Arab nationalism. However, Athari Sunni (modern day Salafis) scholars such as Ibn Kathir (a disciple of Ibn Taymiyya) have categorised Alawites as pagans in their writings.
Barry Rubin has suggested that Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad and his son and successor Bashar al-Assad pressed their fellow Alawites "to behave like 'regular Muslims', shedding (or at least concealing) their distinctive aspects". During the early 1970s a booklet, al-`Alawiyyun Shi'atu Ahl al-Bait ("The Alawites are Followers of the Household of the Prophet") was published, which was "signed by numerous 'Alawi' men of religion", described the doctrines of the Imami Shia as Alawite. Additionally, there has been a recent movement to unite Alawism and the other branches of Twelver Islam through educational exchange programs in Syria and Qom.
Some sources have discussed the "Sunnification" of Alawites under the al-Assad regime. Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies, writes that Hafiz al-Assad "tried to turn Alawites into 'good' (read Sunnified) Muslims in exchange for preserving a modicum of secularism and tolerance in society". On the other hand, Al-Assad "declared the Alawites to be nothing but Twelver Shiites". In a paper, "Islamic Education in Syria", Landis wrote that "no mention" is made in Syrian textbooks (controlled by the Al-Assad regime) of Alawites, Druze, Ismailis or Shia Islam; Islam was presented as a monolithic religion. Ali Sulayman al-Ahmad, chief judge of the Baathist Syrian state, has said:
|“||We are ‘Alawi Muslims. Our book is the Qur'an. Our prophet is Muhammad. The Ka`ba is our qibla, and our Dīn (religion) is Islam.||”|
The Ismailis and Twelvers both accept the same initial Imams from the descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatima Zahra and therefore share much of their early history. However, a dispute arose on the succession of the Sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq. The Ismailis are those who accepted Ja'far's eldest son Ismā'īl as the next Imam, whereas the Twelvers accepted a younger son, Musa al-Kazim. Today, Ismā'īlīs are concentrated in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia. The Nizārī Ismā'īlīs, however, are also concentrated in Central Asia, Russia, China, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Syria, Australia, North America (including Canada), the United Kingdom, Bangladesh and in Africa as well. Their total population is around Thirteen to Sixteen Million excluding the Druze population, nearly 1% of the overall World Muslim population, and gets closer to a total of Twenty Million Ismā'īlī population with the inclusion of Druzes.
- Nizārī – The Nīzār’īyyah are the largest branch (95%) of Ismā'īlī, they are the only Shia group to be have their absolute temporal leader in the rank of Imamate, which is currently invested in Aga Khan IV. Their present living Imam is Mawlānā Shah Karim Al-Husayni who is the 49th Imam. Nizārī Ismā'īlīs believe that the successor-Imām to the Fatimid caliph Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah was his elder son al-Nizār.
- Mustaali – The Mustaali group of Ismaili Muslims differ from the Nizāriyya in that they believe that the successor-Imām to the Fatimid caliph, al-Mustansir, was his younger son al-Mustaʻlī, who was made Caliph by the Fatimad Regent Al-Afdal Shahanshah. In contrast to the Nizaris, they accept the younger brother al-Mustaʻlī over Nizār as their Imam. The Bohras are an offshoot of the Taiyabi, which itself was an offshoot of the Mustaali. The Taiyabi, supporting another offshoot of the Mustaali, the Hafizi branch, split with the Mustaali Fatimid, who recognized Al-Amir as their last Imam. The split was due to the Taiyabi believing that At-Tayyib Abi l-Qasim was the next rightful Imam after Al-Amir. The Hafizi themselves however considered Al-Hafiz as the next rightful Imam after Al-Amir. The Bohras believe that their 21st Imam, Taiyab abi al-Qasim, went into seclusion and established the offices of the Da'i al-Mutlaq (الداعي المطلق), Ma'zoon (مأذون) and Mukasir (مكاسر). The Bohras are the only surviving branch of the Mustaali and themselves have split into the Dawoodi Bohra, Sulaimani Bohra, and Alavi Bohra.
- Dawoodi Bohra – The Dawoodi Bohras are a denomination of the Bohras. After offshooting from the Taiyabi the Bohras split into two, the Dawoodi Bohra and the Sulaimani Bohra, over who would be the correct dai of the community. Concentrated mainly in Pakistan and India.
- Sulaimani Bohra – The Sulaimani Bohra named after their 27th Da'i al-Mutlaq, Sulayman ibn Hassan, are a denomination of the Bohras. After offshooting from the Taiyabi the Bohras split into two, the Sulaimani Bohra and the Dawoodi Bohra, over who would be the correct dai of the community. Concentrated mainly in Yemen.
- Alavi Bohra – Split from the Dawoodi Bohra over who would be the correct dai of the community. The smallest branch of the Bohras.
- Hebtiahs Bohra – The Hebtiahs Bohra are a branch of Mustaali Ismaili Shia Islam that broke off from the mainstream Dawoodi Bohra after the death of the 39th Da'i al-Mutlaq in 1754.
- Atba-i-Malak – The Abta-i Malak jamaat (community) are a branch of Mustaali Ismaili Shia Islam that broke off from the mainstream Dawoodi Bohra after the death of the 46th Da'i al-Mutlaq, under the leadership of Abdul Hussain Jivaji. They have further split into two more branches, the Atba-i-Malak Badra and Atba-i-Malak Vakil.
- Druze – The Druze are a small distinct traditional religion that developed in the 11th century. It began as an offshoot of the Ismaili sect of Islam, but is unique in its incorporation of Gnostic, neo-Platonic and other philosophies. Druze are considered heretical and non-Muslims by most other Muslims because they are believed to address prayers to the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the third Fatimid caliph of Egypt, whom they regard as "a manifestation of God in His unity." The Druze believe that he had been hidden away by God and will return as the Mahdi on Judgement Day. Like Alawis, most Druze keep the tenets of their Faith secret, and very few details are known. They neither accept converts nor recognize conversion from their religion to another. They are located primarily in the Levant. Druze in different states can have radically different lifestyles. Some claim to be Muslim, some do not, though the Druze faith itself abides by Islamic principles.
Zaidiyyahs historically come from the followers of Zayd ibn Ali, the great-Grandson of 'Ali b. Abi Talib. They follow any knowledgeable and upright descendant of al-Hasan and al-Husayn, and are less esoteric in focus than Twelvers and Ismailis. Zaidis are the most akin sect to Sunni Islam amongst the Shi'ite madh'habs. A great majority of them, more than Seven Million people who constitutes less than 1% of the World overall Muslim population, lives in Yemen.
||This article appears to contradict the article Ibadi. (June 2011)|
Kharijite (literally, "those who seceded") is a general term embracing a variety of Muslim sects which, while originally supporting the Caliphate of Ali, later rejected him. While there are few remaining Kharijite or Kharijite-related groups, the term is sometimes used to denote Muslims who refuse to compromise with those with whom they disagree.
The only surviving Kharijite sect is the Ibadi. The sect developed out of the 7th century Islamic sect of the Kharijites. Nonetheless, Ibadis see themselves as quite different from the Kharijites. Believed to be one of the earliest schools, it is said to have been founded less than 50 years after the death of Muhammad.
Ibadis usually consider non-Ibadi Muslims as unbelievers, though nowadays this attitude has highly relaxed. They approve of the caliphates of Abū Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab, whom they regard as the "Two Rightly Guided Caliphs". Specific beliefs include: walāyah, friendship and unity with the practicing true believers and the Ibadi Imams; barā'ah, dissociation and hostility towards unbelievers and sinners; and wuqūf, reservation towards those whose status is unclear. While Ibadi Muslims maintain most of the beliefs of the original Kharijites, they have rejected the more aggressive methods.
- List of extinct Shia sects
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- Alawi Islam
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|Wikisource has the text of a 1905 New International Encyclopedia article about Islamic schools and branches.|
- Online Fatwa Site - Questions and Answers
- The Four Sunni Schools of Thought
- Ask Imam - Islam Q&A Islam-QA.com website
- Online Islamic Learning
- Sufism - Islamic Science of Spirituality